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iPad Camera Connection Kit review

It is a good tradition for Apple to release new accessories for each of its new gadgets. iPhone once pleased us with different headsets, various cords and all sorts of battery charges. Together with iPad they released original keyboard, dock, case and iPad Camera Connection Kit which we will discuss in this article.

What is that box, what is inside?

CCK (we will use abbreviation in order not to rack our brains and tongues) is delivered in an ordinary cardboard box. There is no plastic or other material. Inside you will find two small brochures, first is the one year warranty, second exploitation manual. There is no Russian language in the manual, but you do not need words here. You can deal with the devices without them.

Apart from papers the box contains two heroes of the day with unsheathed 30-pin plugs. The reason to cower them while leaving SD and USB slots open remains a mystery for me. If you want to minimize the impact of dust or other factors, why not make two more cover plugs for each adapter? For input and output so to say. More over if we take 3,5-mm jack for iPhone headset, only few of them had plug covered with dust and other small pocket garbage. Forgive my language but all the trash is always there, where you can plug something in.

How it works?

It is really simple. At least if we talk about SD-adapter. You insert memory card in the reader, then you insert it into iPad and voila, on the screen you will see standard application that displays images. However there is at least one innovation all the images and videos form SD card are displayed in newly created tab Camera.

In this tab you can copy and drag photos from memory card and also you cad delete them for good. If purpose of the first and the second function is clear the third one can provoke question what for. The answer is quietly simple. Yes, it is much faster not to take out additional device, not to take out memory card from your loyal let us say 550D, and delete bad shots by using camera function. But here we are talking about card reader that can facilitate work with the content, made during the day or night. We are talking about accessory that allows you to organize needless files and turn them into nothing with the one gesture. Not every camera will allow you to select and delete groups of files with such a comfort that gives you the tablet.

But let us return to iPad. To eliminate photos you need to select those you do not like and tap the big red button twice, with the second touch you confirm your intention. Import/export with deletion of photos by the end of the process we can consider to be a kind of development of above described function. Speaking about photo formats Apple iPad does not naturally understand the RAW format; it gladly reads JPEG and RAW+JPEG. I succeeded in importing all the randomly chosen videos, but iPad could play only those that were shot with the photo camera itself or with some old phone in MOV and 3GP. As the part of the experiment AVI, MPEG and MP4 files (converted especially for iPhone) did not show any static picture, leaving aside video moving with 25 images per second speed.

Let us forget for a moment about this failure. At this stage we need something more than just to copy or remove files from iPad. We need to think about what will happen to this photos and videos. First of all we can send imported files by E-mail. This function is especially useful when for some reasons we are heading to the fields, be that a work trip or vacation. The only drawback of emailing images from iPad is the quality loss (any resolution is automatically compressed to 2048 pixels on the larger side). On Mac you can be saved from this downside by the Preview application (standard for Mac OS) and iPhoto (the part of iLife). With these apps files are imported without quality loss. On Windows users will only have to drag files shown as screenshots from the pad folder in any folder on their computer.

Files copied from SD-card to the gadget surprised me when I tried to import them on computer. The thing is that 3GP which iPad played gladly did not want to leave it via iPhoto, the program simply does not see this format. But MOV, MP4 and even AVI were transferred to computer successfully. MPEG joined 3PG and decided to stay. And now in order to clean up I will most likely need a Windows PC because standard Preview application also refused to import files entrenched in the bowels if the tablet.

It is worth mentioning that all the videos except for one (MOV format) I stored on the card my self. It urged me to try this method to put other types of files that have nothing (or almost nothing) to do with photo or video on the iPad. From range of AI, PSD, PAGES and PDF device recognized and could export only the last one, but eventually it was not read and seen by iPhoto on Mac. This is how I learned that video acts extremely strange and photos except for JPEG, and maybe PNG are recognized. But there is little sense in this.

What is the second adapter for?

As I said before besides card reader that can read SD, SDHC, MMC and miniSD/microSD formats with adapter, in the cardboard there is another one. The outgoing flow goes through the same 30-pin and on the other end there is familiar USB. But no, it does not mean that we will be able to connect iPad to any other device or vice versa any device to iPad easily. But it will most certainly allow us to connect any small photo- and video- device that that stores data in those formats that Apple gadget understands. In other words we will have to forget about external hard drives, flash memory cards and printers, at least for some time. Whereas photo camera connected to the tablet through the cord draws us the same picture that we have already seen when we took out memory card from reflex of point a shoot camera and inserted it into above described milky-white card reader.

Should we talk more about compatibility?

If everything is clear with the SD adapter, I really do not want to take the USB issue off the table. Today various forums are loaded with messages about failures of attempts to connect any PC keyboard to the tablet. On the other hand wired keyboard with an apple badge on the body work and have the same functions as Bluetooth- or Dock- keyboards for iPad that were earlier described by Sergey Kuzmin. Also having some knowledge of Jailbraking will allow you to connect an HDD to the pad. Examples have already been shown by some handymen. It would be logical to assume that there should be no problem with flash drives. But we should better look deeper into perspectives that can become reality without interference into file system.

First of all we would love to see compatibility of the Kit not only with iPad but also with iPhone/iPod Touch in future. Potentially it is possible. Why not? More likely the absence of compatibility with the phone today is only a consequence 3.1 software problems. iPhone OS 4.0 highly expected this summer should be more flexible in this aspect. The new iPhone literally whispers about it model range is renewed every June-July. Just imagine that in your next trip you will take only a camera with only one memory card and the phone. Wonderful!

But let us return to reality. For the time being iPad sends far away all the USB connecting devices it does not know. There are two reasons for that: total incompatibility and lack of battery. I managed to solve the first problem (by connecting one-by-one good old Wacom and flash drive), but I failed to solve the second one. None of the external drives at my disposal were detected neither as a device worthless of the tablet nor as something that is lacking voltage. It is indeed a strange effect but may be I should have experimented with 3.5 instead of 2.5.

What is the result?

After all Camera Connection Kit can be a good purchase for those who travel a lot and take minimum things with them every time trying to leave more free space in their bags. The first obvious advantage of iPad+CCK suit is that you do not need to take with you ponderous notebook which is often used as a temporary storage for raw material. The tablet will play its part. It will also help to solve some simple work tasks that require receiving emails and writing replies, internet-surfing, some documents editing and so on. Secondly the process of file copying and transferring takes little time. It took me about two minutes to export 1 GB consisting of one 700 MB video and about 100 photos. In other words you can clean your card fast and simple, even when it is vital to shoot photos continuously. And thirdly, both adapters can fit into any, even very small pocket.

I almost forgot that iPad + CCK pack is not a solution for professional photographers who any way prefers to fill up their bags with working tools. That is to say not for those who patiently use 18 screen notebooks, not for happy owners of image banks, that keep all the material accumulated during work process and drained by their owners at the end of the process. In the end such a suit is not for those who love to delve in crude RAW files. iPad together with CCK is more likely a solution for amateur photographers like me. For those people who get up early during vacation in order to take packed lunch, get in the bus, and only on the road to another site seeing tour they realise that two- or four- GB card in their loyal Lumix is full of very important material.

The price in US Apple store starts and ends at $29 plus traditional tax. Russian underground channels sell such a simple kit for the sum that is at best equal to 5000 rubles what makes about $170. The conclusion is forced upon you: the kit is worth having but you should buy it abroad.

The author expresses gratitude for Camera Connection Kit to the iCult.ru store.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

Kirill Egerev (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexander Alatortsev (a.alatortsev@gmail.com)

Published — 02 June 2010

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