Where a few years ago the term AI (Artificial Intelligence) was just something that you talked about in connection to some robot vacuums that were actually pretty dumb today the story is completely different and in all fairness, it’s an exciting but also frightening time.
Personally, I’m all for innovation but also have problems with some applications. Like probably most of you I am totally stunned by the quality of photorealistic images you can get from several AI image generators. But I also have to add I don’t see this as “art”. Of course, it looks insanely good, but it’s not “real” like where you create a set, light the set, coach the model, and take the image. In a group of its own yes! But Instagram is almost overflown with awesome-looking fashion shots where I literally thought “What a great photographer” until I scroll down more and see that the rest of his/her work is often below average/ It’s something I struggle to recognize as art, but maybe that’s just me.
The chatbots are also getting incredibly good and will probably be a real problem for education, but can help with writing articles and/or doing research. But do we really want to see the same kind of reviews without any personal input from a real human being? I don’t think so, but again it can help a lot with research and I’m excited to see how AI can be used for medical and scientific applications. I truly believe we are on the verge of some major breakthroughs. We have to find ways to incorporate AI into our workflows without losing the “soul” we all put into our work.
So why this intro about AI?
Well, a lot of software nowadays uses the term AI. And in all honestly most of the time it does do it work pretty well. But nothing where I really had to pick my jaw up from the ground. Yes, the first time I saw Content Aware Fill I had that kind of moment, and that was way way before it was officially released and became much better. Today I can tell you I had the same sort of experience, and probably even more important.
Photography for me is freezing unique moments in time that will never come back again.
But Photography sometimes also means we have to capture those moments in situations that are far from perfect. So sometimes images are a little bit soft or have some tremendous noise because there wasn’t enough light to capture a razor-sharp clean image. Now I can’t even remember how many images I threw out that were just not “usable” at that time… But what if I told you that those cherished memories from our loved ones can be saved? That those concert images can be stunning and noiseless? And that time you missed focus is not a real problem anymore… would you label me crazy? or tell me “yeah, well we can sharpen it a bit, and use some filters, but it’s not sharp so it can never be as good as shot right at the moment we took it”
Well, I would have said, “absolutely” a few weeks ago, but not anymore. Enter Topaz Photo AI.
Topaz Photo AI
I’ve been a Topaz fan for years. They always deliver awesome plug-ins or standalone solutions that really add something to my workflow. It’s hard to really describe, but a lot of plugins work great on razor-sharp images, or images where there is a little bit of noise. But when I started testing Topaz Photo AI my jaw literally dropped to the floor, and for the first time, I was literally wondering how the heck did they do this….
I can talk for hours about the importance of proper focus, controlling noise on location, etc. but sometimes you just don’t have that option. All the images that would normally be unsuitable for release are now…. “perfect”. So let’s take a look at some samples.
Let’s start very simply with something that happens to all of us.
I took this shot during a visit to the Orchideeënhoeve (the largest tropical attraction in Europe).
It’s a screenshot straight out of Topaz Photo AI
I am using the sharpness here on full blast to see the effect of ringing (artifacts) and to be totally honest…. this is so much better than expected. The image really jumps out and is sharp enough to publish. It’s also incredibly handy that the software gives you the option only to affect the subject and not the background. In other words, keep your silky smooth bokeh but fix your foreground….
And what about an image where the focus is just slightly off, let’s be honest this happens a lot.
As you can clearly see it’s a HUGE improvement, and you can also see a boost in the 3d look, something I’m always looking for in images.
So it’s pretty clear now it can fix images where you missed focus.
But that’s not all, what if you’re perfect and always shoot sharp images?
How about using it on an image that was already pretty sharp?
Even on an image like this, the improvement is pretty substantial to the point the original actually starts to look soft…..
But lets up the ante a bit.
The following image I shot during a workshop with our model Claudia. This was shot with continuous lighting and although my Sony A7RIV is pretty good with noise, it is still an image that looks a bit flat and noisy. So I was curious to see what it could do with this one… and again I was stunned.
It’s not only the noise that is gone, but look at the depth in the image….. this is just insane.
Depth in an image is always something that is very hard to do in post. It’s a combination of contrast in your lighting, lens choice, and even the sensor has a huge deal to do with this. For example, a Medium Format camera renders depth a lot better than even the best full-frame 35mm camera. Well, at least the Medium Format cameras I used over the years. And I’m totally honest when I say that for the studio Medium Format is awesome, but with Topaz Photo AI for the first time I see that depth also in my Sony images. Look at the way the mask wraps around the face, this is HIGHLY addictive.
By now I was convinced about the magic of Topaz Photo AI and I was ready for the real test.
As many of you know I’ve been shooting Wibi Soerjadi for years. One of the highlights is the Christmas concert in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. But this its also a real challenge for any camera. ISO values of 32000 are almost standard (yes indeed 32000) and in some cases I have to shoot at even higher ISOs to be able to capture Wibi’s hands in motion.
This image is already a real challenge, but as you can see it works like a charm.
When I saw this result I thought “let’s throw something in there that’s really terrible and unusable for publication”.
Let’s be honest when someone is filling the frame noise can be “ok” but when you shoot something with a wide-angle look it can really ruin a shot. The following shot is one of those images where you shoot it more to remember the situation than to ever publish it….. or………
As you can see… this is insane.
No loss of sharpness, no dull colors, no ringing, and all the noise is gone….
But there is more
In this short review, I only show you the tip of the iceberg.
There is also an excellent upscaling engine, and for example, the face recovery option is great for bringing back detail in faces that are shot with low-resolution cameras or are covered in noise.
It doesn’t happen a lot that I have to pick my jaw up from the ground. But while reviewing Topaz Photo AI it happens continuously. It didn’t matter what I threw at it, it did improve every single shot. Now don’t get me wrong, I still strongly believe you should try your best to shoot everything as well as possible on location. But when for one reason or another you don’t get the shot perfectly sharp or there is a lot of noise, there is absolutely no reason anymore to throw it out. I really hope you did save some of your images of loved ones or special locations that were not 100% perfect and in the past seemed unusable.
It might be a bold statement but with Topaz Photo AI you can bring your images/memories back to life and enjoy and keep those special moments forever in much better quality. And only for that, I would love to say to Topaz, “Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart and from many other photographers out there for saving some of my precious memories which are now looking 100x better”.
As a tool, I think Topaz Photo AI should be installed on all workstations and should be a standard part of your workflow. The improvements are just too good to not use. It doesn’t just act as a great noise killer (one of the best I ever saw) but it also doubles as one of the best sharpening engines I ever worked with. Add the options to select only the subject and change the effect with sliders and add in the upscaler and face recovery option and you probably know why I’m so incredibly enthusiastic.
Disclaimer: I’ve been working with Topaz software for as long as I can remember and I get my software for free from Topaz, however, this has and will never influence my opinion about the software, I’m always 100% honest in my reviews and don’t believe in telling you guys stuff that doesn’t reflect reality.
https://frankdoorhof.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/topazphotoai.webp462768Frank Doorhofhttps://frankdoorhof.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/studioFD_Logo-1FV.pngFrank Doorhof2023-02-14 13:58:232023-02-15 13:04:37This is a game changer: Topaz Photo AI
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 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 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.
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?……
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:
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%
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%
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%
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% +++++
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.
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
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?
We all love snapseed, and I mostly use it for tinting. For real photo-editing? Not really
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.
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.
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.
https://frankdoorhof.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Apple_iPadOS_Today-View_060319_big.jpg.large_.jpg650816Frank Doorhofhttps://frankdoorhof.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/studioFD_Logo-1FV.pngFrank Doorhof2019-11-06 12:16:132019-11-06 18:12:49iPad Pro current state ….. is it Pro or not?
We all love presets right?
it’s what made instagram great I always say.
Tinting or changing the look of your images is something we all do to spice things up, and it’s one of the most used factors in movie making to really set the mood for a certain scene, lighting and tinting are the things that create the atmosphere.
I’ve already created preset packs for plugins like DxO, luminar, Alien Skin Exposure, Intensify, Capture One etc. but this week I released my first one for Lightroom and I’m really excited, I created all the presets from the ground up or based them on presets I loved and created/finetuned over the last few months.
In the pack you’ll find color presets, tinted presets, BW presets, some for the Mavic Pro 2 and even some really creative ones.
You can get the pack now at www.frankdoorhof.com/presets for only EU 15.00 (contains more than 50 presets)
Do remember that these presets can be adjusted to your liking and are there to give you base to work from, or use them as is for that “ahum” “Frank Doorhof” look.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Wacom Companion
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.
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.
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.
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