Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible! EVER!

I have been reading on the internet for months. I’ve lost hours watching YouTube videos and everyone told me it does not work!

What’s not working you’re asking?

Well, using the iPad as your only computing device, beside the ubiquitous SmartPhone of course.Pentax Spotmatic on Agfa Vista 200

I’m very easily influenced by the opinions of strangers. I easily fall for recommandations of gear, of cameras and lenses. You might say I have no proper own opinion!

All the photos in this post are from my Spotmatic with Agfa Vista 200 film.

That’s one of the reasons for my diverse and expensive G.A.S. Episodes.

But I am stronger! I can assert myself and I’ve already shown that by paring down my cameras to just three. And the Pentax MX you might ask. The MX just spent some time with me. I decided I don’t really need it as I use M42 Takumar lenses anyways, exclusively and my Spotmatic fulfills every need.

It’s going away… If anyone is interested, drop me a line in the comments!

And perhaps I’m not finished with slimming down….

But that’s not the subject for today. Let’s get back to the topic, to the fact that sometimes everyone tells you what’s good for you. What to buy and what to use. If ever you have a different opinion you’re obviously a hopeless loser.

So what did I do that the whole world told me is not working?

I already talked about it in the last weeks. It’s my migration from a ‘real’ computer to the iPad… and ONLY the iPad!

It’s been a month now that I have not touched my MacMini and I really don’t miss it. And I not only use the iPad for browsing the web and reading mail… and for writing silly stuff on my blog. I’m a photographer (OK, a hobby-photographer…) and what’s more I use film nearly exclusively. So I’m supposed to need Lightroom as the internet wants to make me believe. And I certaily need to scan my negatives to get any good quality and I have to use a computer for that!


I don’t have to do anything they say. There’s another way! And it works. It needs quite a bit of rethinking, of searching for new solutions, of doing things unlike anything you ever did. But it works!

The photos in this post are the living proof that it works and that it works very well!

So as I said in the previous posts (HERE and HERE), I use this stuff to get it right. It’s still not perfect but I’m getting there. I need a more solid stand for the camera, a better solution for using my lightpad but the results are there!

On my iPad I tried a load of apps supposed to give me the results I looked for. Some were plain bad, some passable, some did some bits, some tried to do it all.

In the end I settled on a rather less known app called POLARR. It gives Lightroom Mobile and Affinity Photo a run for their money. Hmmm, talking about money, it’s not the cheapest app at 21€ (and will go subscription in the future) but honestly it’s totally worth the money. And if you buy the PRO version before they change their business to suscription model in the next weeks you still get an unlimited license!

It does it all! And it integrates into Apple’s Photos as an extension with all the stuff available. I use it to crop out the scanned film borders, invert the negative and even very easily get color negatives right. Take a look how it works:

As Doug Anderson said, the iPad has no easy way to make a contact sheet of the negatives. I searched theApp Store for some time and ended up with PDF Photos. The app is not really intended for this but you can create a custom template to print your chosen number of thumbnails on an A4 page… perfect!

What’s missing? Well there’s one thing. Printing is still not perfect on the iPad. The standard print dialog is very poor and even the Canon Print app has barely better settings to get your print right. But the results are quite acceptable.

And for professional printing work you can always rely on pro labs. Anyways, printing is still another world for me and until I’ll be up to speed with a good printer (mine cost 65€…) I guess there will be some new solutions around.

So I found my new computer! And I’m happy with it. It does all I need done and I carry it with me wherever I go.

On my desk I use it with a bluetooth keyboard, a USB hub with SD card reader for transferring my ‘scans’ and on the road I use the the on-screen keyboard. It’s perhaps not perfect but it works really well, even better the more you get used to it!

Honestly, try it, and don’t let anyone tell you what’s good for you! EVER!

Thanks for reading!

22 thoughts on “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible! EVER!

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  1. From the top photo I’m not so sure the wife will be impressed with you robbing parts from the family car to get this setup going 🙂

    What “generation” (model) of iPad would someone need to buy to do this if they wanted to? Maybe labelled photos of the complete setup and costs involved would be useful for readers as you go along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, I’ll post a detailed setup and cost thing.

      I currently have the somewhat older iPad Air 2 and it works fine. The new 2018 iPad though is faster and it supports the Apple Pencil for detailed work.

      In my opinion an iPad Pro is simply not required.

      What’s great is that any photo software works much faster on the iPad than on a Mac or PC. You just have to live with some small limitations or find a workaround


  2. Hi Frank, quick update to post, at least for UK users, Polarr is now annual or monthly subscription only. Have the free version of it on my chromebook for a while as there were few options in the chromeiverse. Never actually took time to play with it though but now you’ve got me thinking. . . . Great photos as ever Frank and in colour! is this the other dark side calling?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the update! So I just slipped by the subscription thing with Polarr.

      Well, color has it’s uses I guess. But I always marvel how differently I treat b&w and color.


  3. I have been using an iPad with Affinity Photo when travelling. However, I would struggle to replace a desktop computer with it because without a DAM it is a struggle to keep everything organised (I current use CaptureOne for both organisation and editing).

    One of the biggest problems I have had with the iPad is simply getting usable photos onto the tablet. “Photos” does not seem to handle raw files correctly, and will only show the embedded Jpg preview. If you are lucky, this is big enough to be usable – but for most of our cameras all you get is a tiny pixelated thumbnail. This is purely a limitation in Apples software – compounded by Apple’s refusal to let other apps import directly from the SD card reader.

    As a result, the iPad (with external keyboard) gets mainly used for writing and for backing up images prior to transfer to the desktop for organisation / editing…

    Lastly, if you use the iPad as the only computing device, make sure that you have some means of backup for all your data, such as iCloud or Dropbox!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My stuff lives in iCloud so I might be safe in case of disaster.

      And as I use only jpeg ‘scans’ of my negatives and jpegs straight out of camera Photos works perfectly for me. Of course if you shoot RAW it’s hard.

      Jpeg works for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shooting raw is partly the price to pay for never quite getting the exposure right 🙂

        I “scan” film using an Olympus camera and macro lens. It has a brilliant mode that gives 50+ MP images, which is hugely over sampled for 35mm film but which seems to make subsequent editing much easier (for example, sharpening without over emphasising grain).

        The downside is that I now have about 2TB of images from about 30 years of photography :-/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 50MP!! And my 16MP camera resolves grain quite nicely, at least 200 ISO…

        Those files must be huge in RAW. I read about that mode. Some multiple exposure with shifting the sensor?


      3. Yes, the camera takes multiple exposures with the sensor shifted slightly between each. Unfortunately this only works when tripod mounted, although it is fine for negative scanning. The biggest challenge is getting the film plane flat enough, but even then I get some edge softening which I suspect is due to some focal plane curvature from my macro lens…

        Whether this is useful depends on the film and amount of pushing employed, and also how much post processing is needed. It makes the biggest difference with slow colour films (Ektar), where both the resolution and the need to colour correct are significant.

        I should probably write up a blog post comparing the difference between the hires and normal modes for scanning…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. But your 16MP are a decent size, not like those from the tiny sensor in a μ4/3 camera 😉 Plus your sensor is already 3×2, whereas the Olympus has to be cropped…

        FWIW, I estimated that 35mm HP5+ gives me about 7MP equivalent image detail, whereas Delta 100 maybe reaches as much as 10-12MP – so for B&W film the Fuji should not be a big limitation!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I think 16 Mp is about the max you can get out of any negative… well perhaps 25Mp for stuff like old Kodachrome 25 but that one’s deat, unfortunately (How I loved it!!!)
        Very happy that I can se real grain now in my ‘scans’ and not some preudo grain from the scanner.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand your enthusiasm and I am kind of happy that you got it working. It definitely is a very interesting and a promising way to handle photos.

    I just wanted to warn about much larger social implications. I think that it is very important to understand them.

    The fact is, the iPad is a great danger to our freedom. I wish I was kidding by saying this. If more and more people start to use tablets (including Android tablets) then we loose more and more leverage as the society.

    The reason for this is that the tablets as we know them are centrally managed through the app story (all kind of them). Anything you can install on them (with minor exceptions) must come from a single source over what a single party has a total control.

    This comes with a very dangerous weakness. It creates a single point for censoring. Not only can app store owner censor for its own financial benefit, also state level entities can either openly (through courts for example) or in secret (through national security letter for example) censor software they find disturbing for them.

    For example if you did not know then there is only one web browser in iPad. It is Safary. You may have also some other browser installed but it is only a visual layer on top of Safary. Of course this can be also good – all browsers will benefit from Apple decision to include the ad blocking functionality. But it also means that when Apple is forced to block some content then it will be also blocked on every browser and there is no way around of it.

    Or if somebody would come up for example with a new kind of social network that shared data only between users without central middle man then this software could be actually totally blocked to appear in the app store and it would be not possible for people to use it ever.

    This is very much different from the way we have been using computers and I strongly believe that it has very serious implications for our society when app story controlled devices will become the only computing devices the most people own and use.

    So please, for humanity, keep your computer!


    1. Thanks for your thoughts but I am of a different opinion.

      The fact that, in my case, Apple controls the app store assures me that the software I download is perhaps curated, controlled, but also mostly harmless and bug and malware free. That’s definitely not the case for PCs for example.

      The tablet is the logical evolution of the computing devices. We have to turn away from clumsy, top heavy old fashioned stuff (and that’s a film photographer talking) and turn to the new things.

      The internet is controlled, or rather we are controlled through the internet if we allow it to happen. It’s not the manufacturers who do this but the social media mafia. Up to now, Apple has proved that they do all they can to preserve privacy, if you followed the case where they refused assistance to the US authorities to crack the iPhone of an offender.

      I don’t say they’re angels but I’m willing to go that way. Just as over the coming years we will probably have to leave behind the cars with combustion engines and even perhaps accept the restriction of cars and restriction to individual transports, we will have to accept a paradugm change regarding hugely over engineered computers. We don’t need and don’t use all that power.

      But to each his own. That’s just my opinion and I have made my choice. If it’s good or bad…. well, let’s see.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I understand your position. I am afraid you did not understand mine. While you are talking about privacy, I was talking about censoring.

    Apple is still just a company and will do what ever it is told to do (yes, they can protest but they are powerless against the law). A single company (or few) having a control over the information people have access to gives temptation to use it.

    For example with the hypothetical social network (that could provide an actual privacy), when for example a government decides that it is illegal then with computers people can still give a finger and install the software anyway (we saw this happening with the file sharing for example).

    It would be different with Apple because of the single point of failure. Government does not have to go after each user of the software. It will remove it centrally.

    The problem with censoring is that we may not even know what we are missing.

    We also do not know also who will arise to control it in the future.

    I think that I do not exaggerate when I say that it is entirely plausible that a government will demand Apple to remove all illegal content from the devices it controls.

    It may happen that it will have to remove all the pictures you have taken (because of the violation of the privacy and copyright laws).

    Only thing that comforts me is that you still will have all your negatives when it comes down to this.


      1. I think Kris is referring to the hidden dangers as far as privacy and freedoms go when we live in an encroaching surveillance society that is increasingly being ‘normalised’ via our uses of technology.

        Specifically I believe Kris is referring to the increasing use of and reliance on the kinds of devices that can only work via the internet and cloud based services, where the means of access are controlled by other people, connected to the “digital economy”, and where “data” is either subject to, can, could, or is likely to come under scrutiny and laws of various kinds or else be appropriated.

        Contrast the iPad and similar such devices, which largely depend on remote services for their functioning, with home computing – PC / MAC etc – (where your data and access is stored locally). These allow you to be productive but in private.

        In the ‘information society’ it’s a question of who owns and controls the means of production in the same way it was in the industrial age. With a home computer and printer let’s say, you own and control both the means of production as well as the product (the data) itself. They fulfil the promise of computing, whereas cloud devices actually take the freedom and control away from you while appearing to give you more.

        As far as censorship of information goes you need only look as far as book publishing, where certain books and images have been and are banned. It’s not so much the fact that you produce something, but the fact that you communicate it to others that “they” are afraid of… hence, as Kris says keep you negatives… and if you shoot digital don’t store the files in ‘the cloud’ cause that cloud ain’t heaven 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Even with tbe iPad i still have the choice to do my backups strictly local through the iTunes software. And subsequent Time Machine backups on hard drives.

        And I have my negatives of course. And if ever I see that I went the wrong way I’ll still have my backups to restore to another MAC or PC


      3. Difference between iPad and a computer is that on computer you can so far install an operating system that is free from censoring.

        If iPad gets bitten by the censoring bug then it is game over (your backup will not help because the files would be deleted again). On PC (and I think so far still also on Mac) you can wipe the official operation system and install Linux. On iPad you are in total mercy of Apple.

        On PC and on Mac it is your choice what software to install. On iPad this choice is limited by Apple.

        I understand that you are trusting Apple at the moment but there is really no good reason to do so. If Apple will decide or is forced to decide that some software is not allowed then it will be so.

        You can argue that it is good for you but you have to understand that there are implications. Then you can decide if you want the next dictator to inherit the society where these implications can materialize or not.

        I am not trying to tell you that you should not use iPad. What you are doing is very interesting.

        I am simply wanting you to understand that there is a major difference between a computer and tablet beside the form factor (it should not be like this but this business model is so lucrative that it is very unlikely that it will be given up).

        So if you are going to say that tablet is as good as PC then you will understand that it is not true regardless of the outcome of your experimentation.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Weird timing as I am now going in the opposite direction. I have been using the ipad/iphone method for quite a while, but I have just bought a laptop. I will now be able to use my scanners and printer again. To be honest it won’t improve my photography, but maybe a change will reinvigorate it 😬.

    Liked by 1 person

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