There was a time when I was certain that an iPad was what I needed for my mobile workflow. It was true for a while. My last Macbook 13″ was bulky and difficult to fit into my camera bag. It also had a rotating drive and I was always paranoid about damaging the HD in some way every time I bumped into something. My iPad was also very compact and I could easily copy photos to it as I was working.
My new Macbook Pro 13″ has an SSD, which is very stable with no rotating parts. It has USB 3 ports and with a USB 3 card reader, I can download hundreds of RAW photos in a few minutes or less. While not lighter than my iPad, it fits in my camera bag very well and is much smaller than my previous Macbook 13″.
But, those aren’t the big reason why I have my laptop with me while leaving my iPad back at the office. The big reason is the workflow. No app on the iPad can come close to the Photo Mechanic. With Photo Mechanic, I can ingest files from my card reader, apply an IPTC stationary template during ingest and immediately start selecting photos to edit. Unlike Bridge or Lightroom, there is no lag in the preview photo images and it is faster than the USB 2 on the iPad.
Once I select the photos I want, I open and do basic edits in Photoshop. I have shortcuts in Photoshop to quickly apply a small amount of unsharp mask and bring up the curves adjustment. I usually only brighten and do minor contrast work. I can edit a photo within a few seconds.
Back in Photo Mechanic, I caption each photo and transmit as I am working. After selecting an initial ftp server or other destination, I can upload to the same destination without bringing up a dialog box each time.
This allows me to ingest, select, edit, caption and transmit photos within minutes. I have tried a similar workflow on my iPad and have found it frustrating, especially when my Macbook Pro can do it much faster. There is also the iPad limiting how large images can be, without interpolation. There are apps that do some of what Photo Mechanic and Photoshop do, but speed is the main issue here. When I am on a critical deadline or shooting sports, those few minutes in time between my Macbook Pro and iPad make a difference.
In a pinch, I can wirelessly transmit photos from my cameras to my iPhone. If I am filing a couple of photos, this can be a good solution. A couple of my cameras have built-in wifi. I use an iUSBPort for my non-wifi cameras. I can attach a USB card reader to the iUSBPort to copy photo files to my iPhone. Also, most of my cameras allow me to convert RAW to JPEG in camera, with adjustments for exposure, white balance and such. Once in my iPhone, I can use Photogene to edit, caption and transmit photos. But, this is for truly critical situations where accessing my laptop in my camera bag would be unreasonable, which is almost never.
So, the current solution for me is a Macbook Pro. My iPad has not seen much daylight lately. I will probably repurpose it for other things, though I’m not sure what I would use it for at this point.