It has now been six months since I bought a tablet and have been using it as part of my photography workflow. It feels like a good time to write about my experiences and put down some lessons learned for all the other photographers out there that are surely considering if an Android or Apple iOS tablet should be part of there photography workflow. Here I’ll take you through my original requirements, my current software, and my lessons learned after six months of using my tablet.
When I set out to find a tablet I had not settled on Android or Apple. I had a few key hardware and software requirements that would define my options. From a hardware perspective I was looking for a 10 inch screen, with high resolution, a built in SD card reader, and the ability to attach a keyboard.
From a software perspective I wanted a system that would support camera raw files, basic image processing and would have a wide set of the latest social media apps for sharing my work.
I found that both Android and Apple devices would meet my hardware requirements. I felt the Asus infinity series of tablets had a slight edge in my hardware requirements because their optional keyboard had an integrated SD card slot. In fact I ended up with an Asus Infinity tablet running the Android operating system.
Software & Apps
So what is on my tablet? I have a host of things from social media apps to photo grid tools.
For viewing images and RAW files from my SD cards I have used Photomate. Photomate looks to be an android copy of Lightroom. It gets the job done, but it is sometimes clunky. To me if feels like the best option in the Android store currently.
For image processing I have several apps including Adobe PS Touch, Pixlr-O-Matic, and Snapseed. Most of the time I find myself splitting my time between PS Touch and Snapseed. I can recommend both apps. PS touch is worth the slightly higher price if you are a Photoshop user and want a few more features than many of the free apps out there. Snapseed is a great free tool for quickly doing local adjustments to an image and is much easier than using selections or masking in PS touch. You would be foolish not to install this sweet little app if you haven’t already.
From a social media perspective I have Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter. Most of my time is spent with Google+. I find the Google+ app to be perfect for browsing content on the 10 inch screen, and there is also a great community of photographers to get involved with.
A final app worth mentioning is AirDroid one on the most versatile apps on my tablet. AirDroid is a great free app that allows you to wirelessly manage data on your Android device. I use it regularly to transfer images between my desktop PC and my table. In addition to images it is also great for transfering movies or other media files. AirDroid is a must have app for me.
The one area that is yet unexplored for me are photo gallery or portfolio apps. My original intention to use my tablet as a digital portfolio just hasn’t been a priority for me as I would rather be working on publishing to the web than carrying around my portfolio on a piece of hardware.
Final Thoughts on Tablets for Photographers
Having used both Android and iOS, I don’t see a tremendous difference if you are a casual user. Yes, I will say apple has a smoother feel to it. But I have not been struggling to find key apps in the Android market and the performance difference is not substantial enough to make the premium price of an Apple product a necessity.
Although I bought a keyboard to help in generating content, I am still limiting my writing on a tablet to things that are generally 140 characters or less.
My tablet has proven to be a very affective travel tool. Coming in substantially below the weight and size of a laptop but giving lots of the same features to support in browsing the internet to plan a photography day, I have found the tablet an excellent additional to my backpack when on the go. So much so that I now leave the laptop at home.
My tablet does a decent job of image editing in a pinch, but my PC will always remain king. If want to edit something quickly to throw up on a social media sharing tool, then the apps on the tablet are perfect. If I want an image that is more polished I will wait until I get home to edit in Photoshop CS and Lightroom. If you are looking to add a tablet to your workflow my recommendation is to be realistic about your expectations and I am sure you will not be disappointed.