Will the iPad Squish My Photos?

In my recent Macworld article, Show Off Your Photos on an iPad, I explained how the iPad is an excellent portable portfolio for photographers wanting to show off their images. But what exactly does the iPad do to those pictures when you upload them from a Mac? Does it squish your shots the way an iPhone does?

I have good news and bad.

The bad news is that the iPad does "optimize" your high resolution pictures during transfer to the device. This "optimization" has had a negative connotation in the past because most iPhone users felt it's too heavy-handed. The good news for iPad users is that the optimized resolution is a fairly generous 2304 x 1536, with a file size of 1 MB or more, depending on the detail in the photo. (And the reduction is only applied if the image is larger than 2304 x 1536 to begin with.) Given that the resolution on the iPad itself is 1024 x 768, you can zoom in on any shot to examine detail more closely. (Zoom by double-tapping on the image with one finger, or by pinching outward.)

If you use Aperture to sync images with the iPad, then you can control how big of an image gets transferred via the Preview setting in Aperture's preferences. Any preview size up to 2304 x 1536 should be honored by the iPad. Images larger than that will be optimized.

The bottom line is that even though the iPad will optimize large images, it is less aggressive than what we're used to with the iPhone.

Photo of children huddled around an iPad. This is actually a screenshot from the iPad showing how the image looks in the Photos application.

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I wonder what happens to photos uploaded to the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit. Are they uploaded as is?


Of course right now we're all guessing about the Camera Connection Kit. Mine is scheduled to be delivered in early May.

But my hunch is that the images uploaded via the CCK will not be optimized. This is good news and bad, right? You'll get full file sizes that you have to manage on a device with limited memory.

I'm thinking of a Raw+Jpeg workflow myself.

But at this point it's all guessing (which is fun in itself)

So, showing off a portfolio might be more suitable in a slideshow as a MOV file. Then when individual files are needed, bring up the photo app. Thanks for the pointers on this.

Actually, if you read the Macworld article, you'll see that you can use the images in your Photos App to build great slideshows using Keynote for the iPad. So you actually have many options for showing your portfolio.

I created a Smart Album in Aperture 3 that contains my favorite shots and synced it to the iPad. Since it's an album on the iPad, I can run slideshows on the fly.

This is cool stuff.

This is a subject that I have been monitoring over the Internet for quite some time. Since the CCK was yet to be delivered, I was not getting clear answers to the various posts I was asking in different forums. Although I might have to wait until they are finally delivered, I thought that I would ask you :-)

Here's the use I have for it. I am planning a few travels this year and need to backup my Nikon D90's SD memory cards.

I would use the iPad this way, please let me know if it can be done.

1) At end of day, insert SD card in iPad's SD card reader (accessory required)
2) Import photos from card into Photos app (or any other app that you would know of)
3) Review photos and delete bad ones
4) Post a few of those on Facebook for friend and family at home to follow (using the FB app or something)
5) Copy (dump/save) all reviewed photos (deleted ones are, well, deleted) onto secondary (backup) SD card (previously inserted into accessory card reader - now becoming a SD card *writer*)
6) Start over on the next day ;-)



Hi Max,

I like your workflow, and I do think it has legs with the possible exception of writing files back to an SD card from the iPad via the CCK. We'll have to wait and see about that.

If that doesn't work, however, you could just connect the iPad to your Mac (or PC) when you get home and transfer its images that way. It would be easy and probably even faster.

Of course this means that you'll need extra SD cards on the road since the full ones will serve as your backup media until you get home. But SD cards are cheap.

We'll know more in a few weeks.

I saw an article somewhere (haven't tried it myself) that if you drag photos into iTunes and use the new document sharing feature instead of importing them via iPhoto/Aperture, you get the full resolution and no optimization.

You can also use the awesome GoodReader app to bring in photos wireless via a Dropbox account. I've been doing that and it works great (you can move them from GoodReader to your Dropbox account, so that takes care of both backup and easy transfer). You can even ZIP them so you only have a single file to move and unzip within GoodReader. And GR can export to your camera roll, too, if you want to share those photos with other apps. Pretty nice.

The previous Camera Connector Kit, the one that worked with iPods, would upload full-resolution photos and videos for syncing back to your computer later. I used one to store pics from my camera onto my classic iPod while on vacation without a laptop. When I got home, they loaded into iPhoto without a hitch.

I expect the iPad's kit to behave the same way, but maybe adding the ability to see the images you've just uploaded (which wasn't possible before).

I'm sorry to tell that all my photos, resized to 1024, 3Go, will have been optimized with itune sync, and became 12Go on iPad :(

thanks very much, this was of great help
what about the iphone optimized photo resolution?

anybody knows it?
thanks again