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iPhoto for iOS and Aperture

PhotoJoseph's picture
March 30, 2012 - 4:06am

Now that I’m using a new iPad I’m diving into iPhoto for iOS, and it’s pretty sweet (although a bit complicated for an iApp, I think). Naturally I am working towards a workflow that makes sense for using iPhoto in the field and then shifting to Aperture upon returning home, but the workflow isn’t obvious. And to make things worse, the most straight-forward method (Photo Stream) requires moving photos from iPhoto to the Camera Roll, and it appears that moving more than a single photo at once is broken. Using iTunes works, but it’s a bit of a pain.

If any of you are using it and would like to share your experience, please add it to the comments. I’m as new to this as everyone else, so all input is welcome.

iPhoto for iOS is pretty awesome… complex, but awesome

Apple Aperture

I also would love to know a workflow, but from the other direction. How to get full res pics into an iOS device for editing on the move. There are some amazing apps around for editing but they are only really useful with current Camera Roll images.

Content from iTunes is downsized and whilst editable, leaves me with a low res edit when synced back. Not ideal.

So what is the best way to do this easily ?

I’m finding iPhoto for iOS duplicates photos in the Photos view so currently don’t trust what image I am actually editing. Issue has been reported widely on Apple’s support forums.

A photo dabbler...

Simon, I think the highest res files you’ll be able to work on will be through direct import via camera connection kit.

As for workflow, I wish iPhoto for iOS and Aperture would meet each other someday. I love the edits I can make in iPhoto on my iPad, but it’s still lacking in power for me (and apparently too complicated for some). Particularly I find myself re-editing photos in Aperture to fix white balance. The presets are useless for mixed light and the dropper versions (regular & skin tone) do not produce great skin tones. Flesh seems very orange with apple’s settings. I’d love a more aperture like way to fine tune it once you hit a starting point. A couple of dials like the straighten tool maybe? Also, if you shoot RAW you’re basically just working with jpegs in iPhoto. I hope they progress that little app more than they’ve done with pages. I also hope the next version of Aperture can import the edits and apply them to RAW files so that photogs can get a really portable touch workflow going. I’m putting up some iOS iphoto samples that I find into a flickr group.

You may want to consider using an EyeFi card to transfer your files from camera to iPad. I don’t own the version that will transfer RAW files. But I normally shoot RAW+JPG and have transferred my JPGs over to my iPad and edited them with Snapseed.

The way I see the iPad and iPhoto for iPad is really as a mobile device, with iPhoto being for pictures taken using the mobile device. I think to try and use it as an editing tool for digital camera pictures is too much. I’m sure it can be done but how often does the need arise, and if it is often then surely a macbook pro would be more suitable?

I use iPhoto on my iPad as a ‘better’ way to sort my files that photo app, send to social sites etc and to ‘play’ with images sometimes. I’m not sure it’s any more than that?


Read the post Displaying Your Photography On The New iPad in full again. This explains everything you’re asking about, including getting full rez files onto the iPad (camera connection kit, PhotoSync), what rez will actually be edited by iPhoto (sub 19 MP), and the max rez that iPhoto can output, regardless what you feed it (4k x 4k).


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I’m with you on all counts. I think ultimately what will make this valid an an Aperture workflow (besides an obviously easy way to move the iPhoto edit to Aperture) is to see the iPhoto for iOS bricks show up in Aperture, even if it’s one solid “edits make in iPhoto” brick, just like when you edit a photo using the iOS Photos app. If you crop or make any adjustment to a photo using Photos, when that syncs through Photo Stream, you can see and disable the edit in Aperture.

Second it should apply the same adjustments to the RAW file on transfer to Aperture. I get that the iPad may not be powerful enough to edit the RAW file, but if iPhoto is going to apply an adjustment to the JPG, then when syncing to Aperture, let’s see those same adjustments applied to the RAW in Aperture. Basically, lift and stamp from the JPG to the matching RAW file.

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EyeFi could be a good option for sure. I have no problem though using the Camera Connection Kit to load my dSLR photos onto the iPad for an edit. You can even buy a CF card reader for the iPad (3rd party, not from Apple) if you need to. However if I’m in an “iPhoto on the iPad” workflow, I think this basically means shooting with a smaller camera, like my Fuji X100, then importing and editing/sharing those.

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I understand where you’re coming from, but remember; different needs for different folks. The iPad is extremely affordable compared to a MacBook (it’s half the cost of the cheapest MacBook anything), and if you want to edit while on the road and don’t own a laptop, this is a great option. Think of the average family user with a desktop Mac at home, an iPad and of course a digital camera. It’s a pretty sweet combination at an unbeatable price.

I can go out for the day carrying my Fuji X100 and my iPad; a very very small and light combination, but know that I can edit and post from a café if I want to. I did this the other day; spent the entire day at the Science museum with my kids, shot a bunch of photos, but after while I’d shot what I wanted to and they wanted to keep on playing. So, I took the time to load my Fuji photos into the iPad, did an edit, created a Journal and posted it from the museum. Before we’d even left the place, photos were online for family to enjoy. Pretty cool. And that meant when we got home, I didn’t have to spend time messing around on the computer.

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Thanks for the hints :)

Joseph, I’ll re-read that article now. Thanks.

BTW I have no iPad (yet) but do a lot of editing on my iPhone 4S. Its a great device to use (bar the small screen) and there are many apps that can create some very sophisticated changes.


A photo dabbler...

Joseph, yes I understand, and actually I’m probably underestimating the power of an iPad in such situations. Maybe I should try it in a similar way.

I have been exporting my photos from Aperture as suggested by Scott Bourne at 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) (made a preset). Then I upload them to my iPad using PhotoSync, an App for the Mac and IOS which allows one to move photos into iPhoto In a new or current album.

Also i’ve tried to load progressive jpg’s but they load very slowly even on the new iPad.

Joseph on your comment “… it should apply the same adjustments to the RAW file on transfer to Aperture. … if iPhoto is going to apply an adjustment to the JPG, then when syncing to Aperture, let’s see those same adjustments applied to the RAW in Aperture.”, would it be appropriate to say that only SOME of the adjustments carry across? 

For example, cropping and/or straightening would be applicable go both JPG and RAW. But given that Aperture (and for that matter ACR/ Lightroom/ Photoshop) interpret/ process the RAW files, could it be that edits like colour changes that have been made to JPG may not be appropriate to the (processed) RAW


Here’s a related snippet. We know that on an iPad, we’re viewing and working with the JPG embedded by the camera, and not in any way the RAW file itself. It seems that what you get as an embedded JPG varies according to camera.

My Canon S90 shoots 3,648x2,736 (10MP) full res., but the embedded jpg in the CR2 RAW, viewable in iPhoto, is 1,600x1,200 (1.9MP). The low quality is noticeable on the iPad, and leads me to think that if I plan to load photos into the iPad in the field with the camera connect kit, I should perhaps shoot RAW+JPG.

My Nikon D300 is 4,288x2,848 (12.2MP) full res., and the embedded JPG is the same, albeit (apparently) at base level JPG compression. This looks much better on the iPad, and so RAW+JPG might not be as useful here (given the implications on storage space, loading times etc).



As you’ve seen, different cameras give different results. As far as carrying over the adjustment from JPG to RAW, yes that’s true but I’d rather have the option, i.e. the starting point, than nothing at all.


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Hi, all
I disappointed with iPhoto iOS , that not useful for my aperture workflow at all.
Functionality for iPad that all I want is temporally photo storage.
for example, returning home from shoot, I want to import photos to iPad using camera connection kit , quick rating, captioning (no image edit).
when I got home , Import to Aperture from iPad, imported photos are tagged with captions and rating.

I tried do make such iOS App,but abandoned by iOS API cannot modify EXIF/IPTCs,
it’s read only.
so I expected with break the barrier with Genuine Apple’s App. but …


I hear you… it is frustrating that there’s no interaction. I’m hopeful that with the next Aperture release, we’ll see some kind of tight integration.

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@Junya, looks like the anticipated next iteration of Pixelsync will do what you want:


Thanks for the reminder on Pixelsync — it sounds like the new version will really be a boon for traveling photographers.

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The current version works great for sorting the photos you’ve already got in Aperture; I use it on the train to work.

Thanks Zack. Bart says you’re a big advocate :)


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Hello there Joseph!
I just got myself an iPad and logically I downloaded the iPhoto app.
I was looking at it more like a quick rating/filtering tool where i would sift through photos made on a shoot, select the winners/discard the losers while ‘on the move’. Not so much as an editing software.

I came upon a problem: any event that i sync gets the photos all mixed up - the chronological order is lost! The funny thing is that I tried syncing with iPhoto Mac and the syncing works like a charm. The order of the photographs gets all messed up only if I’m syncing with Aperture!
Any tips? Am I missing something?

Also, have you by any chance checked out Pixelsync app? Sounds like a dedicated app for what I need if iPhoto continues to be quirky.


Ivan Pavao


The order of photos when synced from Aperture is, I believe, alphabetical. That’s how it works when syncing a folder from the finder for sure.

Yes, Pixlesync app is great for what you’re doing… may be better off but you have to start in Aperture. Plus any ratings you do in iPhoto for iPad won’t sync back to iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac. Bizarre but true.

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actually its not syncing alphabetically either since in this case the alphabetical order would give the same results as chronological.. it was only one camera with formatted card.. so the name sequence follows the time-taken-order.. (I tried with several different events/albums same results)

You are syncing a folder from the finder? Without iTunes?
Maybe that way would work, could you tell me how to sync a folder?

As for the Pixelsync.. I just went to their website to check:

“There are a number of key elements that are important when synchronizing Pixelsync with Aperture or iPhoto. Synchronization is by default upstream, which means that by default Pixelsync will send its own metadata (that you altered using Pixelsync) to Aperture or iPhoto.” (from

Shouldn’t that mean that the app would send the rating/label/etc metadata to aperture?

Thanks for the quick reply!



I just wrote a big post on syncing using a Finder folder actually… check “Unified Photo Syncing to iDevices & More”.

I’ll see if Bart, the Pixelsync guy, can comment in here to answer your question.


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Oh, right, just read the post, great job!

Didn’t have time to catch up on my yesterday’s e-mail yet.. I found it there now :D perfect timing!

Too bad you can’t sync both from folders and from Aperture. I like syncing through Smart Albums..

Thank you for the answer, looking forward to Bart’s comment!


Hello Ivan and Joseph,

I’d like to jump in to answer Ivan’s question, that is, “Shouldn’t that mean that the app would send the rating/label/etc metadata to aperture?”

Pixelsync was in the first place developed to grab a few albums or projects, download them to your iPad, apply some ratings, color labels, and keywords, and send these changes back to Aperture. That is why Pixelsync sync by default from Pixelsync to Aperture.

It is possible to sync from Aperture to Pixelsync but this is a much less obvious feature of Pixelsync since it was not designed with this use case in mind. If you open the Navigator (by tapping the Photos button), you can swipe any album or project from right to left to reveal a red sync button (instead of the normal blue sync button). This will import the metadata from Aperture and thereby overwriting the metadata present in Pixelsync.

Does this make sense?



Pixelsync works perfectly! It’s an amazing app and nothing quite like it! Well done!
And yes, any ratings/labels/keywords are imported into aperture.
(if needed the other way around also)
I’d just suggest one thing for possible improvement - the ability to load albums/sync in the background. Since with bigger albums it takes quite some time.

All the best!

Ivan Pavao

Hi all,

Now that iPhoto and aperture share the same library, does this help simplify things?


Not in regards to iPhoto on iPad, no. However there are lots of other advantages; check the most recent posts here as well as the “top story” review of Aperture 3.3 (just go to the top of the site and you’ll see it).

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Thank you…one can hope:)

I read the top story review…really great and helpful.

Thanks again.


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