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iPadOS my first impressions (mixed)

As you probably know we are working on a fully laptop less workflow for photography and video based on the iPadPro.
In all honesty I was more than happy with my Huawei M5 tablet and didn’t feel any need to go back to Apple (I sold all my Apple gear a few years ago and are 100% satisfied with my P30Pro, Garmin VivoActive, ChromeCast and Windows Machines) but thanks to the iPad Pro, but mostly the apps, I decided to take the plunge and order an iPad Pro with Pencil 2. So far so good.

When the iPad pro 12.9 was released I was I think one of the first that hit refresh, refresh, refresh to order one, and a day later I could pick it up, the PRO ipad…. wow….. and what a disappointment. No apps that really used the iPad “pro”, it was literally just like the iPad just a blown up iPhone, nothing wrong with the iPad by the way I loved it, but it was a FAR cry from a pro device (what is it with that Pro title anyway, it seems soon I can Pro underwear and Pro socks or something).

So my first experience kind of sucked, Apple promised the heavens and it delivered a slight hell. A totally closed up system without any serious apps. But things have changed, not thanks to Apple (where is Final Cut Pro iPad for example) but thanks to companies like Lumatouch with Lumafusion (which is absolutely mind boggling), Adobe with Lightroom CC and soon Photoshop iPad and of course Affinity Photo. All great apps which are mainly focussed on iOs which I think is a bit of a shame because the Android tablets are very fast too, anyway long story short, when they announced iPadOS my interest was peaked, FINALLY an open file system.

Now why is that important
Try travelling with an iPad a few times and you know.
As long as you have blazingly fast internet… no problem but we recently visited Johannesburg and had to work with a stunning 2MB down and 0.09 up (yep I didn’t make a mistake really 0.09 up) meaning uploading my images to Lightroom CC was impossible, we started uploading 20 images at night and the next morning we hit 25%, Starbucks was my favorite place, but they only offered 5GB a month for free so uploading a vlog was impossible but for photos it was ok. But this shows the incredible limitation of iOS as it is. One could say… “use an external drive” well yeah… and no. You know copying with 100MB/s is ok but thanks to the limitations of the iPad pro I somehow never was able to break the 4MB/s to my harddrive (LaCie CoPilot) although uploading to the iPad worked ok with 20MB/s, connect it to my PC and it broke the 100MB/s with ease. So think about making a backup with 3MB/s of 25GB each day…. you get the idea I think. Add to this that you can’t let the iPad run all night with a harddrive connected because you can’t charge the bloody thing because it only has one port and with a dock the harddrive wasn’t recognized and you know why the iPad Pro with iOS is no pro device at all.

Which is a shame because as mentioned the apps are there. And in all honesty I can 90% of my work with those apps. So the idea of not bringing my laptop during travels is awesome (especially with the Apple pencil).

So what works?
Under iOS everything works, but getting stuff OFF the iPad Pro is a disaster, without fast internet, connect it to your PC for example and images can come off but videos are not seen (WHY) also it’s super frustrating to not be able to just use my downloaded music from talentsy/epidemic in Rush and Lumafusion without making two folders with the same content (come on). But it works if you stick to your workflow.

At one point even batch renaming was “semi” possible, still ridiculous no app or apple supports this and you have to use automator, but hey, it works (semi).

Powerpoint/keynotes work great, every projector and TV we used worked flawlessly, expect at my seminar at B&H we couldn’t get the ipad pro outputting a signal, but that was only once, luckily we had a backup and that one worked (phone and laptop). Shooting tethered wirelessly worked flawlessly with the Camfi (not stable/fast enough with the Sony app) and of course video editing and photo editing is no problem at all, if you can life with the photo apps from Apple (which is a disaster for a pro but ok).

iPadOs
So iPadOS
Ok I didn’t want to install it while travelling and when we arrived back I decided to wait for the final release, but seeing it’s only end of September and it’s now the 14th and I use the iPad pro almost every day I took the chance and installed iPadOS. And lets see at what I think and found out.

  1. External drives
    Yes it works, well semi.
    You have to format your drives in ExFAT, don’t try anything else it won’t work, don’t try to format on the iPad pro… because it doesn’t have an app for that, which I think is ridiculous seeing harddrives come mostly not in ExFat when you buy them, so you still need a computer to format them.
  2. External drive speed
    This is a HUGE disappointment for now, I hoped for a speedy way to copy my files or maybe even work straight from the hard drive, well forget about it. I did a quick calculation based on time and file size and I think the iPad pro tops out at max 25MB/s and this is with an SSD that tops out at 300MB/s on my desktop so it’s not the SSD.
  3. External tumbdrives
    Works although I only tested a few, speed was nothing more than usable
  4. Open file system
    NO WAY….
    This is not what I expected.
    Yes you can use external drives and files (the app to browse etc) but it’s still very iOS (like) for example there is still no way to batch rename files, the files app still doesn’t show you the film roll etc but I have some tips for that
  5. Look and feel
    Now for some people this is the biggest change but in all honesty I don’t really care for it, but I have to say, getting more apps on one page is awesome and well overdue, also the widgets on the home page is cool and of course Dark Mode and a full browing experience and semi multitasking is great, but that isn’t what I hoped for the most, but it’s cool don’t get me wrong.

Some tips for copying
For me the most important thing was getting files on and off and browsing via apps.
Well the most disappointing factor is that NONE of the apps so far use this option, Lumafusion still needs the import folder, Project Rush doesn’t even have the option for a folder or external drive (only cloud etc.) same with almost every other app I tried, BUT that being said this is still the beta so I guess the apps will be updated, if not…. I have to be honest I’ll go back to a laptop because this is just a very cumbersome way to work, that being said I’m almost sure they will update the apps so just wait for the final release and for now ignore that remark 😀

Ok so how do you go to and from the film roll.
Most apps use the film roll from apple for all the files, but how do you get files from the film roll to your harddrive and from your harddrive to the film roll when you don’t see the files/drives?

When you are in Apple’s film roll just select the files and select/copy. Now just leave the film roll and go to files and long press and use Paste. It took me a few minutes to figure this out because I expected actually to have it available a bit more obvious. Going from files to the film roll is a different story…. pffff.
Select the files and use SHARE, now under share use SAVE FILES and voila it saves it into the film roll. So it’s doable but it’s still very iOS like.

Conclusion
I still haven’t test a lot more like mouse support etc. because for me the most important thing is that file system.
So far so “good” I’m ok with how it works (when I figured it out) but I don’t feel like I’m working with an apple product and it hurts me to say this but I really feel Apple lost it’s way, and iPad OS so far shows this very clearly. For me Apple was always simple, easy to understand and very very clear how it works. At the moment (and it’s still in beta) we have a file system that works, but it’s not Apple worthy, it’s not impossible to use it (far from) but it’s more complicated that it needs to be, I only want to say… look at Android. For years I’ve been able to just connect it to my desktop and see all my files and copy back and forth without any limitations, also within Android most apps just let you select files from different locations. If you’re not careful it can become a mess but let’s be honest it’s the same on your desktop.

Apple has an amazing, magical (to speak in keynote words) device with the iPad pro, and I really mean this, it’s a kick ass device with incredible speed and battery life for what it does, yesterday I edited a complete vlog again and after editing, rendering and uploading with almost full brightness it only took a 18% battery hit, my laptop would be almost empty (remember these are 4K vlogs with edits in video and audio) and 10 Minutes vlog only takes 10 Minutes to render, my i9 on premiere pro does it in similar times so that’s just incredible.

What I miss is that Apple sauce. That very easy to understand interface, that interaction between the human and the machine (well you know what I mean), It seems like Apple is going backwards in a fast tempo for user interface but also going forwards in other departments like finally a full browsing experience (although on Chrome you can also ask for the full version of a website, but ok I’ll give them that).

What’s your opinion?
For me I just hope they make the copying to external devices much faster, 25MB/s in 2019 is really not from this time, we need at least 100MB/s and on USB-C that should be more than possible. Also I hope they open up the file system a bit more and make it integrate with the film roll like it should be. Or make the film roll an app like gallery and open up the folder film roll, now it’s really that it’s a fully closed app with all your photos which you can’t rename (still find that weird to the max) and can’t see on the iPad itself.

For now I think the iPad pro is an amazing device and a real game changer, the Apple Pencil 2 is just sick (in a very positive way) and the apps are more than adequate replacements/helpers for the desktop apps, it’s not that I really miss things, even skin retouching is easy with both Lightroom CC and Affinity (and soon Photoshop), but the file system REALLY needs some more work, but at least we now have something. It’s just a shame that a real Pro device is still a bit crippled by Apple that can’t seem to make up it’s mind if it’s fashion brand or a creatives dream company (which it once was).

Looking forward to your opinions.

Note 8 after a minute hands on review, Android from an Apple Fanboy’s perspective….

images from internet

 

It’s an exciting time for many of us… well I know it’s for me.
Finally after years of delivering great phones but sticking to a “standard” design, Apple is releasing the iPhone 8 and just a few days ago Samsung released the Note8. Now a few years ago I couldn’t really care less about what Samsung, LG, Google or whatever was doing… well let me say it differently, I loved seeing it but I was just curious, but things change.

If you have been following my social media stream you know that I switched from YEARS on MacOs to Windows in December last year for our studio PC, replacing a MacPro for a killer desktop PC (well it doesn’t really fit my desk but you know what I mean), after the “normal” problems when you switch OS-es it’s been a very smooth sail to be honest, the PC is blazzingly fast and cuts through 4K multicam video like it’s nothing, and rendering times….. well Adobe listen FIX this… FCPx is much faster with rendering, but luckily we also have Resolve which is also very fast, but for now I still edit on premiere…. well ok it’s not about this, but it’s important to know a little bit of background.

The reason I switched my desktop was due to the release of the new MBP, bare with me.
My laptop is what I use daily, most of my videos are edited and recorded on the laptop, it’s with me when I travel, one could say my laptop does 90% of the work, where the desktop does 10, so switching my desktop was a no risk endeaver. So I decided to try it with that. I liked it so much I actually a few months later switched from my MBP (the good “old” 15″ with cardreader, large battery and HDMI) to the Dell XPS15 and I all honesty I never looked back, I LOVE that laptop, it rocks.

Next up was the Apple Watch.
LOVED it, LOVED it, but I’m someone that does love to track my workouts and steps, sleep, food etc. and the Apple watch, in all honesty… well it just lacked A LOT, it did promise a lot, but we ended up with in my personal opinion a great watch for casual use, fun to track your steps (fill the circles) and very very good for social media and notifications. What Apple promised (loads of health options) didn’t come, so I didn’t even upgrade to the series 2, I didn’t even feel the urge (which as a gadget lover is really weird). Enter the Garmin Vivoactive HR, which I fell in love with within a few days…. yeah the display SUCKS compared to the Apple Watch, the notifactions are….”ok” but the dashboard for workouts, sleep and food are stunning, this is what a watch should do (if you use it like me), it even counts my strokes while rowing, it syncs up with my heartbelt, it syncs with my cadance meter, and it even is able to beam the heartrate to my bike computer (Garmin Edge 820). Awesome combination.

Next up…….
Well I never expected that I would switch phones.
Let me make one thing 100% clear, I’m not against Apple, heck I love the company, I think it’s one of the most innovative companies on tech out there (or was), I love the brand, I love the build quality, but most of all the intergration and ease of use and stability. Of course it changed a bit over time, I do have an iPhone that SOMETIMES crashes, my Apple watch sometimes stopped counting steps, my Apple TV’s remote control via the iPhone is less accurate than a few years ago, but overall I must say that I maybe have 1% problems and 99% smooth sailing. And with smooth I mean… everything is smooth (and this is important to remember for later).

Friends often showed me their androids and claimed that their CPUs were SO MUCH faster than my overpriced piece of junk iPhone… well when I scrolled through images, showed them 4K video and zoomed in images it always was smoother than their so much faster phones and tablets. So I’m more than happy with my iPhone, which indeed is a bit higher priced. But I’m more than willing to pay that premium. I also owned almost every iPad including the Pro, but maybe that’s actually where the dissapointment started, the iPad pro is awesome don’t get me wrong, the Apple pencil is pure magic. When you draw I can’t think of a better mobile device. But the promise of a professional photography and video editing solution on the go…. well as with much with Apple the last few years…. it just didn’t happen… is this Adobe’s fault? is it Apple’s fault? I don’t know and I don’t care. I bough a very expensive iPad PRO and I hoped and expected to be able to do more with it than consume media on a big tablet. In fact the iPad pro is so big that when I fly I sometimes regretted buying it because it simple was uncomfortable to use and I was afraid it would break in the bags in the chairs. No I’m not saying it’s a bad device, I was too fast with buying it, knowing what I know now… I would have stayed with the iPad air.

Ok so now to the case at hand.
Android…..
When the iPhone 8 rumours started I was very enthiousiastic. I work hours on my phone every single day, I take photos and video with it, do social media, even type blogposts on it (not these kinds but the shorter ones), I use it…… well for almost everything, my phone and I are BFF (just kidding but not really). So when a new one is released I love to upgrade, I just love trying new things and there is always something that triggers me (mostly the cameras). Over the years the road upwards with the iPhones has been a steady one, the prices have gone up considerably, but well…. I use it constantly so I’m willing to pay it.

When the price speculation of the iPhone 8 started with 1100.00 for the stepin and probably 1500.00 for the 128GB version (I try to get the 128) I had to swallow a big lump, remember dollar prices are often multiplied with 25% over here with iPhones. (taxes and some other things), that’s A LOT of money, but the alternative……. leaving the Apple Eco system….. no… and than it actually hit me (pretty hard), over the last 6 months the only things left were my airports (Apple stopped making them… WHY) and my AppleTV…. so what Eco system?

So I slowly started looking at alternatives for (dare I say it) my iPhone.
Now I actually did the same “trick” as with my PC’s.
I ordered a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet, a 9.7″ android tablet (I have to say that it’s very light and nicely build, love the less smooth back), not the newest but because every manufactorer uses a different “look” for Android and my main attention was aimed at Samsung (at that time the 8+, the only thing I didn’t like was the single camera, I use the second one A LOT). When the Note 8 rumors started with dual cameras I knew it for sure…. this would be the battle… the Note 8 vs the iPhone 8, also seeing the Note 8 is released in shops just a few days after the announcement of the iPhone 8 makes this almost too much of a coincendence. Wait what Apple announces and than switch (or not).

So let’s take a look at my opinion at the moment on Android.
A few years ago I got an Android phone for a few weeks and absolutely hated it, I loved the idea of new tech but Android crashed on me, there were weird behaviours of the phone, cutting and pasting was a dissaster and…, well overall it just wasn’t nowhere near iOS. But things have changed.

The Samsung tablet runs Android 7 and my opinion is based on this vs the current iOS10.

Look and feel
In all honestly there is not much difference.
iOS over the years have become relatively cluttered with settings that aren’t that easy to find anymore than in the time of iPhone 3/4 but it’s more than doable. At first the Android was a bit overwhelming but after a few hours I have to be honest I found everything relatively fast. The look…. well let me put it this way, they looked VERY closely to iOS.

 

Handling
As an Apple user you get used to certain things. Things that “we” take for granted which you find out later are not that normal on other systems. Take for example the touchpad. According to most the Dell and Surface pro touchpads are the best PC touchpads… well that might be the case but compared to the MacBooks they are pretty standard. I still love it when I’m behind a mac and use the touchpad, on the other hand I’m now 100% used to the mouse again and with the new Logitec mouse I’m more than happy and very accurate.

What strikes me however is how confusing android can be.
For example swiping in a browser, how easy is that…. well not on chrome… you have to go to the top and use the backbutton… WHY… well because if you swipe from the side you actually open settings… well …. change that?

Also going back from an app brings you back out of the folder…
Ok let me explain
I love to have my apps in folders, but I have a folder Social media that contains all the social media apps which I open one by one to check and reply. On iOs hitting the home button brings me back to the active folder, pretty cool so I can go to the next app, home repeat. With Android I’m brough back to the complete page, so I have to open the folder again and click the next app. You can of course use the back button but that will go through all the steps I did…. a minor thing but pretty annoying.

The other thing is that VERY often I’m in an app and literaly stuck on a page, there is no way back or forward. Well not in the screen, use that backbutton again. Now this is actually something I’m now used to but on iOs you’re always swipe away from rescue.

What I do like A LOT is the close all option.
We often have many apps open and this can slow down a device (although some claim it can’t) and with iOS you have to swipe them all away one by one (or three by three if you get your fingers right), on Android there is a cool “close all” option.

What I also like A LOT are the small widgets you can place and resize on pages, I never thought I would them that much to be honest but now when I look at my iPhone I go like “mmmm it would be nice”. Which by the way also brings me to another point. The interface itself and the pages look a bit “cluttered” although that’s not the correct term probably, let me put it this way, iOS looks much cleaner and organized with the bottom meny much more clearer away from the screen than on Android, the bottom part is too much a part of the page for my taste…. but without a doubt also my personal thing 😀

What I do have to get used to are in fact the three buttons, home, open apps and return, often by accident I hit one of those buttons when I want to do something else. But in all fairness it’s getting better.

 

Apps
This is of course where it all boils down to.
I can say that for everything that I need I found an App.
Of course the app store from Apple is better filled and the quality is better (I already installed some real junk on my tablet which would have never cleared the Apple app store I’m afraid) but when you keep to the big names and 4-5 stars rated apps it’s pretty much the same.
The only app I’m missing is capture pilot but we can also use that via the webbrowser so no big deal.

 

Stability
This is a difference in all fairness.
My tablets Chrome browser was at one point absolutely unusable, it wouldn’t even open 90% of the time and when it did it crashed within seconds. I booted the tablet in safe mode and purged the cash and ever since it’s been rock solid, but it shouldn’t happen, on the other hand I also had some problems with apps on my iPad in the past and also had to reboot that with a hard boot, the hardboot in iOS is however less intimidating, you just reboot, with Android it feels like you’re rebooting a PC in safe mode… not a thing when you’re not afraid of tech but I can imagine some people would be totally put off by this, but again it only happened once (in all fairness I’ve owned the tablet for a week and it happened on day 1).

Also the Samsung seems to lag sometimes, play a game like candy crush (yeah sorry I like it) and you can see that some animations are smooth but not smooth… I know it sounds weird, it’s like they have to ramp up, it’s not that the tablet doesn’t have the CPU power because it handles more complicated animations easy but it’s always at the start of an animation that it just “stutters” a bit. Not something I every experienced on iOS.

Overall Android feels more fragile to me.
I know this is a very vague term, I have the same with Windows by the way. It’s absolutely not grounded in experience of crashes but somehow MacOs and iOS feel Rock Solid, like whatever happens it will recover, don’t worry where with Android and Windows I’m always afraid of “oh no… here we go” only that last part actually never happens. So take it for what it is… maybe I grow over it, I have with Windows, which I now trust almost as much as MacOs with what I do (no games, just Creative cloud, Resolve and some other programs).

 

Apps part II
And this is a biggy.
As a vlogger and content creator I’m always working on ideas and things I want to do and share.
I shoot with Sony cameras and if I want to “beam” a picture from my camera to my phone or iPad that’s easy, but not as easy as it could be. Make connection to the wifi of the camera, start the software, copy files… sounds easy (and it is), in reality however since iOS10 I have to input a new password EVERY single time, trust me this becomes very frustrating at one point. On Android the story is different. Just click the two together and voila there is a connection… it’s beyond believe for me that Apple doesn’t allow this over their NFC system, it makes my life so much easier.

Another thing that struck me was our dreambox (sat receiver).
On iOS I have tried several apps and all could mimic a remote control but finally I ended up with one where I could select the bouquet, zap and see the EPG, pretty cool stuff. On Android I want something similar, the first few I tried were terrible but than I found one that blew me away, not only does the remote work, not only can I see the bouquets, but… I can also stream in full HD to my tablet and watch television. On iOS I had a similar solution but it never really worked flawlessly unless I used VLC player or a seperate app.

 

Access
I’m not an iTunes hater.
I’m not an iTunes lover.
I like the fact that we have one allround solution for music, podcasts etc. but I never liked the way that MacOs handles my filmroll for example, I always used preview to empty my filmroll or Lightroom. With Windows it already surprised me that I could just connect my iOS device and it would show up like a DCIM folder and I can copy all my images and video like from an external drive.

I also love to read digital comics and watch series when travelling.
On iOS you can very easily use iTunes to drag and drop files into the apps that you want to use… but it’s a bit of a work arround, an easy one but… well you know what I mean. On Adroid you can just drop it in a folder and let the app look for it. In fact VLC and my comic reader actually didn’t even need instructions they both found all my files spread over internal and external memory and showed it in the library…. pretty cool stuff.

 

Connectivity and memory
With Apple you pay through your nose for extra memory, this is really ridiculous, but you don’t have a choice.
I did use a USB stick with lighting on one side and USB on the other when travelling with movies, but you needed to play the movies with the accompanied app… to make a long story short I never used it a lot because the app sucked and crashed a lot on me, plus I needed to take my case off because the stick was too wide (aargh).

On my tablet (and most Android devices I believe) you can just add a micro secure digital card and extend the internal memory that way, I use a 64GB card and that’s plenty of room for what I do on the tablet (tablet also has 32). On my phone I would probably just add 128. The cool thing however is also that without the need for apps or drivers you can just use STANDARD USB sticks on a short mirco USB to USB cable (or USB-C of course with the newer tablets/phones) and the software will just see it as…. well external storage. Meaning there is no more limit to what you can bring with you, just buy some 64GB sticks and switch.

 

Image quality
As mentioned before I bought the Tab S2, the newer one is the S3 but because for me this was a test I didn’t want to fork out the money for the S3 which is on part with an iPad. What strikes me however is the screen quality. It’s incredibly bright and it shows a really nice almost 3D image quality with high contrast, deep blacks and incredibly sharp images withouth ringing (making it artificial sharp), color is not accurate, but so isn’t the iPad pro (let alone the new screen technology apple is using), but for consuming media it’s ok to have more “favorable” colors, as long as I don’t have to edit on it and it’s just my tablet…. why not.

Note 8
This afternoon we visited a Media Market and to my surprise they had a sales version of the Note 8 on demo, no stock but a demo unit. this was my first experience with the Note 8, and what follows now is my HONEST opinion, don’t flame me, read it as MY opinion.

What strikes me is the sheer bloody brightness of the screen, this is one bright screen. I cannot imagine using that one on full power unless flying the drone in bright sunlight, and this was actually one of the things I had on my list of plusses for the Note 8 (very bright screen).

What also strikes me is the curved screen… I still don’t know if I’m a fan of the total lack of bezzles, where do you grab the phone without loosing some of the material that’s on the screen, how about protectors, how about….. well time will tell, but it does look gorgous.

Double camera.
I could play with it a little and I still think the interface from Apple is slightly better. I couldn’t find my way back for example to use the Tele or Wide setting after changing exposure, and as mentioned before I have this on several occasions with Android, it just isn’t logical, in the end I find my way back… but it could be easier. That said the preview focus effect is fricking awesome, also knowing you can do this later on really excites me, I love this effect and use it pretty much all the time (except when shooting RAW of course). Also the fact that you have the option to shoot the same scene on BOTH the tele and wide lens has great appeal to me, add to this that both cameras have image stabilisation and from what I could tell in the short time I had with the Note 8, the image stabilisation is INSANE…. and I mean INSANELY good.

 

Handling and the stylus
Unless you have been living under a rock you probably already read about the stylus, insane specs for just a pointing device, very nice specs for a drawing device. Will you draw on the screen? well I don’t know, maybe some doodles, but what I do like is the fact that you can use the stylus to write notes on the screen while the phone is OFF… yeah that is very handy. Taking the stylus out is pretty easy, but it’s an extra thing you have to do so unless you really want that stylus I think most of the time I’ll be just using my fingers. If you always find the need to doodle this will be one AWESOME device for you.

 

App connect
With the note 8 it’s now also possible to connect apps. Meaning you can for example run YouTube on top and surf the web underneath, a pretty cool trick but in all honesty I would rather use the floating youtube window for that, however mail and browser open can be pretty handy when you are making an quote for a client and you have to look stuff up and copy paste, this could be a tremendous time save.

 

Handling
The biggest screen on the market on a phone…. you would expect something HUGE.
But in all honestly it felt ok in my hands and I don’t have huge hands, it’s certainly not a phone you can operate with one hand but it’s MORE than doable and it doesn’t feel like much bigger than my iPhone 7 Plus. I do feel the Galaxy 8+ feels a bit more ergonomical due to the more rounded areas. Also the fingerprint scanner is a joke…. I’ve read about it but in real life it makes you wonder why the person who designed it on the Galaxy 8+ wasn’t fired before the Note 8 would be released… but it’s in the same ridiclous position. It’s something that you can get used to without a doubt… but was that really the only spot?

 

Quick conclusion
With a price point of just under 1000.00 the Note 8 is a VERY expensive phone.
You REALLY have to ask yourself do you NEED that second camera, do you NEED that stylus. Otherwise you can MUCH better get a Galaxy 8 plus, the screen is similar in size, it has a slightly larger battery and the ergonomics are slightly better. For me the deal breaker is actually that double camera so I would opt for the Note 8…. or the iPhone 8……

Of course some of you will say “why switch, what’s wrong with the 7Plus”
Well nothing really, except it frustates the heck out of me that I can’t get an external microphone to work anymore, which worked just fine on previous iPhones with headphone jacks and I really want that option back. And as mentioned before… I just love a new phone because I work on it so much.

At the moment the changes are 90% that I will go for the Note 8. Especially now that I’ve seen the phone and played with the camera a bit. Can Apple win me over… well yeah. Improve the camera over the Note 8 and I’m with Apple unless there is a price difference of 300.00 or more. And this is probably gonna be the thing. With the Note 8 I can keep adding memory if I need it for almost free. With iPhones I’m stuck. Also I love the look of the Note8 and Galaxy phones. Plus…… and maybe that’s also a big factor at the moment I feel like I’m losing my love for Apple. They keep raising prices and calling things pro that in my honest opinion are NOT pro. They introduced a touch bar that’s a joke, some people will love it but most people I talk to never use it anymore, but they changed FinalCutPro to be optimized for the touchbar, an option which at that time was only on ONE mbp and not on seperate keyboards. I more and more feel Apple is losing it’s way, and maybe the love is over…… or maybe the other side just makes devices that are a bit more thought out for functionality than design (although, again the note 8 and galaxy’s are gorgous).

We will have to wait till September 12th (I believe) but this will be keynote where I actually can’t be dissapointed anymore… my choice will probably be the Note 8, unless Apple blows me away…… and silently I hope they do……

 

iPad pro, Surface Pro4, Wacom Cintiq… which one…..

A while ago I posted a video online where I showed an app called Astropad.
This app is pretty awesome, it makes it possible to do some retouching in Photoshop/Lightroom etc. on your iPad pro with the Apple Pencil, and it works pretty well, although it has limitations (later more). This video got an amazing amount of views, actually it’s nearing the 180.000 views on YouTube. It also got some remarks which literally puzzled me but also motivated me to write this very short (well ok I’ll try) review on 3 amazing devices, but all in their own right. So…. ladies and gentleman hold your horses, buckle in and if you want to comment please read the article very well and read your reply before pressing post.

 

The weird, dumb, crazy remarks 
Now as you know me I’m a pretty laid back kind of guy, you can’t get me angry very quickly and I’ll always try to answer any question you guys have, but sometimes……

On the video on Astropad I clearly demonstrated an APP on the iPad pro that MIMICS what you can normally do on a Wacom Cintiq. I loved (and still love) this app, but it has limitations. First of all it has to be run on an iPad that is connected to your Mac, this means you ALWAYS need a mac close by, but as long as you are in the same network this means it can be anywhere in your home, this makes it possible to retouch in Photoshop while sitting on the coach.. pretty cool. Now that’s the app, and I think I was pretty clear in that video what it did….. Still MANY people asked me if it ran Photoshop and NO it doesn’t (clearly).

The thing that did get me a frustrated a lot were the many many people starting “wars” on that the iPad pro sucked, I was a fool and I needed to get a surface pro 4. Yeah well…. that wasn’t the idea of the video right? you don’t tell someone that owns a Volvo that he has to get a tractor or plane. But…. it did motived me to call up our friends at Microsoft and arrange an Surface pro 4.

And this…. is where I start this review/opinion on 3 great devices.

 

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iPad pro
Let me start with this one.
It retails for app 1200 euros and you have the familiar cool stuff that you are used to from Apple (or if you’re not an Apple fanboy, the bad stuff), it’s a great device to surf the web, you can watch a LOT of movies while traveling, you can use Lightroom mobile and now with the Apple pencil you can get incredibly creative with software like Pro-create and the Adobe suite or MediaBang etc. etc. there is a lot.

I got the iPad pro for one very simple reason, I LOVE to draw. I haven’t drawn in a long time because I never felt the digital way was my way and to draw on paper… well I don’t know why I didn’t do it but I just didn’t (end of story), with the iPad pro and the Apple Pencil I loved the way it felt and I was immediately sold, plus I like the larger display to watch movies on in the RV or while traveling, although in the plane it can sometimes be a bit too big, but then when you read a comic….. ahhhhh heaven, it’s amazing.

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Astropad I already mentioned and is a great app if you ALREADY have an iPad, you buy it for a very reasonable price and you can retouch on your iPad pro. However it’s far from perfect and for one simple reason… the hover over option. When you do street/travel photography it ROCKS and I dare to say you hardly need anything else, but if you need some serious cloning or selecting… well how much I love Astropad it…. well isn’t usable for that. With a Wacom you’re used to see where you place your pointer BEFORE you hit the surface and this makes cloning a breeze, with Astropad, it’s a matter of… well guessing it and trust me, that’s a BIG frustration. But again if you don’t clone a lot (or just need to remove some dust) it works like a charm.

Now for serious photography the iPad pro is not what you need, there is no way of working on TIFF 16bits, there is no good software for retouching although Pixelmator and Enlight come very very close the end result is still not pro quality. There is some action from Adobe expected and one of their competitors Affinity is claiming to have a great solution next year but let’s see what happens, if Affinity really delivers what they promise… wow.

Video editing on the iPad pro is awesome, you can start in iMovie or Adobe clip and finish it off when you’re home on the Mac/Pc, this workflow actually surprised me in how efficient and easy it was, I expected photography to be better.

The iPad pro and the already mentioned Pro-create and other drawing solutions make that part alone already worth the money to spend on the iPad pro, it’s really VERY VERY good, if not the best device for creatives.

Watching movies, reading comics, playing games, surfing the web, all as we are used to from the iPad/iPhone very solid and great to kill hours on a plane or evenings at campgrounds/home.

The disadvantages are many if you compare it to a laptop or surface pro 4.
No USB ports, although the USB/Lighting sticks solve this pretty well, but still also there you miss a real file system where it becomes possible to open up comics for example from a stick or copy them to a certain app, now it’s all very basic, great for movies and video/photography but that’s about it. BUT if you know this it’s a “perfect” working solution. Also no full blown photoshop or lightroom, Lightroom mobile ROCKS but only if you have a great internet connection which when traveling well let me say this… sometimes sending a letter is faster than sending an email.

The advantages are more in my opinion.
The apps are made for the screen, they are rock solid, they start very fast, they do what they have to do and the touch interface is better on Apple than on any other device I every tried add to this the Apple pencil and you will know why I (and so many) love our Apple iPad.

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Surface pro 4
Microsoft was so kind to send me their Surface pro 4
The version I got retailed for app 2400 euros, twice the price of the iPad pro, and I loved it.
Running full versions of Photoshop and Lightroom and Capture One is great of course.
But that’s on paper…..
And I know I can’t run them on the iPad pro but somehow I know that, on the Surface pro 4 I can so I expect to be able to use them, right?
Well that’s where it goes wrong.

Let me first tell you that I’m NOT an Apple Fanboy, I own a lot of Apple gear, but if something better show up I’m switching without any problem, they are just tools, but somehow when Apple makes something it always seems to work. That being said I also know the limitations and that also means I would LOVE a macbook with a touch screen or an iPad Pro that runs MacOsX (APPLE!!!!) but that’s not here (yet). The Surface pro 4 promises to be just that… so I expect that, this is very important to say before I continue because although I love the product I also find some problems with it.

First off all let’s look at the software.
I love to shoot tethered in Capture One, and that works like a charm, awesome freedom, just walk around with the tablet on a stand and shoot.
Now the retouching part, the display is too small to use Capture One comfortably, and this trend continues with Photoshop, you can scale Photoshop but when you scale it up the work area is WAY too small, when you scale it down it’s more than enough but for the best of me I can’t control the settings or click the right buttons, it’s just too small (Adobe make a zoom function thats flexible or just in between, that would solve this).
Lightroom works ok, although also here zoomable interface…. thank you very much that would be handy.

The touch in Photoshop is awesome, you can easily zoom, rotate and drag around while retouching with the stylus, now this is what I want, this rocks, this is awesome this is…….. hmmmmm battery empty…. yep that’s the main thing I have against the Surface Pro 4, I could retouch 4 images and my battery was dead, now I retouch FAST, but I use 3 plugins that are pretty CPU hungry on my shots and this meant that after app 1 hour my battery was dead as a rock, totally empty.

By the way one quick side step.
The thing I did miss in Photoshop were the keystrokes, and attaching a keyboard… well that didn’t work for me, I choose a tablet to draw on for a reason and than attaching a keyboard doesn’t make sense, I was about to give up when I found a cool little app called tablet pro, this gives you an extra floating or locked keypad where you can program your keystrokes, like the Wacom has it’s expresskeys, this REALLY made the difference for me between sending it back and using it with loads of fun.

Now when an iPad/iPhone is nearing it’s empty state there is not really a problem, you just connect it to a 12V outlet, or a spare battery like the HyperJuice, Mophie etc. there are plenty of them out there, for the Surface Pro 4….. NONE, meaning if you take this baby with you on a 10 hour flight the fun stops at app 9 hours to go, probably already before take off if you are so lucky they have to de-ice the plane and the rest of the time you… well just sit.

Of course it’s not that bad… watching movies the battery actually copes pretty well, it’s not as good as the iPad pro (which I never emptied not even on the longest flights (10+ hours)) but it manages pretty well and if you also take something else with you for entertainment you will probably love the Surface Pro 4, but don’t start retouching because you will run into problems with the battery and there are no external solutions (unless I miss something).

The other thing I experienced as negative was the ONE USB port.
Yes I know the iPad has none but that’s not a laptop….. (see why I told you to think about it before replying), and from the Surface pro 4 I actually expect to leave my laptop at home. Now why is one USB port bad… well you can’t make any backups. The unit I got had a 128GB internal memory and when I travel that’s not enough so we have to use an external drive for storage which…. is connected to USB, so if I want to make a backup of that drive……. yep no luck, unless you also bring your dock which gives you a minidisplay port, USB and some other goodies, so in all honesty it’s something that you CAN solve. But…. when I don’t bring a laptop I also expect my device to run all day during a photoshoot in the field, my MacBook Pro with Capture One running and tethering with full screen brightness can stay “alive” for app 4-4.5 hours, after which we connect it to the hyper juice (actually when it’s half empty), the surface pro 4 ran empty after app 2 hours, which means I can NEVER do a full workshop or even photoshoot with it in the field, unless….. we have power and in most cases we will have power but in some cases we don’t and certainly not close to the laptop.

Now it seems like I’m negative about the Surface Pro 4, but I’m actually FAR from negative. I absolutely loved working on it, Windows 10 is nice although I prefer the MacOs but it’s good enough. The stylus is pretty good and when used in Photoshop or Manga Studio (thanks to Smith Micro for supplying me with a test version for PC and Mac so I could compare) it’s a dream to work on. For drawing itself I still VERY MUCH prefer the iPad pro, the apps are designed for the iPad pro and this means you have the maximum space to draw and no clutter around the edges with menus like on Windows, let’s be realistic this is a full version you’re running and they are not designed to be ran on a small screen.

In essence I loved the surface pro 4 but the problem I have with it is the working space in Photoshop, the very limited battery life and the one USB port on the device. If they would add an option to charge via USB that would make the Surface Pro a MUCH better device for guys like me who really use the device in the field.

 

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The Wacom
Now this is a weird one in this list I think, but bare with me.
Due to the drawing experience on the iPad pro I wanted to do the same thing on the Mac, but in all honestly eye hand coordination with the normal tablet didn’t work out for me, for normal retouching I couldn’t life without my Wacom but for drawing it just doesn’t work, now there were two options for me.

  1. The Wacom Companion
  2. The Wacom Cintiq 13HD

In all honestly the Companion as it is now is pretty awesome but a bit too large for me to travel with and too limited because I also bring my laptop, so I can much better just bring a travel tablet and draw on the iPad pro which I also carry with me. The Companion idea is great and very similar in my opinion to the Surface pro 4 except it has all the express keys and when you connect it to your mac or PC you have a full blown cintiq, but it’s bigger than the surface pro 4, so for traveling…. well I’ll let you decide.

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When you get used to drawing on the screen with both retouching and drawing it’s very hard to leave that experience and go back to the normal tablet, so I knew I wanted a cintiq. My first choice was the 13HD but when I tested that one out at CameraNu.nl I had to be realistic with myself…. it’s just a bit too small, so in the end we decided to go for the 22HD touch. As you probably know we really ended up with a 27″HD demo model from Wacom which I can try out and show so I’m very happy.

Now when I look at my retouching at home I absolutely love the Wacom Cintiq, compared to Astropad it’s not limited by the hover function, it’s much bigger and it shows my selections crystal clear (Astropad does show some flickering with the marching ants), Thanks to Smith Micro I can also use Manga Studio on my Mac and has become my favorite drawing program for sketching and line work, after which I finish everything in Photoshop. The experience on the Cintiq is absolutely breathtaking, on the iPad pro the lag is VERY low and the overal experience is great, but… the surface can be a little slippery where the Cintiq really feels like a more tactile surface which I actually prefer, I do feel that shading with a pencil is MUCH cooler on the iPad, everyone I show this is just stunned, but…… psssst I never shade like that…….so I don’t miss it.

Traveling with the 27″ cintiq is out of the question, Annewiek told me so herself, so you better believe it.

 

so…… why all these devices in one post.
As mentioned before it started with a review of Astropad (a cintiq like app) on the iPad pro, which I bought to replace my iPad and to draw. Due to all the remarks about the Surface pro 4 I got one from Microsoft to compare and I think that there will be a Surface Pro in my future if they make it slightly bigger and add an option to use external batteries. Because I got so used to retouching on the image itself and drawing is something I’m more and more in love with plus I want to do some new stuff with my photography I actually ended up with a Cintiq, so I think this is the only place where you will find a review with these 3 together but I hope my insights gave you some ideas and maybe tips if you’re also looking for a solution.

 

Conclusion
There is no spoon….
Oops wrong blog….
There is no perfect solution.
I hope for the day we have macbook pro keyboard with an iPad pro screen, take the screen off and the iPad pro becomes an iOS device with all the apps etc. put it back into place and it’s a dumb screen for a laptop, this should be no problem at all for Apple so I wonder what they are waiting for…..If they would also make it possible to RETOUCH on the screen while connected it would mean I would have one device with me during travels.

For now I’m using the following.
iPad pro for media consumption, drawing, reading comics, surfing the web, the perfect traveling companion.
MacBookPro for shooting in the field, in all honesty a tethertools table on a stand is not that much more work to carry around than a tablet on a stand.
Wacom Cintiq for studio use.

That last one I don’t see me replacing by ANY device, working on the 27″ cintiq is VERY addictive and going back to a smaller one…. well no way (well maybe but than it has to be a lot better), the iPad pro and MacBook Pro I’m afraid that for the coming time that will stay my combination up until ONE device can REALLY replace them both, let’s hope on the Microsoft Surface Pro 5/6/7 or if Apple wakes up and does something amazing 😀

Feel free to leave comments but keep it respectful please, this is MY opinion and only MY opinion.

 

Z30 SP xDrive for the traveling photographer

Some things look great on paper but are terrible in real life.
Some things can be solved.

According to some the iPad/iPhone etc. are closed of systems where you always need iTunes to sync or put stuff on your device, and although indeed this was always true in the past there are many solutions now a days that work like a charm, for example I use mostly “preview” to get images and videos off my iOS device, or (if there aren’t many) I use airdrop, and when I need them in the catalogue of Lightroom I will just connect my phone to Lightroom.

In fact I only use iTunes to get video material on my iPad before traveling and music on my iPhone. And even then I don’t convert the video via iTunes, I just drag and drop the files into the folder for my CBR reader or video for VLC. The times where you had to convert everything is long gone.

But still there sometimes is the need for more, especially when traveling.
We love to edit video on the big screen of the iPad pro, but I also love to watch some episodes of my favorite show while flying and preferably I want to carry everything with me so I have a lot to choose from, and although you can fit a lot of shows on the 128GB iPad pro…. well I still want more sometimes, and when you combine it with video editing even the 128GB can be filled up rather quickly.

But don’t worry… there are solutions for that too.
Enter the Z30 drive.

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I’ve tested the iShowfast a while ago and although I liked the idea of the drive, and in all honesty it did do its work almost flawless, the connection was very weak and within a few weeks of normal use I already wasn’t able to lock both the lighting and USB part of the stick, in the end they exchanged the stick but I’m now so used to the Z30 that I’ll keep it in it’s box and probably sell it. The main thing I like about the Z30 is that there is a 100% hidden position as you can see in the middle of the image above. With the iShowfast there wasn’t, so you always had the USB or lighting part exposed, and that means…. well change of damage or dirt getting in the contacts.

Now writing a review on a device like this is pretty… well let’s put it this way, it’s like writing a review on a USB stick, it works or it doesn’t  😀

Safari

In essence the Z30 drive makes it possible to very quickly sync files like photos, videos and documents between your mac/pc and iOS device. To make it work the only thing you need is the free iOS app that you can download from the app store. Via this app you can do some pretty cool stuff like creating a backup from your camera roll, backing up your contacts (and restoring them), synchronize between devices, work with dropbox (upload and download) and of course it also supports encryption so your files are safe.

I’ve been working the Z30 for some time now and I must say that I’m really happy with it, it copies pretty snappy from my MacBook Pro and the “feeling” of always being able to copy material from my MBP to my iPad pro on the road is pretty handy, we film a lot of material on the road and it saves us a lot of time to being able to already do some editing on the plane and the iPad pro simply shines on video editing capabilities.

If you’re traveling a lot, OR if you just need some extra memory on your iOS device and you don’t want to always connect to a MBP/Pc or whatever the Z30 is something I HIGHLY recommend. Check them out on their site. it’s available in 32/64/128GB versions (I tested the 64GB version)