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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.

Mobile workflow iPad (pro) photos and lightroom and small review section

As you all know we are working on figuring out if the iPad pro can be a full replacement for a laptop. Well let me rephrase that, it will never fully replace a laptop, but let’s say I want to see if for travel we will be able to leave our laptops at home and do everything on an iPad pro.

So what do we do?
Well first off it’s the simple things like Email, browsing, media consumption, reading comics/magazines, playing games while flying etc. and I can say… well as expected no problem at all.

But I also do a lot of video editing, and this was a bit of a challenge on the Android tablet, although there is a good file system (please hurry up with iPad OS Apple) there are no real killer apps for video, of course we have Powerdirector which is pretty awesome but also pretty limited, I could do my videos on it but only if I’m willing to cut corners, which in all honesty is ok for once but certainly not for every video. Project Rush is awesome but only on Samsung phones, so this actually pushed us towards the iPad pro, now I have to add that although I love project Rush, when travelling I need a bit more (seeing I can’t finish projects in Premiere when I don’t bring a laptop) but luckily there is LumaFusion, and oh my… if there ever was a reason to run out and buy an iPad pro it’s LumaFushion, I can’t really express in words how awesome this app is, think about everything you want from a good video editor and LumaFusion has it, and editing with touch…. it’s just awesome.

Ok but today it’s about something else.
And it’s actually about something that will be easier soon, but still I wanted to give you this tip.

The Lightroom CC problem
Lightroom CC is a game changer, let me make that a bit more clear it’s a GAME CHANGER… sorry for shouting, but it really is. The moment Adobe released Lightroom Mobile I was intrigued to see where this would lead, and in all honesty it never went anywhere, it was a total disaster, this might sound harsh but I’m totally honest it was just unusable due to the fact you were very limited to what it would hold picture wise. Lightroom CC changed everything, now you can really work on your files both in the cloud and locally and it’s just a very well thought out application. I still miss some things but I’m pretty sure Adobe will add this to the future releases.

But it’s not all perfectly.
Let me just walk you through the frustration and how I solved it (well pretty much). I’ll give you 3 solutions that will hopefully fit everyone.
Do remember that when iPad OS is released, it will be a LOT easier.

Normal situation
We shoot outside and come home with 300 images.
Downloading the images on the iPad pro is no problem, I use a 512GB version so for small trips this is more than enough to hold all the images, but… when shooting in cities like New York for a week it hardly is enough (I really shoot a lot of images on the streets)


The DJI Copilot is at the moment a must have when you want some serious work done on an iPad (pro)

So my idea was the following
Use the DJI CoPilot to empty the card to let’s say folder “Day 1”
Now import all the photos into Lightroom CC and….. oh wait this is Apple.
First import all the photos into photos, and than import all the photos into Lightroom CC.
Now star/flag the ones I want and delete everything else.
Now edit the files and just leave them on the device in the album “Day 1”

Day 2 comes and we do the same.
Empty the card on the DJI CoPilot.
Import, flag, delete, edit… done.

Well yeah, sounds great right?
When I’m home I just copy all the days with all images from the DJI CoPilot to my desktop.
Now sync up Lightroom CC and choose “Save original + settings” and just copy these OVER the files that are already on the desktop.
Now when you sync everything up in Lightroom Classic it will import all the images and will show you the flagged images including the retouches so you can save them as TIFFs, or just leave them there, whatever fits your workflow.

Sounds great right?
Well yeah it is, it saves you a lot of space on the iPad pro, all your files are save on the external drive and the retouched images are in the cloud, or on the iPad pro when there is no internet to upload, easy peasy awesome….. well not quite.

The Apple issue
When you delete all the images in Lightroom CC that you did not select, it doesn’t delete those images from Photos (film roll). So you have a few options to work around this.

When you don’t shoot a lot of images
Don’t
If you only travel for a weekend or don’t shoot a lot, no problem at all 512GB is a lot of space so you will not have any issues at all.
Just backup everything from the iPad when you’re home and you’re done, and with Lightroom CC you don’t even have to connect anything it just syncs everything.

When you shoot a lot
Creative Cloud storage is not free, and it isn’t much in most cases, for me it’s 100GB sounds like a lot, but if I can fill a 512GB iPad… well do the math (it’s not that hard). So we have to find a way around.

Solution 1 (not perfect)
Import ALL photos into Photos (filmroll)
Now just browse and select everything you like with a hart, this will put it into the favorites folder
Now it’s easier to select all the other images and delete them so only the favorites stay, import only the favorites into Lightroom CC and you’re done.
This is already a very fast workflow and works pretty well. But we want more speed of course.

Solution 2 (pretty cool)
Import ALL photos into Photos (filmroll)
Now download the free app called “Slidebox”
This is a really cool app.
When you open the app you can “tinder through your images”
Swipe left and right to go to the next or back
Swipe UP and you thrash an image, selecting the keepers this way is incredibly fast, and Slidebox saves your trashcan so after your selection process just look in the trashcan before you say “delete all” and you’re all done.
Now import the left over images into Lightroom CC and… voila.

Solution 3 almost perfect, well at least it’s very close
On the road just empty the cards on the DJI Copilot
Now via the browser app from DJI create the folder structure and copy everything where you want it, do remember that renaming is not possible in batch (yet)
Now instead of creating the selection in photos, just import everything into Lightroom CC, but put your tablet/phone on airplane mode (unless you have a steady and fast internet connection).
Make your selections and only keep the images you like (the 5 stars)
Now Lightroom CC only has the selects
Take your device out of airplane mode and let Lightroom CC sync to the cloud
It will now upload all the files that are still in Lightroom CC
When this is done.
You can now safely remove all images from your photos app (remember the full res originals are now in the cloud)
When you’re home copy everything to your Lightroom Classic locations, don’t rename yet
Now sync Lightroom Classic with the cloud
Drag the images to the same locations as the RAW files
And now you can rename everything but keep the edits

This workflow is the fastest and saves you a lot of space on your tablet. The only disadvantage is that first you have to trust the cloud (remember the originals are still on your drive so the worst that can happen is losing the edits) and when you’re without wifi or connection you can edit in Lightroom CC but not in an external program for the simple reason the original files are not on your device, only smart previews, unless of course you set it up that Lightroom CC saves the original files, but that will cost you space.

 

Conclusion Photography workflow
The main problem with all Apple products like iPhone, iPad etc. is that you don’t have a proper file system, when I look at what my Android devices do it’s so much easier to work with larger file amounts, you can just open with an app from every directory where on the iPad I often have to move files from one folder to the other via via (it’s not user friendly and the chance that you make a mistake is huge), however with the announcement of iPadOS this will all change (September), after that update you can just use external drives and work from those and you will have a proper file system, I just hope the apps will also support this…. but I guess productivity apps like LumaFusion and Lightroom will do this without a doubt.

Now when you read the solutions you might think it’s a lot of work… but trust me it isn’t.
IF there is a good file system it will be faster but in all honesty solution 2 is a very fast way to work around this and solution 3 is using all the sync options from the cloud which makes that one actually my favorite, the only thing you have to keep in mind is that you don’t rename your images before the synced images and the ones from the drive are all together in one location.


A keyboard case is a must if you want the iPad to replace a laptop. I’m using the Logitech slim because of the back lit keys.

Conclusion on the iPad pro so far
I get a lot of questions about what I think about the iPad pro so far.
Let me state by saying I’ve always been an Apple fanboy, and although I didn’t own any Apple products anymore I still followed the news and keynotes and it actually really hurts me seeing Apple has lost it’s way to be attractive to creators like me (people that are willing to spend some money but don’t have a money tree in the garden) however with the arrival of iPadOS this might totally change for the iPad line up, especially the Pro line up, let me quickly explain.

Video editing
The limitation is without a doubt that you work with apps instead of full programs, on the other hand…. isn’t an app also a full program?
When I look at for example LumaFusion (coupled with a good filesystem (and this is really key)) I can only say that although it’s an app on a tablet I can do the same things I can do with premiere or Final Cut, ok this is not true… let me say it like this, I can do everything I need. And believe it or not, but editing on the iPad pro is actually faster than on my Dell XPS 9570 i9 with 32GB, yep I hear some people going like “Really Frank, come on be serious”, oh I’m very serious (almost to a point it hurts). I’ve edited a vlog the other day including some H265 drone video material, my normal 4K material I can edit on the Dell without using Proxy (as long as I don’t grade), but H265 drone material…. well it doesn’t every play on the time line on 1/4 resolution, if I don’t use proxy it’s unworkable, and rendering afterwards takes a long time.

On the iPad pro believe it or not, drop it on the time line, grade as much as you want and it’s buttery smooth, I actually didn’t notice a difference between the normal 4K H264 and the Drone 4K H265 material, and that boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen is SERIOUSLY sick and impressive. Rendering same story, 10 minute 4K vlog in the highest quality renders in almost real time, 10 minutes and 5 seconds….. wow. On the Dell this is app the same but again that’s one of the fastest laptops on the market as far as I know.

Photography
When I look at Lightroom CC it’s perfect for mobile workflows, same with Project Rush although at the moment I prefer LumaFusion because it has more options that I need (like speed ramps). Also with Lightroom CC I can’t really say I’m feeling I’m working with a crippled app, and let’s be honest when the whole iPad “pro” started that was what you got, shameless promoted very limited apps that in all honesty couldn’t be take seriously. If you can’t export files in anything else than HD JPGs I really can’t take an app seriously, unless you’re an Instagramer maybe.

I can’t wait for Photoshop to arrive on the iPad Pro, for the time being I’m using Affinity Photo and in all honesty I was blown away by what it could do, but…. also a bit dissapointed about the speed, I tried to create a 21 file panorama from my Mavic Pro 2 (Hasselblad version) and this took a staggering 20+ minutes…. yeah serious, my laptop does it in under a minute in Lightroom Classic. Seeing how fast the iPad pro edits video there must be some bugs in Affinity because this is really slow. On the other hand I’m not a programmer and it could very well be that the limitation here is actually the 4GB internal memory of the iPad pro. Overall Affinity is relatively smooth on the iPad pro even with 60MP files it all goes very well, inpainting (a sort of content aware fill) is sluggish on larger areas and far from what Adobe does with Content Aware Fill but…. for an app on a tablet I take my hat off to Affinity and take a deep bow, this is a pretty good and solid photo editor that actually gives you everything you need to retouch.

Doodling or serious drawing
What can I say.
The new iPad pro (my previous one was a 2015 model) has a much better Apple Pencil experience, mostly because you have a different screen and now there is hardly any space between where you touch the glass and where you draw, now in all honesty I draw ok but not good enough to even notice that, but I can imagine that real artists see this as a huge improvement. Same for the insane 9ms lag….. I already thought the 20ms was insanely fast.

For drawing I highly recommend Adobe of course but also check out Procreate or MediBang Paint, especially when you’re into Manga you will love the last one, but Procreate is for me the allround winner, start drawing with it and I can guarantee you you will be hooked. The Apple pencil and the iPad pro are a dream for people that love to draw (I guess).

What’s missing?
A few things.
Somehow I couldn’t get my Powerpoint presentations to run, I stored them all as odb files (Open Document files) mainly because I want them to work in all situations also when I have to change laptops with someone, but this was apparently a mistake. Everything about 300MB wouldn’t open in both Keynote and Powerpoint. Solution was to open it on the desktop, save as PPTX and import that into Keynote and save and voila… now it all works. I just need to find a good remote to control Keynote.

Filesystem we talked about and that is coming, and I hope that solves my other problem.

With tethering I can use the Sony app, which works like a charm, it’s fast, it’s stable and it does exactly what I need, showing images on the screen when I shot them within a second. And I can also switch to Live View mode so students can see what I see and how I frame a shot. BUT…. there is a huge problem with wireless tethering. Although it works at home, in the studio or out in the open field, don’t ever try it on a tradeshow floor and expect it to go flawless, yes it can work, but most of the time it will be flaky or you have to stand really close to the tablet. With iPadOs and the opening up of that USB-C port I really hope we will soon find a solution to shoot tethered into lightroom CC via USB, that would really be the ultimate solution.

What’s so cool?
Well let’s keep it short ok?
When editing video and photos on my laptop the battery runs down fast and I mean FAST.
On the iPad pro of course the battery runs down faster than when surfing the web but in all honesty I’m stunned by how long the battery actually lasts during heavy loads, if I remember correctly editing the vlog took me about 45 minutes, rendering took me another 10 and I believe I lost about 15-20% of my battery life, that’s insane. This makes it 100% possible to edit on the plane and don’t worry about losing your media consumption tablet when you’re done.


add the amazing Omnicharge to the package and you will “never” run out of juice on location.
See my review here : YouTube review for the Omnicharge

But there is more to that.
When you run on the battery on a laptop you are almost forced to use the on board GPU which is VERY slow compared to the dedicated GPU which you can use when on power. And when you’re running a tablet like the Surface book 2 (without the base) you don’t even have the option to force the dedicated GPU plus the battery will die incredibly fast. Now in a hotel that’s not a big problem, just charge, but on a plane you can often charge a tablet via USB (in almost every seat) but power for a laptop…. well not so easy unless of course you fly business.

And finally…..
Oh my……
As you all know I love playing guitar, and recording yourself is of course possible on Android and on iOS, but writing your own music is a different story. Garageband from Apple is one of those genius programs, you can’t really understand what I mean unless you’re a musician or ever tried Garageband, I can literally find NOTHING on Android that comes even close, and yeah I really tried a lot of apps, nothing compares to Garageband, the autoplay instruments, awesome loops, style drummers…. pffff I get so excited by writing this I want to play and record something, it’s so addictive, and the end result is fully usable.


Garage band alone (coupled with an iRig HD2) would be a reason to invest in an iPad

Of course there will be people that say “just bring a laptop, I can’t understand why you would spend money on a tablet”.
Well I have a very good answer for that (I think).
My laptop that I need for video editing has to be specked out, so it retails for app 2800.00 Euro.
The iPad pro I now use is the 11″ 512GB version and retails for under 1500.00 Euro, including a keyboard case and the Apple Pencil.
Plus when travelling I don’t need to bring : the Dell, the powersupply, my Wacom Tablet, Mouse. Which in all honesty saves me not only a lot of weight but also stuff to carry around and take care off. Add to this that I never worked on my laptop when flying or on a bus, but the iPad you just grab from your bag and you can work on it. It’s a totally different experience.

I will post some more updates when you guys are interested, and feel free to ask me questions about problems I encounter or solutions. I’m having a boat load of fun to be honest figuring everything out, and it’s painfully clear that the iPad pro was NEVER a pro device, but with the filesystem in iPadOs it will be.

 

iPad pro vs Surface pro …. oh no

Let me start of by saying that I always believe that everyone is right…
Now what do I mean with this?
Everyone has a different workflow, everyone has different skills, everyone has different needs and that’s ok, so whatever I will say in this blogpost is actually aimed at me, and maybe at you…. But one thing…. please read the WHOLE blogpost before you start a discussion because I think it will make a lot of stuff clearer 😀

 

Why this blogpost?
I recently got an iPad pro and Apple Pencil and have been over the moon with the possibilities (see my reviews online and on this blog), in fact the Apple Pencil awakened a long sleeping desire to draw in me, and I’ve been doing since the day I got the Pencil, it just feels very very natural. So I’ve been posting very positive about it. Also because I never intended to buy the iPad pro for the simple reason it didn’t run full MacOsX, but….. and this where it happens.

 

Full OS vs iOS
So why did I bought that expensive iPad pro and didn’t I buy a MacBookPro or 12″.
Well the 12″ doesn’t make sense for me, I need processing power, we edit 4K videos on the road, I retouch 42/60MP files etc. and although the 12″ is great for business men, for me it would be a paperweight (a very light one) and I would still prefer my MacBookPro 15″ retina.

 

But… I can’t draw on my MBP.
And this is the MAIN reason I bought the iPad pro, the incorporation of the stylus, excuse me Pencil. Of course it also helps that it’s smaller than a laptop (easier when traveling) and it’s bigger than an iPad so I can work on it better, and even with the attached Logitec Create keyboard it will still fit on my lap in an Airplane (barely). But most of all because all the apps are 100% touch based….

 

Surface pro and likes and iOS iPad Pro
So whatever you post about the iPad pro there will be a group of people claiming the iPad pro is just catching up because the Surface Pro has been doing it for YEARS…..and indeed they Surface pro (and others) have been in that form for years, indeed, so that’s true. If you look at it like this…. you have a pen and a tablet.
BUT…..
There is much much more, let’s look at some differences.

 

The first thing you have to realize that there is a huge difference between a tablet and a PC.
A tablet is/should be 100% touch, meaning bigger menus for your fingers (slightly smaller for a stylus), there should be more than enough apps to do whatever you want to do and…. most importantly the system should be very stable.
A desktop or laptop is a different beast.
You have a keyboard for typing and shortcuts, and you have a pointing device for example a mouse and/or trackpad. Most importantly this means you can have smaller menus, you can use keystrokes for quick and easy acces to much used commands and you can work in a efficient way.

 

Did you read that last one?
In a more efficient way, and that’s 100% true.
Let’s look at Photoshop for example.

 

Photoshop (real life) example
For Photoshop I use the following keyboard shortcuts a lot (read sometimes several times per second)
sampling, brush size up and down, Undo and redo, zoom in and out, drag, and switching color when working with masks and I know I only use a few compared to some others. But I would need 9 hardkeys or soft keys to do my work in the most simple way. On my Mac/PC or laptop no problem at all, the keyboard is always there.

 

Now I disconnect the keyboard like on the surface, I sit down on the coach and start to retouch…. after opening my image and looking at it the first problem occurs, I want to zoom in… well that’s possible via the Menu. But now I want to take away some blemishes…… uh…. well….. I can find my healing brush but….. how do I sample without a keyboard? ok let’s forget the sampling just run a filter because I’m running the full version, so that’s done, now I make a layer mask, hide all and I start to paint, every time however I need to switch colors I have to click on the colors, but that’s doable. However changing the brush size….. well that’s again very annoying because it has to be done in the menu. But we’re done with that… now let’s change something in the background with the clone tool…. oops that doesn’t work also because I have to sample something….. well let’s skip that too….

 

To be honest this doesn’t work for me.
If I need to skip things in my workflow I would rather not be able to retouch at all, it should be seamless. You could of course project the keys as a floating keyboard and use those with touch, but when I worked with the Surface I couldn’t find an app that made a few small buttons I could program as keystrokes.

 

Same goes with video editing, try to operate Adobe Premiere ONLY with a stylus… you can better wait till you’re home and do it at home.

 

So I’m running a full OS, I can work in Photoshop and Lightroom but… I can’t do the things I normally do unless I switch constantly between menus and taking for granted that some things never will work. One could argue that you can program the keys on the stylus for this but this is not something that worked very well for me, I lost a lot of control when I did this and found myself frustrated a lot, but maybe if I would have stuck with it for a few days longer I would be able to learn it, but even then I would have only had 2 extra keys.

 

Now let’s look at a 100% touch interface
A tablet runs with apps.
Now apps in the past were terrible, it was a game, an option to put two fingers on the screen and draw, play piano etc. and of course an app was never take seriously… but hey it’s 2015 and apps have grown, in fact you could say that when you look at the apps today some apps are even better than the full blown versions on the “real” OS. But the system will live or die by the amount of apps, and this is (in my opinion) where the Apple system blossoms, there are apps for everything and the apps are very very good overal.


imovie-4k-ios-773d0

For example take a look at iMovie
When ever I tell people I use iMovie they look at me with a big question mark like I’m editing on a typewriter.
But let’s face it, iMovie on the iPad/iPhone has matured and delivers 99% of what most people need. You can edit 4K streams, use PIP, use titles, add music, manipulate music, change the look of clips, change fades etc. plus it reads a lot of video formats now a days. What do you need is the big question, if you need to edit Multicam you are right, iMovie is not the place, but if we are filming a BTS video we often use one camera and that we can edit for almost 100% in iMovie, the only reason I say almost is because sometimes we want a different kind of title, a different look etc. but that’s personal, if it would be just the video we could do it 100% in iMovie.

 

Now throw in Adobe Clip in the mix and you have different options including a cool one where you select the music, throw in the clips, sit back and it creates something cool all automatically on the music which of course you can later fine tune. I know of people that actually use this every time for BTS videos even when at home, they throw the clips in, let it do it’s magic and fine tune it in Premiere pro on their macs. It’s actually also something we are looking into, but Annewiek (and me) actually like a bit more control so we always edit manually. But hey it’s pretty cool.

 

Interaction and connectivity
In the past the iPad was the iPad, you needed iTunes to connect and what came out of the iPad was a finished product. But also that has changed A LOT.

 

First of all using iTunes is also something I don’t like that much, but I hardly use iTunes anymore, only for my music and backups to be honest. The rest is all transferred via a USB3/Lighting stick which is available up to 128/256GB so that should keep you going. Work I create in Procreate is synced via my dropbox, videos and photos we use airdrop and movies I just copy to VLC player via the stick or via iTunes drop, so this is really something from the past… but there is more.

 

You can easily start a project in Adobe Clip or iMovie and continue that project in Premiere or iMovie/Final Cut ProX on the desktop, no problem at all. I can create a drawing in ProCreate and drop this as PSD to Photoshop to finish it off.

iShowFast-Hero-square

 

Limitations
Because the interface is 100% touch and Apple doesn’t want to take any sacrifices they will not merge MacOSx and iOs together at the moment so somethings you can’t do. For the moment for example there is no full Photoshop touch that works with plugins the way you are used to on the desktop, but I think there will be solutions pretty soon. If you for example look at the interface of the FREE MediBang Paint you can see that it’s very well possible to create a very sophisticated program on iOS. I have to be honest that it’s a program I just installed 2 days ago (never heard of it before) and I’m now switching between MediBang and Procreate to see which one I like the most, but MediBang is pretty impressive and I can see something like this EASILY used for photo editing if they changed a few things around and add a few features. (by the way the interface is 100% english in my version)

about-mpiPad

 

A look into the future, that I THINK will be reality
Let me start of by saying that this is just my COMMON sense speaking, what I tell you now is not something that I know is coming, but it’s something that if it would NOT be coming it would REALLY surprise me.
Let me start by saying the following (and this might shock people), Photoshop doesn’t read RAW files.
No really it’s true. Photoshop works with a “finished” product, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) converts your RAW files into for example TIFF 16 bits ProPhotoRGB files and this is what Photoshop uses. After this all the plugins are used, you can retouch etc. but in essence you are working on TIFFs/PSD etc.
So let’s see what the future COULD bring
I process all my files in Lightroom, Capture One or DxO on my desktop (in the hotel or wherever) into TIFF/PSD 16 bits files. Now I put them on my USB stick and we travel. During travel I now open first my TIFFs/PSDs into Photoshop fix (which can handle pretty big files) and I retouch my skin, other small things etc. Now I open up my other skin plugin (if needed) and I make the skin nice of course I use the delivered adjustment brush to paint the effect in where I want it. After this I run my mobile app for the special sharpening (on my dekstop this is Intensify pro from MacPhun) and I’m done with that (also with the adjustment brush ofcourse), now I open up the final software and I tint my image….. And…… well I’ve done the EXACT same workflow as I did on my desktop and I have the EXACT same file as I did on my desktop, but there is one huge difference…. ALL the apps I used are designed for touch, meaning they use easy to use interfaces, they support the Apple Pencil and they run VERY fast because everything is optimized for my tablet. Everything is now stored on my stick which I take out and plug into my desktop and copy everything on my harddrives and sync it within Lightroom and… well I’m done.

 

The whole discusion of “the iPad can’t read RAW” is pretty “lame” RAW files only need to read once and this is where you adjust what you need and you store it as TIFFs/PSDs after that you can edit in whatever you want. So also on the road.

 

Discuss because of….
I’m afraid a lot of the discussions about surface pro vs iPad is more a matter of “my brand is better than yours” than people that really think about the workflow differences and the options you get. Or they simply don’t want to be open for what’s really going on, and of course you could say I’m the same 😀

 

Is the iPad pro a game changer… well I think it is but not if you just look at it as a tablet with a stylus, that indeed has been on the market for years. It has just been released and you already see artist and real creatives (I consider my drawing skills to be absolute starter) taking the Pencil in their hands and being blown away and switching to the iPad pro because it gives them more control, although already they created art I can only dream off on iPhones with their fingers. The Apple pencil is I think the real game changer, and as you know the iPad pro was designed for that Pencil (the technique is not 100% in the pencil but also in the iPad).

apple6_600x400

 

You see apps like Astropad who not a lot of people heard of explode online now it really comes to life with the bigger screen and Apple Pencil on the iPad pro. You do have to realize however that Astropad is not a substitute of running Photoshop on an iPad pro… it’s in fact a 19.99 Cintiq alternative, for me for example the Cintiq was never a question, I would LOVE the companion but it was too expensive and the use I would get out of it was too little to justify the costs, and carrying another device on the plane or during travels.

 

In the coming months you will hopefully see more and more plug-in creators change their plug-ins for Mac/Pc into apps on the iPad and if someone is smart enough to create a “macro” app which will let you open a TIFF and run it in series through the Apps you need this would be a golden combination. So open in fix, save, open in skin, save, open in intensify, save, open in tint, save and now finally….. choose.

 

Most professionals have a really streamlined workflow, my Photoshop workflow for example is almost always the same, so for me it doesn’t make sense to go back to step 1, my retouches take on average 5-10 minutes total and are always in the same order, heck I even flatten my layers when I’m done. So being “stuck” with apps would actually be no problem at all for me.

 

Most of all however the game change element is in the fact that for the first time you have a REAL tablet (so one that is based on 100% touch) with a HUGE library of apps that now also supports a creative device (the Pencil) that can be qualified as top of the line, that combines this all together and opens totally new workflow options. The iPad never really FILLED the gap between being at home and traveling, it was always more “playing around with your files and great for iPhone shots”, now it really fills that gap WITHOUT claiming other wise, I never heard Adobe say you would never use your Photoshop anymore, they always talk about connecting everything together, working on one device and continuing on another. This is also what I didn’t like about Cooks announcement that it would replace the laptop, for business men I think it could, for creatives… well never.
When Microsoft lend me the Surface Pro I was amazed by the device, when they recently released the Surface book I was blown away, it looks drop dead amazing for what it’s on paper, but I also know that as soon as I disconnect it from the keyboard I’m stuck with a crippled Photoshop and the apps for Windows that are 100% touch don’t come close to the offers on the iOS system, and that’s understandable of course, it’s mainly windows with added touch so that’s not an attack, but why would you write an app if you have the full blown OS available.

 

I always claimed that if there was something better than what I’m using now I’m switching, this is also why the Surface pro replaced my MacBook for about 6 months (I actually sold my MPB) but in the end it just didn’t work out, I found myself using it more for watching movies and some photo selecting in Lightroom than running Photoshop, when I ran Photoshop I had a keyboard connected and then loved it, but as soon as they keyboard was gone… well I couldn’t work with it at the speed I wanted so I never used it. For photoselecting I can use Lr Mobile which works faster with touch than the full version to be honest on my Surface.

 

You always have to realize that there are many different markets.
For business men I think the SurfaceBook is the choice at the moment, it will beat the iPad pro senseless for the simple reason that it’s very well thought out, office runs on it and when you disconnect it you can draw a bit and watch movies (although battery time is limited) but without a keyboard Windows will stay crippled. For creative people, photographers, video editors, drawers, painters etc. I strongly believe the iPad pro is the first generation of a device that WILL change the way we work.

 

Are we there yet?
Well yes and no.
With Adobe Photoshop fix you have a great program for fixing things (hence the name)
With Snapseed I could do the sharpening I love and even the tinting (actually snapseed does A LOT) but they need to up the resolution to 50MP on the iPad pro which is the only limitation it has now in the workflow (and of course be able to open TIFFs), but I think that’s something that could be easily adjusted.
For me as a professional I still prefer my MacPro and my Magic touchpad, Wacom/Astropad (still testing which one will stay but I’m leaning to Astropad) and my 27″ dual monitor setup with aRGB color capabilities, but when traveling this doesn’t fit in my bag, so I have no problem at all by selecting my images in the hotel, converting them to TIFFs and putting them on a stick and retouching them all on the plane with the iPad pro without the need for keyboards, because the whole interface is touch based.

 

Conclusion
Sorry for the long rant but I wanted to write this blog post because it seem the last week I’ve been posting the same answers over and over and I’m limited to what time I have online so I thought let’s bundle all these answers into one blog post I can reference to.

 

Let me end by stating (again) that I love Microsoft, they are making great products and the people I worked with were absolutely awesome, I really really like their SurfaceBook. But for what I PERSONALLY do the iPad pro at the moment is filling my needs, but it’s far from perfect, it’s really a very good in between device for photographers and video editors meaning it cuts down a lot of edit time when you arrive back home.

 

Where is shines is drawing and painting and I absolutely love it, and as a traveling companion I couldn’t wish for a better device, the games are cool and gorgeous on the big screen, the movies playback amazing and it even plays 4K if needed.

 

Let’s dream a bit
Howe about if Apple would release a keyboard with build in harddrive, fast video etc. or in other words a MBP without display…. the only thing they would have on top of the keyboard would be the new connector…… and what if…… you would just click that iPad pro onto that connector and the iPad pro switches from being an iPad to just being a display……. I would be willing to pay the price of a MBP 15″ for that keyboard 😀

Review Apple Pencil and video with Astropad

Today again a review on an Apple product, this time the Apple Pencil.
Let me start out by saying that when Apple released the iPad Pro I was not impressed, yeah it’s a bigger iPad and yeah it’s cool but what can I do with it…. who is Apple targeting, up until the point I saw the Apple pencil… at that point I was like “hmmmmm ok interesting for graphic designers, but not for me”

 

Long story short, I started thinking about how the iPad pro would be beneficial for me and fit in my workflow and (like with most new products) it became clear to me that it could really change the way I work, but most of all the things I would be able to do extra, and…. the Apple pencil was the main reason. So I was unpleasantly surprised I could just walk into a store and pick up an iPad Pro 128GB LTE but not the Pencil… they told me it would be weeks. Now my strategy proved to be successful, that morning I also ordered a whole kit online and that Pencil had a delivery time of 5-7 working days. In the end I ended up cancelling my online iPad Pro order but kept the Pencil, and much to my surprise and joy the Pencil already arrived after 5 days, and the next two days were spend playing with it and giving me the material for this review.

 

How does it look and feel
Well I can be short…. it’s a pencil.
And this is a good thing, it really looks nice and it’s cool it will always roll over with the logo on top, but overal it’s… well again it’s just a pencil. It feels really nice in my hand and actually when I go back to my trusted Wacom tablet I have to say the stylus feels weird. I never had that before with a product but you really get used fast to the Apple pencil.

 

One of the things that Apple does awesome is design and the Pencil is no exception, but it’s not without flaws, instead I’m afraid of how long I will be able to not loose parts. The top part disconnects to make it possible to charge the Pencil on your iPad and it claims to be ready for 30 minutes of use after 15 seconds of charging (awesome)Apple-Pencil-Fast-Charge-800x400

Up till so far, no problem, you can probably keep track of this tip without too much trouble, however there is another tip. This tip makes it possible to charge your Pencil via a lighting cable and I’m in all honesty afraid a lot of people will or loose that tip or the magnetic tip so let’s hope Apple has these as spares for not too much money. It would have been nice to include a sort of carrying box or sleeve, especially seeing the price of 109.00 euro.

 

It’s expensive
You hear this a lot, but I have to disagree in this case.
When you look at other styluses you also pay a lot of money for the more high-end products, but none of them will interact as well with the iPad pro as the Apple Pencil of course, so I think it’s very hard to say it’s too expensive, let me put it this way…. you do pay a premium price for a premium product. And I don’t think that’s bad. Also seeing all the techniques inside the Pencil I think it’s actually not that expensive.

 

How does it work
This is of course what you want to know, right?
Let me start of by saying that I never worked behind a Wacom Cintiq longer than a few minutes, I never owned a Companion (but worked with it a few times) and I haven’t drawn or painted in over 25 years…. so am I the reviewer you should trust…..?  well I think so and if you read further I think you understand why I say this, and also gave you the heads up 😀

 

Drawing and painting
When I was young I LOVED to draw, especially cartoon characters. I read books on how to draw and was mesmerized by the styles of Disney and similar styles. When I grew up I simply didn’t have time anymore and fell in love more and more with video and photography and slowly drawing disappeared but my mom still has books filled with drawings I made during my youth. I was always used to first sketching my work and later using a liner to make the lines thicker and finally coloring them, so when I would go somewhere with my parents it was always a lot of stuff to carry with them, maybe that’s also why I just gave up when growing older.

 

The love for real “hand made” graphic art always stayed, I love the photorealistic work from friends like Bert Monroy and Aaron Blaze which always blew my mind, but I’m also always amazed by the ease that Pete Collins seem to have when drawing his work, amazing artists and I’m not even close to what they probably do with their eyes closed, but…. do you have to, to have fun?

 

We live in a world that goes faster and faster and sometimes I also feel the urge to do something useful, do something that people can buy, look at, enjoy etc. and sometimes you just forget there are also other things in life, I think that’s also why those books “Coloring for adults” are so popular, just relax, take a deep breath, sit down and get lost in coloring……. yeah I know it sounds weird but according to a lot of people it really works relaxing. With the iPad pro we now have a device that gives us a lot of extra options, we can use Adobe Sketch, Notes or the amazing ProCreate to create simple drawings, paintings or ultra realistic pieces of photorealistic pieces. But most of all…. create something from nothing and without the need to bring all your pencils, coloring pens etc.

 

The drawing experience is awesome, I really don’t have another word for it.
You REALLY just have to pick up and iPad pro and Apple Pencil to experience it, when you sketch it really feels like your working with a drawing tool instead of a digital stylus, the Pencil is incredibly sensitive and shading is an experience that will give you a real sense of working with the real deal (just tilt the Pencil), the (positive) weird thing is that as soon as you change for example from pens to paint you also feel like your painting, it’s hard to explain but it’s just something you probably have to experience.

 

Lag is almost not visible, there will always be some lag of course but somehow Apple really did their best to limit it to an absolute minimum, let me put it this way I’ve worked on several “older” cintiqs that lagged a LOT more. Also the palm rejection work flawless (so far as I can see now).

 

Drawing on glas?
This is also something I thought about, the iPads are incredibly smooth so how does this translate when paining or drawing, don’t you feel like trying to stay in balance on an ice-skate…. well I can say that also here Apple really did their homework, the pen doesn’t feel like to be going over glass, it also doesn’t feel like art paper, but it feels very very nice.

 

So drawing is nice, but do you want to spend 1200.00 on that alone?
For me it was not, if you read my review on the iPad pro you will get a bit more insight in why I bought the iPad pro, but in essence it really depends on what you do, I think for people that spend hours and hours painting/drawing on an iPad will be in heaven when they try this combination. But also people that now travel with large Cintiqs will probably love it for the simple fact that there is an app for that…..

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Astropad, will it change your life… it very well might
When I knew I would order the iPad pro I also knew I would be using it with Astropad, in fact a big part of the reason I bought the iPad pro was Astropad. So what is this “super” app.
Astropad is an app that works on your iPhone, iPad and iPad pro and in essence mirrors your monitor (actually part of your monitor) with some nice added tricks. With Astropad you could say you can run the full versions of Photoshop and Lightroom on your iPad (pro) as long as you take into account that you always need a host computer. Now I hear you say.. “what’s the difference between this and a screen sharing program”, well that’s simple. Astropads supports your Pencil or stylus fully in Photoshop/Lightroom so you could say it adds some Cintiq magic to your iPad Pro.
For me it really adds to my workflow, I’ve retouched on Wacom tablets for years and absolutely love them, but I also always looked at the Wacom Companion which looked like a dream machine for me, if it would run MacOsX but it doesn’t, and the battery life is a bit short for long trips but the idea of carrying a sketch book with Photoshop with me all the time just feels like a cool and handy option. And zooming in on the face of model very quickly and seeing what I do straight from the screen I’m retouching on also has a great appeal to me, but to buy a Companion just for that…. well I’m not a graphic designer or painter so for me I just couldn’t justify the costs vs the benefits, when traveling I would still carry my laptop and iPad with me so it would be another expensive piece of gear I had to bring and insure and keep track off. The iPad pro however really combines a lot of these options. Of course Astropad doesn’t work on the plane (unless you also open your MBP, but when you don’t fly business that will be impossible) but on the plane you can draw/sketch/paint, watch some movies, play some games etc. on the iPad Pro, add the keyboard and type some blogposts or documents, and when you arrive on location you can switch the iPad (pro) to the main hub to shoot tethered to (wireless), and back in the hotel you open up your laptop, connect the iPad pro and just lay on the bed and browse through your images and retouch them via Astropad, or Lightroom mobile.

 

It’s the feeling of having one device for literally everything that has that great appeal for me, and the combination of the Apple Pencil and Astropad makes the iPad pro for me a tool that is worth every single cent. But words are always nice but a video does more, so check out this episode of Quite Frankly where I show you the retouching process with Astropad.

 

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It’s just a stylus
Every time I see this remark I have to laugh a little bit.
When Steve Jobs said he would never want a stylus he was absolutely right. My first “organizer” used a stylus and it was terrible, I never lost one, but as soon as I got my first iPhone it was a WOW moment, this was the way to operate a smart phone.
When the Pencil was released I immediately saw it for what it was, not a stylus to operate your iPad pro but a graphic tool to boost the uses for the iPad pro to a WHOLE new level, the level where a lot of creatives were already using it but always with limitations, with the release of the Pencil, Apple did not release a simple stylus, not even an advanced stylus… no they released a tool for creatives.

 

Ok let me explain myself.
There are a lot of tablets out there now a days that claim the same. Some use Wacom techniques, some use other techniques. I also own a Windows Sony tablet/laptop with a stylus and it works perfectly for taking notes, drawing some shapes etc. but as soon as I try to really draw I found out I just “sucked” at drawing and I gave up. Same happened with the Surface Pro, my level of drawing is just not good enough I always thought, and seeing that many people make incredibly art with these tools I always believed that was the problem. When I however started drawing on the iPad pro I saw myself doing stuff I never ever was able to pull off on the other tablets, the difference might be small but it was just enough to keep me up till 1:00AM last night drawing away on my iPad Pro and immensely enjoying it.

 

I’m convinced that if you give a real artist a Surface pro he/she will draw art, heck I’ve seen Bert Monroy do stuff with his fingers instead of a stylus that blew my mind, but imaging that if the iPad pro and Pencil already boosted my abilities what will happen when real artists start using this…. I’m very much convinced that this might be one of the best and most revolutionary releases from Apple for the graphic industry. Apple is often blamed for forgetting the graphic artists, the group that actually made Apple and in the past was the main focus for Apple (well at least that’s how I experience it) but with the release of the Apple Pencil I think Apple has proven that they love to motivate and inspire people but most of all give them the tools they need to create stunning art.

 

Conclusion
I have my Pencil for 2 days now and already spend a few hours just playing around in Adobe Sketch and ProCreate and I’m hooked, every free minute I’m now trying to get my skills up and I love the creative process, driving Annewiek mad by constantly showing her stuff I make and new ways that brushes work, for me painting and drawing will stay a hobby but the combination with Astropad makes the iPad pro a serious contender in replacing my trusted Wacom tablet for retouching and thats where I do earn my money and I’m always looking for ways to get a better and faster workflow.
If you’re a graphics artist, or just love to draw and paint without a doubt check out the Apple pencil and the iPad pro I think you will be more than impressed.