Does the iPad Pro Meet the Needs of a Photographer?

For a lot of photographers, the need to edit and present their portfolio on the run is ever-present. Can the iPad Pro meet the needs of a modern photographer?

In this video, Matt Day goes through his experience with his iPad Pro (available in the 12.9" model and 11" model) for photography, operating his YouTube channel as well as business and personal productivity. Matt has and uses the Magic Keyboard (also available for the 12.9" model and 11" model) and the Apple Pencil. Matt edited all of the photos from his recent photobook with his iPad Pro and, going even further, says he uses his every single day. 

As someone who has spent so much time in the world of film photography, I haven't spent much of any time with my digital camera. With that said, I've been getting more and more back into digital photography and have been pretty excited about the prospect of backing up my images and being able to edit them on the go — particularly when I'm traveling for any significant amount of time. As such, I've been seriously considering getting the iPad Pro for traveling. Personally, I found this video quite helpful in pushing me in that direction. 

What are your thoughts? Do you have an iPad Pro that you use for your photography? What are your thoughts? Do you use a different tablet that you like and would suggest?

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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Not until capture one produce an iPad version for my personal situation, but I’m far from professional. I like a laptop anyway tbh.

The biggest limitation of the iPad Pro for me is the fact that Lightroom mobile will not allow you to reference files on external drives in its catalog. This means that you are limited to the internal storage space available on your iPad Pro. (It can import images from external drives onto the iPad.) This is a deal killer, even for traveling. Anyone who is on the road for any length of time will quickly reach the point where they will not even be able to check images for critical focus without shuffling older images off the iPad to create space for the new images you want to review.

What Adobe wants users to do to solve this problem is pay for extra cloud storage space so that users can offload images to the cloud. That's great if you don't mind paying for extra storage space, have fast internet access while traveling, and want to mess around doing it. But if you're traveling across Namibia or any other place in the world that does not offer fast and regularly accessible internet access, you're pretty much screwed. It's a shame because, if not for this, the iPad Pro would be a great laptop replacement for travel.

Exactly. Nice try, no cigar. The external storage issue kills it for me too.

I bought the iPAD Pro several years ago to see if it could substitute for my Mac. It is not a substitute. There are many limitations, the biggest being iOS. There are simple things I can do in seconds on the Mac that are difficult or not possible with iOS. It makes a good tool for carrying a portfolio and showing pictures, capturing and saving photos, on a shoot or trip, light editing/culling, but for serious work, I recommend getting a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro instead.

I appreciate that the reviewer gives balanced views in different areas of operation, rather than the usual "best thing since sliced bread" sales pitch. I was recently in need of upgrading a 6 year old Samsung Galaxy Note 10" and, despite being in the Android and PC ecosystem, gave serious consideration to both the iPad Air and Pro. I ultimately chose an HP Spectre x360 as there were just too many limitations with either Android or iPad, especially in regards to tethering. That said, I wouldn't rule out an iPad in the future for when a tablet only device would be sufficient.