Picking an iPad as a Portable Photo Studio


Apple has a range of models in its tablet line, but you may not need the most expensive one to suit your image-editing needs.

Affinity Photo for iPad is one of the many photo-editing apps for Apple’s tablet. The software works on the iPad Air 2 and later.CreditThe New York Times

Q. Is there a specific iPad I should use for editing photos? Will the 9.7-inch Wi-Fi model be sufficient?

A. Apple’s current iPad lineup includes four models, the iPad Pro in two screen sizes (12.9 inches and 10.5 inches), the standard iPad with a 9.7-inch screen and the iPad Mini 4 with a 7.9-inch display. All but the iPad Mini 4 (probably a tad small for serious picture work) are now compatible with the Apple Pencil stylus, which can be a helpful tool for fine-tuned photo editing with some apps.

As to which larger model would be the best for editing photos, the answer depends on the photos and the amount of editing you want to do. Downloading large, uncompressed picture files from a digital S.L.R. camera and extensively adjusting the light, color, contrast and other elements of the photos with a full-featured image-editing app is a generally heavier task than snapping pictures with the iPad’s own camera or transferring JPG photos from a point-and-shoot camera to crop and enhance with the standard iOS Photos app.

The iPad Pro models use the A10X Fusion processor, currently Apple’s top chip for handling complex tasks on its tablets, and both use more responsive Retina display screens with True Tone technology, which adjusts the brightness based on your surroundings. The larger screens of the 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch Pro models give you more room to work, but they also sport larger price tags, starting at $799 and $649.

If you don’t see yourself needing such beefy hardware for your picture-editing needs, the 9.7-inch iPad — which has the slightly less robust A10 Fusion processor and the standard Retina display — is a much more affordable option for a portable photo studio. Prices start at $329, and the iPad can run all of the popular photo-editing apps like Affinity Photo for iPad and Adobe’s various creative apps. The versatile 9.7-inch iPad is also the top pick of Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times.

No matter which iPad you decide to get based on your ambitions, make sure you get one with enough room to store the photos you want to keep on the tablet. If you do start to fill up the device with pictures, online storage and iOS compatible drives can give you some breathing room, even on the road.

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to [email protected]. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

J.D. Biersdorfer has been answering technology questions — in print, on the web, in audio and in video — since 1998. She also writes the Sunday Book Review’s “Applied Reading” column on ebooks and literary apps, among other things. @jdbiersdorfer