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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.

First few days with the iPad Pro

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The iPad Pro

If you don’t know by now you must be living under a rock I guess, but Apple announced their iPad Pro a while ago, and online you have read a lot of opinions, hands-on etc. some even the minute it was released, so why am I so late in the game and why do I even post this…..

 

I love gadgets, don’t get me wrong, I’m just like all of you (well ok most) when something new is released my first instinct is “WOW have to see that”, but I’m also very realistic, meaning I hardly buy something I don’t use or need. Take for example the Apple watch, when it was “leaked” I had to have it, I love sports and I love gadgets and what the Apple watch promised was amazing (did you count the amount of amazing during the keynote?) however when it was released for me personally it was a huge disappointment, of course it’s a cool watch and I love to be able to see stuff on my watch, and yeah I think it’s the future but they took out all the cool stuff for health, so I skipped the watched and got a Fitbit Surge which I love by the way. Will there be an Apple watch in my future… without a doubt but not yet, they have to add stuff I can’t do with my surge that will benefit my fitness/health/sport etc. and the Surge is pretty complete. But hey this is about the Apple iPad pro.

 

A photographers view
I love photography, you could say I’m always doing something with photography, but I also would love to be able to draw, in fact when I was younger I used to draw a lot but somehow it faded away to the background and I never also found a way to draw digitally that I liked or that triggered me to start doing it again.

 

My first opinion when the iPad pro was launched was…. “OH NO… NO MACOSX… I’m not interested”
And I think many of you thought the same thing, and the pricing…. pffffff I’m better off with my MPB or a MBP air or whatever MacBook. And so it faded away and I never thought of the iPad pro again. Till recently.

 

I do a lot of workshops on location and to be honest dragging a laptop with me, USB cables and setting everything up is pretty annoying at times, especially when you move around on a location a lot, so I was looking into ways to tether wirelessly with my Sony, the Sony remote software works flawless although there is a small bug in which the EVF stays black, but I hope they solve this soon. The other option is an Eye-Fi card which SHOULD work flawless but I can’t seem to get it to work consistently (Eye-Fi is working on my problem and sending me a new one), then we have CamRanger, works flawlessly but not for Sony (COME ON CAMRANGER), but I’m also working on a solution here with a TP-Link router (will know next week if that works), in other words shooting wirelessly will happen. And on the iPad/iPhone this is a really handy tool which works like a charm, but in the meantime we also have this working on my MBP so let’s put it this way, we probably are able to cut the cables very soon.

 

So where does the iPad pro come in.
Carrying an iPad with us is like a dream come true during workshops, but…the screen is a bit small, so the iPad pro would rock there, so that’s one point for the iPad Pro.

 

Lightroom Mobile
When Lightroom Mobile was released I was over the moon, WOW amazing (oops) awesome, the idea of working on all devices connected is a dream come true. But at first I just used it for my portfolio so slowly LrM was forgotten, until I started looking into the iPad pro, I changed my portfolio from LrM to the SmugMug app (which also supports local copies) and I started playing with LrM, totally love it, but….. uploading files can be LOOOOOONG and especially on trips I’m afraid this will be a problem, but there is always a starbucks close by or another wifi network and I think if you just by routine let the laptop upload every night it will be ok to have everything on your iPad when you travel. Because that’s the idea, but ideal it’s not (yet)

 

Now I spend sometimes hours behind a crappy desk in a hotel doing edits and selects in Lr from my street and travel photography, I don’t need anything more than Lightroom for 90% of those shots, and even worse… when there is no good desk I do it on the bed and end up with back-pains from sitting in a weird position for 1-2 hours. Imagine….. doing this on the iPad (pro) and indeed after some testing I did in the last few weeks this indeed works like a charm, I’m a bit faster on Lr on my MBP/Mac but… the speed in which you can actually edit and select is pretty cool it really works. Because you can tell LrM to edit OFFLINE you can download the whole catalogue on your device and work on it on the plane, in the bus or whatever. Having the real estate of the iPad Pro…. well point 2 for the iPad Pro.

apple-iphone-6s-live-_0688.0

Video editing
We love video, and you guys love video.
And we do film a lot of stuff, but most never sees the light of day because we have more important projects and most edits could be done pretty fast, we experimented a while on the iPhone during travels and the iPad air and it worked… but to be honest on the iPad it was ok but on the iPhone it was a less than happy experience to say the least, it’s ok for small videos but a larger project no way. When I saw a small demo of what iMovie was capable off on the iPad pro I was like….. interesting and this actually triggered my interest from the iPad pro from “I’m gonna skip it” to “I’m looking into it”

 

Now I hear you ask, how do you get the videos from the iPhone or cameras into the iPad?
Well there are plenty of solutions out there that support a memory stick with both Lighting and USB so that would not be a problem, just download the material from the iPhone and upload it into the iPad (pro).

 

But iMovie? Seriously?
Well yeah, why not, and when we are done with the edits, copy the project to FinalCutProX and complete it, as long as the “flow” is there, and let’s be honest that takes the most time. But even then, for most videos like BTS etc. you could do more than enough with iMovie.

 

Entertainment
Not so much for that, of course playing angry birds or candy crush on a big screen is cool, but not worth the 1000+ you have to pay for the iPad pro, I love my iPad air way too much for that, that being said…. movies… well ok that would be nicer. Half a point of the iPad Pro.

ipad-pro6-780x555

Drawing
This is where I was most impressed about on the iPad pro, and seriously…… Wacom watch out.
At the moment the best experience I ever had on tablets were on Wacom tablets, and trust me I tried a few and they all failed miserably, but the first Wacom I got… well I never looked back and now even travel with one. But for my retouching I don’t really need the drawing power of sensitive, angles etc. but remember I told you that I loved to draw when I was younger…. well this still is inside me, thinking about the options to draw on a tablet like the iPad pro when flying or traveling or when you have a few moments off…. for real artists probably 10 whole points for the iPad pro for me just add another half point.

 

Retouching
Now it gets more interesting for us photographers.
Ever lusted for the cintic?
Ever drooled over the companion?
Be honest…..
Be honest….
Yeah me too, but I just can’t justify the costs, but it would be incredibly handy for those composites you do and the drawing of masks etc. well enter an app called ASTROPAD which I recently found out, it promises (and as I can see delivers) the cintic killer, zoom in on you work with the gestures and edit without lag (if you use a cable) on your photoshop work. For under 50.00 (the price seems to change constantly) you’re up and running and with the normal styluses the people are already raving about it… imaging the iPad Pro pencil which works on a pixel level instead of the rude way the iPad styluses work, that would be…. well ok I say it once… amazing.

 

Let’s say 1 point again for the iPad pro (because I can also work with a Wacom for what I do, but for some people this will be another HUGE amount of points)

 

The future
Ok the iPad pro works with apps.
But is this really a bad thing……
Yeah if you want to retouch models on it.
Photoshop fix is awesome, but don’t even thing about running it from LrM because you will be working on a smart preview, in other words a smaller resolution, yeah it saves a great PSD you can fine tune in Photoshop later on (this works pretty well by the way and really wowed me) but if you want to do this you have to import TIFFs on the iPad (pro) and edit from there and then upload them to the cloud and later back on your mac.. and to be honest that won’t work for me. So retouching skin or taking stuff out of a shot not for me, I don’t believe in that until there is a full blown Ps running with plugins and that will take some time.

 

Having said that…
We all know what happens when Apple releases something, first people deny it will ever work or be a succes and slowly (sometimes very fast) people start seeing the benefits and app makers jump to the opportunity to create something cool and use the device to the max, I expect Adobe to not jump on the iPad pro but I think they will RUN to the iPad pro and I mean RUN!!! this device is so powerful and has such a great opportunity with the Pencil that Adobe would be crazy to not take full advantage of it. I think the mobile apps we see now are just the beginning of something that will maybe be a full companion to our desktop programs and interact even more with on the road and off the road.

 

Think about this.
In the studio connect the iPad pro and edit on the iPad Pro with your Pencil in Photoshop, Lightroom, Paint or whatever you use, when you disconnect all you work is synced to your iPad pro and you can work on the road, as soon as you’re back home and connect the iPad Pro again it’s synced and you can continue. The processing power is there, the accuracy of the pencil is there, Adobe has already a great suite of mobile apps…. the next step will be made, or in other words it would surprise me if they didn’t. They just have to skip the cloud action and the options are endless (well as long as you have enough storage that is)

 

This is of course as we call it “Coffee thick watching” but I think within 6 months we will see things happening on the iPad pro that will blow your mind, or at least help your creativity.

 

The competition
I hear you say “Frank nice and Apple fanboyish, but what about the Microsoft Surface pro?”
Well I will tell you even better, did you see their new Surface book… talk about a machine WOW, can’t wait to get my hands on one of those to be honest, that looks like the perfect machine for any photographer/retoucher out there, a super powerful machine with full versions of Capture One, Photoshop, Premiere etc. USB ports for tethering, wifi etc. And when you want to use it as a tablet you just take it off and you work with it, and it also supports a pen. to be honest I was thinking about getting one and leaving my MacBook and iPad pro when traveling… but I also read some reviews, the trackpad is not as good as the MBP and be honest you work with the trackpad a lot, the pen is not as good as the iPad pro, and that’s where a lot of creative people will probably leave, if you see their keynote they do indeed focus A LOT on office and not on drawing or painting.

 

That being said, for ME personally the Surfacebook would be more than I need for my workflow, and 3100.00 well ok it’s a LOT of money but it could replace my MacBookPro and the iPad pro so in the end it’s cheaper, so why not buy that one?

 

Well I’m “afraid” that within a few months when the iPad pro is out I will regret it, but I will try to get my hands on a Surfacebook and test it (let’s hope Microsoft is willing to lend me one), I did LOVE their surface pro tablets and even used one for a while but I switched back to the mac because of the interaction between my devices which was a bit more smooth when I used all mac devices but things have changed. So I’m open for that.

 

Final thoughts and notes
As you can see this is more a notepad to myself, which hopefully also helps some of you guys out there, to decide of the iPad pro is for you. For me at the moment there are a lot of plusses to the iPad pro, the size is very nice for the workshops on location (if we get Wifi tethering working it will be a sure buy) but could be a problem during travel in the airplane (will it fit in the little net in front of you), entertainment on the road is cool but not necessary this big, but having the option to do quick video editing in downtime, don’t have to sit on the bed or behind a crappy desk in a hotel but just work with touch while being comfortably on the bed or seat also adds A LOT. Also the prospect of what could be possible is very intriguing and because it’s an Apple product I’m willing to risk it.
Adding everything together I’m still on the point of Yes/No, although the Yes will probably win, but I’m also looking at the Microsoft Surfacebook although the idea of using one machine with Windows and everything else with MacOs also scares me seeing the experiences in the past. And because I also want to be able to draw a bit more I don’t know if that would be the best choice.

 

The final thing that I have to add is the addition of the Apple Sim.
We travel around a “bit” and we now have 2 mifi devices, one for europe and one for the USA.
In Europe we hardly have any problems, go to the first local shop and get a simcard plug it in and voila internet, and pretty cheap too. In the USA it’s a huge problem, we have a Verizon Mifi and to our “horror” nobody could help us to get it working again, we had to go to a Verizon head office store, and the closest was 10 miles and it was closed that day, so we ended up forgetting about it and just hopped acces points that week. With the Apple sim the moment you land you can buy an Internet package, pricing is ok but a bit steep, on the other hand if we calculate the loss of half a day to get a mifi working in the states well… it could pay back itself. However in Europe everything is about to change, in about 1-2 years there are no more roaming costs, meaning we can use our own bundle also in other countries, meaning the Apple sim would be useless.

 

The iPad pro promised a lot, it’s bound by apps.
At the moment the main things I want to do I can do much easier on the iPad pro than on the iPad or MBP while traveling, and some new options have opened up which draws me more and more towards the iPad pro. Let’s see what happens and I wonder what your opinions are?
Feel free to post them below.

Wacom Bamboo stylus

On Thursday I had a nice talk with Wacom Netherlands and we will be working together in the future (if all goes as planned), while we were talking my attention was drawn to the Wacom Bamboo stylus. I love using my iPad (as many of you guys) but the main problem for me was getting a good stylus which could be used to place signatures under our modelreleases (for which I use easyrelease and highly recommend this app), one great solution was the stylus sock which is a home made stylus “sock” and to be honest that works like a charm and I loved using it for some months now, but let’s be honest when Wacom makes something I’m always interested to test it out, so ………

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