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By Jim Heid |

A Raw+JPEG Workflow for the iPad


The best way to extract every bit of image quality from your camera is to shoot in its raw mode. A raw image contains the exact data recorded by the camera’s sensor. By comparison, when a camera creates a JPEG image, it discards significant amounts of data in order to make the image more compact.

But life is full of trade-offs. Raw files provide far more flexibility when adjusting exposure and color balance in a post-processing program such as Adobe Lightroom, but use far more storage space than JPEGs. Many cameras have a “best of both worlds” mode in which they create a companion JPEG file along with a raw file. This lets you use the JPEG for minor edits but fall back on the raw file should the image require significant adjustments that, with a JPEG, could compromise quality.

The mobile complication All of this is great when your photos are destined for laptop or desktop computers, which have gobs of storage space. But what if you’re in the field working on an iPad until you return home? When you use the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit to transfer photos to an iPad, it imports the files and the JPEGs alike—and all those raw files will quickly fill the storage space in an iPad. One solution would be to delete the raw-format photos from your iPad after transferring each raw+JPEG pair. But again, there’s a problem: The iPad’s Photos app doesn’t show separate thumbnails for a given photo’s raw version and its JPEG version. As a result, there’s no way to separate the two in order to keep the JPEGs but not the raw versions. Or is there?

How keep the JPEGs and toss the raws The solution to this dilemma is the subject of this week’s The Practicing Photographer. Ben Long demonstrates one of his favorite iPad photo utilities, the affordable PhotosInfoPro app.

PP - raw+jpeg iPad

Ben uses PhotosInfoPro for a lot of different mobile photo-management tasks, including editing photo metadata. This week, though, his job is simpler: He demonstrates how to use PhotosInfoPro to break apart a raw+JPEG pair so you can save the JPEGs and delete the raw-format files from the iPad.

It’s a simple process: Launch PhotosInfoPro, tap the thumbnail that represents each raw+JPEG photo, then save the JPEGs. Next, go into the iPad’s Photos app and delete the original raw+JPEG pair that you imported.

(Needless to say, if you’ll want to use those raw-format photos later on your laptop or desktop computer, keep them on your camera’s memory card—don’t delete the photos after importing them to the iPad.)

The steps Ben shows this week are handy when you want the flexibility of raw-format images but don’t want them inhaling all your iPad’s storage space. Give them a try when you want the flexibility of raw+JPEG workflow and the portability of iPad photo editing.

Adobe and Lightroom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. Apple and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

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