I am wondering about the next iPad. What is available now is certainly enticing and must be a joy for light computing / intense internet reading. I do have limited budget, however, and think that probably the iPhone 4 is a better way to spend my money. But I look at the iPad and keep thinking that it could be a photographer’s ideal machine; if only it had a straight usb port to connect a camera (if I travel light, I certainly do care about bringing yet another little piece of plastic).

The other option could be that Apple is waiting for Canon and Nikon to put wi-fi or bluetooth connection to send the files wirelessly to the iPad. Well that certainly could help (I hate cables), but I don’t think Apple thinks in terms of being helped by others.

And that pretty much sums it up for the hardware. Which means that I don’t expect Apple to put a camera1 on the iPad (too bulky, I will never use it for snapshots — there’s the iPhone for that); I am not waiting for a faster processor; the form factor and size looks perfect; a higher-resolution screen like the iPhone 4’s retina display could be nice though.

About the software now: this is the area where I am expecting great things from Adobe. A light-Lightroom, that’s what I’m waiting for. Or a quicker Aperture from Apple.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of editing photos directly on the iPad. You might argue that editing 12 Mpixel raw photos is not practical on a underpowered machine like the iPad. But here’s the point: I don’t want to edit the raws. I want to edit the associated jpegs2. And then link all the editing parameters (remember that Lightroom is a non-destructive editing software) to the desktop version where you would actually store all the large raws.

So: a Lightroom-mobile with a nice user interface that allows me to catalog and edit photos; its internal database is made of the associated jpegs. Some tweaks to have only a certain amount of photos stored on the iPad itself, but still the entire database structure would be available on the iPad and a few taps would mark certain sets to be sync’d and their jpegs downloaded on the iPad when it’s connected to the main machine.

The lower resolution jpegs would be good enough for displaying directly on the iPad, even when it’s connected to an external projector. They are light enough that working on them would be a breeze even on the iPad. And the editing parameters would be transferred and applied to the large raws on your desktop computer.


I think this could really work. Is there anybody listening at Adobe ?

Update January 2012: After a while I did get hold of an iPad, and I had great plans to use it for my photos. I was using Lightroom back in June 2011 and I found this app which seemed like a dream come true: Photosmith. I got in touch with one of the developers, Chris Morse, and he was nice enough to send me an interesting reply. I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him:

[…] As for your expectations, let me share this little quote I read once, “Ahh, the optimism of inexperience. Soon to be crushed by the dismal intrusion of reality.”

I use that quote (in humor) only because I think I have to lower/crush your expectations… We don’t do any kind of image editing [yet]. At this point in time we’re strictly the things that you can find in LR’s Library module. (minus the quick develop stuff).

However, for the rest of the things you imagine, I think we’re on target.

What happened next is that I left Lightroom and moved to Aperture, the iPad became a gift to Giulia and so I ended up with no iPad, no Lightroom, and no way to test Photosmith.

At this point, considering the interest that Apple has always shown for photography, I really hope that an Aperture companion app find his way to the Appstore someday. That’s gonna be a nice excuse for me to get an iPad 3.

  1. Maybe a front-facing, lo-res camera, for Facetime and Skype video-calls, that could be nice. 

  2. Medium quality jpegs that are saved together with the raws by any non-trivial, semi-advanced camera.