Photosmith 2 on the iPad Syncs with Lightroom – First Impressions

June 5th, 2012

Back on May 23 when Photosmith 2 was launched there was a lot of hype on the net and several readers pointed it out to me. I was going do a post on Photosmith to just point it out to readers but then decided to try it out before doing a post.

At first I thought, wow, how cool a iPad App that syncs with Lightroom! I got the App (it’s not cheap as iPad apps go $19.95 USD). I struggled struggled a while to get it to talk to my Eye-Fi card in my 5DMKII and Lightroom running on my iMac. It’s involved but I got it running.

While I find that everything to do with Photosmith 2 works as advertised but I have several issues (mostly speed) that prevent me from using this in any serious way:

  • I have my Eye-Fi card setup to talk to the Eye-Fi App on my iPad. I find it’s the fastest and easiest to use. JPGs come across from my 5DMKII pretty fast but I shoot RAW and I just don’t have the patience for waiting for 21 Mb files to transfer to the iPad via wireless. If I needed to shoot tethered I’d rather go straight from my 5D directly into LR with a cable. Disclaimer: I still have a iPad 1 so perhaps everything is much faster on a iPad 2 or 3.
  • The main purpose for Photosmith 2 is sorting, tagging, labeling and grouping photos. Call me disorganized, but I just don’t spend that much time sorting, tagging and labeling photos to justify running all my photos through my iPad while traveling.
  • When I’m traveling I carry a MacBook Pro laptop and I don’t find it all that clumsy to carry and use. I’m still a long ways away from replacing my MacBook Pro with an iPad and I’m not sure I ever will. Call me old fashion but all the Apps I need while I’m away from my desk (Photoshop, Lightroom, DreamWeaver, InDesign and FinalCut) run on a MacBook Pro so carrying a iPad while traveling just doesn’t make sense for me because I still have to carry my MacBook Pro too.

So while this iPad/Photosmith 2 lash-up may be useful to some, for me it just slows down my workflow to a crawl for no compelling reason.

I would love to find a clean and fast way to move a shoot or shoots from my laptop LR to my desktop LR after shooting for a while away from my desk but I don’t have one at the moment. Anyone else have one other than re-importing?

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10 Responses to “Photosmith 2 on the iPad Syncs with Lightroom – First Impressions”

  • Larry I started to put every shoot in it’s own catalog so I could avoid having to export/import. Every shoot, I create a new catalog in Lightroom stored under a directory specifically for that property, and when I import the originals, I put them in a subfolder under that directory. Example:


    As long as you close the catalog in Lightroom so it’s not locked, you can then just shoot the /YYYYMMDD-PropertyAddress_City/ base directory to your desktop over the network, and open the catalog right up in Lightroom on your desktop. No need to export, re-import, etc. The only thing holding you back is how quickly you can send everything from your laptop to your desktop.

  • I really appreciate this blog and Larry is great but I’m kinda tired of all the Mac promotion. Very biased post.
    If you don’t use the apple products there are much cheaper and better solutions. also other solutions have much better wifi cards then the ipads. for the price you can even get a linux or windows 7 tablet and still save some money.
    also there are thousands of notebook models cheaper lighter smaller and much more powerfull then a macbook pro.

  • Tried Photosmith and while I really like the application it does not fit my workflow because I loose to much time.
    Workflows should be KISS style.
    I shot a hundreds of GB’s of surf this winter and drastically reduced time and space using this:

    – delete whatever you can IN camera
    – transfer CF cards to a storage device (optional)
    I have a very basic NEXTO that has served me for years. Many other options now, with LCD, video support etc.
    My NEXTO is simple and the battery goes forever.
    – Photo Mechanic to ingest photos.
    PM is lightning fast because it just pulls the jpeg’s from the RAW files. Lightroom is sloooooooooow.
    I open the images right from the cards or the NEXTO sift through and rate them with color codes using keyboard shortcuts.
    Than sort the colors. Anything not colored gets deleted right of the bat.
    – Ingest the picks to your harddrives and import to Lightrooom

  • Larry, I am sure your workflow mirrors many of us less anal-retentive types who have demanding clients and short deadlines. I find the real world I live in almost never requires finding anything by keywords. In LR I mark my selects retouch as necessary and export to a zip file on my Dropbox. Email the link to client, move on to next job.

    I am fortunately quite busy at decent rates and have nearly no time to be cruising through closed jobs. Should I need to find a particular job, if it is recent, I scroll down the list in LR til I find it. I aggressively burn completed jobs to disc and file them alphabetically. Simple works well for me.

    If I was a stock photographer I would have a full-time archivist keywording every which way and I would have a real database like Canto Cumulus to find my stuff.
    I also charge retrieval fees for images over one month old.

    @Pedro, don’t be so sensitive about Mac. You can take the info and apply it to competing platforms if the apps exist. I take no offense at PC users mentioning useful apps that they use. I look for applicable apps in Mac and go forward. I actually have bought PCs to run some PC only apps that were useful to me. This just work, not a baseball rivalry or something else that really matters. 😉

  • Don’t known why Larry, that I have the highest appreciation for, deleted my comment. It was very constructive.
    There are much easier and cheap solutions. Actually you can right now buy a tablet runing windows 7 or linux for less then 300$. you also get a 2.5″ sata HDD that you can even upgrade up to 1TB or an SSD. It also runs flash. syncing eyefi with lightroom on windows is easy and syncing with another windows pc as easy too.

  • My first observation is that PhotoSmith, like ALL apps (including Wifi in-camera cards) will NOT BE FAST in transferring very large JPGs or RAW files to any tablet or laptop (see Pedro–the post is NOT exclusively about Apple or the iPad, it’s a lot about about wireless transfer from camera to a laptop or tablet of any brand–and your post didn’t seem to have been deleted at my end).

    The only practical way to do a fast transfer of files with the iPad is with the camera connection kit (Pedro, please insert here “…fast transfer with any tablet is to use an SD card reader (built in or external–whatever works with your device)”. Once on the Ipad (Pedro–read that as “..your device”) you can edit/keyword pretty fast. Note that your edits will only apply to the JPG that is embedded with the raw file. When you get back home or somewhere where there is a wireless network, you can then transfer your keywords and catalogs to your primary working computer–but if you want to be fast, you again transfer the files direct from the SD card and only wirelessly synch the keywords and catalog info, which goes mighty fast actually.

    While the PhotoSmith/WIFi card process is doable with RAW or huge JPGs, hardly anyone thinks it’s practical — not even the staff at Photosmith or WIFi Card.

    I think for most of use doing RE photography, the Photosmith workflow doesn’t have great utility. But let’s say I flew to Barbados to shoot a resort. I upload my photos to my iPad with the camera connection kit (sorry Pedro, just deal with it). Then on the plane ride home I sort, do my picks, keyword with Photosmith. At home, I upload the files from my card to my computer and then synch my keywords, ranking and so forth wirelessly from my (dare I say it again Pedro) iPad while I make a cuppa coffee. That would work and have some practical benefit.

    Cheers JD

  • I’ve been working on getting a similar workflow going with my iPad.

    I use Canon 5D Mark II’s for my RE work. I’ve always wanted to leverage my iPad as a vastly larger view of my images on the fly during a shoot. When Larry discovered a usable CF to SD card converter for Eye-Fi cards I jumped on it. I bought two Eye-Fi cards and two of the CF to SD card converters. I make it a rule to have two of everything on a shoot that I deem critical to success.

    I too looked at PhotoSmith 2 but I felt it was both expensive and didn’t meet my needs. I don’t want to upload my RAW files to my iPad but that’s what I would need to do to fully leverage PhotoSmith 2. I’m not willing to go there on my iPad. A single RAW file copy from an Eye-Fi card in my Canon 5D Mark II to my iPad takes between 30-45 seconds. That’s way too slow for an on the fly RE shooter.

    I already own Shutter Snitch for my iPad. Initially I was downloading RAW files to my iPad. But holy cow was that SLOW, as I mentioned above. And the RAW files are big for my 32GB iPad. After revisiting the owner’s manual for my Canon 5D Mark II I realized I could shoot RAW + JPEG (previously I’ve never had a need to shoot both so forgot that my DSLR could do that) and get the best of both worlds. Shutter Snitch pulls a medium sized JPEG which loads nice and fast on my iPad and I get my RAW files still on the SD card for later post work in Lightroom. Now we’re cookin with fire!

    Being able to see my images on a larger screen helps me fine tune my compositions/lighting/exposure and “see” what I (and my customer) would maybe miss on the LCD on the back of the DSLR.

    My next step is to mount the iPad to my tripod. That is waiting for a new iPad 3 case from TetherTools: Said case/mount will come with an Arca Swiss compatible dovetail that I can use to create a compact mount from lighting grip and a small ballhead I already own.

    Once I have the final bits from TetherTools I will do a full write up on how I got it all working, what were the pitfalls and links to all the bits that make it work. There were some definite pitfalls with the Eye-Fi cards. But in the end I’ve got it working and am super pleased with what this setup brings to my end product! Once I have this article polished up and ready I promised Larry I would pass it along to him to publish here.

    I think PhotoSmith 2 is cool. It’s ability to link to Lightroom is impressive. But RAW files on my iPad are way too slow and cumbersome.

    Your mileage may vary….;-)

  • Larry, my best solution so far is storing my LR catalog and imports on a USB 3.0 portable external drive. I use it both on the desktop and then take the drive with me to shoot tethered on location (a strip of velcro tape on the laptop platform and a Lumiquest velcro strip around the drive keeps it locked-down). No re-importing, etc; I just plug it into whichever machine I’m on, and load the catalog from the drive. I like the WD passport drives; I’ve found that the Seagate drives go to sleep and are slow to wake.

  • @Joshua- I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while. I was going to try the little Verbatim drives and had bad luck with it. I’ll try the WD. Thanks.

  • I am really disapointed in the Photosmith 2 app!
    It is that slow,….and I have continuously syncing problems!

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