How to upload and edit DSLR photos on your iPad

If you love taking photos on a standalone camera, like a DSLR or mirrorless camera, rather than on your iPhone, one of the major frustration points has always been getting the photos from your camera onto a device for editing and storage. This could be particularly annoying if you're trying to do this with an iOS device like an iPad, where you'll need one of a couple of adapters to even get started.

Unlike the 2018 iPad Pro models, previous versions of the iPad, both standard and Pro, mostly utilize Apple's proprietary Lightning port, so other devices can't just transfer data to them out of the box. The good news is that the adapters you'll need to get, because they connect to your iPad's Lightning port, will also work with your iPhone.

If you have a 2018 iPad Pro, you guide to transferring photos from your standalone camera is right here.

How to upload and edit DSLR photos on your iPad Pro (2018)

The world of Lightning adapters

Of Apple's two primary adapters for working with cameras on your iOS devices, the first is my favorite, just for simplicity's sake. With the Lightning-to-SD Card Camera Reader, you just plug the adapter into your iPad, plug your SD card into your adapter, and you're good to go. The import process works the same as it has for a while (more on that below).

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You can also connect your camera to your iPad without taking your SD card out of your camera. For that, you'll need one of two adapters that Apple offers. The first is the simple Lightning-to-USB Adapter, which adds a USB-A port to your iPad, and allows you to connect standard USB cables to your tablet. Apple's other, larger adapter does something similar, just faster. The Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter Also adds a USB-A port to your iPad, but it also has a Lightning port, letting you charge your iPad as you upload photos to it. Powering the adapter also lets you connect devices like USB hubs, ethernet adapters, and audio/MIDI interfaces.

Direct connection?

Unfortunately, unlike the 2018 iPad Pro, you cannot connect your camera to your Lightning-equipped iPad sans adapter. I've actually tried with using Apple's Lightning-to-USB-C cable, with the USB-C end plugged into my camera, and the Lightning connector plugged into my older iPad's Lightning port. It's a no-go.

How to import photos from your DSLR to your iPad Pro

Once you've connected your camera or SD card to your iPad, the process for importing photos is the same as it's always been.

  1. Connect your camera or SD card to your iPad. Photos should automatically launch into the Import tab.
  2. Tap on the images that you want to import if you only want to import some of the images. If you want to import all of them, tap Import All right away.
  3. Tap Import.
  4. Tap Import Selected. The selected photos will be imported.

Tap images, tap import, tap import selected

How to edit photos from your DSLR on your iPad

Even without the power of the A12X of the new iPad Pro, you still have a lot of options when it comes to editing photos on your iPad. The last couple of years has seen several apps emerge that boast powerful editing for RAW photos. No matter which iPad I'm using, my first step is always to import my photos into Lightroom CC on my iPad to make initial adjustments, profile corrections, and preset applications. From there, you can send the photo to other applications directly from Lightroom by using the Open In function in Lightroom's share menu.

Open In

Especially if you have an iPad or iPad Pro from the past few years, I'm going to recommend Affinity Photo. It has all of the tools you'd expect to find in a desktop photo editor, such as layering, repair, smart object selection, all in an interface built for your iPad. It has Apple Pencil support and a full suite of exporting options. As far as I'm concerned, it's the iOS photo editor you should get right now if you want maximum functionality, though both Pixelmator Photo and Photoshop should be coming to the iPad relatively soon to give it a run for its money.

You can grant both Lightroom CC and Affinity Photo on the App Store right now.

How do you do it?

If you use a standalone DSLR or mirrorless camera, do you have a particular workflow that you use to import and edit your photos? Tell us about it in the comments.



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