So how does it work? Steve Jobs might say it’s magic, because no app is required to make things happen. If your camera uses an SD memory card for storage, just remove the card and snap it into the appropriate slot on the card reader (it will stick out about a third of the way) and then attach it to the charge/sync port on the bottom of your iPad.
The iPad will automatically detect that it has been connected and will automatically display a grid that shows thumbnail images for every single image on the card. If you’re holding the iPad in landscape mode you will see 35 photos, or 30 plus the top half of a final row at the bottom of the screen for that (almost the same) total of 35.
Unlike just about every other app for the iPad, you cannot pinch to pan and zoom while on this page; the thumbnail images are a fixed size, with white borders. Since the background is black it is still fairly easy to see which images you want to import, though I really wish that I could see bigger thumbnails before I import — that would make choosing the best shot out of many similar photos much easier.
Along the top of the screen, you will see several buttons. The Delete Selected button at the top left corner of the screen is self-explanatory; after that, you will see buttons that allow you switch between the photos, albums, and events already stored on your iPad, plus Camera (the memory card or USB cable you plugged into the USB connector). Events are actually previous import sessions. The final button on the right side of the screen is Import, and pressing it will cause the iPad to ask if you want to import all of the photos on the card or just the ones that you’ve selected.
Selecting photos is as easy as touching them; you will then see a small blue checkmark appear on the ones you have selected. Tap the Import button and the selected photos will be imported; the checkmark will turn green on each as it is imported. After the process is complete, a box will appear in the middle of the screen to let you know that the import is complete, and ask “Would you like to delete imported photos from the attached camera?” with the option to keep or delete the photos on the memory card.
Deleting the photos from the card will of course free up more space to take more photos with your camera, which will be a true blessing if you have a relatively low capacity memory card or a high-resolution camera that generates extremely large photos with large file sizes to match.
You can then use any of the top notch photo apps available for the iPad in order to view, edit, and share your photos. Some of my favorites include Photogene for iPad, Filterstorm, Photo FX Ultra, Color Splash, OutColor, SketchMee, Bill Atkinson Photocard, Moodboard Pro, Diptic, Photo Wall, and Sort Shots. Each of those apps does some cool things, and in most cases generally more easily and much more quickly than would be possible on a desktop computer.
If your camera doesn’t use an SD card for storage, don’t despair–the second half of the iPad Camera Connection Kit has you covered. My Sony TX-9 digital camera takes both SD and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards for storage. Since I’m a Sony girl at heart, I already have a lot of Ms Duos to use with the camera. I really don’t like traveling with extra cables, so I invested $1.70 in a MicroMate USB card reader that handles MS Pro Duos. I plug the card into one end of the MicroMate, plug the USB end into the USB receptacle on the matching iPad Camera Connection Kit piece, and I’m good to go.
I’ve tried the USB portion of the kit with several different USB card readers, and they all work perfectly. In a couple of instances, I didn’t have a good connection at first, so the iPad didn’t recognize the card, but a simple removal/reinsertion was enough to solve the problem.
Many have grumbled that the iPad Camera Connection Kit is too expensive. It isn’t exactly cheap at $29, but it does work perfectly and solves a real problem. Considering that one half the kit is in essence a USB port with potential for additional uses, and things get a lot more interesting. There have been some reports online of other users attaching USB keyboards and other peripherals to the iPad, so only time can tell exactly what the iPad Camera Connection Kit can enable.
In the meantime, it does exactly what it is advertised to do, getting your digital photos out of your camera and into the iPad. While I am disappointed that I am not able to choose larger thumbnails in order to facilitate photo selection, it is my only quibble. This iPad accessory performs perfectly in every other aspect. The iPad Camera Connection Kit has earned a permanent place in my gear bag, and is a useful companion on every trip.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Solves the problem of how to import photos into your iPad without syncing with iTunes or laboriously sending images as email attachments
- Complete control over which images to import and whether or not to delete them from the memory card
- Only works with SD cards natively; xD, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, and other memory card formats require a USB card reader to work with the second half of the kit