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Tethertools air direct

I love to shoot tethered, and to be honest I strongly believe that if you run any kind of studio tethering should be something that is key for a good photoshoot.
The main advantage is of course that your client (and you) see the images on a big screen, this makes it much easier to show the results, check lighting details and of course focus.

Normally I shoot with an USB cable like probably most of you.
It’s very simple, connect to the camera, connect to the PC/Mac, start software and go….
Well it’s not that easy sometimes but in essence it is.

Now in the past I’ve tried several solutions that promised wireless tethering, and let’s set them next to other to start.

 

First we have the internal cards
You probably all have seen some of those in the past, and they are still being sold.
I can be very short about this solution, I’ve tried 3 different cards and they all ended up being returned.
yes it worked, kinda
Sometimes the connection was rock solid, to be very flacky the next day, and not working at all a week later. And it’s quite easy to understand why, especially after reading solution number 2.

 

Second we have the build in wifi
Most new cameras have some form of wifi build in, and also my Sony camera has this option.
Now in the case of Sony they actually have a really good solution (so far the best I’ve seen), it works great in our studio, solid connection up to let’s say 15 mtrs away from the tablet and images come in almost as fast as via USB. Now don’t be fooled by this remark…. when you shoot with the Sony software you can select to send over the RAW files which takes forever, or a preview JPG, this preview JPG is very lightweight and is 2MP, so this goes through the air pretty fast. One could say… why not use this Frank?

Yep, I understand that question.
Well first off, the solution was pretty basic a few years ago. You could only use it as an app that you started on the camera and the viewfinder and some other things didn’t work anymore, so you could use your phone or tablet as viewfinder or the LCD on the back of the camera, not a big thing but I like the viewfinder. Luckily in the modern Sony cameras we now have the wifi build in the real camera OS, so you don’t need to take any sacrifices in viewfinder or other settings. However….

This works like a charm in our studio.
When I test it in a hotel it works like a charm.
But I’ve actually only had 2-3 workshops where the solution really worked as it should, in all other situations the connection was very slow (20 seconds for 2MP raw), very unstable (sometimes 1 seconds sometimes 20 seconds) and in some situations I couldn’t even walk further away than 1 meter from my tablet.

The reason is pretty simple to explain.
The wifi signal uses 2.4GHZ and 5 GHZ, but both bands can be pretty busy and overcrowded, especially in event spaces or for example in a cellar with a lot of iron it’s not an ideal solution for a weak wifi signal. And that weak is key. When we look at what the camera transmits it’s of course a lot weaker than an external solution. Meaning it might work, but there is a huge risk that in other location it won’t. In all honesty it’s a risk I can’t take, and shouldn’t either.

 

Third we have the external solutions
This is where the fun starts.
Today we take a look at the brand new Tethertools Air direct.
I do have to say right from the start that Annewiek and I are the Dutch distibutors for Tethertools, but… that won’t hold me from being 100% honest in this review, so I’m not going to sugarcoat anything what I write down is something I stand 100% behind.

The first wireless solution from Tethertools was the case air, and although that one was working great for almost all cameras there was still that issue that haunts me… no Sony support. And you see this with a lot of devices or solutions that use tethering and as a Sony ambassador that drives me nuts, why not just give the SDK to manufacturers so they can make devices that don’t just work with Canon and Nikon, I just don’t get it. Yes we can tether in Capture One, but I also like to use Lightroom or smartshooter… and you guessed it… they support the files but no tethering, but ok let’s not get too much off topic.

The case air was awesome for people that needed a small, relatively fast and most of all easy to use wireless tethering solution.
But if you want something a bit more professional and supporting Sony… well now we have the Air Direct and it’s a pretty awesome solution that checks almost all the boxes.

 

Air direct
Let’s see what the air direct does in the boxes that I want it to work.
First off all, the Air direct makes tethering possible to the desktop for almost every camera including : Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic LUMIX, Phase One, Hasselblad, Leica models with USB tether. It’s of course not designed for non-supported camera models in your software.

All devices (semi check)
One of the things that I find essential is that it should work with both mobile devices (Android and iOS) but also with the desktop on both Mac and PC, and that last one is a huge thing. On location I shoot mostly wireless to an iPad pro with a laptop as backup if the wifi doesn’t work but in the studio or when I want to also retouch images it’s important to also be able to shoot tethered to a desktop, and preferably to my own software.

Well the Air direct does it all, and with some cool tricks.
First of all when you use a Canon or Nikon you are able to use the Android/iOS app.
When you own a Sony… well not yet. But Tethertools confirmed that a Sony solution is coming on the Air Direct, so I’m pretty confident we will see that soon/semi soon.

And the mobile app does it “all”
As they say themselves:
“Go Mobile with Air Direct’s robust app for instant image visibility and intuitive camera controls. Change settings, set timelapse and Bracketing, Shutter Release, movie mode and more with Canon and Nikon”

All software (Check)
Oh this is so cool.
I’ve only seen one other device that can do this and it’s such a great solution that when you once used it you don’t want to be without.
On the PC/Mac you can install a small app called ADU, now if you don’t read the manual, you can download it from https://www.tethertools.com/adu
You just run this app in the background, connect to the wifi of the Air direct and after that you can start with your favorite software, do beware… that software should support your camera via USB, you still can’t shoot tethered into lightroom when the camera is not supported.

Software supported by ADU :
Phocus, Capture One, Smartshooter, Lightroom Helicon remote, Canon Eos utility, Nikon Camera control 2, AstroDSLR, Darkroom core
And probably a few more.

In essence the software just sees your camera as if it was connected via USB, pretty cool especially if you don’t want to change your workflow. Oh and don’t worry if your camera is not supported in Lightroom, as always you can use hotfolders in Lightroom and shoot tethered that way.

RAW and JPG or…. (check)
Well this is real biggy.
Sending over RAW files via Wifi is not my hobby, and I can already tell you that if you expect that to work fine…. well stop reading sorry buddy not going to happen soon.
RAW files are awesome but also very large and Wifi is just not able to send 10 RAW files over the air in 2 seconds like a USB cable can handle easily. That being said, when you shoot wireless there are other solution that work “great”. You see me using quotes and that’s because this is were you HAVE to make a sacrifice in your workflow (later more on how they could solve this a bit).

With the Air direct you can filter out the RAW files on the mobile app and send JPGs to the mobile device and leave the RAWs on the card.
On the desktop site we don’t have that option and you have to set this up in the camera.
On the Sony you can easily set it up to shoot RAW+JPG but only send the JPGs to the computer, a small disadvantage is that Sony only allows 2MP JPGs to be send over, unless you also want the RAWs there, which in this case we don’t want to. So we have the RAWs on the card and 2MP JPGS going through the air with a pretty fast speed, in fact it’s almost faster than my RAW files via the cable (nice). Disadvantage is of course that you have the RAWs on the card so if your client gives stars it’s on the desktop not on the RAWs, but that’s easy to fix.

First off all make sure all file names are on original if possible in your software.
Just give stars, ratings whatever.
Now import your RAW files next to the JPGs and sort on date/time, now you see your selects next to the RAWs, just select the RAWs and star them, now you can delete all the JPGs. Even if you can’t use the same names this method works like a charm unless you shoot a million images in burst mode and have to select 1000 I would not want to do that, but for a normal session with let’s say 200 images and 20 selects it’s easy peasy.

 

Connection to a router (Not yet)
When you are using wifi with a wireless solution it’s often a 1:1 connection (direct connection) this means that you sacrifice the wifi from your desktop or mobile device for the connection to the wifi transmitter on the camera. Now in most cases this is absolutely no problem. But in our specific case it did give me a challenge. We also use chromecasts in our studio for display on the big screen tv’s and well those are also on Wifi and you can’t connect to them via a wired PC in most cases if the wifi is in other subnet (like with us). Luckily the Chromecast Ultra also has a wired option, so in our case it was a matter of just using a network cable to the chromecast to make it connect to the wired subnet. Again in most cases this is not a real problem (also not for us). However…. when you are able to connect to a hotspot in your room/studio it does maximize your range, now we can get app 30mtrs away from the PC before the connection is lost, which is pretty good seeing that puts about 2 walls between me and the desktop, but I’m 100% sure that if we connect to our wifi network in the studio I would have 100% connection even when we walk around the studio outside. so that would be cool.

Our contact at Tethertools confirmed this is on the roadmap, so that’s pretty awesome.

Battery life (check, check double check)
Oh this is a problem.
Up till now if you want to shoot a whole day you better prepare for some frustrations or external battery solutions like a powerbank, and I hope for you that the USB input isn’t shared with the USB to the camera because than you also need a hub, and let’s be honest the camera is big enough right?

This is also something the Air Direct tackles beautifully, yep I’m getting excited.
Now this is something that a lot of people won’t get why I get so excited about this, but trust me you will.
The Air Direct uses standard Canon batteries as powersupply. In real life this means you can just switch batteries when it dies (charger is included) and Canon batteries can be bought for next to nothing if you are willing to go for third party brands. Now don’t worry about weight too much, normally you have the battery inside, now it’s outside so in weight it really doesn’t make a huge impact.

I can’t yet say how much the battery life is, but I did a complete workshop with the Air Direct and right at the end was the first time I saw the red light coming on, so that would mean app 5-6 hours. And what if you have to change batteries? well it’s a hot swappable solution so no downtime, just take the battery off and put a new one on without losing connection. And if you don’t want batteries or you use a fixed setup… no problem just use a powerbank or AC power.

 

Speed (check)
Well it’s never fast enough of course, but the Air direct has everything covered to be one of the fastest yet.
You can use both 2.4GHZ or 5GHZ (switch on the side to select)
The Air direct also has 2 very high powered antennas inside to make sure you have the most solid connection and therefore stable and fast transfer speeds. Again you are not going to be able to shoot RAW if you need it fast, however when you are shooting still life or products it might be that the transfer speed is more than enough for you, there are so many situations where speed is no real issue and in that case you can finally just send the RAWs over the air without waiting for ages.

 

Cables (check)
One of the biggest frustrations for me is often that when I buy something I want to work with it right away and often when you get the device you find out that your camera has a different connection than the delivered cable… aaaaaargh.  Well the Air Direct has you covered, in the box are a few cables that will probably make 99% of the available cameras work right away. There is even a Phase One cable for sale (this one is extra).

 

Price (check)
Of course I’m Dutch so we always want it as cheap as possible.
Now the Air direct is not cheap, let’s get that out of the way.
But you do see check… so what’s the deal.
Well first of all this thing is a tank. It’s build to last.
Plus you have the external battery that is also supplied in the box, and that battery plus the charger plus all the cables all represent a value, and when I add this all together and look at the competition the price is actually pretty decent (even without all those extras) so Tethertools really made something interesting here.

 

Semi conclusion
Ok overall I think we checked my boxes, but seeing this is week 1 and a lot of stuff is still being worked on I called it Semi conclusion.
I strongly feel a Sony mobile app is a key element for a solution that I can support for the full 100% and seeing Tethertools confirmed it’s in the works I guess it will be here soon. And for now I use it on the desktop and laptop during workshops/demos. So don’t expect anymore cables on location.

For what it does at the moment I think when you’re a Canon or Nikon shooter you should absolutely check it out and get it.
For all other brands like Fuji, Sony etc. Your camera will work flawless on the desktop. You can tether like you normally are connected via a wire (only JPGs if you want to keep the same speed) and if you never use a mobile device to tether that’s it it’s awesome and fast. If you do want to be able to also use mobile devices (for me the iPad pro is very important) I would probably just wait a few weeks and see what’s going to happen, I don’t want to give you a “buy now” advise when I don’t have a working mobile Sony solution in my hands. As soon as we get a beta I will immediately update the review and social media. This is also why I’ll probably wait with the video review or do it in two parts. I really want to cover all bases.

For what it is now (one week after release) I can highly recommend the Air direct. It’s pretty unique in what it does and having that external battery is for me the main reason to choose the Air Direct over the competition PLUS the promised mobile app support for Sony that is.

Now when I posted some images online of how I mounted the Air Direct I immediately got some responses from people that claimed it was ugly, too big, etc. Well I have one very simple answer for that…  make it smaller and it won’t work as well. All wireless solutions with specs like this are big (even slightly bigger and heavier than the Air direct). But let’s just get the elephant out of the room, yes it’s big (not ugly) and yes you need to mount it somewhere on your camera and although it does have a hotshoe mount it doesn’t have to be on the hotshoe. We opted for the bottom of the camera. So on top is my remote for the hensel strobes and on the bottom is my tetherblock (which I normally use for guiding my tethercable and mount my camera on a stand) on the tetherblock we use another Tethertools product called the AD-Arka but there are many other solutions that makes mounting the Air Direct pretty easy and just where you want it.
Think about the following options:

This is the Rapidmount coldshoe.


But the Rapidmount also works of course


This is the AD-Arca that I use

And finally of course you can also use a L-Bracket with the AD-Arca

 

So what can be better?
Well I close with this because this is not just Tethertools but for all wireless solutions.

  1. First off all make sure you can set the JPG filtering in the app. Now you’re bound to what your camera let’s you setup and with Capture One I can’t get the images nice full screen (I can in Lightroom) this is a limitation of capture one by the way not Sony or the Air direct, but it would be nice to be able to send for example small JPGs that are larger than 2MP to the desktop with the Sony cameras. If you do the filtering inside the app like on mobile devices it’s much easier and more flexible. It’s not a deal breaker at all, but it would be handy.
  2. Stars are often given by clients or models during the shoot, this means an image is marked as “awesome” and selected. It would be nice if those stars SOMEHOW are also transmitted to the camera, I have no clue if that would be possible but it would be nice.

Final thoughts
When I showed the Air direct online one of the most heard questions was “why?”
And don’t worry I get it.
Why would you spend 300+ for a device when you can tether perfectly including RAWs with a cable.
Well you are 100% right, can’t say anything else. Tethertools deliver a whole line of products that are aimed at wired tethering and it’s awesome, I’ve been using their products since the company was literally a two man outfit (man have they grown) and I have no issues with wired tethering at all, I’m a HUGE advocate for it. However……

There are many many situations where shooting wireless is just plain awesome

Let’s just only think about

 

working on location
When I teach a workshop on location I had to bring a laptop (plus external powerblock), 15 mtrs of tethering cables, meaning also a repeater and two extension locks to make sure I don’t get any dust or water in my connections. And of course we also need a jerkstopper on the laptop and one on the camera. Limit… 15mtrs and every time we move location we have to take everything with us. Plus 15mtrs cables with locks take up some room and weight (when flying). Switching to wireless means no more wires but also no more laptop (when iOS or Android is supported). In fact I’ve done quite some workshops and demos wireless already with different solutions and working with an ipad pro wireless in the field is just…. well it’s awesome it feels like going from 1980 to 2020. Battery life is no issue at all, brightness outside of the iPad pro is so bright it blows away my laptop, plus we don’t need a stand and tethertable for the laptop anymore, just a small stand for the iPad pro, or someone just holds it. It’s not connected anymore so you can drag it where ever you want without disturbing the shooter. Also it’s now possible to just move around without thinking about cables.

Working on tradeshows or demos
Often it’s a matter of 5 minutes between speakers so you have to setup and get ready in less than 5.
With cables it’s doable but it’s a bit of a hassle, with wireless just connect the ipad pro to the projector and… well that’s it in essence you’re done. No more stress.
Also no more worries that when you demo on a booth people stand on your cables and cables get damaged, meaning end of the show or replacements, and do that a few times and your Air direct is “free”

In your own studio
When people walk around in the studio there is chance (huge) that someone stands on the cable, you don’t realize it and before you know it the camera is on the floor (yep happend to me a few times). With wireless no more worries.

 

Final Final thoughts (for now)
Working wireless does limit yourself.
No RAW files. You have to empty the card later and match the stars (if you don’t do that during the session, no issues what so ever, just delete the JPGs and copy the RAWs and start selecting).

But that being said, working with a device like the Air Direct the limitations are kept at a bare minimum. The device is built like a tank, it’s super fast (for wifi) and it connects to the software you know and love. Plus you have the option for mobile apps.

I can only say “highly recommended”
Now get that Sony app working fast. 😀

 

 

Adobe Photoshop on the iPad my opinion

We all were waiting for the release of Adobe Photoshop for the iPad. In all honesty the main reason for me to switch from my Android tablet back to the iPad pro was in fact the announcement of Photoshop for the iPad. Of course the Apple pencil is great and I love LumaFusion a lot but the main reason for the switch was Photoshop. So when it was released I was over the moon, but still a lot of people were not. In this blog post I’ll give you my honest opinion and also the worries I have and the future I see.

Lets start out simple.
Was it what I expected
Well believe it or not, a bit.
Ofcourse I hoped to see a full blown Photoshop with all filters there and smart ports to use my favorite plugins like Exposure software, DxO, Topaz, Imagenomic etc. But let’s wind back.

When I see a lot of the reviews and opinions online it feels a bit like people expected this, and let’s be 100% real, that can never happen. First off all iPad OS is a very different beast from Windows or MacOS, it’s much more limited and it’s mostly touch based, so porting a program as complex as Photoshop to a mobile device is a task thought off in hell probably and they moved it to Adobe because they couldn’t do it.

So first off all, let’s lower those expectations.
You will probably “never” get a 100% mirror copy of the desktop app on the iPad pro for the simple reason it’s not possible due to the interface and the fact that for example Topaz or Exposure have no intentions (as of yet) to port their plugins to the iPad (let’s hope that changes, but I asked them and for now the answer varies between “no” to “let’s see what happens” and trust me that last one is not a “we are working on it but I can’t tell you yet” answer. They are really waiting to see).

So when we tone down our expectations what can we expect.
Well for a first release I’m also a bit underwhelmed, but not in a way that I feel bad, just that I know I have to wait a little bit longer to do what I want to do.

At the moment Photoshop for the iPad is the frame work, and that frame work works like a charm, it’s fast, the new touchdot (as I call it) is awesome and the time I worked with Photoshop for the iPad it just worked flawelessly (after the help update).

Missing filters
This one has me puzzled and I think has a lot to do with the negative feedback online. I’m not talking about missing filters inside of Photoshop by the way but the message “not supported on this device” which is incredibly weird seeing I’m running the latest iPad pro and I would expect that this device would have everything enabled, on a phone or older iPad or even lower specked device I can imagine some things not being supported but on the latest (greatest) I don’t find this logical. However I feel this will be changed soon and it’s more like a placeholder for the moment, in other words the text “coming soon” would have been much better and probably would have caused less “hate” online.

That being said, man I miss “curves” and the options to do “frequentie seperation” also things like object selections would be a nice added bonus if it would be there fast.

 

Aggression
Now normally aggression is a bad thing, but when a company like Adobe talks about an aggresive upgrade path I’m all in. When Adobe changed from a fixed price (every year or so) to a cloud membership I too was a bit skeptical but after a quick calculation it already was very clear that the subscription was the way too go and would save us money in the end. Another benefit was that Adobe announced during the Creative Cloud keynote that updates would be much more frequent and over the board and more and more apps would be added and all would talk to each other…. and let’s be honest Adobe did keep their promise. So I’m confident that every review you see from Photoshop on the iPad will be obsolute a few weeks later because Adobe will be pushing out updates in a fast tempo, at least that’s what I understand.

 

Is it usable?
According to some you should run to Affinity Photo on the iPad for the full Photoshop experience, and in some cases I would say “yes” but with all due respect to Affinity (because they make some really awesome things) For me Affinity on the iPad pro would not be the reason to leave my laptop at home. Creating a panorama takes over 20 minutes from my drone while Lightroom Classic does it in a mere 30-40 seconds. Also working with layers can be confusing because sometimes the layers don’t respond the way you expect or when you do something else and come back to the mask I can’t get it to work whatever I do. I won’t say it’s buggy but there sure are some things that don’t “work right”.

But in all honesty Affinity Photo is very complete and is at the moment much more a replacement for the desktop Photoshop than Photoshop for the iPad, however….. at the moment Photoshop for the iPad works smooth and fast with layers and switching back and forth between tasks and going back to masking didn’t yet cause me any problems in Photoshop. So for now I would say that Photoshop (although having much less feautures) looks smoother and faster than Affinity. It’s now up to Adobe to build upon the framework they created.

For now I feel they rushed the release a little bit, but they had no choice, in all honesty I expected a release at Photoshop world or at the keynote from Apple and my final show was indeed Adobe Max where I expected it. Seeing how it looks at the moment I think Adobe should have taken a few more weeks/months and release it later. For me personally I’m very glad they did release it earlier because people can now grow with Photoshop for the iPad and become real experts at the software.

Now for people that find that strange, read this…
When you get an app that has a gazzilion options you very quickly get overwhelmed and can’t do anything because it just is too much, an app as complex as Photoshop is now in it’s bare basics on the iPad so now learning how to use it is pretty simple and easy, from now on every addition that Adobe makes will be a new learning point and I think in the long run you will understand the app better which makes your workflow more easy.

You could say I’m just sugarcoating it and you are right for a bit.
I’m a huge Adobe fan/supporter but I’m also 100% honest to you guys. I was always 100% Apple fanboy till they did things I couldn’t use in my workflow and I switched to devices/software that could. So don’t mistake me being optimistic for being a blind fanboy.

It just works
One of the things I absolutely loved about Apple, everything just worked and worked together. For me having a proper working Photoshop on the iPad is not enough. I need to get there and I need to get out of there.

The combination Lightroom CC and Photoshop would be killer IF Adobe makes it possible to go from Lightroom CC directly into Photoshop, something I’m 100% sure off will happen probably sooner than later. This would mean, doing your stuff in Lightroom CC and for the clone/healing/skin/compositing and whatever you jump into Photoshop in a PSD/TIFF 16 bits Adobe RGB format and do the work, and when you hit save it’s in Lightroom CC. Exactly like on the desktop. This way you can very easily backup everything when you’re home, or simply continue work on the desktop.

And there we go.
That’s the cool thing about the way Adobe is now putting everything together.

Lightroom CC
Work on ANY device and have your images ready to store, retouch on every moment of the day, being it in the plane on your tablet or behind the desk with a large retouch tablet like the surface studio or Wacom.

Rush
Start your video on your mobile device and finish it on the desktop in premiere.

Photoshop
One of the key elements for Photoshop at the moment is the cloud based PSD solution and I think a lot of people will benefit from this more than they think. I think that at the moment we can see Photoshop on the iPad more as a “companion” app an app that can open your Photoshop files and you can do some finetuning while on the road, make some extra adjustments to mask, composition, color etc. And save for final retouching on the desktop. This makes it possible to create ideas/sketches or finetune artwork anytime and anywhere without having to save to a single flat file and work on that later (if you for example use snapseed)

That being said, I’m 100% sure Adobe has no intention to keep it a companion app, but Photoshop on the iPad will probably grow the same way that Lightroom CC has/is.

Remember
Lightroom Mobile
What a joke some people will say, and I agree.
Man I was over the moon when they showed it to me the first time, this was ground breaking, awesome and killer. However my joy was quickly changed to uther disspear, the intergration with Lightroom classic was bad, without internet you’re lost and don’t even try to use different catalogues, in all honesty it worked… but it didn’t.

But that Lightroom Mobile is now Lightroom CC and to be honest I can’t life without it anymore, it’s on all my devices and it’s used daily. The camera inside needs a lot of work to support more lenses (on android I still can only use one lens) but the software itself is pretty complete, in fact I dare to say that at the moment for MY work I can do a more complete retouch with Lightroom CC than with Photoshop. Mainly because skinwork with the structure slider in combination with grain, clarity and dehaze gives the retoucher a pretty complete skin retouching solution, but cloning and healing is still a dissaster for that kind of work in Lightroom I think.

Intergration and workflow
For the moment I figured out a pretty good workflow to use Photoshop and Lightroom CC with each other. I do most of my work in Lightroom CC for skin and tinting, and when I’m satisfied with the look I go to Photoshop for the Cloning and Healing and I’m done. So in essence we can now do a full professional retouch job on the iPad pro. But it’s far from fast or perfect.

First of all we really need that intergration between Lightroom CC and Photoshop because Photoshop does not yet open RAW files (which is not really necessary if Lightroom CC has the option to export to PSD straight into Photoshop) For now we can of course choose to export in TIFF but… wait a minute that’s only available on Android… I can’t find that in Lightroom CC on iOS, but I guess with iPad OS that will follow soon. And seeing Photoshop is only available on iOS this is a well needed addition to the export options for Lightroom CC.

At the moment Affinity Photo does open RAW files and can export as TIFF/PSD so for the moment one could opt for Affinity Photo in combination with Lightroom CC but the main problem in iOS is that Lightroom CC doesn’t export as highquality 16 bits files so we have a rather annoying bottle neck there, which can be solved rather easily I think when Adobe let’s Lightroom CC export in TIFF/PSD like on Android. For now we are left with a problem that is pretty serious.

There is no way to open RAW files in Photoshop
There is no way to get high quality 16 bits files from Lightroom CC to the filmrol or Photoshop (or Affinity for that matter), so I do understand a lot of the critical views on this release.

However, and just think with me…..
If Adobe just adds that option to work on 16 bits PSDs straight out of Lightroom CC and after retouching just puts them back into CC I think a lot of the issues would be gone, after that it’s simply putting out more and more updates to the Photoshop app to make it more complete.

My personal conclusion
Maybe it’s colored because I’m more in the Adobe camp but I really feel that Photoshop is a very smart release from Adobe, however it’s far from complete, but hey at least we have an undo option (something Photoshop 1.0 did not have).

Let me make my conclusion double.
First off I think it’s been released too soon, there is a framework that works like a charm and is smooth and it shows the potential, if there was no competition this would be labeled as a killer app, but in reality there is stiff competition from Affinity. And I really feel that although Photoshop feels a lot smoother than Affinity and feels also faster there is a LOT and I really mean a LOT that Adobe has to add to come close to a desktop experience, but do we really need that.

My personal opinion is that it really varies per person and what he/she needs to do if you can use software. Fresno is for example awesome for painters but for me… well it’s cool that I get it but in all honesty I don’t see me creating the nightwatchmen on it. ProCreate I doodled with a lot and absolutely love it, on the desktop I LOVE mangastudio which blows away anything I can do in Photoshop because it helps me as an inexperienced drawer. So if you are an artist that creates highly realistic paintings with a million layers and you need specialist brushes…. well maybe Photoshop on the ipad is not for you.

When I’m shooting street and travel photography I have to be honest that I hardly ever leave Lightroom, but when I’m retouching a model I really need more than Lightroom and (if that export is fixed) at the moment the combination of Lightroom CC and Photoshop on the iPad gets me pretty close to what I can do on the desktop, although I really miss my plugins like Topaz for that ultra sharp look, or Exposure for those cool film emulations, but most of these effects can be emulated with Lightroom CC’s structure and clarity and local adjustments, and of course curves/levels (RGB channels) in Lightroom CC and Photoshop on the iPad (levels).

So where am I faster?
At the moment I’m 100% faster on the desktop. But I’m used to the desktop. In fact my video editing has been much faster on the iPad compared to the desktop, so I have the full confidence that in the end my workflow on the iPad will also be closer to the desktop experience. And let’s look at it from an artists perspective, a Photoshop that is fully optimized for touch and pen is of course much better than one that is controlled by a mouse. And yeah I know most people use a Wacom tablet or Surface but I’m just saying, when Photoshop started out it was not working with the stuff we have now.

However, and this is where the power of the iPad comes in. How important is speed…..? when you take into account that with the iPad I can work in any location and situation. Yes I’m faster behind the desktop but I have to be behind a desk for that, and with an iPad or Phone I can work in the car, bus, plane, campground etc. and the battery runs for hours and the output is much higher which makes working outside much easier.

However some things we will probably not see soon, and that might even be something nobody thinks about yet….. when you hover over a Wacom or Surface product and don’t touch the surface you can see a pointer, for me this is super handy to make exact clones and healing actions, seeing there is no digitizer in an iPad (as of yet) you will not see anything untill your pen hits the glass, now the iPad doensn’t have a lot of paralax errors so in essence you will be ok, this is something that I miss. Add to this that Photoshop for a lot of people is not really Adobe Photoshop but more a mix of Photoshop as the centre and plugins that create their workflow it’s to be expected that people will have to change their approach and workflow.

Really the endconclusion
I was planning on a smaller piece, but I think you have to be complete with something like this, there are way too much people just bashing version 1.0 without thinking about the potential.

I think the first thing you have to do is be realistic.
Photoshop on the iPad is a first release, a version 1.0 meaning it’s the start and with software like this, things are added on a daily basis (at Adobe) probably even faster, updates will roll out continiously and what took Photoshop decades to achieve the mobile version will probably reach in 2-3 years. I’m ready for it, there is a load of potential out there with the Apple Pencil and the iPad pro series, let’s hope they add feautures very soon.

Personally in order of importance.
Export Lightroom CC to PSD or TIFF 16 bits
Intergration Lightroom CC to Photoshop and back
Photoshop Curves
Photoshop Frequenty seperation options

And finally open up Photoshop for intergration with third parties so they can create plugins. The future will tell what happens…. but at least we have the start and the start looks a bit pale but has a lot of potential.

Do this before using Photoshop 2020

Just a quick tip for all you guys that installed the new Photoshop 2020 and wondered “where is all the new stuff like object selection?”
 
If you (like many) have adjusted your menu for a different layout or removed a tool, make sure you reset this menu to defaults, the moment you do this, all the new goodies will be there.
 
Please let as many people know before we get a lot of “bashing” for no reason.
 
#adobe #photoshop2020 #photography #retouching

iPad Pro current state ….. is it Pro or not?

If you have followed my work over the years you know it’s pretty much a one-man (and a woman) band. Meaning everything you see from photography, video and blog posts are done by me and behind the scenes, Annewiek helps with Tether Tools, Clickprop backdrops and simply put she helps me to do my work for you guys (she’s pretty awesome). Now I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life and one of the things I quickly learned is “workflow control”, you can do a 12 hour workday in 6 if you have a perfect workflow compared to a shitty one, and when every hour is precious it’s very important to get the workflow down to perfection so there is also some time left for family, games, music etc.

Because we travel quite a lot and I give a lot of demos for companies, tradeshows, workshops etc. over the years we have a pretty solid workflow.
Up till a few months ago, I used the fastest laptop I could get, in my case often the Dell XPS series (present I’m running an i9) and before the Dell always the 15″ MBP with the almost fastest option (simply put the top end is just way too expensive). For tethering I’ve been using Capture One for ages and for storage and quickly editing street/travel photography Lightroom Classic is without a doubt, my go-to companion. For the more heavy editing…. well Photoshop of course.

Now I’m a bit of a workaholic when travelling but I also love to entertain myself on planes/busses etc with some movies, games etc. So when we travelled the standard stuff we brought were :
Annewieks MBP, my Dell XPS, a Wacom tablet, Annewieks iPad and I used a Huawei M5 tablet. This was a perfect outfit that could handle any situation…. except one….. very important one.

When we travel a lot is also done with our RV (when we are in Europe), and truth be told, we are on power a lot but it also happens (quite often) we are not, and editing the images of the day, writing a blog post and editing that day’s vlog on a laptop WITHOUT power… well that’s impossible, I love my XPS machine but when editing photos or video the battery life (of all laptops) pretty much suck, if I manage to get 90 minutes out of it I’m jumping with joy, but when I edit outside it’s more or less 60 minutes with the brightness on full power, and to be honest… it isn’t that bright to begin with when competing with the sun, and don’t even think about editing on a plane, it’s just too tight. My tablet I actually only used on the plane or buses and maybe sometimes in the evening or morning when we have a day where I didn’t shoot a lot.

So, in essence, we are travelling with a lot of gear which all does something, but doesn’t do all.
When Apple released the iPad Pro a few years ago I literally kept hitting the refresh button to order the gift to all creatives, the laptop replacing, powerhouse (I forgot to put magic in there somewhere but you know what I mean) iPad Pro, the real game-changer. Well, it did change the game I think for a lot of people, in fact, it even got me back into drawing again for a short period of time. But that Pro indication….. in fact it was just a blown-up iPad which in fact was a blown-up iPhone…. so why did I buy this thing…… yeah I kept wondering that for over a year after which I sold my iPad pro and never looked back. Over the years I progressed from iOS to Android (mainly due to the cameras and USB connectivity which drove me mad at times with iOS) and from macOS to Windows.

Surface series/Wacom Mobile Studio
In between my new (11″) iPad pro and the first experience I tested the Microsoft surface series twice.
The first time was a disaster, the machine kept crashing on me, the screen was way too small and editing video was… well impossible.
Of course we also had the Wacom mobile studio pro, I got the 15″ and loved it from day 1, but the lack of support and the lack of a proper stand made my love for this device melt like snow in a SoCal sun, I’ve put several videos out there to improve for example accuracy in Photoshop with the Mobile Studio but after every update something else seemed to break down so in the end I just gave up.

The second surface device I tested was “bingo” the surface book 2.
An amazing laptop with an awesome screen you can draw on, the main disadvantages were, however, battery life and the incredible drop in processing power when you went to tablet mode, and let’s be real, just for fun…. try editing an image in Photoshop without touching your keyboard…. impossible, and it’s even worse when you try to run premiere with just touch, it’s almost laughable if it wasn’t such a frustration. But in all honesty, the surface book 2 was the best laptop I ever used, and the only thing that held me back was the fact that there were a lot of “rumours” about a game-changing iOS and some plans with Adobe.

Adobe the Apple salvation?
Apple is not my Apple anymore.
When I see the keynotes I can’t really feel the same feeling I got when the iPad was released or the MacPro or…. Apple always had some cool stuff that nobody else did, integration between devices was flawless. The biggest letdown for me was actually the release of the touch bar MBP, getting someone from Adobe on stage to show Photoshop with her fingers on that HUGE trackpad, I just knew she would walk off and go back like Columbo/Steve Jobs and would say “oh just one more thing, from now on the touchpad is also compatible with the Apple pencil” I was so waiting for that moment but it never came…. I tried the keyboard, I tried to convince myself to be able to live without a card reader and HDMI and that 5000.00 wasn’t really……. ok that’s when I snapped out of it 5000!!!! are they fricking insane? I ordered my Dell XPS the day after for 2500.00 including 24 hours onsite support. I never looked back.

In this same period Microsoft, Huawei, Samsung etc. made HUGE progress in both cameras and connectivity between devices and now even between devices from different brands, almost everything that made Apple so awesome was now on the other side, but………

Lightroom CC and more
Lightroom CC on Android was a game-changer, I never liked Lightroom Mobile, but what Mobile did wrong CC absolutely did right, much better performance and finally, also a way to create your own presets and sync between devices without much of the limitations of Lightroom Mobile. At the moment I still think the Android version of Lightroom CC runs more smoothly on my P30 Pro than on my iPad pro, luckily Adobe finally did upgrade the iOS version to be able to batch edit images (something the Android version already had) so for me both are now about equal for what I need.

But Adobe didn’t stop there.
For video I always use my laptop in a workstation I created at home so I don’t spend all my time in the studio, but it’s still a fixed place. When I heard about Project Rush for the first time I was over the moon, finally some video editing that I can use for the vlogs and smaller educational videos, at that time I did try “Power director” for Android and although it’s pretty good it wasn’t really what I could use daily so Project Rush… bring it on.

A few months later we were together with Adobe at Photoshop World and I got the major hit…… Photoshop is coming to the iPad. Slowly I started to look at the iPad pro again but I also had a lot of doubts. How can you work with Photoshop and video if it’s a real pain to get your files on and off your iPad, especially when you don’t have internet or very slow internet. (for years we were stuck at 10mb/s down and 0.7 up (if the winds were right).

Slowly it’s getting together
With the announcement of iOS13 / iPad OS, I knew it.
Adding external hard drives and having a “real” file system that’s it, now we are talking.
So I ordered my brand new USB-C iPad Pro.
At first, I ran the beta version of iPad OS and am now on the final release candidate so I think it’s time for an update.

Software vs Apps
A lot of people will claim that an iPad pro will never be a replacement for the laptop because you don’t run full versions but apps. Well let me put that straight, it’s an excuse (in most cases) take for example the software Lumafusion (you might have heard that name before), Lumafusion is an insane video editor for the iPad pro that for me actually is debit to the fact I hardly use my laptop anymore. I loved premiere and could edit almost blind on it (for what I need) but having an iPad in my lap and being able to do everything with touch is unbelievable, in fact 99% of all the video you see online from us is edited on the iPad pro with a mix of Rush and Lumafusion. And of course the desktop app can do more but in most videos, we don’t use multi-cam and I don’t need face-tracking with object avoidance nuclear radar interpretations…. (although a stabilizer would be cool inside Rush or Lumafusion, but there are very good external apps).

Same goes for office applications, I don’t need the full-featured desktop experience, I need to be able to write, edit and read and that’s it. So apps vs software are in most cases a bit like range anxiety with Electric Cars, you worry about it when you don’t own one when you work with and own one you will quickly see that the benefits highly outweigh the negatives.

But is it really pro?
Well, what is a pro?
Let’s see when an iPad pro can really replace a laptop.
Travelling salesperson or manager: without a doubt
Consumers that surf, read, watch movies etc. : without a doubt
Heavy media users and gamers: without a doubt (but with other games and MUCH longer battery life)
People that love to draw: oh heck yeah, can’t think of any device more suited for that
People that vlog: yep, without a doubt, unless you feel you have to Spielberg
Podcasters: oh yes, without a doubt, in fact, it would be my favourite thing I think.
People that do photography and video:……… you might expect yes but it’s different from that.

I don’t want to say yes or no, let’s just see what I think and experience.

Adobe (again)
Adobe for me is a company I love. I know they get a lot of hate about subscriptions but I would rather get updates weekly and pay 12.00 a month that get an update once a year and pay 199.00 for that update, often people seem to forget that without a continuous income stream you can’t do research and development. That being said, I’m a bit disappointing up till this point on a few key elements that actually make me wonder if I will continue with the iPad pro.

Lightroom CC
Lightroom CC is my mobile world, I can’t stress how much I love this app. It’s on all my devices and it’s the perfect companion when travelling, and because I only use it when travelling even the 100GB cloud space is more than enough, even when I save all the images I take during a 2-week trip. I love how I can work on every device and when I arrive back home all my images are already in Lightroom Classic and the only thing I have to do is check my edits on a calibrated BenQ monitor and I’m done. Absolutely awesome.

However……
Lightroom CC is incredibly crippled by one simple thing.
Why the heck can’t we rename images?
Now I understand Adobe wants us to move everything to the cloud but did they ever think about people (like me) that often don’t have good internet in hotels (try uploading images with 0.07 up) and that being said, I just want to be able to name my images the way I want them and not the way Adobe wants it.

Not being able to rename means that during travels you can’t really export any images to clients because the moment I’m home I’m renaming all my files in Lightroom Classic so I can never find something back on a filename that I send out on the road. Something that’s so essential should be in the software. But let’s not blame Adobe…

Batch renaming part II
So it doesn’t work in Lightroom CC, ok we can work around that right?……
Well…..
Silence…..
No we can’t.
And I’m still a bit flabbergasted by this.
How can Apple call a device Pro and a file system let alone a laptop replacement if in the WHOLE Apple ecosystem (including apps) there is not ONE option to batch rename images? what’s going on here? this is the first and most important thing I do in my workflow, rename images by location and date. I searched high and low and can’t find ONE app that allows me to batch rename images (if someone does please let me know). In the end I did find a solution via automation but that’s also not really a solution you can work with, it’s a lot of steps and it does take some time. And time… well we don’t have that much.

To be honest this is the biggest problem I have (such a small thing).

Ok so what does work
Let’s be fair, I love my iPad pro and as mentioned before there are always cons and pros, and if the pros outweigh the cons you go for it. So let’s see:

Presentations:
Works like a charm, it did took me a while to find the proper remote but it now really works like a dream. Even editing presentations is fast and almost just as powerful as on the desktop. At the moment I’m mostly using KeyNote but also Powerpoint works great on the iPad.
CHECK 100%

Shooting tethered:
Mixed bag.
When I use the Sony app it can work like a charm, but it can also frustrate the heck out of me. I’ve had situations where images took 4-20 seconds to come in and I’ve had situations where they only would come in when I was 1 meter away from the iPad Pro. For a while, I tested the CamFi (I’m shooting Sony so Camranger and case air don’t work at the moment) and that was a totally different experience, everything came in blazingly fast and even at Photoshop World from a distance of over 30 meters it still didn’t miss a beat. In a few week a new Tethertools product is being released with even better performance (and for Sony) and I can’t wait to test that one out.

Still, I really want a solution where I can also shoot with an USB cable. Let’s be honest wifi is still a risk you take and I just can’t afford to be somewhere and say “sorry… we don’t have images coming in but they are awesome, trust me”. I do believe however that with the opening of the USB-C port it won’t take long before someone will pick this up. And with a rock-solid wifi connection, I’m willing to wait for this (in case of emergency I have a solution on my phone that works with USB-C tethering, and as long as the people see the images it’s fine).
CHECK 80%

Media consumption and comics/reading/gaming
Duh, not even gonna talk about that
CHECK 100%

Video editing
With both Rush and Lumafusion I almost dare to say that unless you want to create something really special 99% of the edits can be done in Lumafusion and a lot in Rush. Main advantage of Rush is that you can start mobile and do the final edits on the desktop.
CHECK 90%

Music creation
Oh man…… I just can’t express how much I love the iPad for this.
Garageband is insane, combine it with apps like ToneBridge and iRig and you can lock me away for months and I will not get bored for a second. If you want more? there are several Pro DAWs on the app store ranging from ok priced to rather cheap. Also try to connect your iPad pro to your desktop DAW for some cool slider action.
CHECK 100% +++++

Photography
Ok there we go, the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Let me forget about that renaming thing.

For a good conclusion I have to do it slightly differently.
If you’re a traveller and do most of your edits in Lightroom I would say that the iPad Pro is amazing and will without a doubt replace your desktop. Lightroom CC is fast and multi-device (which for travelling is so cool and handy), add to this the fact you already have a backup in the cloud and you can see that this is a winner.

I would say for the travel/nature/street photographer
CHECK 99%

Ok, now we need a bit more.
Panoramic shots
I’m flying my drone and I want a panoramic shot (this would also go for the previous one btw) at the moment Lightroom CC doesn’t stitch, and also the just released Photoshop doesn’t. But don’t worry, there is another app out there called Afinty Photo and believe it or not that one does stitch panoramic shots. But…. the last time I tried it it took Afinity over 20 minutes to do it…. editing a complete vlog in 4K took less render time, so that’s next to useless unless you only have 1-2 panoramic shots.

FAIL 10% (it can be done)

Ok now we take a look at the photos that need editing
On the desktop most of my edits are done in Photoshop with my model photography.
Although with the new texture slider Lightroom can do some good skin smoothing, running a plugin like Portraiture is no competition. Also tinting with Exposure software, or making an image pop with Topaz studio/Luminar is a breeze and very fast. When we take a look at the iPad Pro we have a few options.

  1. Afinity Photo
    This is the best thing you can get at the moment that mimics Photoshop. It’s a mix of frustration and love I have for Affinity. Somehow when I follow my workflow to the letter it “kinda” works, but I’ve had a lot of struggle with layer mask and reselecting them, also merge visible or selected doesn’t work and don’t even try to open something else on iPad iOS 13.2 because somehow they broke multitasking so all your work will be gone.Overall I can almost anything in Afinity, including some pretty good skin work, healing and cloning however feel awkward and although it gets better it’s still very work-intensive compared to the desktop
  2. Photoshop
    Just released so it’s not really fair to give my opinion, but I still going to do it.
    We’ve been waiting for a year (even longer for some) and to be honest the release does disappoint me a bit. I love to tint my images via curves and seeing that there is no curve option just made me sad, I can do it with levels in a similar way but …. come on no curves?
    Also I have a lot of things that simply don’t work, messages like “this is not available on your device” sorry…. what? I’m not running Android where there is a difference between devices, this was designed for the iPad pro and I’m running the latest one…. why?, how?
  3. Snapseed
    We all love snapseed, and I mostly use it for tinting. For real photo-editing? Not really
  4. The others
    There are a LOT of editors on iOS and I don’t want to say they are not good enough to mention, but let’s be honest there are not a lot that have the features of Afinity and Photoshop so I left those out mostly because they have severe limitations in export, resolution etc.

If I look what I’ve done so far, I’m able to deliver the “same” looks and quality to my clients than I would do on my desktop, that being said….. it does take me at least twice as long per image. So I would say
CHECK 80%

Finally the file system
The promise, the thing, the magic of the iPad….

Well for me the disappointment of the iPad, well ok that’s a bit too harsh.
I’m very happy with it, you can now just connect an external SSD, card or whatever and you can easily copy stuff from and to your device, that part is awesome and well needed. So what don’t I like?

Well, it’s the way how.
For example the film roll is still fenced off like crazy, you can’t go to your photos via the filesystem, and if you want to copy for example images to photos you simply can’t….. unless you use the share option. When you are in photos you can share via filesystem so it’s all possible but it’s not like Apple (easy and one-click). I also feel the speed is limited (a lot) making copying huge amounts of data very time consuming, and finally you don’t really see what’s happening, I would love to see an indicator of percentage or time. For me the best way to work with the filesystem is just to have to windows next to each other and just drag and drop.

Another cool addition is the connection to network locations, but in our situation, we often lose the connection and it’s quite buggy when I want to copy files or delete files on my NAS (as in it just doesn’t work or is very slow).

I would say that for normal every day use it’s fine, but it needs a lot of work before you can even add the P from Pro.
Also we really need to see the option in the apps, meaning I can just use the file system in Lightroom CC, Lumafusion, Rush etc. At the moment Rush, for example, is not able to import anything from another location on my iPad than Photos.
Check 51% and 70% if apps start to support it.

Hardware
Finally let’s take a quick look at what I use as hardware
For the cover, I have one cheap cover that just protects the iPad when I don’t need a keyboard.
For the keyboard, I opted for the Logitech which I love, but it does make the iPad pro a bit heavy for reading in bed for example. I think if I would do it all over I would opt for the Apple version, the keyboard is a lot less but it does make the whole experience a lot easier to carry and you don’t have to switch cases.

Apple pencil without a doubt, don’t go for the competition, you will be using it a LOT

For connectivity, I’m using the Hyper solution. I really like this one and opted for Hyper for the simple reason that most of their products are well supported and good quality and seeing I’m using it like a pro device I don’t want any surprises. Do realize you have to disconnect it every time because it does drain the battery.

I’m also using a magic touchpad (I still had that one) for when I want to connect the iPad Pro to a monitor and use a separate keyboard and mouse like functions.

Conclusion
You might think I’m pretty harsh on the iPad pro.
And I might indeed, but let’s make one thing clear…. I strongly believe that in 2 years time we don’t travel with laptops anymore but with tablets like this. The reason is incredibly simple. You can do almost everything you can do on a laptop, in fact you can work faster and longer with creative software, the Apple pencil is just insane in how it works (and I love the new charging option).

The reason I’m harsh is more also towards Apple.
They charge you a premium price for all their products and throw around terms like magic, unbelievable etc. almost every minute in a keynote, this will, of course, strengthen the expectations someone has of a product. I already feel the iPad pro was wrongly launched, although people that draw will disagree and they are right, and after giving the iPad pro a second chance I can’t say I’m overall disappointing but it’s a far cry from what Apple makes you believe. The weird thing is…. it’s 98% there and that’s the most frustrating thing if a device doesn’t work at all you can just throw it out and don’t think about it.

The iPad Pro is a marvel.
I can edit 4K video smoothly on the timeline where my i9 needs proxy for h265 (insane), rendering a 10 minute video takes 8 minutes on my i9 en 10 minutes (real-time) on my iPad Pro (again insane), the screen is double as bright outside as my laptop which is a major deal when teaching workshops on location plus the battery just keeps going.

The apps are great.
Afinity photo is great for almost all photo-editing (but needs some serious bug fixes and performance boosts)
Photoshop I strongly believe in, but not at the moment… I know for sure that in a year we will have a different Photoshop on the iPad than the framework we see now, at the moment it’s a cool start but it doesn’t come close to the features in Afinity, but that being said, I think that in 2 years time Photoshop will be the ruler on the iPad Adobe just needs to start adding things and they already promised a very aggressive upgrade program so I’m full of confidence, and till that moment I can do everything with Afinity I need.

iOS itself is the thing that worries me the most.
Apple is always very “my way or the highway” and I just hope that by opening the USB-C port they don’t limit it for third parties to for example create tethering solutions or external connections.

At the moment I will continue using my iPad pro as a daily driver and my laptop is actually only used at the moment for our live streams and music recording (I like working with cakewalk on the desktop a bit more than the “limited” Garageband for full recordings especially with additions like EZkeys and EZdrummer etc). So overall I can say.

 

Yes, the iPad Pro can replace a laptop (finally) but if you are a demanding person (like me) there are some sacrifices you have to make. If they finally fix that batch renaming that would be a major improvement.