Today, I'm going out for a stills shoot. I'm going to be bringing the LUMIX S1 and testing out the GNARBOX 2.0.
What you just saw as a quick montage of the workflow using the GNARBOX 2.0 for still photography. Now this video is specifically about still photography. If you're doing video production, I'll do a whole separate video for that. It's a completely different animal. Let's talk about using the GNARBOX for stills.
So what you saw was me out shooting in the field and then copying the photos from the SD card to the GNARBOX 2.0 in the field and then I got home and using the selects app on the iPhone and then also on the iPad, I went through and I did some star rating, added keywords, that sort of thing. And then I brought those pictures into Lightroom CC.
So that was my workflow. Is this the right workflow for this product though? And this brings up the first interesting question. Who is this really for? If you're a still photographer, do you need this? Well let's start with who doesn't need it, who it's not really for because that's a smaller group, and that's going to be those who are using Lightroom CC as I am.
So Lightroom CC, as you probably know, allows you to not only import, and manage, and edit, and star rate, and everything else your photos on your iPad, or on your laptop, or on your desktop. It also syncs them all together. So if you're out in the field with an iPad and an SD card reader and you have a good internet connection, or at least you'll get to one at some point in the near future, you know that you can import your photos, mark your selects, do your edits, and everything's backed up and you're good to go. Awesome. So do you need this thing? Well if you are using this in the field and are using Lightroom CC, the only real benefit of this is the backup portion of it.
So if you're out editing somewhere or shooting somewhere where you don't have good internet connection or you're not going to for a while, or you doing critical work and you want to be able to back up in the field as you go throughout the day, then this is great, but it's also a bit expensive for that. There are cheaper ways to back up your content in the field if that's all you need it for.
The whole thing with the selects app is pretty cool, but if you're using Lightroom CC, then it's not really that beneficial. You're not really saving any time. In fact, you're probably spending more time because you're doing the selects on one device and then transferring the photos over and, in fact, if you're using a Panasonic camera, as I am, or Olympus cameras, for some reason those files don't allow the metadata to be written into the file, which I actually kind of like. I don't really like the idea of the actual raw file getting modified in the GNARBOX, but apparently that's the way it is for all other camera manufacturers but for some reason Panasonic and Olympus files, they cannot be modified.
So what that means is that the star ratings and the keywords that you add in the software connected to this are simply added as a sidecar file, which for the most part is perfectly fine except that for some reason Lightroom CC doesn't actually read those. So that whole part of the workload doesn't really work. But again, it's not really that beneficial if you're using Lightroom CC. So okay, if you're using Lightroom CC, probably not the right product for you as a still photographer.
So then who does want this? Well, anybody who's not using Lightroom CC, because here's the workflow. Let's say you're using Lightroom Classic, or using Capture One, or using Luminar, or using Photo Lab, or any one of the other many photo editors out there that don't have a cloud-based synchronized to all of your devices type of a system in place, then this suddenly becomes extremely, extremely useful.
Imagine this scenario. You're out shooting, whether you're out for a day or out for a week on a trip, wherever you are. You've got your iPad or your laptop, but that is not where your main library is. Your main library is on your big system back home, back in the studio. You could copy the files into your iPad and kind of have them there as a backup, but your iPad's limited in space. It's expensive storage and, of course, your app is probably being used for other things as well. If you're carrying a laptop with you, then you've got your laptop, and external drives you can hook up and all that, but that's a lot bigger and heavier than this. And then if you do copy the pictures to your laptop and you want to do star ratings and so on in one app and then copy them to the other, like how does that even work? It's a bit of a tedious workflow.
So this becomes extremely useful. In the field you copy your still photos onto this and then you, using your iPad or your iPhone app, you run through the photos and you mark your selects. You do start ratings. You add keywords and so on. And then once you get back home, you plug this into your computer and you import those same photos and all of that metadata comes with. Whether you're importing into Lightroom Classic or importing into Capture One or whatever, those star ratings and the keywords should all be read because they all live in sidecars next to the photos, if you're shooting Panasonic or Olympus, and from most other file formats, they get embedded in anyway and so everything's going to read it. So that's great.
So all of your metadata is there. So all that star ratings is happening while you're in the field. You get back home, back to the studio and you're ready to go. And the whole time your photos were backed up. In fact, not only do they back up to the internal drive on here, you can attach another external drive and you can back up simultaneously to that drive too. So you've got multiple backups. This even has the ability to connect to Dropbox, so if you were staying in hotels that do have nice, good fast internet connection, you could copy your files onto here and then, once you get to the hotel at night, have this upload to Dropbox and you have another cloud backup there as well. That all works great.
This is all assuming you're not using Lightroom CC because at that point most of those things are handled by the Lightroom cloud service so you don't really need it.
Regardless of how you're using it, part of the workflow on this thing that's really cool is the ability to simply pop in a card, hit one button, and it starts backing up. Now you have a lot of other options in here. You can set up preset folders where you can have, let's say for a particular type of job or client, you copy into a certain location and that can all be handled in there as well, which is pretty neat, but for the most part, all you got to do is fire up your GNARBOX, little power button on the side there, pop open the door and slide in a memory card, push any button on here to activate it, and that's it. It starts copying and away you go.
This is all weather sealed. You can hang this off of your backpack, or stick it into a pocket, or whatever and all of your content copies over. It's just a couple of quick clicks and things are backing up. So when you're out in the field shooting that way it can be pretty handy. If you are certainly working on something critical, you want to get those backups right away. It's definitely worth doing, but even if it's not super critical, just getting everything copied over there so that when you do finally sit down at the hotel and the restaurant later on in the evening, and you want to start looking at the pictures, they're already on here. They're ready to go, you start swiping through them on the app and doing that star rating. And then of course bring those into your system when you get back home.
Overall, I think it's a really cool product. I think it's a huge step up from version one. It works a lot better. It's faster, it's more convenient. The buttons on here that allow you to copy files over without having to launch the app are absolutely tremendous. If you are doing still photography, not using Lightroom CC, I think this is something you should very seriously consider, especially if you're doing mission critical work. Or you're traveling somewhere where you're going to be out for a long time and not have access to your backup systems, I think this is absolutely phenomenal. If you're using Lightroom CC and you're just doing still photography, probably not the right product for you. If you're doing video production though as well, then you definitely are going to want to consider one of these, especially if you're doing video editing on your iPad, and that is something we will talk about in a future video.