Best IPAD for Photographers: Pro Tablets for Photo Editing

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Best IPAD for Photographers: Pro Tablets for Photo Editing


Social media has created an expectation of immediate photo delivery and sharing. The need for a powerful tablet for photo editing tasks has never been more crucial. While desktop computers have long been the standard for photo editing, tablets have emerged as powerful, portable alternatives that offer a unique blend of convenience and capability. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, the right tablet can significantly enhance your photo editing experience.

For tablets, iPads have set the bar high with their high-resolution displays, powerful processors, and dedicated graphics capabilities. But how do they stack up against other tablets in the market? In this article, we’ll focus on iPads and compare them with other leading tablets to help you make an informed decision.


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Table of Contents

Why iPads are the Best Choice for Photo Editing

For photo editing, iPads have become increasingly popular among professional photographers and hobbyists alike. But what makes iPads the go-to choice for photo editing tasks? Let’s take a look at the ecosystem, build quality, and software advantages that set iPads apart from other tablets in the market.


One of the most compelling reasons to opt for an iPad is the seamless ecosystem that Apple offers. With features like iCloud, you can effortlessly sync your photos and editing work across multiple Apple devices, including your MacBook Pro and iPhone. This makes it easier to pick up where you left off, regardless of the device you’re using.

Build Quality

iPads are known for their exceptional build quality. The Apple iPad Pro, for instance, offers a sleek design coupled with a high-resolution Retina display that makes photo editing a visually stunning experience. The display quality is crucial for photo editors to accurately assess colors, contrasts, and details in the images they are working on.

Software Advantages

When it comes to software, iPads have a clear edge. With powerful apps like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC available on the App Store, you have professional-grade editing tools right at your fingertips. Moreover, the Apple Pencil adds another layer of precision, making tasks like retouching and layering more accurate.

The iPad makes a great companion for photographers for several reasons, including its portability, ease of displaying work, and the plethora of editing apps available. The IPAD makes it easy it is to share your edited images on social media platforms, further enhancing your digital presence.

So, whether you’re a professional photographer dealing with RAW files or a hobbyist looking to enhance your social media posts, an iPad offers a comprehensive solution for all your photo editing needs.

An AI-generated image of a photographer editing photos on her IPAD in a coffee shop.

Comparing iPads: iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro for Photographers

When it comes to photo editing, Apple’s iPads have long been a favorite among photographers and graphic designers. With several models to choose from, including the latest iPad Pro and the Apple iPad Air, the decision can be overwhelming. In this section, I’ll break down the pros and cons of the iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro to help you find the best model for your needs.

iPad: The Affordable Choice for Light Editing


  • Budget-Friendly: The basic iPad is the most affordable option among the four.
  • Decent Performance: With the A14 Bionic chip, it’s capable of handling light photo editing tasks in apps like Adobe Lightroom.
  • Nice-Sized Screen: The 10.9-inch screen is adequate for most editing needs.


  • Limited Features: It doesn’t support the Apple Pencil 2, only the first version.
  • Less Powerful: Not suitable for heavy-duty editing or multitasking.

iPad Mini: The Portable Powerhouse


  • Ultra-Portable: Weighing just under 300g, it’s ideal for photographers on the go.
  • Apple Pencil 2 Support: Allows for precise editing and drawing.
  • A15 Bionic Chip: Offers enough power to run mobile versions of editing software like Lightroom.


  • Smaller Screen: The 8.3-inch screen might be too small for some editing tasks.
  • Lacks M1 Chip: Not as powerful as the iPad Pro but still quite capable.

iPad Air: The Sweet Spot


  • Great Performance: With the latest M1 chip, the iPad Air offers a great balance of power and affordability.
  • Apple Pencil 2 Support: Perfect for detailed work in Adobe Lightroom and other editing software.
  • High Resolution: The larger screen size and high resolution make it a great option for serious photographers.


  • Price: More expensive than the basic iPad but less than the iPad Pro.
  • Storage Capacity: Limited to 256GB, which may not be enough for storing high-resolution RAW photos.

iPad Pro: The Professional’s Choice


  • M1 Chip: Offers performance comparable to a desktop computer.
  • Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD Display: Provides a stunning visual experience.
  • Apple Pencil 2 Support: Adds a layer of precision to your editing.


  • Pricey: The most expensive option among the four.
  • Battery Life: While decent, it may not last through a full day of heavy editing.

Choosing between the iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro depends on your specific needs and budget. If you’re a professional photographer who needs a powerful device for heavy editing, the iPad Pro is your best bet. For those who want a balance between power and affordability, the iPad Air is an excellent choice. If portability is your priority, the iPad Mini won’t disappoint. And if you’re on a budget but still want to do some light editing, the basic iPad is a great option.

Apple iPad Pro: The Ultimate Tool for Professional Photographers

Features that Make Apple iPad Pro Stand Out

The Apple iPad Pro is a game-changer for professional photographers, and here’s why:

  • M1 Chip: The next-generation M1 chip provides astonishing performance with an 8-core CPU that delivers up to 15 percent faster performance and a 10-core GPU for 35 percent faster graphics. This means you can handle complex photo editing tasks with ease. 

  • Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD Display: The 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display offers a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, making it ideal for viewing and editing HDR photos and videos. It also features 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness, providing an unparalleled visual experience.

  • Apple Pencil 2 Support: The second-generation Apple Pencil transforms the iPad Pro into an immersive drawing canvas. It offers hover functionality, allowing you to preview your mark before making it, adding a new dimension to your photo editing and graphic design work.

Battery Life: Can it Last a Full Shoot?

The iPad Pro promises all-day battery life, thanks to its efficient M1 chip. While the actual battery life will depend on your specific usage, the iPad Pro is designed to handle tasks like 3D design, AR modeling, and high-frame-rate gaming for extended periods. This suggests that it should hold up well in real-world photo editing scenarios, allowing you to work through a full shoot without worrying about running out of juice. 

With these features, the Apple iPad Pro is not just another tablet; it’s a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your photography workflow.

A landscape image of Yosemite National Park by Lauren McDonagh-Pereira. It is minted as an ETH NFT and is available for auction on the Foundation NFT marketplace.
Sunrise in Tuolumne Meadows by Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

Affinity Photo vs Adobe Photoshop on iPad

Affinity Photo: A Closer Look

Affinity Photo for iPad is a desktop-grade, professional photo editing app that offers a range of features designed to make your photo editing experience seamless. One of the standout features is its touch-focused UI, which provides fast access to clipboard options and up to nine customizable shortcuts. The app is also iPadOS 16-ready, offering full optimization of the new virtual memory swap to increase performance dramatically. This makes working on large documents a breeze. Affinity Photo allows you to produce stunning composite images, work in any color space, and offers unlimited layers, real-time blend modes, among other powerful features. The app is available for a one-off payment of $18.49, with no monthly costs.

Adobe Photoshop: The Real Estate of Photo Editing

Adobe Photoshop on the iPad offers a streamlined version of its desktop counterpart, designed to be more touch-friendly. While it provides a range of powerful tools and features, it may lack some of the more advanced capabilities available on the desktop version. However, with seamless cloud integration, you can easily switch between your iPad and desktop computer, making it a versatile choice for photo editing on the go.

A macro image of a tulip that is about to bloom.
Tulip Photo by Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

Alternatives to iPads: Android and Windows Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab S: The Best Android Tablet for Photo Editing

When it comes to Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra stands out as the best option for photo editing. Launched in February, it runs on the latest version of Android (12) and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. The tablet features a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED screen that offers fantastic picture quality, deep blacks, and vibrant colors. With a refresh rate of 120Hz and a pixel density of 240 pixels per inch, the display is designed for high-quality photo editing. The tablet also comes with an improved S Pen, providing a great experience for those who prefer using a stylus in their editing workflow. The battery life is also impressive, lasting up to 14 hours.

Microsoft Surface Pro: The Windows Tablet for Photo Editors

If you’re looking for a Windows tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a strong contender. It runs on Windows 11 and is powered by 12th Gen Intel Core i5-i7 processors. The tablet offers a 13-inch display with a resolution of 2880×1920, providing ample screen real estate for photo editing tasks. One of the standout features is its long battery life, which can last up to 16 hours. The Surface Pro 9 also comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and offers the flexibility to switch between tablet and laptop modes, especially when paired with the Type Cover keyboard case. However, it’s worth noting that the Type Cover and Surface Pen stylus are sold separately

By exploring these alternatives, you can find a tablet that fits your specific needs and workflow, whether you’re an Android enthusiast or a Windows user.

Comparing the Quality of Cameras on Different Types of iPads and Their Android and Windows Competition

To get the best photo quality, you are going to want to use a dedicated DSLR or Mirrorless camera. However, in a pinch, some IPADs and tablets do have decent built in cameras. Let’s take a look at some of the best options. 

Apple iPad Pro 2022 12.9″ (Best Overall)

The Apple iPad Pro 2022 12.9″ is a powerhouse when it comes to camera capabilities. It features a rear 12MP & 10MP camera setup and a front 12MP Ultra Wide Camera. The device runs on the latest iPadOS 16 and is equipped with Apple’s ProRes technology, which is a game-changer for high-quality images and real-time photo editing.

Apple iPad Pro 2020 11″ (Best for Low-Light)

The iPad Pro 2020 11″ is another strong contender, especially for low-light photography. It features a 10MP Ultra Wide Camera and a 7MP TrueDepth Front Camera. The device is equipped with an A12Z Bionic Chip with Neural Engine, making it a great choice for photo editing tasks.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ (Best for Video Conferencing)

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is an excellent choice for video conferencing, thanks to its high-resolution cameras and excellent speakers. The device features an edge-to-edge display and a TFT LCD screen, making it a great choice for video tasks.

Apple iPad Pro 2022 11″ (Best Under $1000)

If you’re on a budget but still want an iPad, the iPad Pro 2022 11″ is a good option. It features a front 12MP Ultra Wide Camera and a rear 12MP & 10MP camera setup. The device also offers 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt Connectivity, making it a powerful option for under $1000.

FEONAL Android 11 Tablet (Best Budget Tablet Camera)

For those on a tight budget, the FEONAL Android 11 Tablet offers dual cameras and speakers, along with a long-lasting battery. It’s not as powerful as other options, but it’s a good choice for basic photography needs.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (Best for Windows Users)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is an excellent choice for Windows users. It features a 2880 x 1920 screen resolution and offers Thunderbolt 4 and 120 Hz refresh rate. It runs on Windows 11 Home, making it a great choice for those already in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What Features Are Most Important to You in a Tablet Camera?
    • Are you more concerned with low-light capabilities, video conferencing features, or overall versatility?
  2. How Does the Operating System Influence Your Choice?
    • Are you already invested in the Apple ecosystem, or are you more comfortable with Android or Windows?
  3. What’s Your Budget?
    • Are you looking for a high-end tablet with all the bells and whistles, or are you more interested in a budget-friendly option that still delivers decent camera capabilities?
Two fallen leaves, one red, one orange are perched on their sides in the grass. The setting sun creates backlight behind the leaves causing them to glow.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Storage Solutions for Heavy Photo Editing Tasks

Internal Storage vs External Hard Drive

When it comes to heavy photo editing tasks, storage is a critical factor that can significantly impact your workflow. Internal storage is convenient and fast, but it can quickly fill up, especially if you’re working with high-resolution images or complex projects. On the other hand, an external hard drive offers the flexibility of added space, which can be a lifesaver for large portfolios. It also serves as an excellent backup solution, safeguarding your valuable work. Investing in a high-speed, reliable external hard drive can significantly enhance your photo editing experience, allowing you to work on multiple projects simultaneously without worrying about running out of space.

SD Card: A Great Way for Quick Transfers

SD cards are often overlooked but are an incredibly convenient storage solution, especially for photographers on the go. These tiny cards pack a punch, offering high-speed data transfers and substantial storage capacity. They are particularly useful for transferring files quickly from your camera to your editing workstation. With the advent of high-capacity SD cards, you can now store hundreds of high-resolution images and even 4K videos without breaking a sweat. However, it’s crucial to invest in a high-quality SD card from a reputable brand to ensure reliability and fast read and write speeds.

By considering both external hard drives and SD cards as part of your storage arsenal, you can create a more efficient and flexible photo editing workflow.

An image of a wooden pier over a beach at sunset. The pier is weathered with barnacles attached to the legs. The shore is sandy with large rocks. The sunset makes the sky blue on the left side, and yellow on the right.
© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Social Media: Sharing Your Edited Photos

One of the great advantages of using an iPad for photo editing is the seamless integration with social media platforms. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply someone who loves to share their latest captures, the iPad makes it incredibly easy to post your edited photos directly to your social media accounts.

The iOS Ecosystem and Social Media Apps

Apple’s App Store offers a wide range of social media apps, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, among others. These apps are optimized for the iPad’s operating system, ensuring a smooth user experience. The mobile version of Lightroom and other photo editing apps often include a ‘Share’ button that allows you to post your edited photos directly to social media, making the whole process more streamlined.

Instant Sharing with Airdrop and iCloud

If you’re using multiple Apple devices, features like Airdrop and iCloud make it even easier to share your photos. You can edit a photo on your iPad and instantly Airdrop it to your iPhone for sharing, or use iCloud to access your edited photos on any Apple device. This is particularly useful for social media managers who handle multiple accounts and need to post content on the go.

Quality and Resolution

iPads, especially the latest iPad Pro models, offer high-resolution displays that give you a great idea of how your edited photo will look on social media. The powerful M processors in the newer models also ensure that the quality of your image is maintained during the sharing process, so what you see on your iPad is what your followers will see on their feeds.

Scheduling Posts

Various third-party apps available on the App Store allow you to schedule your social media posts. This is a great way for serious photographers and social media managers to plan out their content calendar directly from their iPad.

In summary, the iPad offers a range of features and apps that make sharing your edited photos on social media a breeze. From the high-quality display to the powerful processors and seamless integration with social media platforms, iPads are a great choice for anyone looking to enhance their social media presence.

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The Best Tablets for Different Art Needs

When it comes to tablets, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Different needs call for different features, and what works for one person may not be ideal for another. Here, I’ll break down some of the best tablets for various needs, from graphic design to casual browsing.

Best Drawing Tablets for Graphic Designers

As a graphic designer, you need a tablet that can keep up with your creative demands. Here are some top picks that I’ve found to be excellent for graphic design tasks:

  1. Wacom Cintiq Pro: Known for its exceptional pressure sensitivity and color accuracy, the Wacom Cintiq Pro is a favorite among professional designers. It offers a seamless drawing experience, making it easier to bring your ideas to life.

  2. Apple iPad Pro with Apple Pencil: The iPad Pro offers a sleek design and powerful performance. When paired with the Apple Pencil, it becomes a formidable tool for graphic design, offering low latency and excellent pressure sensitivity.

  3. Huion Kamvas Pro: A more budget-friendly option, the Huion Kamvas Pro offers a decent range of features, including a high-resolution display and customizable shortcut keys. While it may not match the Wacom Cintiq Pro in terms of performance, it’s a solid choice for those on a budget.

  4. Microsoft Surface Pro: With its detachable keyboard and high-resolution screen, the Surface Pro offers versatility for designers who are always on the go. It runs on Windows, allowing you to use a wide range of design software.

  5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 with S Pen: This Android tablet offers a high-refresh-rate display and comes with the S Pen, which has low latency and good pressure sensitivity. It’s a good option for designers who prefer the Android ecosystem.

Amazon Fire HD: Is it Good Enough?

The Amazon Fire HD is a budget-friendly tablet that’s great for casual use like browsing, streaming, and reading. However, when it comes to graphic design, it has its limitations:

  1. Limited Software Options: The Amazon Appstore doesn’t offer a wide range of professional design apps, making it less suitable for serious design work.

  2. Performance: While it’s good enough for basic tasks, the Fire HD may struggle with more demanding applications, leading to lag and slower rendering times.

  3. Display: The display quality is decent but not on par with higher-end tablets, which could affect the accuracy of your designs.

  4. Stylus Support: Unlike other tablets on this list, the Fire HD doesn’t come with a stylus, nor does it support any high-end stylus options.

So, is the Amazon Fire HD good enough? It depends on your needs. If you’re a casual user or need a secondary device for basic tasks, it might be a suitable choice. However, for serious graphic design work, you’re better off investing in a more powerful tablet.

A side profile of the face and neck of a puffin looking off to the left of the frame. The puffin has a background of a bright blue sky behind him
ⓒ Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography 2022

Conclusion: The Best Choice for Professional Photographers and Photo Editors

In summary, the world of tablets offers a plethora of options for different needs, from graphic design to casual browsing. However, when it comes to professional photography and photo editing, iPads, particularly the iPad Pro, stand out as the best choice for several good reasons.

  1. Performance: With the latest M1 chip, the current iPad Pro offers a level of performance comparable to a desktop computer. This is crucial for running heavy-duty apps like Adobe’s Lightroom Classic and Pixelmator Photo.

  2. Image Quality: The Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD display on the iPad Pro provides exceptional image quality, making it the right choice for serious photographers who need accurate color representation.

  3. Versatility: Whether you’re into video editing or using various photo apps, iPads offer a wide range of software options. The Apple App Store is filled with top tablets applications designed for mobile devices, including the mobile version of Lightroom.

  4. Storage: With up to 1TB of internal storage and the option for external storage, you’ll have plenty of room for your high-resolution photos. The iPad Pro also supports SD cards for quick file transfers, making it a great tablet for professionals.

  5. Apple Ecosystem: The seamless integration between Apple tablets, such as the new iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and even the MacBook Pro, offers a cohesive and efficient workflow. This is especially beneficial if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem.

  6. Additional Features: From the True Tone display to the new features in the latest models, iPads are packed with extras that make your editing tasks easier and more efficient. For instance, the iPad Pro 11-inch model offers a large screen, perfect for detailed work.

  7. Camera Quality: iPads come with good cameras, and while they may not replace your DSLR or mirrorless camera, they offer a convenient option for quick shots or as an only device in a pinch.

  8. Android and Windows Alternatives: While there are great Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S and Windows options like the Microsoft Surface Pro, they often lack the cohesive ecosystem and the wide range of apps available for iPads.

  9. Stylus Support: The Apple Pencil adds another layer of functionality, making iPads the best drawing tablets for graphic designers as well. Wacom tablets are an alternative but work best as a peripheral rather than a standalone device.

  10. Why Not Other iPads?: While the iPad Mini and iPad Air are excellent tablets, they may not offer the same level of performance or features as the iPad Pro, making the latter the best model for professionals.

Choosing the right tablet comes down to your specific needs, but for professional photographers and photo editors, the iPad Pro is the best tablet camera and overall device on the market today. With its powerful features, robust app ecosystem, and high-quality display, it’s the only device you’ll need for all your photo editing tasks.

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