A Guide to iPad Pro as your Mobile Platform for Fujifilm X-T2 – and what Adobe Creative Cloud offers on top
Your Fujifilm X-T2 is a powerfull computer as well as a camera, it is able to do post processing of your pictures, make print orders and print pictures. But sometimes you need additional capabilities on the go or when you travel. In this post, I walk through the various options for importing jpeg and raw-files to the Apple iPad Pro. These options are available to other iOS devices with Lightning connection as well (like iPhone 6, 6S and 7). I make a speed comparison of the options and I will briefly describe the Adobe Creative Cloud offering, that enables a seamless integration of Lightroom and Photoshop on your tablet with your pc / mac at home.
Conclusions from the benchmark-tests:
JPEG-shooters can safely use the Fujifilm Remote App for iOS, when they want to import a few jpegs – provided they set the camera export options correctly. Transferring full resolution jpg-files over the WIFI-connection is slow, but the tipping point is about four pictures for the other options, due to the time spend on setting up the cabling, connection and initial browsing. For postings to social media with low resolution images (max 3Mb), the tipping point is ten to fifteen images.
A direct USB3-cabling to the X-T2 is superior to any other setups, but requires the iPad Pro power supply (charger) in order to work for the iPad Pro.
The Apple ‘Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader’-gadget gets my recommendation. Despite some strange behavior for compressed RAW-files, the size and ease of use compensate for a slightly slower speed than the direct USB3-cabling to the X-T2.
My post is
divided in four parts. Feel free to jump to the section of your interest:
- Why you should consider a mobile platform
- The X-T2 export options
- The matching iPad Pro import options – benchmarks and tips
- The Adobe CC enabling seamless workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop for your mobile and home platform
Why you should consider a Mobile Platform
A mobile platform can extend the capabilities normally offered by your home platform (PC or Mac) with backup, post processing, printing, posting on social media and sending copies or previews to clients/models. There are many offerings, and your mobile phone (iOS or Android) is a natural first choice. The screen size on your mobile phone may however be limiting your post processing experience, or the storage may limit your backup capabilities. For journeys, some kind of hardware to perform backup on an external SSD or HDD like the WD MyPassport Wireless Pro could be an option, especially in areas with limited or no access to power sockets for laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
This capability map can provide some guidance for what, you want from a mobile platform:
|Fujifilm X-T2||Mobile Platform||Home Platform||…Examples:||The iPad Pro specs||The WD MyPassport Wireless Pro|
|Post Process||Yes||Yes||Yes||Lr, Ps, many free apps, Apple Photo Gallery(!)||None|
|Back-up, jpg||(Yes *1)||Yes||Yes||Up to 120Gb + Cloud Storage||Up to 3Tb|
|Back-up, raw||(Yes *1)||Yes||Yes||Up to 120Gb + Cloud Storage||Up to 3Tb|
|((Yes *2))||Yes||Yes||For (wireless) printers
|Post on social media||No||Yes||Yes||Apps via the Camera Roll||no|
|Send pictures to client||No||Yes||Yes||eMail-account or messenger apps||no|
Notes: *1): Only backup on second SD-card, *2): Only print to Fujifilm instaX-printers
Aside: Some cameras offers directly posting to social medias via WIFI, taking the mobile platforms out of the ‘workflow’. Fujifilm has not added this feature into the camera firmware for X-T2.
The Apple iPad Pro
I have chosen my iPad Pro 12.9″ as my mobile platform. The iPad Pro is a very powerfull computer wrapped into a tablet format. The processing power and retina screen makes it ideal for image processing. Its 128Gb SSD disk makes it a candidate for image backups, and the wifi connectivity enables you to upload images to Cloud services. The Lightroom and Photoshop Apps runs very smooth and fast on the device. There are numerous other image processing apps for the iPad Pro. Good candidates are VSCO and Snapseed, but the native image manipulation is an often overseen image processing app:
However, have you invested in Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop for your home platform, the Lightroom and Photoshop apps can synchronize with your home platform. More on that later in the post.
The X-T2 export options
The three export options for still images are
- Wireless connection (WIFI): Fujifilm X-T2 has build-in WIFI, that can be set up as either a connection point or to transfer files via the PC Sync-option
- Micro USB3-slot: Enabling file transfer (and battery charging) from both USB3 and USB2 cables (with micro, male plugs). Also tethering is an option with USB, but rarely used on a mobile setup.
- SD-cards: Taking out the SD-cards of the camera, enables other devices, that are able to read SD-cards, to copy jpg and raw-files.
These three options should not be new to experienced users of Fujifilm cameras.
Note on wireless connections:
In order to use the wireless connection, your mobile device needs the Fujifilm Camera Remote App. The Camera Remote App allows you to browse the SD-card via thumbnails of the images (jpegs only) on your device, or transfer files by browsing the images on the X-T2. If you have a large amounts on files on the SD-card, it may be faster to select the ‘Receive’-function, where you browse the pictures on the X-T2 and transfers one image at a time. The Cam Remote App supports jpg’s only, so it is a best practice to select the SD-card with the jpg-files in ‘Replay mode’ before starting up the wireless connection mode (Pressing the ‘replay’-button [>] for 3 seconds switches between slot 1 and slot 2). Otherwise the X-T2 will start complaining, that it cannot transfer RAW-files.
Note on the Micro USB3-slot
Both USB3 and USB2 cables can be used in the micro USB3-slot. The USB2-male connector fits in the lower part of the USB-3-slot.
Note on the SD-cards
Fujifilm X-T2 offers two slots for SD-cards. Depending on your needs and preferences, there are numerous ways to set up what kind of files, X-T2 generates, when you take a picture. Raw, compressed raw and Jpeg-files in various resolutions can be combined in seven different configurations (and in addition, you can choose to make backup on the card in the other slot).
|Slot 1||Raw||Raw+jpg||Raw||compressed Raw||compressed Raw+jpg||compressed Raw||jpg|
Note: The separate RAW/jpg-mode always stores Raw-files in slot 1 and jpeg in slot 2, the other modes allows a backup to the other slot. Slot two can also be primary slot for ‘Sequential mode’.
These choices will affect the way and what options you have for importing images on your mobile platform (see next section). The wireless export option is not applikable, if you shoot RAW-only.
Unless you are using the backup-mode, I will recommend to select the RAW/JPG-mode. The SD-card in slot 1 is targeted import of RAW-files (and jpgs from panoramas etc) for post processing purposes, while the SD-card in slot 2 is targeted import of jpegs for lightly post processing and easy distribution.
Import options for iPad Pro (and other iOS-devices)
Given the three export options from the X-T2, there are five matching ‘out-of-the-box’ import options for the iPad Pro:
It was a surprise to me, that the ‘Lightning to USB3’ adapter needs the iPad Pro power supply in order to work properly for both the USB cables and the USB3 SD card Reader. I do not think the USB3 SD Card Reader is very power consuming, but neither the normal Apple Power Supply nor a 2A Power Bank was sufficient:
Benchmarks for browsing
For testing purposes I took 100 shots on a newly formatted SD-card with configuration 2, 3, 5 respectively 6 above. Then I prepared the five connection setups:
- WIFI: Connecting the camera and the iPad, and opened the Fujifilm Cam Remote App. Time started when I selected the ‘Browse’-function.
- USB3-cable: Plugging the USB3-cable in the camera from the ‘Lightning to USB Adapter’. Connecting the power supply to the USB adaptor with a USB to Lightning-cable. Time started when I powered the camera on, and the LCD showed ‘USB’, and stopped when all pictures were visible in the browser as thumbnails
- USB2-cable: Plugging the USB2-cable in the camera from the ‘Lightning to USB Adapter’. Connecting the power supply to the USB adaptor with a USB to Lightning-cable. Time started when I powered the camera on, and the LCD showed ‘USB’. Time stopped when all pictures were visible in the Photo import as thumbnails.
- USB3 SD card reader: Taking out the SD card and put it in a USB3 SD card reader. Plugging the USB3-SD card reader in ‘Lightning to USB Adapter’. Connecting the power supply to the USB adaptor with a USB to Lightning-cable. Time started when I put the Lightning plug into the iPad Pro, and the import menu appeared. Time stopped when all pictures were visible in the Photo import as thumbnails.
- Lightning to SD card camera reader: Taking out the SD card and put it in a the ‘Lightning to SD card reader’. Time started when I put the Lightning plug into the iPad Pro, and the import menu appeared. Time stopped when all pictures were visible in the Photo import as thumbnails.
The benchmark is in no way scientific, but acts as a guide for the time span from initial startup of the browsing apps to all pictures are visible as thumbnails:
(*1): Only JPEG-files are visible in the Browser function of the Fujifilm Camera Remote App.
(*2): Previews are not available for compressed RAW’s without the corresponding jpeg for SD-cards.
I was surised to see, that the SD Card Readers slowed down, when RAW-files were present on the SD card. The iPad Pro has Lightroom and Photoshop Apps installed, and these applications may alter the way, the Import menu in Photo App works. It seems as the Import menu uses the jpeg’s as ‘thumbnails’ if they are available. Another observation is, that browsing compressed RAW-files are faster than uncompressed RAW-files, but the iPad Pro is not able to fetch the thumbnail image inside the compressed RAW-file. After import, compressed RAW-files appear as ‘blank’ images on the Camera Roll:
Benchmark for image import
Browsing your images is one thing, but you also wants to import the images. I selected 10 random pictures and imported them in the various scenarios. Again, this is not a scientific test scenario, as the image sizes for compressed RAW and jpg-files may vary.
Notes: (*1): Download time The Fujifilm Camera Remote is for resized jpg-images and full size jpg-images.
In the test, only one thing is remarkable: The wireless connection is so much slower than the others. A full size jpg-image (approx 16 Mb) takes almost a minute to transfer. So importing more than a few pictures in full resolution is not a realistic scenario. For ‘downsized’ images (3Mb) importing ten images this way can compete with the alternatives.
The USB2-cable provides almost half the speed of the more expensive USB3-cable, but is reasonable fast.
The setup with a USB3 card reader is too cumbersome compared to the more lightweight ‘Lightning to SD Card Reader’ or the faster USB3-cable.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Having a mobile platform is handy when you are on the go. You can import and edit both jpg and RAW-files. You can also post pictures – provided you have access to the internet. But a problem arises when you get home. If you have edited the pictures along, you want the settings to be applied to your pictures at your home platform as well. Lightroom and Photoshop offers an integration to Adobe Creative Cloud, so both your RAW-file and the settings you make on your iPad Pro (and other iOS and Android platforms) are available at your PC or Mac at home.
However, the Lightroom and Photoshop can only import jpg-files and RAW-files from the Camera Roll on the iPad Pro. You cannot upload RAW-files directly to the Adobe Creative Cloud from the SD Card Reader or the USB-connections. Thus, even if the Adobe Creativ Cloud allows you to integrate your workflow seamlessly between your mobile platform and your home platform, you still have to import the files to the Camera Roll before you can import them into Lightroom or Photoshop.
Later, I will make a separate posting on how to integrate the Lightroom CC on PC/Mac and the Lightroom App on iOS.
- The Fujifilm Camera Remote App is very convenient, when you want to transfer a few jpg-images. If you have hundreds or thousands of pictures on your SD-card, you should select the ‘Receive’-feature and browse the images on the X-T2. Otherwise you can use the Browse-functionality.
- The USB3-port on the X-T2 is very fast, but requires many additional accessories in order to work; the ‘Lightning to USB3’-gadget, a power cable and the large iPad Pro Power Supply (/charger). I was impressed by the speed, but can only recommend the USB3 as a way to download images at home from the PC or Mac, not on the run.
- The Apple ‘Lightning to SD Card Reader’ is very fast, and the small size makes it a good companion for the iPad Pro. You can hardly blame the product for not letting the iPad Pro show thumbnails for compressed RAW-files.
In the future, the ‘Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader’ from Apple, will be the gadget I bring along with my iPad, when I go shooting with my X-T2.