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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.

First few days with the iPad Pro

Seeing the amount of responses we get on our iPad pro overviews I thought it would be nice to dedicate todays blogpost to the iPad pro in my way. So don’t expect to see a list of accessories, specs etc. you can find in many locations online (calling it reviews) but expect a real honest, in the field way of review where I tell you what I PERSONALLY think about the iPad pro, it’s bad and good things.

 

Let me start off by telling you I’m not an Apple fanboy, somehow I always feel the need to post this because (and I don’t know why) there is a certain group of people that will always try to bash Apple products on price or limitations they feel are important, so let’s start with those points.

 

Price
As far as I know most photographers and videographers are not sponsored by Apple, meaning we all pay full price for the products (if not please let me know, I would love to save money). So let’s look at pricing. Yes Apple is not cheap, but in all honesty in most cases I always get great resale value and the speed in which I sell my old gear is always impressive, although I have to say that selling my iPhone 6 plus took almost a week (compared to the 2 days of my other iPhones was a shock and almost had me worried). On the other hand what you get is pretty impressive, the products are beautifully designed and let’s be honest the OS is just very good, iOS is 100% touch and works like a charm and OSx is stable and also works pretty well (although the last few years first releases can be buggy in some departments).

 

The iPad pro is expensive without a doubt, but not that much more than a fully spec’d iPad Air2 with WiFi/LTD and 128GB and do remember it’s not just a bigger iPad…..

 

It’s just a bigger iPad
Well if you see it like this, than the iPad pro is without a doubt not for you, actually you should stay clear from it. The iPad air for surfing, mail, games, entertainment etc. has the perfect size, both Annewiek and me have travelled with iPads for years and they literally changed long flights from boring as hell to manageable and entertaining.

 

A lot of reviews state the obvious, “Candycrush will look great”, “Email is even better” yeah sure…. why do you need a bigger tablet if you only do that? I don’t see the profit in that, the iPad pro is bigger to carry around, it doesn’t fit most bags where the iPads fit in nice and snuggly, it will fit in the airplane seat nets, but not as easy as the Air, let’s be clear… the iPad air is the perfect travel companion and nobody would ever NEED anything more.

 

So we have the consumers that want to shine and show off with Candy crush and bigger E-mail and sacrifice in portability for this, and we have that other group, and that’s the group I belong to.

 

It’s an iPad pro
As a photographer and instructor I’m always busy, heck I’m happy if I have a day off to be honest, most people know me to be online a lot (answering your questions, posting updates etc) and most of this I do with my iPhone 6s Plus, love the bigger screen and better camera and I always use the iPhone actually instead of my iPad Air2 because it’s just easier, faster and smaller and it fits my pocket. Plus a lot of social media apps run on my iPhone and not on my iPad plus when I shoot an image and edit it in Snapseed or Lr mobile etc. it’s easier to upload and edit is straight from my phone than first “beam” it to my iPad to edit, “beam” back to send, it just doesn’t make any sense. In fact one could say that I use my iPad air2 for remote controlling our Home Theater with iRule, watching movies while traveling, watching TV via a dream box in the RV and do some other stuff when I don’t want to drag my laptop with me but will be surfing for a longer time. In fact I never ever typed a document on it. So when the iPad pro was released I was not willing to spend money on it, but things change.

 

When we shoot in the studio or on location with models I have a certain workflow that is almost routine, RAW developing in Capture One, open in Photoshop do the skin and tinting, save, sync into Lightroom (where my images life). But on the road my workflow is dramatically different. We shoot during the day and at night I download everything into Lightroom, do the edits in Lightroom or DxO optics and do my tinting in Lr or DxO and… well done.

 

So I’ve been experimenting a lot with Lr mobile and was very happy with the workflow because it saves me a lot of work when I arrive back home, now all my images are done, but most of all I like the fact I could now do it in bed (hotel desks are often not really comfy) or on the plane or while Annewiek is driving the RV, but on the iPad air2 Lr mobile already works pretty well, so no real reason to switch to the iPad pro.

 

We also film a lot during travels, Annewiek shoots 4K material and that is edited in FCPx on her laptop and I shoot some material on my iPhone which…. well is never edited, although the material is sometimes rather interesting, funny or just cool but when we arrive home I just don’t have the energy or need to go through this material and editing on the iPhone is ok but not a pleasant experience, on the iPad air2 it works a lot better but somehow I never really took the effort to do it. So where am I going with this….because as it looks now I never really used my iPad for serious work.

 

Unknown

The Apple pencil
When I saw the iPad pro my first response was (as many of you) a bigger iPad but without MacOsX, that’s a shame….
BUT when I saw the Apple pencil my mind went into overdrive… this is it.
But it took some time before I was convinced, actually to be honest it took me till a few days ago before I knew 100% sure I was going to buy the iPad pro, so what changed my opinion.

 

Why don’t I use video editing on my iPad air?
Well it works fine, but the screen is a bit small and crowded, plus the whole finger thing to change clips… well it’s not very pleasant and fast, so enter the Apple pencil with 1 pixel resolution… that would be a lot better. For a while I used a Microsoft Surface pro and I was very impressed at how easy a well designed stylus (sorry pencil) worked in certain software, the reason I don’t use the Surface pro anymore was purely that we experienced some serious issues with shooting tethered during trade shows, USB ports were failing on me and sometimes a reboot helped sometimes not and my MBP always worked so I sacrificed the tablet experience (which I LOVED) for my MBP again, you saw that little line…. “the tablet experience I loved” because let’s make one thing clear working with the Surface pro was AWESOME, shooting tethered on location into a tablet instead of a laptop is great, and walking up stage with just a tablet to connect… awesome… but there were just too many problems, everyone has a mac so if you had the bad luck a projector wouldn’t sync with Apple there was always someone who knew, but with the Surface… well people just said “Yeah it’s windows, a Mac works” (thank you not very much), also as an OSx user I couldn’t really get used to the way the touch but not 100% touch OS worked, because although it’s a touch tablet the experience is not 100% touch, I know it sounds weird but in many instances I really wanted a keyboard or mouse under windows 8. But anyway I’m rambling let’s get back on track.

 

Sometimes there is this moment when everything just falls together, the moment it clicks (sorry Joe).
What if…..
I could get wireless tethered working and shoot wireless into the iPad Pro during workshops.
What if I use a lighting to HDMI convertor to connect the iPad pro to the big screen TV.
What if I use keynote on the iPad pro and control this with my iPhone.
What if I can transfer large files from iPhone to iPad or MBP to iPad without using the always flaky Airdrop (for me it never really works).
What if… and the list was pretty long and I started to work.

 

First shooting tethered, after a lot of experiments we solved this. Of course if you’re using Canon or Nikon you’re in luck with CamRanger and if you’re using ANY Sony A-E mount camera with wifi you’re in luck with Smart remote… unless you’re using their flagship the A7RII (the EVF stays black) until they fix this I solved the problem with a loop on my LCD, and to my surprise it works like a charm, although the EVF is sharper but it works. I’m using play memories and QDSLR dashboard as receiver software.

 

Connecting to a big screen is no problem at all, Apple sells these convertors, and you can even charge at the same time because it has a lighting adaptor inside the convertor.

 

Keynote can indeed be running on the iPad pro and controlled by my iPhone (love this), so now I can draw on the screen, see what I’m doing, using a laser pointer and walk around on stage and see the next slide and notes (which I never use but hey that’s me :D).

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Transferring large files was possible with some sticks on the market with both USB and Lighting but these were very slow, so that was out. Until I found a new product online that promises to give MUCH more speed and works flawless with both iPhones and iPads (pros) and MBP, USB3 speed and lighting adaptor inside. See https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ishowfast-world-s-fastest-iphone-ipad-flash-drive#/ I’m waiting for delivery so I can’t tell you anything about it, but according to some “pre-release” reviews it’s indeed very fast.

 

So most of the problems and wishes I had were solved, and I was more and more looking towards buying the iPad pro and I was lucky to able to just walk into a store on the day of the release and get the 128GB space gray LTD version, so how do I like it?

 

create

Is it a notebook?
This is the first thing my parents asked when I showed them my brand new iPad in it’s Logitech create cover with keyboard.
“No… well a little bit” was my answer (obviously in Dutch).

 

If you don’t know about the logitech Create cover make sure to check it out, it really is one marvelous piece of kit. In essence it’s a backlit keyboard stand that also has some cool features like controlling the sound, light on the iPad pro and keyboard itself, audio, short cuts, home, some double tap things and more, it does however makes the beautiful iPad Pro into a bulky almost MBP look a like. But to get some serious work done where you need to type it’s great.

 

With Pages, numbers and keynote you really have the idea you’re working on a notebook, although you have to switch a lot between the keyboard and the screen, this sounds like a “no deal” but bare with me… I was working this way for an hour and Annewiek asked me something and it struck me as surprising I was trying to use her screen as a touch display……. yeah weird right. So I think that a lot of people who are screaming their lungs out that it will NEVER be a laptop replacement are dead wrong…. but not yet.

 

At the moment the experience is weird, not because it’s not working as advertised, but maybe because it’s working as advertised. Let’s take for example mail. When you are in Mail you can of course type, copy/paste with shortcuts, you can even delete mails by pressing delete on the keyboard…. but…. you can move up and down with the cursor keys, you need your finger for this. Now this could be my age of course or my long time use of mouse/trackpad and keyboard but it just doesn’t feel right, IF they would have added the cursor use I think I would have said that for mail this is a FULL laptop replacement.

 

I also hear some people about why Apple didn’t include a trackpad in the keyboards, and I’m glad they didn’t.
I love my MBP but on the plane I can’t use it because… well it’s too tight and we fly Economy or Economy comfort, however the iPad pro with the much less deep keyboard will be no problem at all, and I would have rather have the space than some form of “ok trackpad”.

 

In all honesty I think it’s a matter of getting used to the interface, we are now used to doing 100% on a keyboard and trackpad/mouse and nothing on the screen of our desktops and when we look back it was also very weird to start using a mouse and a lot of people were actually still using the cursor keys in a lot of early “windows like” software and sometimes grabbed the mouse, I think we are at the start of another revolution in which we have to get used to doing 90% on the screen with gestures and touch and only grab the keyboard when we need to type something, talking about this by the way… the new software keyboard of the iPad Pro is awesome and saves a lot of time switching between modes so for smaller things like emails this will do just fine.

 

If you take this into account I think that for 99% of the people the iPad pro indeed can be a full laptop replacement, because let’s be honest what do you really do on your laptop? You work with Excell, word, powerpoint, mail, surf and watch a movie right? I don’t see a lot of people running autocad or full blown photoshop with a wacom tablet on airports or in busses, most work is the more “basic” stuff. This week we switched from using Office to iWorks in our studio and I must say that’s its a delight, the interfaces are less cluttered, having all the documents in iCloud is handy and keynote just works better than Powerpoint for me, and being able to control it with your iPhone is a big added bonus for me.

 

Get to the point Frank
Yes I’m getting there, and exactly to the point actually.
The Apple Pencil.
I tried some styluses on the iPad Air and never really liked them, of course I didn’t try them all but it just didn’t feel right. The Surface pro actually changed this for me, I loved the way the Wacom pen reacted but as mentioned before I didn’t like the OS and felt it was too much of a mix to be comfortable for me personally.

 

Adding the Apple pencil in the mix made me wanting to run out and get the iPad pro.
I always loved to draw but haven’t done it anymore since childhood, I hope the iPad pro can trigger this again in me because when I played with the Apple pencil it really felt so much better than anything I tried before (including the Wacom series), but that’s not all. In the app store you can find an app called Astropad which in essence promises to replace the wacom you use now for a much better experience, now I’ve looked at the Wacom cintiq but never bought one, same with the companion. It all looked awesome but…. it didn’t fit my workflow or the battery time was too limited, seeing the iPad pro with the Apple pencil being used as an alternative Wacom really was the drop I needed.

 

For me the iPad pro buy decision was made based solely on the Apple pencil, IF they would have not sold this I would have NEVER switched from my Air2 to the Pro for the simple reason…. it’s just a bigger iPad. Now that I did I’m seeing other options. So after this long introduction a very short overview of my first experiences with.

 

Working as a laptop
When traveling I’m always switching like crazy between things I like to do, my attention span on airplanes is 45 minutes max so watching a movie is not really an option, I don’t know why but I just can’t concentrate much longer than 45 minutes. So with the iPad pro I can of course watch a movie but also work on a new blogpost in Pages, fine tune my presentations in Keynote etc. etc. I’ve worked with the Create and Pages and have to say that it’s a great experience and I really see me using this over my MPB, unless I have them both with me, the MBP is just a bit easier and faster for longer texts, but… this can change when I’m used to the touch screen and maybe I will even prefer working on the iPad pro, but remember this is HIGHLY depending on the keyboard you use and the create from Logitech I can HIGHLY recommend.

 

Surfing
What can I say. It’s cool, it’s better than on my Mac at home and MPB.
In portrait mode it’s like reading a magazine, bright and RAZOR sharp with popping colors (but still pretty natural) and the touch interface in safari is refined as can be and a really good experience, again I prefer this above any other way of surfing.

 

Video editing
I still have to wait for the Apple pencil but what I’ve done so far with iMovie and Adobe clip has been delightful. Here are two of the videos I created with iMovie and Clip (about the software itself).

 

Someone commented that I must be crazy to prefer this edit method and it was nothing like real editing, well my answer was very simple. “what do you want more?” both iMovie and Clip do all the basic edits, you can create looks for your video (actually it’s faster than on my MacPro which has to render the looks and don’t ask me how the iPad pro does but it’s almost instant), you can change audio, add tracks, change clips etc. etc. and even use titles, picture in picture etc. Of course FCPx and Premiere has WAY more options, but…. both iMovie and Adobe clip have the option to transfer your work to their host programs and finish it off there…. what more DO you want?  This saves so much work, on the road you edit the clips in your spare time (heck even on the restroom, depending on time of course) and you can share straight to YouTube or Vimeo if you’re satisfied, or you can save it and finish the “ground work” at home in less time that before.

 

Lightroom mobile
As with the iPad air2 it works great, I just wish Adobe would make an extra option possible, transferring smart previews via USB, let’s be honest even with a fairly normal internet connection transferring files takes “forever” add to this the “great/not” speed in hotels or databundels via roaming and Adobe actually shoots itself in the foot with forcing a cloud sync, don’t get me wrong I LOVE Adobe and consider many of them as personal friends, but I never understood why with a program that is meant to be used on the road they rely so heavily on internet which in reality is almost non existent in most hotels, Email will do, facebook will do but syncing a gig of data…. yeah.
Till they solve this (if ever) I’m just leaving my MBP in the hotel and uploading the files while we are out, and hope that it’s done when we are back in and connect the iPad pro to download for offline editing during the nighttime, if I keep this up every day I’m sure I have all shots with me to select and edit while traveling back, and this would be a blessing because I wouldn’t feel the need to edit everything at night on my laptop because I know when I’m home I don’t have the time.

 

Magazines
I love magazines on the iPad but it was always a bit too small for me, reading was ok but I found myself often just zooming in a little bit, with the Pro… gorgeous and I mean WOW

 

Sound
Don’t ask me why it’s important because I don’t have a clue but the sound is LOUD and I really mean LOUD, and it’s pretty good too. For watching a movie in the hotelroom or RV this will rock but I honestly think some people give too much credit to this point, mostly I use my iPad with headphones or silent.
Speed
Good grieves this thing is blazingly fast.
Editing, rendering and even switching between apps is amazing, and candy crush… don’t even start.
Without kidding it’s indeed VERY snappy and rendering 4K video, scrubbing and zooming is smooth as can be.

 

Portfolio shows
Can I be short…. awesome.
I use the smugmug app with offline images and it’s an experience, clients love it and the responses are nothing short of “breathtaking” and I hope they also mean the shots.

 

Apple Pencil
Only played with it briefly in the store, I think it’s ridiculous they don’t have enough in stock, I have to wait 7 days and I see now they are actually pushing this forwards if you order now to almost a month, as mentioned before for me the iPad pro IS the Apple Pencil and if it would have worked on the iPad air2 there would have been even a slight chance I would have just bought the Pencil. Apple should have made sure that the supply is at least 1:1 because besides the consumer that wants a bigger candy crush experience I don’t see why you should invest in a bigger iPad without making use of the pencil.

 

Some bad things (because we have to have those too)
Design is gorgeous with Apple and I love my MacPro but…. I never am able to use an iPhone without a case for the simple reason I’m afraid it will slip out of my hands, same with the iPad pro, it’s slippery as can be, you can’t balance this nicely on your lap without it moving/sliding around. I really do get that design is important, but I feel that with devices you handheld it’s more important to have a surface that’s sticky than something that looks sleek and is ALWAYS covered with a case so you never see it anyway.

 

As mentioned before the keyboard integration is awesome BUT misses some small things like cursor keys that would be nice to be functional in for example mail.

 

Price we can argue about for ages but I think everything is worth what you use it for and how much it speeds up your workflow and gives you new creative options and I feel the iPad pro does everything I want, and yeah I know I have to finish off some projects when I’m home and I will not use it for my model photography YET, but I can live with that, in fact it will save me so much backpains and time that I’m more than willing to shelve over the dough to get it.

 

A double edged 4G sword
We opted for the 4G version and I didn’t talk about that yet because I feel it’s awesome but I also feel I’m being ripped off.
The Apple sim is an awesome idea, travel, arrive, internet. The 4G network in most countries is blazingly fast and vaporizes most hotel internet connections.

For years we have been traveling with a MiFi where we simply visit a store, get a pre-paid card, put it in the MiFi and we have fast internet wherever we go, we actually have 2 (one for the USA with Verizon and one for Europe). But… sometimes it’s easy to get a sim like in the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany etc. but sometimes you also have to look REALLY hard, we found out that especially in the states it’s a disaster, we tried to activate our Verzizon device and were send away from every store, we had to find a main office store from Verizon and… well they were not close by so we ended up with just hopping hotspots that week, also the price for 1GB of internet was ridiculously expensive.

 

Enter the Apple sim, you land, you connect to a provider of your choice and no more looking for simcards or getting a card that doesn’t work or where you have the first call with your phone to activate the card (try to get a normal sim in an iPhone). Sound awesome, but it’s not all happy internet camping.

 

The pricing of the Apple sim provider GigSky is not cheap, on average you pay $50.00 for 1-3GB of data, compared to what we pay in Denmark or the UK for data this is PRETTY steep, I believe the last time we had 6GB of data for EU60.00 in the UK. Also when you check online you can use the Sim in the Netherlands (they even rate pricing) but when checking on the iPad pro it states I can’t use it in the Netherlands, but Belgium and Germany do work, maybe a bug. However we still opted for this option for the simple reason that we are loosing a lot of valuable time by looking for a simcard in some cases, so we decided to check on arrival when doing groceries and if we don’t find anything we pay the premium and just forget about it, because in all honestly loosing half a day of time is also very expensive when traveling so that 25.00 euro more you pay might actually be worth it.

 

Conclusion
If you’re still reading I must be doing something right because I think this is the longest blogpost I ever wrote.
In conclusion I love my iPad Pro for the following reasons

 

  • I do feel it’s not worth it’s money without the Apple Pencil
  • with a keyboard it’s a perfect alternative for a laptop unless you do hardcore video editing and you need full blown photoshop on the road (again who does), the interface will be something you have to get used to.
  • The iOS apps are already worthy work tools and it can only get better
  • for creatives this is a dream come true
  • Working on full blown photoshop is possible with astropad, see it as remote controlling your mac (have to test this when the pen is in)
  • screen is gorgous
  • it’s very fast
  • Shooting tethered to the iPad gives the students a bigger screen to watch and me less cables and carrying around stuff
  • it just saves a LOT of work because the groundwork can be done on the road

 

Thanks so very much for reading and one final remark.
If you’re planning on posting that the surface pro book is a better alternative because it runs full windows I have two remarks for you.

 

  1. Yes it does, but I (and most people) don’t need a full blown windows for the simple reasons what you have to do in the field can be done with the iOS apps as soon as you realize it’s ground work, and to be honest it’s about the same thing I do with my MBP most of the times I also finish my work as soon as I’m home and use my MBP to “start” the work.
  2. It’s not an Apple product… in other words I’m used to certain apps which I use and my while workflow is Apple based, when I used the surface pro I loved the product but the integration with Apple was ok but not stunning, when you use office it’s workable but with iWorks the experience is of a totally different level, plus we use a lot of notes and other small things that are inside the Apple workflow.

 

In the end there is always something better and especially something better is coming next year, for now I think working with the iPad pro is a revolution in terms of getting used to the touch screen as main device and keyboard just when you really need it, when you get over this it can be a 100% replacement of 99% of the laptops out there, and overall…. did I already tell you how amazing candy crush looks?

 

Guestblog Armee DSLR video

Today a very interesting blogpost by our friends from Armee design about DSLR video, I think you’re gonna love this one.

Guest Blog DSLR shooting in practice
Late last year I came in contact with Frank’s inspiring workshops. As probably the most I started with Workshop I “studio lighting”. As a starting entrepreneur and photographer an excellent starting point to get more experience with shooting in a studio. I didn’t yet realized how inspiring Frank really is.

 

In January Frank started with the workshop DSLR filming for beginners. I own the Canon 5D Mark II, an excellent camera for this application. I did not have to think long to join this workshop. Because this was the first time it was taught, others were not yet convinced of the value of attending this workshop. I was therefore in a unique position to be the only student in this workshop. Frank, Marie (Model), Sharon (intern) and I therefore had an amazing day.
Although this workshop is for the novice filmmaker, you could still work with the camera right away. You will learn many aspects of the film options in your DSLR. After the workshop you can work with multicam recording, editing, use of color filters and customizing backgrounds.

 

We are now a few months further and I have some projects behind me. I like to share with you my experiences and the pitfalls, you will surely encounter. The projects I write about are a promotional video of a mountain bike team and the video project of Foundation Stumbling Stone Axes . In the last project we did not own the material filmed, but ultimately made the edit. In the last project we have identified a few points where we in the future will be more alert on.

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