Photosmith: One of My Most Eagerly Awaited iPad Apps, Is Here!

Hi Gang: I have been dying for Adobe to come out with a Lightroom App for the iPad, and although this isn’t from Adobe, it’s the next best thing, and I personally am really excited about it.

It’s called “Photosmith for iPad” and it’s designed to work as a mobile companion Lightroom by letting you create Collections, rate, tag, add keywords and metadata to your photos, and then (wait for it, wait for it) sync your Collections to Lightroom on your computer wirelessly. It’s the dream baby!!! The dream!!!!

Now, as I’m writing this, I haven’t spent much time with it—I downloaded it last night and started playing with it, and it sync’d beautifully with Lightroom—first time! (you do have to download and install their plug-in for Lightroom first), but after using it for a just an hour or so, I can see I’ll be using this a lot when I travel.

Although it doesn’t do image editing (just sorting and stuff) it does let you share photos from your Collections directly up to Facebook, Drop Box, Flickr (hugs), or you just email them directly from the App, but at this point, the real reason to have it is to make Collections, rate and sort your photos, and have that all go over to Lightroom.

Of course, this is just version 1, and I already have some features I would love to see them add, but one of the things I love about iPad Apps is how quickly developers are able to update and add new features, so although it’s not perfect yet—I imagine it soon will be. It’s $17.99. My hat’s off to the developers; Chris and Jonah—-way to go guys! :-)

Here’s a link to their site,  and here’s the direct iTunes downloads link (or, on your iPad, go to the App Store, and search for Photosmith).

  1. This is too cool. The dudes that make Photomechanic, told me that what Photosmith is doing just can’t be done because of . . . . . . blah, blah, were just too wimpy.

  2. I use 600x CF cards and the iPad won’t allow those cards to be used for importing photos (says the device takes too much power). I’d like to get into using some of these apps for the iPad but without being able to import photos it’s kind of useless to install them. Has anyone else found any workarounds to getting the iPad (iPad 2 in my case) to import from 600x cards?

    1. How are you trying this now? There is no CF card reader for the iPad, but you should be able to plug your camera into the USB camera connection kit dongle and download directly to the iPad

      1. The Kodak 50-in-1 Card reader (available at several online retailers for under $7) works quite well with the Camera Connection Kit USB dongle … at least it works fine with my SanDisk Ultra II’s and Sandisk Extreme IV’s … haven’t tried it with other brands of CF cards …

      2. Alan- I’m using the Apple camera connection kit for the iPad, and just plugging in my CF card reader into the USB input. It works fine with 300x cards, but the 600x pops up a window that says, “This device takes too much power.” I was wondering if anyone else is frustrated by this. It’s been a year and I’ve never seen an update to fix it.

      3. I think this might help with your needs:

        I’ve got one on order, and the guys at Photosmith have also ordered some for testing, but all are yet to arrive. It’s ‘only’ 400X but CF cards are backwards compatible aren’t they?

        Failing that, I’d have thought the Apple CKK would work with your camera as long as it doesn’t take power from USB and I don’t know of any SLRs which do.
        For whatever reason Apple have limited the CKK USB power output to 20mA IIRC, presumably to prevent people from connecting all sorts of devices to it – but it does mean it doesn’t work with some cameras and most card readers.

      4. The only solution that works for fast compact flash cards right now is to Plug your camera into the the USB port. Since it has a battery it doesn’t drain the power from the iPad.

      1. It seems that it is compatible with at least some 600x cards:

        I suspect MIC meant to say it supports transfer speeds of up to 400x, not that it’s compatible with speeds up to 600x. They are Chinese so may not have a perfect command of English. Also I’ve never heard of card readers being incompatible with certain speeds of cards, AFAIK if either the card or reader is slower than the other, the other just slows down to match.

  3. Now if you could just get an Eye-Fi as a Compact Flash card instead of just SD, and bypass the camera connection kit altogether.

    The Photosmith app is excellent, and makes a even an iPad 1 worth grabbing. Can’t wait to show my students how it works this week.

  4. This just highlights the need for Apple to think through the photographic possibilities of the iPad platform a little more clearly. Greater storage, or an easy path to peripheral storage that can leverage the iOS is a must.

    ShutterSnitch was the single reason I purchased an iPad, both for it’s wireless tethering during a shoot (with selective transfers using protect) and to organize a series of portfolios for display on the terrific iPad screen.

    PhotoSmith could potentially work for my workflow on shorter assignments (one or two days) provided I’m prepared to be very disciplined about housekeeping, but anything longer and the MBP is coming along.

    I’m hoping the impending availability of Thunderbolt peripherals will coax the Apple developers to give the iPad3 a Thunderbolt port and the capability to use a connected external HD/Reader (perhaps like the Hyperdrive) along with a bump in native storage capacity to 240GB.

    Then PhotoSmith will really shine, and the MBP will get left at home. It’s so close now, and Adobe is sure to have something cooking of their own.

    1. The Apple Camera Adapter can either read SD cards or via USB right (directly connected to the camera). Also, iPad can read photos from a USB drive that is plugged into the Camera Adapter’s USB port, just put the photos in a folder named DCIM.

  5. Scott, there is an App that is like PhotoSmith and Photoshop (including curves, levels, masks, etc) released on Apr 08 and is highly rated: check it out: Filterstorm Pro. It is listed in Apple’s What’s Hot category.

    1. It doesn’t sync automatically with Lightroom. It’s also far less slick for the main task of organising and tagging, and has all sorts of pointless image editing features I’m not interested in using on a screen I can’t calibrate.

    1. this card reader does not work with the faster CF cards. From the description: Compact Flash Card and USB, backward compatible with iPad, supports up to 400X speed.

      The real problem with the unapproved peripheral market is that Apple can (and has in the past) changed the specs of the port and the power requirements etc. that makes these type of products a risk to buy.

  6. Does anyone know if they are looking to add any editing features? If this app could be combined with Filterstorm Pro app, that would be awesome! I live in Russia, have been waiting to get my hands on a iPad 2 (and buy one finally)…so my wife is going to attend our son’s graduation in the States, so my dream will come true.

    So, I made my son’s day. I transferred funds to him, he happened to be going to a Apple store for something else, I sent him a sms telling him to buy one, and play with it until he has to turn it over to his mom to bring back here :) He loves me, but would even more if he could keep it :))

    1. I don’t think so. Besides, what’s the point? You can’t calibrate the iPad’s screen. If you want to do heavy lifting like editing etc use a laptop.

  7. This app only works for me once there’s a seamless solution to adding my IPad into my shooting workflow. Shooting tethered to my laptop, then syncing my IPad and using this app, then syncing again. I need a cf solution to tether my D700 to my IPad.

    1. It can’t work with RAW files last time I checked though – it just converts to JPG on import and then edits the JPG. This makes editing on the iPad seem a bit pointless to me. I’d rather just leave any editing until I get back to my PC.

  8. Wow this looks really great! At $17.99 it’s not the cheapest app out there but it’s worth the purchase if you’re always on the go. Even with it’s limited features right now, just being able to sort and organize your images will save you a lot of time when you get back to the studio. Think I’m gong to have to get this one :)

  9. The iPad is great. Get one. But to me it’s a little clumsy for getting in my workflow for image processing. I do use the iPad to carry my portfolio though and it’s amazing how many times it’s handy to click a button and present my images in an attractive manner. To me the real value is having your portfolio always with you.

    1. @Mark: It’s been available “here in Switzerland” at least since April 29th.

      This app is well worth getting for any traveling Lightroom user and will be the reason many photographers will end up buying an iPad

  10. Is this app Eye-Fi compatible? That would be awesome and would round out the entire workflow. Image being able to shoot right the the iPad as backup and have someone start the organization process while you shoot. That would be super productive. I like ShutterSnitch, but need the detailed organization features of Photosmith/Lightroom.
    Great app for starters…can’t wait to dig in!

  11. Stupid question, but I believe the ipad does not recognize raw files, so it seems that this would be useful only in jpeg shooting, ala Scott’s sports gigs. Did I miss something?

    1. The iPad has raw support via Apple’s raw support engine, so it supports whatever raw files the most recent raw compatibility update from Apple supports.

  12. Very Cool!
    What I really need to know is can you create a collection in Photosmith, edit the collection in Filter Storm Pro, then upload the edited collection to Lightroom?
    Who has the answer?
    I’m about to order a iPad 2 32GB but would like to know first.

    1. Not really. You could import your photos first, edit them in Filterstorm next, then save the back to the camera roll, and finally sort them in Photosmith.

      But there are 2 big catches (3 if you count how ugly that process is):
      1) Apple doesn’t let apps delete photos, not even ones created by that app so you’ll end up with 2 copies of every photo in your library, the original and the export by Filterstorm.

      2) Since the original image has now been modified the “advanced sync” method we refer to is not available. This is because apps can’t get the filename either.

      We’re asking everybody to file Enhancement Requests at Apple’s site: asking them to remove those restrictions. If we can get enough attention their way to fix it everybody’s life gets much easier. (For bonus points, ask them for app sharing too so Filterstorm, PhotoGene, and Photosmith can all play nice together too)

  13. I’ve seen a few people saying they’re going to get a 32Gb iPad for Photosmith. Be careful. This might not give you enough memory if you work with RAW.

    Photosmith doesn’t currently support the card read/HDDs that Jeremy linked to above. You also can’t move data from the iPad to an external device/HDD without going via iTunes. On my 5DII, I can easily fill a 16Gb card in an evening. Give yourself 10Gb for apps, a bit more for some music, and soon you don’t have enough memory for a few days away from your PC or laptop.

    I have a 16Gb iPad 1 and, although I didn’t get it for photography and my gf is loving the prospect of us having an iPad each, it does mean I’m having to get an iPad 2 64 Gb just to use Photosmith. IMO, since you can’t upgrade the memory on the iPad we photographers are all better off going straight for the 64 Gb version.

  14. Holy cow, this app seems amazing! I wish it could do more… specifically, I wish I could sync to the Lightroom App without having to take up all my iPad memory, and just edit metadata. If I could keyword during downtime while on the road, without having to “plan ahead” for it, it would be amazing.


    1. Do you mean you want to ‘reverse sync’ just low-res JPG previews so you can keyword large numbers of photos on the road, rather than having to sync hundreds of entire RAW files? There’s no reverse sync function at all at the mo but they’re working on it for the next update, so now might be a good time to mention this on their support site where they’re fielding all sorts of suggestions like this. I think it’s a really good idea.

  15. I am one of your naysayers for Photoshop for iPad (for now…I’m trying Filterstorm). But this program is badass and is exactly what I want for when I’m shooting out of country and only want to bring my iPad. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Ya! Well, as long as you’re not shooting more GB worth of images than you have empty space on your pad. You get about 60 at max to start after the OS, etc.. If you have movies (yes), existing photos (yes), apps (yes) and books (yes), etc., then your storage could run short. Dropbox certainly helps, but limited to 2GB unless you pay more per month. I guess it depends on the number of images and res you shoot. I would do it for mission work, family vacations, etc. But serious work at higher resolutions with hundreds of images in tow, I’d still need to take an Air or something with an external drive. I agree wholeheartedly with PS for iPad. It’s sort of a waste at this point.

  16. Okay Scott… got me. I’ve been holding off on the IPad. I’m still holding off for a bit more, but this is getting close to what I was looking for. Now the IPad is on the old radar screen.

    You know, whenever I read your books I find new stuff that I NEED. Same with the website. You’re an expensive habit to be sure! :) Joking of course.

    By the way, the IPad sure is cool, but there are other options as well. I’ve got a 13″ Macbook Pro. It’s my “quasi-IPad” currently. On a recent commercial shoot we used the Macbook Pro for tethered shooting so the art director could have immediate access to what we were doing. I’ll tell you, the battery in that sucker kept going and going. More than a half a day of tethered shooting before I said, “We need power.” Have you ever done a location shoot “torture” test of gear? My vote would be a Macbook Pro for instant on location results!

    1. Bang for dollar the Macbook Pro blows the iPad away. The iPad is a huge iPod Touch, but the coolness factor and the light weight do put it closer to the laptop end of things and makes it more productive.

      For me, there is now substitute for a laptop when it’s called for. The color accuracy and higher res display make it ideal for studio/location tethering. You can use a wireless card, etc. and hack your iPad to work as a tethering device, but it’s not the same.

      For email, most web surfing, the great apps (fun and productivity), note taking and even using apps like Strobox (at double the size – no iPad specific app yet) it’s awesome. And for client image review and presentation there is simply nothing like it. I meet often at coffee shops to relax and look at images with clients and there’s nothing like having them hold the images on that screen in their hands. Heck, even if you do have them come to your studio, putting the images in their hand is simply awesome.

      I have the iPad 2 and love it. But for tethering and even moderate image review/tweaking, even the Macbook Air wins by more than a healthy margin – and the pro even more so. Just my 2 cents. You’d have to pry my iPad 2 out of my dead hands, but it certainly has it’s place among my iPhone 4, Macbook Air and Mac Pro. And that’s exactly how it was designed.

      Get one. You’ll love it.

  17. This is a very interesting App and I’m glad someone did it. I imagine if Adobe does release a LR companion App, those who get this one will view it as a $18 bridge to what we all really want. I like the idea of getting a jump start on making selections, etc. while on the road. But that’s all I’d get for $18 really.

    I don’t know about you, but unless I’m doing just fun travel stuff or family shots, I really don’t want to put my raw images on Facebook or Flickr. If I’m doing serious work – brides, weddings, promotional work, etc., I sure don’t want to put that out there until I’ve at least tweaked it a LITTLE – verified sharpness and looked for dust spots, etc.

    DOES ANYONE KNOW IF YOU CAN DELETED UNWANTED IMAGES IN THE APP SO YOU ONLY PULL OVER THE NEEDED ONES?! That at least would be a help. I could eliminate the ones I know I’m going to delete and then mark my others.

    If they’d give us the BASIC TAB options like cropping/rotation, histogram, exposure, clarity, fill, recovery, black level, saturation, vibrance, brightness and contrast that would be great. Most other apps like Photogene do a good job with this, but getting the algorithms, etc., to sync closely with LR is the trick. Hope Adobe or these guys can get there at some point.

    Honestly, I might mess with curves or Hues if available, but the rest of it – brushes, gradients, noise, etc. – I’d personally want to do that on a larger, higher res monitor anyway. The 100% view is a great feature.

    I do like the dropbox feature also.

  18. Has anyone tried using this app lately? The reviews on the iTunes store all claim it crashes all the time. My experience has been the same but I wonder if I (and other reviewers) might be doing something wrong?

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