Travels with iPad and two cameras

outside Sagrada Familia

My friend Steve, his wife Cathy and daughter Kristen who live in Oregon recently went on a three week trip to Spain. They wanted snapshots of the trip and wanted to be able to communicate with the outside world as they travelled (email, upload pictures, etc.). These folks like to travel light so no taking their Canon 7D DSLR, lenses, or a computer. Here are Steve’s notes on their trip.

Equipment
Canon PowerShot S95 (Steve’s camera)
Sony DSC-TX5 (Kristen’s camera)
– 5 SD cards ranging in size from 1GB to 4GB
– AC chargers for both cameras
iPad 2 (16G Wifi model)
Zagg iPad case with built-in Logitech Bluetooth keyboard
iPad camera connection kit
– 2 iPad AC chargers (also used for charging iPhones)
– USB charging cable for the Zagg (using an iPad charger)
– 4 US to Spain (Type C) plug converters

Sevilla from the cathedral bell tower

The plan and its execution
1. The plan was to offload each camera every day onto the iPad for back up. And to change SD cards occasionally during the trip. We considered shipping the cards back home during the trip but did not do this.

2. The first misstep of the execution was forgetting to change the date/time on the cameras when we arrived in Spain. I had thought about this ahead of time but forgot when we arrived (jet lagged) in country. To compound this problem one of cameras was setup for DST and other other was not. So not only where they on the home timezone, they were about an hour different from each other. I plan to programmatically adjust the image file timestamps now that we are home.

3. The iPad and camera connection kit turned out to be a very smooth way to offload the photos and view them. This was a complete success for us. Altogether for the 22 days we took 1244 photos with a total size of 4.3 GB. The iPad started getting full at one point – we had a movie on it that we were planning to delete if needed and that did the trick.

4. For sharing photos with folks back home I setup a ‘Spain trip’ set on flickr that we would push photos onto during the trip. The good news is that we had Wifi access at all of the locations we stayed (this was part of the criteria for selecting lodging). As a note, this was much different from our experience 4 years ago in France and Italy were we struggled to find internet access. We pushed a couple of pictures up to flickr each day – everyone back home liked seeing the photos and keeping track of our progress on the trip.

5. I had found an app for the iPad called Snapseed that provided some basic photo editing capabilities and sharing to flickr. This worked out pretty well. It would be nice if Snapseed had better photo library browsing UI (it uses the standard iOS UI in a popover and does NOT remember your place from the last browsing session). The editing facilities worked just fine. The flickr upload worked pretty well overall, but seemed to have problems adding the photo to the flickr set on marginal Wifi connections (it would report a timeout). Richard noticed that photos uploaded to flickr with Snapseed did not seem to have their original EXIF data. I need to do some testing to see if any of the iPhone/iPad apps get this correct. Finally, the EXIF data is intact on all of the photos that were loaded onto the iPad (and then subsequently brought onto my Mac in iPhoto).

6. The Zagg case with the Bluetooth keyboard was a huge success. It is a rigid aluminum cover for the iPad so it is well protected for travel. And the keyboard was a pleasure to use for writing email and other typing chores – huge benefit over using the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard battery did not require charging for the full three weeks.

Except for forgetting to set the time/date on the cameras, things work out really well. This was a light kit of gear that provided a bunch of functionality and a good way to backup and share our photos while traveling.

If you have questions or comments please post them here.

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