Using the iPad as a RAW photo backup (with Adobe Lightroom)

This weekend I’m going to be doing my first event shoot where it is likely I’ll need to use more than one SDHC card. This made me realize I should really figure out a field backup strategy. My first thought was to simple take along a laptop and transfer the RAW files to it as needed through the SDHC card reader dongle I use. I still might do this but while thinking about it I remembered reading a while back about using the iPad as a backup solution. A quick google led me to the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit ( which looked perfect. A trip to my local Apple store and I was in business.

Testing with a SDHC card full of pics showed it would import RAW (from a Canon Rebel XSI) without a problem and they would display perfectly in the iPad Photo app (both thumbnails and full photos). As a final test I hooked the iPad up to my PC and sync’d. At this point I assumed the photo’s would be copied to my PC and show up in iTunes. But I was mistaken. I could find them no where on my PC or in iTunes. I played around with the photo sync’ing settings in iTunes but got no where. After some hair pulling and googleing I finally discovered the secret: RAW files are not copied from the iPad to your PC but when the iPad is connected to the PC, it will show up as an import device in Lightroom. So the workflow is:

  1. Take the pictures
  2. Pull the SDHC card out of your camera
  3. Insert the card into the SDHC reader dongle with comes with the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit
  4. Attach the dongle to the iPad
  5. Wait for import
  6. Delete unwanted photos in the iPad photo app (if desired)
  7. Attach the iPad to your PC (I assume it will work on a mac as well)
  8. Hit the Import in Adobe Lightroom (I have 3.4)
  9. Choose the iPad as the import device (note that Lightroom is unable to show previews for some reason)
  10. And you are done

Hope this helps others who are interested in doing this….

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