Will the iPad work for photographers?

Apple announced the iPad on Jan 27 and plans to ship the product in 60-90 days.

The big question for photographers is this device usable for day to day work? The potential is there. One thing that it has that makes it very photographer friendly is something called the iPad camera connection kit. It provides a way to transfer you photos via a sd card reader or a direct USB connection to your camera. By inference you should also be able to attach a USB CF card reader because it supports the sd card reader. It may also support a mass storage device like an external HD that would also help out to expand the 16gb to 64gb internal solid state storage.

Since the iPad will support all current iPhone apps, like Photo Gene, you already have basic image editors that will work. The real question is if and when will the major software developers will create iPad-specific software for photographers that will be full-featured like the ones for the PC and the Mac. I think in the next couple of months developers will be re-written their code from the iPhone and scaling it up for the iPad. Hopefully Adobe will create a Lightroom type app for it or maybe there will be a Photo Mechanic version of it.

One of the biggest hurdles will be the lack of multi-tasking on the iPad. That means that you won't be able to caption, edit and transmit your photos with different apps running. But if there is an app created that combines all three tasks within it, like Lightroom or Photo Mechanic, you are all set.

The key to the iPad becoming a valuable piece of equipment for photographers is the iPad new chip. The new 1ghz Apple A4 processor can decode HD video, which on paper should be adequate for image editing. My Asus netbook can't decode HD flash video and I can run Photoshop and Photo Mechanic. If Apple's new chip can handle photo apps, it will be a hit with photographers.

The iPad's LED back-lit display should be much better than any netbook currently for sale. The purported 10 hour battery life will help out on location shoots where there is no power and those overseas flights. Photographers will benefit from the iPad's new iWork keynote software for client presentations. You can even attach it to a projector.

The built in 3G capability is also a great feature if you plan to use it to send photos. No contract unlimited $30/month is great. If you travel internationally, you will be able to purchase local micro SIM cards for data connectivity. Something that most laptops don't have.

Here are some potential killer photo apps that could be written for the iPad:

First would be a live-view app that could tether to your camera where photos can be shown to a client as you shoot them. That app could support other remote functions like checking focus, changing exposures and doing time-lapse photographer. Connectivity could be either via wi-fi or USB cable.

If Eye-Fi could re-write their app so that it could create an ad-hoc network with the iPad, then you could have live wi-fi transfer of photos from camera to the tablet.

How about iPhoto for the iPod? If facial recognition can work, then in theory it could auto caption photos from a know database of faces.

The iPad has GPS only in the 3g models. Geo-tagging software will be taking advantage of that.

It's ironic that the iPad has a camera connection kit but no actual camera. Version 2.0 gets it. Or how about a mini-scanner? Something that you can convert analog reciepts and other images to digital. It needs some kind of input device for images like the iPhone.

Will the iPad save photography in general. Time will tell, but photographers will have a better display device that will show off their work in e-publications like the new New York Times, e-magazines and books.