With its bright and touch-enabled display, the iPad is great for viewing and editing pictures you’ve taken with your digital camera. First though, you need to transfer the photos somehow to Apple’s tablet. It’s certainly possible to get the pics on to the iPad using a Windows PC or a Mac as an intermediary, but there are accessories available which you can use if you don’t happen to have a PC on hand. In this roundup, we’ll review four of them.
The issues around transferring photos on to the iPad center on the fact that the iPad still lacks either an SD slot or a USB port. One common workaround is to first download the photos to your computer — through use of either your PC’s built-in SD slot or a plug-in card reader, for instance — and then upload them to the tablet via the standard “Dock Connector to USB Cable” that comes with the iPad.
Yet there might be times when getting access to a notebook or desktop PC from where you happen to be is either inconvenient or just impossible. Does this mean that you’re dead in the water?
Not entirely. Still though, you might run into a few snags along the way. Here’s a look at four iPad accessories that are well worth considering: Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit, Newgen’s CR-IPAD51 5-in-1 Card Reader, PhotoJoJo’s Camera Connection Kit CF and SD readers, and Eye-Fi’s Mobile X2 Wireless Memory Card. I tested these using an Olympus VR-330 pocket digital camera.
Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (MSRP $29.00)
Apple’s own iPad Camera Connection Kit consists of two adapters, or dongles: the SD Card Reader and the Camera Connector.
According to Apple, the iPad and the Camera Connection Kit “support standard photo formats, including JPEG and RAW, along with SD and HD video formats, including H.264 and MPEG-4.”
As its name suggests, the SD Card Reader acts in lieu of the iPad’s nonexistent SD card slot. The Camera Connector, on the other hand, has a USB slot.
Apple’s instructions say to connect the SD Card Reader to the iPad before putting an SD card into the Reader’s slot. At this point, “your iPad automatically opens the Photos app, which lets you choose which photos and videos to import, then organizes them into albums.”
I tried the SD card adapter from the connection kit, and it worked as promised — letting me select specific photos or “All” to import, and perform uploads to the “Last Import” Album folder. Photos can also be viewed by the automatically-generated “Event” folders. You’re asked whether to “Keep” or “Delete” the photos from the SD card.
However, as I expected, the Connection Kit’s USB adapter was not always successful, because the port didn’t provide enough power (iOS did identify the problem, with a pop-up stating, “Cannot Use Device: The connected USB device requires too much power.”) My iPad was able to see photos on a 1GB flash drive, but not on a 4GB one.
Newgen CR-IPAD51 5-in-1 Card Reader (MSRP $19.99)
Newgen’s CR-iPad51 5-in-1 Card Reader is a three-slot reader offering one USB slot and two media slots. The media slots support five types of media: SD(HC) (Secure Digital High-Capacity), MS (Memory Stick) Duo, MMC (Multi-Media Card), M2 (Memory Stick Micro) and T-Flash (“Trans-Flash,” better known as microSD).
There’s a small slider switch on the side for selecting between the USB port and the two card slots; be sure you’ve set it appropriately for whatever you’re about to plug in to it.
I had no trouble whatsoever getting my iPad 2 to see my 8GB SD card, and to select and copy photos from it.
PhotoJoJo Camera Connection Kit CF and SD readers (MSRP $30 for CF reader, $15 for SD reader, $45 for both)
If you use or expect to use digital cameras (or other devices) that take CF (Compact Flash) cards, PhotoJoJo’s Camera Connection Kit card reader(s) are worth checking out.
According to PhotoJoJo, the readers are “Compatible with both iPad and iPad 2.” They also say that the readers work with all SD and CF cards up to 4GB, but not necessarily with all larger-capacity ones, since the larger ones might be fast enough to need more power than what’s available.
Both the SD and CF card readers worked.
Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Wireless Memory Card (8GB, MSRP $79.99)
Eye-Fi’s Wireless Memory Cards offer an interesting alternative to card readers. In Direct Mode, the card can communicate directly with either a computer, an iPad or an iPhone, without the need for an intermediary Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Model X2 is an 8GB Class 6 SDHC card that includes a 2.4Ghz 802.11b/g/n radio, along with a small USB SDHC card reader for use with a computer during setup.
To work with Eye-Fi, your camera will need to be SHDC-compatible. Eye-Fi’s Web site gives you a list of compatible cameras. Other models might work, too, but you won’t find out until you go through the set-up process.
In addition to transferring photos and videos to your computer or tablet, Eye-Fi can also let you push JPEG and video files directly to more than 45 “photo sharing, print, blogging and social networking sites,” according to Eye-Fi. These sites include YouTube, Picasa and Flickr, along with FTP sites.
Through another cool feature, “Endless Memory Mode,” you can delete photos and videos from the card once they’ve been backed up, meaning you don’t need to worry about running out of shooting capacity.
The card supports a Wi-Fi range of more than 45 feet indoors and 90 feet outdoors. Wi-Fi security options include static WEP 64/128, WPA-PSK, and WPA2-PSK.
Although you don’t need a computer to transfer photos, you will need one (running Win XP SP3 or newer, or Mac OS X 10.5 or later) to set up the Eye-Fi card. Allow at least 30 minutes, or better yet an hour, to complete the set-up process, which involves software downloads, installs, and — if you want — configuring the Eye-Fi card and your iPad to allow for Direct Mode.
Before getting started on set-up, you need to put the Eye-Fi card in the SD/USB reader that comes with the card (this is necessary because SD slots in computers don’t always provide enough power.)
Once I got the Eye-Fi S2 and my iPad configured, I was able, as promised, to shoot pictures and to get them to show up on my iPad in the Camera Roll. In other words, “Direct Mode” works.
A few times, though, the camera popped up a menu screen that I couldn’t actually use for any purpose. However, power-cycling the camera (turning it off and on) once or twice resolved the problem, whatever it was.
Eye-Fi’s tech support deserves very high marks. I called several times — sometimes for troubleshooting, sometimes just to obtain facts for this article — and each time I got a live person who patiently answered all of my questions to my satisfaction.
Eye-Fi also offers two other models of its Wi-Fi-enabled SD cards: the Pro X2 (MSRP $99.99), with RAW power and geotagging; and a 4GB version of the X2 ($49.99).
The best solution for you depends on your own specific needs. There’s a lot to be said for buying Apple’s own products, especially from the standpoint of compatibility.
An Eye-Fi X2 card can be a convenient choice, if you’re packing just one digital camera and the price, setup time, capacity, and potential battery drain don’t raise concerns.
If you also need to connect CF cards, you’ll probably want PhotoJoJo’s CF Reader. The same goes for Newgen’s CR-iPad51 if you expect to be using MicrosSD, Memory Stick or MMC cards.