How Get Images to the Cloud with an iPad While Driving to the Next Shoot

March 19th, 2017

We’ve talked before about sending your images to the cloud so someone else can process them while you go to your next shoot. John in NJ has an added twist: He wants to do it with his iPad.

John Says:

I’d like to find a quick easy solution to uploading photos and video to the cloud (use Dropbox now) while in my car driving from job to job. So when I get in front of my computer, the files are already uploaded. The car has unlimited 3G data that I can use. I don’t carry a laptop so I want to do it with my iPad. Also, I don’t have much RAM on my iPad so I need to be able to import straight to the cloud.

John and I did some research and it turns out according to DropBox support, the DropBox App won’t do it. I tried it with the Photos App on my iPad Pro and that works nicely. Here’s how it works:

  1. You need an SD to lightning dongle or equivalent if your iPad is older.
  2. Then just bring up the Photos App and stick the SD card into the dongle.
  3. A Photos App dialog box comes up that allows you to select which files to import or just import all.
  4. The Photos App immediately uploads all the images from the SD card to iCloud and they immediately become accessible from other Apple devices logged on to the same AppleID as the iPad.
  5. On a MacOS device, the imported files can easily be moved to a folder.

You’ll need to make sure you have enough iCloud storage to upload the volume of files you need. I tested this importing JPG files and RAW files from both a Lumix and 5DMkIV and they all work fine.

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5 Responses to “How Get Images to the Cloud with an iPad While Driving to the Next Shoot”

  • My impression based on the data given is that John does not want to spend anything to improve his workflow to make more money. That is always a mistake. Also the premise of fast uploads using a car’s hotspot with 3g for uploads of large amounts of data may also be a little flawed. Let’s consider the technical details of this. 3g in real life may be anywhere from 500kbps to 1.5mbps upload. That’s bits per sec. When driving you are constantly switching towers and the further from the tower the slower the speed will be. This does not take into consideration the network congestion in NJ.

    So under ideal 3g conditions if he gets constant 1mbps upload speed and he doesn’t lose any connections then it will take 2 hours and 13 minutes to transfer 1GB of data. Now to take it further after a bit of this the phone company will throttle you down to even slower speeds. Unlimited data is never really unlimited. So this 3g plan is flawed from the get go.

    Now for the iPad thing. Another flawed concept. These were never designed for this kind of thing. They are “ooo pretty look at that” and “oh my listen to this” things and “give me all your money” things. They are not high capacity versatile business machines.

    I would have said go buy a cheap windows laptop where you can drag and drop files and forget about apps. And then use this service on the web it’s free and has unlimited transfer ability.

    Then you could just zip the files drag and drop that zip file onto the window in your browser type in the email address you want them to go to and send them. Stop at the nearest hot spot and hope you get a good wifi connection.

    What can make this even more difficult is if he shoots with multiple exposures and layers them. But in that case he could batch process them down to jpgs while driving but only if he gets a laptop.

    With all due respect I have been in the IT business and communications business for 50 years now. ANd yes I have multiple iPads, androids and windows tablets and desktops. I try all kinds of crazy things like this. I still do consulting and experimenting but my RE photo business is what I started at retirement. I’ve been at that full time for 7 years. This idea looks good on paper until you do the math and enter the real world of actual realized performance. This is a cool idea that will fail unless we are talking about small jpgs right out of the camera but then why send a jpg somewhere to outsource processing. Just go home and send them.

  • Traveling in Europe, found a major flaw in the SD import. Travel light with ipad only intending to fully process when return home but want to upload some to FB when there. First year with Nikon worked fine as 2 SD cards, but traveling even lighter with Sony had to mix RAW+jpg on same card. With the SD dongle, it imported both with the RAW using up memory of the most basic ipad. Now the real problem, the operating system doesn’t identify file name or file size to identify which is the RAW file of the duplicate photos to delete, nor is there any app to add that capability. Eventually resolved with usb link to computer and reading ipad as a drive and eventually finding the photos as they are well hidden. May not be that big a problem on an RE shoot if you manually ‘delete all’ from the ipad after the upload as I currently do with the jpg version that the Sony app used for pole photography insists on transferring to my iPhone as I only work with the RAW file in the camera. It begs the question, why create extra work with the ipad…just take a laptop with you. With my trips to Europe, I now take a laptop but leave it at my daughter’s house, so still travel light.

  • If you shoot with Sony, you can totally do it with the sony play memories mobile app.

  • “My impression based on the data given is that John does not want to spend anything to improve his workflow to make more money. “—not so frank. why should I drag my laptop out on the road if the iPad will do the job? this is what I am researching, to make my workflow more efficient and not carry unnecessary equipment.

    ” to take it further after a bit of this the phone company will throttle you down to even slower speeds. Unlimited data is never really unlimited. So this 3g plan is flawed from the get go.”..again frank, not so ,no throttling down.

    Will my idea work? maybe, maybe not, but was worth the asking…..and I do shoot with a Sony. Geeez

  • John, I believe what you are seeking is possible, but I would look at a mobile hotspot with LTE speeds as opposed to your car’s 3G signal. Even though it means a potentially hefty monthly bill for unlimited data, Frank does make a point about the speed limitations of 3G. Basically you would connect your iPad to the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, which would at least give you 802.11ac speeds (assuming your iPad is current enough to support that protocol) between the iPad and the hotspot, and LTE speeds from there. With an LTE hotspot, the biggest challenge you will run into is throttled data once you hit a certain limit. My phone begins throttling after, I think, 22GB, which, depending on how many shoots you complete in a month, could be used up in a few days.

    A similar question about uploading on the road was posed not too long ago, and the best solution any of us could really come up with, to my recollection, was to locate a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot from a coffee shop or other retail business, in between appointments. Until carriers begin offering truly unlimited data, I’m not sure it’s practical for most of us yet. The only other alternative I can think of would be to either resize your images on the iPad and upload as JPEG to the cloud, which for many is unacceptable, or to find a mobile app that is capable of compressing a group of photos into a ZIP archive. I wouldn’t be surprised if one exists, and that could cut your data requirements by up to half.

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