The New and Improved Way to Quickly Transfer Photos from Your DSLR to Your iPhone

The New and Improved Way to Quickly Transfer Photos from Your DSLR to Your iPhone

For the last few years I have found many different ways to transfer photos from my DSLR straight to my iPhone for instant editing and sharing on social channels like my Instagram page. Now, thanks to a recent update to iOS 9.2 I am able to directly connect my favorite DSLR brand to my iPhone for fast and seamless photo transfer without draining my battery with Wi-Fi.

Yes, the time has finally come and I am able to ditch battery killing Wi-Fi photo transfers, as amazing as they were, for a simple cable addition by Apple and my iPhone. For years I have found the Eye-Fi SD card options to be stellar in transferring photos quickly and securely to my iPhone for editing and sharing. Though with that comes the extra cost of battery life and lack of speed depending on the Wi-Fi connection strength. 

iOS 9.2 can be easily accessed in Settings > General > Software Update. The Lightning to USB Camera Adapter is available through Apple’s website for a simple $29 too. This adapter is joined by the newly introduced and similarly styled Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, which is also priced at $29. Sadly you must have an iPhone 5 or later to make this dream come true.

What do you think? Is this update big enough for you to take advantage? For many photographers, like myself, that have a social media background it's outstanding having a faster and less detrimental to my cameras lifespan than Wi-Fi capabilities. 

Cover image by Hoyoung Lee.

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Andrew Griswold's picture

Andrew Griswold is a photographer and designer based in Indianapolis. Born and raised in Indy he has made a name for himself by staying very active in the creative community in both photography and design. He has also founded a community of photographers via Instagram connecting them with brands to work with and shoot locally.

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I'm totally digging this option. I'll be ordering a cable later on today. Speed is of the essence most of the time and this cable should do the trick.

Yup! I have been really impressed with wifi capabilities but the built in camera options are just too clunky for me right now to make it work right. That and many transfers downgrade the photo even though it gives you option to select high res

YAAAASSSSS! about damn time.

Any chance for a CF version?

I have actually seen the CF adapters that plug back into the bottom of the basic cords. So def check that option out!

Yes. Their is a Lighting -> SD and a Lighting -> USB. Get the USB and plug in a USB->CF adapter or USB -> Camera cable.

Is there a Android version of this?

I believe Android has had this option for quite some time actually. Not 100% positive though.

As Andrew hinted, this feature has been around for years on Android. It's called USB On-The-Go, the cable to be able to connect your PC card reader/camera/etc. costs under $2. Unfortunately, given the fractured Android landscape, not every model of phone supports the feature.

So as usual your choice is a hyped and overpriced Apple version vs. a requires-some-research cheaper Android one...

I may be admitting my ignorance, but I had no idea this was an issue. My last two bodies had this functionality natively. But after using it for nearly 3 years, I know I couldn't go back. Glad to see others getting in on the action, albeit in a bit roundabout way.

You mean having wi-fi natively in your camera body? Unfortunately camera makers have realized that some professionals are willing to pay an extra $600 or more dollars to add it to their cameras so pro-bodies rarely come with it.

I have no idea why "pro" somehow means no wi-fi and no moveable lcd.

Preaching to the choir. For Nikon it also means no custom banks (U1, U2).

Not sure that is is anything more than than an emergency or Must-Post-to-IG-NOW option. Why, well if you are shooting Raw there is a chance that you won't be able to import the images. Or you may have to shoot in RAW+JPG, which might not be preferable. Plus you are SOL if you shoot with CF card, cause then you need to figure out how to connect a CF card reader.

Those with Wifi equipped cameras have it much easier since you can control when to turn the wifi. Another option that has been helping me is the RavPower file hub (fstoppers wrote about it recently), which you can access your images on you smartphone via wifi. And it taken in power supply lets you even charge your phone. But its also only for SD card, but you could hook up a CF card reader to the USB port.

But maybe now this allows other peripherals to connect to your phone now...

According to Apple's site, RAW isn't an issue.

"The Lightning to USB Camera Adapter supports standard photo formats, including JPEG and RAW, along with SD and HD video formats, including H.264 and MPEG-4."

It does convert them according to apple.

Exactly; if you are planning to edit your RAW picture on computer later there is no point of posting it from your iPhone with totally different filters and edits.

I guess this feature is good for those who shoot JPEG (for whatever reason) and basically use "DSLRs" in order to have an option of changeable lenses and sharper picture than iPhone does. I don't see much use for it in professional work unless iPhonw really works with RAW fil same as Adobe software on computer does.

Shooting JPEG is a good thing, and much easier than JPEG. How, as needed set the cameras' internal image settings, create a CWB, shoot. Doing that there should not be a reason to shoot raw. Okay, okay, you need to PWA for white balance, yet a CWB was already set accomplished.

Also, from my readings, Sports Illustrated shoots in JPEG. The articles said with JPEG they are able to process their images much more quickly and get them out faster; and outstanding images they are. Though I cannot verify the following, yet in numerous articles I have read they do the same with their swimsuit issue as well. Even if not, many high level pros shooting events, weddings, corporate annual reports, sports, the list goes on shoot in JPEG.

Too many photographers use JPEG as a crutch or their blanny. They are more concerned about getting their photos into a computer thus becoming graphic artist not photographers. They are more pleased with their post processing skills than their photography skills. If you say I am crazy, look back at the photos prior to this digital craze becoming mainstream; 2003-ish. Most all photos for magazines, advertising agencies, fashion, posters, murals, and the like were shot on slide film, a medium that needed to be shot spot-on. Unless the client demands raw files sent to them, JPEG is more than adequate.

It is raw not RAW. In photography the word raw is not an acronym it means the same as raw meat, raw vegetables, raw day. Why spell it as RAW, of course JPEG, TIFF, JPG, are acronyms and should be in upper case, but certainly not raw. To me typing it as RAW is monkey see monkey do, all without thinking.

It could be a great backup solution if you have a 32gig model and if it can import raw images. For the moment, something like the kingston 5 in 1 seems to be an easier solution as far as backup goes. A great update nonetheless.

Also useful for iPad pro.

Seems like the best solution for quickly posting images to instagram without going through wifi or waiting until I get home to import to computer, export to dropbox, download to phone from dropbox, upload to instagram..

Hey Gris, I was wondering how come with 60k followers has only (around) 400 likes per photo. Thanks for the article.

I have a D750, but Nikon's wifi app only allows 2 resolution options, full-res (major overkill) and a 1080 x 1620 option, which is too low of a resolution for even my phone. What resolution does Apple's wired option offer? I rented a Fuji X-T1 once, and it had a great 3MP option, which was a good compromise of file size, with resolution enough to cover any mobile display.

The fuji also allows you to bake jpegs from RAW files on the card. Really cool as Fuji's engine is quite feature rich with usable film simulations, dynamic range adjustment...

What about RAW files??

Couldn't you also just use the standard lightning cable with a female usb to male micro usb? That runs about $2 for a generic one. I may be completely wrong but just a thought.

I'm just hooking the phone up directly to the camera via the USB port on the camera. The thing I don't like is if you have a sequence of similar photos, there's no way to do a large previews on the phone before you transfer. Makes inspecting fine details all but impossible.

I have been using the previous version of the Lightning to SD card adapter to transfer photos to my iPad for a couple years now and I can't understand why it took them so long to make it compatible with the iPhone since they are both IOS devices. I updated to 9.2 last night and lo and behold, the adapter now works. Very happy.

About damn time! I never did use it much with my iPad and always just wanted it to work with my iPhone. Of course by the time they enabled such a simple thing, all my cameras have wifi.

Um... That's not a DSLR.

I haven't seen many professionals who would shoot JPEG with their DSLR cameras (unless photos from their cameras are going to be very and very cool looking without any editing).
So if I shoot in RAW I expect to have advanced editing settings and I'm not sure iPhone supports RAW yet. Even if it reads files from memory card, it probably converts them to JPEG in the prices of transferring and the whole point of shooting with professional DSLR is ruined (exept having sharper JPEG file than iPhone shoots).

I would say this feature is pretty usefull for those who use their cameras in AUTO mode all the time and shoot in JPEG. Also, if photos are not required to go thru advanced editing (feet selfies, food pics, etc) then it can be a great solution for travelers.
Besides those cases, I don't see much use for this feature.

In fact, this could be the first step for iPhone to read RAW and shoot in RAW - that's going to be a real deal! And for now, I would use my mac book air if I need to do quick raw picture edit when I travel. After all, social media can wait :)

I feel like I missed something here. The articles says "directly connect" the camera to the phone. Am I taking that too literally? Because it seems like we still have to remove the SD card to use that cable?

It's about time. This has been available on the iPad for years, and Apple finally turned it on for iPhones.

Used eyefi for a while but ended up hating it, the software was terrible, and i was just trying to figure out how to minimize my christmas travel setup, bought this cable just right now ! thanks!

Hi all .
I used to do photography on the 2000s and I've just started to pick it up again .
Only problem is I'm shocked to find that it's no longer about your skills as a photographer : using natural light to make effect , making sure you have that perfect shot by knowing your camera inside and out ect
But it's all about the editing on photoshop and it's not really that great because it means my skills and my photos will never ever compare to the ones that are edited after taking the shots .
Armed people feeling like they are cheating ?