When I first got back into taking photos I used my phone and edited them on my phone. Later when I grabbed a stand alone camera I picked up lightroom to edit my photos. Although there’s a lot of great features in lightroom, I missed the interaction you got with the iPad or iPhone. Sure these apps were as powerful for editing, but they were more fun.
However, as I switched to shooting more street photography the disadvantages grew and grew.
Now with iOS 12 these issues have been dealt with and it looks like the iPad can, once again, be my main photo editing device.
The three main issues with editing photos in iOS 11 and before.
Before I look at what’s improved, I wanted to state the previous issues and then show how they’ve all been dealt with.
1. Speed of previewing and downloading photos
Importing photos from an SD card was a pain in the previous version of iOS. When you plugged in an SD card via the SD card reader dongle you would slowly get each preview to appear on screen. This wasn’t much of a problem with ten or 20 photos on a card, but if you have over a hundred, then you may well be waiting for a good 15 to 30 minutes for them all to appear.
This could lead to the iPad going to sleep and then needing to start from scratch unless you occasionally tapped and scrolled on the screen to keep the iPad awake. If you had photos on your SD card from a previous occasion, you might be waiting quite a while until your recent photos loaded.
2. Managing photos on import
If you import photos on the day that you took the photos then they would probably be high up in your stream and you could then selected them and add them to an album. But if you had taken them in the past you’d need to find the last import and again create a new album then. Not a huge problem but not as simple as when you import photos onto lightroom on the Mac.
3. Larger previews when importing
While I like the thumbnail previews you get when importing photos (If a photo doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s probably not good blown up larger) sometimes I take several similar photos but with small differences. As I use iCloud photo library, I don’t want to fill my storage with photos that I don’t want to keep. These small previews aren’t great for comparing the small – but important – differences between two similar photos.
What’s changed in iOS 12
Each of these three issues has been fixed in iOS 12.
Now the thumbnail previews load dramatically faster. How much so? Well it’s quicker to get a preview of EVERY single photo on my SD card at the moment (over 300) in iOS 12 than 11 in iOS 11. I would have timed till the end of the first page on my iPhone but my phone went to sleep and cut out the screen recording.
Here’s the video.
Select where to import and create folders
You can now select a folder to import your photos into and even create an album as you import these photos. This means you can very easily and quickly create an album based on an event or select a pre-existing album.
Long press for larger previews
Now you can long press on a thumbnail preview and it will expand to take up most of the screen. You can then flick between photos or swipe out of the preview. This is great for comparing those three similar photos and selecting the one you want. Admittedly it’s not as good as the desktop version of lightroom’s option to display several photos and slowly eliminate one till you have the best one left, but it’s a vast improvement.
What would make photo editing even better on the iPad.
Although these improvements are great, there are still a few issues remaining which would make iOS even better for editing photos.
Editing tag, photo names and meta data on the iPad
In the Mac version of Photos, you can edit various bits of metadata on a photo include the title and tags. This is really handy if you have a load of photos or want to upload a photo to a website without it having a name like img684934.jpg. Seeing as it is in the Mac version, I don’t see why it couldn’t be in iOS.
It would be great if there were some export settings especially for RAW photos. That way we could send different versions of a file to printers or for a website.
Export to external storage
Similarly, support for external storage would be great. As larger as the inbuilt storage on the iPad can be, and the advantages of using iCloud photo library, external storage is still useful and backups are great. That’s not even mentioning needing to get a photo to a printing service or client. We can use SD cards to import photos but not export photos to the same cards. There are some specific hardware tools with apps that can be used as external storage but these are expensive and not always easy to come by. So support for external storage would be great.
An SD card reader built in
Dongles aren’t fun, I’d love an SD Card reader built into the iPad so that I don’t have to think about bringing the lightning dongle along. Especially if I could then export to an SD card as well.
Do you edit photos on your iPad?
Do you have an iPad and edit photos on it? Have you found these aspects to be problematic? What would you like to see?
Also published on Medium.