iPad Pro for Photographers – How does it compare to iPad and Macbook Air

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Apple’s latest 12.9” iPad Pro is design to bridge the gap between tablets and laptops. This is a good news for photographers if it can replace both iPad and Macbook Air. As a photographer, we need all the help to minimise our equipment footprint, the last thing we want is to carry more gear than we have to. The iPad Pro is basically a larger version of the iPad with more processing power, one question that comes to my mind when I picked up the iPad Pro is “Can I replace my Macbook Air with this?”.  The iPad Pro features a 12.9” retina displace with a stunning resolution 2732 x 2048 (264ppi), that’s 78% larger than the iPad Air 2. Its display size and physical size are very  similar to the Macbook Air, while the iPad Pro is half the thickness on its own, but when included with the smart keyboard the total size is about the same. So there isn’t much of a size advantage but perhaps 0.5kg lighter. No doubt the main feature on the iPad Pro is its superior 12.9” retina screen, it is the highest resolution retina display of any iOS devices. The screen is big and displays high resolution photos much nicer than the iPad and Macbook. The tablet form factor is also perfect for photographers to display their work to clients.

Order here iPad Pro |Apple Pencil | Apple Smart Keyboard

In case you are wondering whether the 12.9” screen on the iPad Pro does make a huge difference; my answer is yes it does. The photos are bigger and the whole web browsing experience is so much better. It is very comfortable to use in upright position. There is less pinch to zoom needed and flipping to landscape orientation just to see more on the sides. At the moment, the iPad Pro is still treated as a mobile device on mobile friendly websites but with such a big screen it makes sense to change this and have websites display in desktop view rather than mobile view. Hopefully this will be implemented in the next firmware update.

In application, the benefit of having a large screen is predominant. I tested it out in Lightroom and found the UI feels much more spacious and the sliders work heaps better on small incremental adjustment. The large screen makes editing 4K video, photos, culling  so much easier, faster and more engaging even the slightest changes of each adjustment can be seen on the display. For basic photo culling and editing, the iPad Pro works brilliantly. Not to mention iPads has built in 3G/4G, so you can share your work to social media where ever you go. Shooting tethered is great with the iPad Pro, it is easier/lighter to handle than a MacBook while still providing a large display. It would be nice to see the desktop version of Lightroom on iPad Pro, the functionality of the iOS Lightroom is still limited so any serious/intense work still needs to be done on a Macbook. Ultimately if I am to replace Macbook with iPad Pro (which I am sure Apple doesn’t want us to), a lot of apps like Lightroom will need to offer the same functionality as the desktop version. Although this might never happen, but we can only hope.

Having said that if you are an artist, then the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil will be awesome for you, they beat a laptop/Wacom combo by miles. In my opinion, the iPad Pro works much better than the iPad if you don’t mind the size difference. for general use such as web browsing, emailing it feels like a laptop, but once you are in an app environment it feels like a tablet and its functionality is very much limited by the app. If you like the larger retina display and don’t mind the size, definitely get the iPad Pro you won’t regret it. There is a $600 difference in price but the iPad Pro is twice as fast and has the most amazing 12.9” screen.

If you are comparing the iPad Pro to MacBook Air, then there is essentially no size or price difference once you have added the smart keyboard, but the MacBook Air offers much greater functionality. There are a few reasons you would choose the iPad Pro over the MacBook Air like if you just need a device for simple computing  or if you are an artist that frequently uploading your work online or if you want to make use of the revolutionary Apple Pencil.

If you are a photographer who doesn’t do a lot of editing on the go, the iPad Pro is a good choice, otherwise the iPad/Macbook combo offers so much more.

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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