Apple’s new iPad Pro reinvigorates the iOS vs. macOS photography workflow

Today Apple announced a decent update to their iPad Pro lineup amongst other things. While the iPad Pro was already (at least) a full generation ahead of any other tablet on the market, today’s update takes the lead to a new level with the introduction of a few key things

  • Liquid Metal XDR display
  • M1 chips
  • 8 and 16 GB of RAM options
  • 256GB to 2 TB of storage space
  • USB C port w/ Thunderbolt 4 support

Marketing labels aside, the new display on the iPad Pro looks to be amazing. For a photographer / videographer who wants a highly mobile and flexible workflow, this new iPad Pro is quite an amazing product wrapped in a tiny form factor. The highly accurate, bright display is going to be one of the main focuses here. There’s quite simply nothing more important than bright, vivid, but accurate colors. But… powering all that is the much loved M1 chip that has been wow’ing people for the last few months in the recently refreshed 13″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pros. Now that same power is in the iPad Pro, making it a tablet in a league of its own. Pair that with some mildly overpriced accessories and you do indeed have an argument for going iPad / iOS only for photography. And this is where we get into the hypothetical….

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt spent a fair amount of time researching, trying things out, and probably overanalyzing your photography workflow. For me, my start was on mobile so I was all-in on iOS and iOS-specific apps and workflows. Thankfully, that overlapped with “traditional” workflows in some ways in that I settled on Adobe Lightroom CC. While it’s Adobe’s more cloud-centric product, and one that often creates quite polarizing dialog with photographers who have been in the game for a while, it is overall a good product that I’ve spent some time with. But I, like many of you, kept asking myself am I doing enough or am I missing out. Enter Lightroom Classic.

After spending the better part of a week really going down the rabbit hole of YouTube, I was convinced the next level of my journey revolved around Lightroom Classic, and with it a decent workflow revamp — mostly for the worse. And for a little while, it’s been “fine”, with an exception or two.

For starters, moving from CC to Classic introduced a lot of headache. While I did get some much needed spring cleaning done that had allowed my CC library to balloon through the simple reason of convenience, I did have some other less fun things occur. For starters, having to touch everything in Classic first, and then sync to CC meant more steps and complexity to get them on my mobile devices in the CC app. Though by far, the least fun thing was admittedly my fault — a fundamental misunderstanding of how Classic’s cloud syncing collections work leading me to loose a good chunk of RAWs for all eternity. I ultimately chalked it up to learning, moving on, etc….. While I had already exported all of the affected RAWs and at least had high quality jpgs for sharing purposes, any images that I saved in hopes to go back and re-edit / adjust as my editing skills progressed are not basically shot. You live and you learn.

And that brings us back to the real crux of the workflow issue I have… iOS or macOS? If I go with the former, I lose classic more or less. And let us not forget, Apple also refreshed the iMac lineup today with M1 power and a pretty nice hardware overall. Though the lack of a larger than 24″ screen kind of turns me off. And of course, the often rumored 16″ MacBook Pro refresh which will get similar hardware goodies in the not too distant future and you’ve got a lot of unknowns to consider. The workflows I see are as follows

  • iOS focused: Connect camera to iPad Pro and sync into Lightroom CC and then allow for syncing back down to classic for the best of both worlds…. I can get some Classic features when near a desktop
  • MacOS w/ Lightroom CC focused: import everything into my Mac and straight into CC. Allow classic to sync (down) CC albums which will give me RAWS in all the places and the traditional desktop OS freedoms we all know and love.
  • MacOS w/ Lightroom Classic focused: basically ignore CC.

So far, I’ve followed the path of CC only –> Classic + CC (the wrong way) and now contemplating CC –> Classic (the right way) and as far as going iOS only again with one of the new iPad Pros. The iPad Pros continually excite me as does the general freedom it offers. The question is, jump in now when 16″ M1 MacBook Pros can’t be too much further away….?

Curious as to what other photographers (or even non-photographers) out there think. Drop a comment below or hit me up on social.

Tags: apple, iOS, ipad, iPad Pro, Mac, macos, spring event

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