Tablets for photographers: Versatile tools when shooting
1 Using a tablet when shooting
If you've never considered using a tablet in your regular photographic workflow, now might be a good time to start. Tablets are versatile tools, more so since camera and accessory makers have begun embracing wireless in DSLR and mirrorless models.
Why use a tablet? The tiny LCD of your camera is holding the details of your 24-megapixel shots captive, and the cumbersome user interface (even on touchscreen cameras) can make checking focus or inspecting noise a chore. If you're willing to insert a tablet into your workflow, such tasks become trivial, and lightweight hardware and software make for a less cumbersome experience than a laptop.
The available selection of accessories, apps and supported cameras is constantly changing, but between tablet-ready apps like iPhoto, multi-platform heavies like Lightroom and supportive devices like Triggertrap, there's already plenty to boost your tablet use further.
Here we'll focus on how to integrate a tablet into a live shoot with a DSLR — post processing and other tasks will be covered in subsequent articles. We'll also be mainly looking at Canon and Nikon DSLR systems, as they are the most commonly supported by tablets and smartphones — but don't worry, mirrorless systems and other brands will get consideration soon as well.
Our primary consideration here is which platform is best for on-shoot purposes, as opposed to storage, presentation or social promotion.
iOS is a good all-around choice, first because it is often the first to be supported by camera manufacturers and software developers. This could change, but for now it's the most common case. In addition, the high resolution Retina Display makes viewing and editing images a pleasure. That said, many Android and Windows tablets have equaled or surpassed the Retina Display.
Windows 8 Pro, newly at home on tablets (but not to be confused with the less capable Windows 8 RT), should also be considered, especially by people already working in the Microsoft ecosystem. It's not a lightweight solution (and some of the tablets are heavy themselves), but having instant access to Lightroom's full curves or brushes could be fun for experimental photographers or perfectionists, or for when certain processing steps can't wait until you're back at your desktop.
Android, at the moment, is not as well supported as either Windows or iOS when it comes to official and name-brand apps. However, users interested in remote shooting will want to consider it anyway, as there are cheap or free tethering apps for both Canon and Nikon. A plethora of modestly-priced tablets sweetens the pot for shooters who might not want to invest too much or want interoperability with their other Android devices. But keep in mind that older tablets and ones using third-party app stores (like the Kindle Fire) may not offer or support the apps you need without a bit of tweaking, though they are perfectly suitable for other purposes.
Which you choose is up to you, and since a good tablet can cost less than a cheap lens, it might not be a bad idea to give something new a try next time you have a little budget to spare.