The Quest for a Viable iOS RAW Workflow
I just bought an iPad Pro. No, I'm not totally sure why yet. But I know that I love photo editing on iOS; there are some really impressive apps out there like VSCO and Snapseed which have no equivalent on OS X. In theory, between iOS DAMs (Digital Asset Managers) like Photos or Lightroom Mobile or Mylio, this should be doable. But it turns out it really isn't — at least I haven't figured out how yet. Here's what I know.
And for the record, I'm trying to find a solution where you can start from iOS, and eventually end on OS X, in RAW. Solutions that requires starting from OS X aren't what interest me here.
The control test is not quite as simple as I would have liked, but with so many variables this is what I ended up needing. I shot three photos, and imported them using the Apple SD Card Reader to the Apple Photos.app (to my knowledge, no other app can see the Apple SD Card Reader).
1) A RAW photo (not RAW+JPEG) shot in B&W mode. If I see the photo in black and white, I know I'm looking at the embedded JPEG file. If I see my photo in color, I know I'm looking at the RAW.
Every RAW file contains an embedded JPEG, which has the camera processing applied to it, and is what you see when you browse the back of your camera, and also is what apps like Aperture and Photo Mechanic use to quickly browse the contents of a camera memory card. Unfortunately those embedded JPEG files are not usually the same size as the original RAW file.
2) I also need a full resolution JPEG file to test with, because the embedded JPEG file in the RAW file is not necessarily full resolution (and in my case, is not). So I need that full size JPEG to test image scaling on apps that don't touch the RAW file to begin with.
3) Finally also a RAW+JPEG pair, also shot in B&W mode, because how those are handled can be quite interesting.
Using Metapho, I can check the pixel dimensions to see if the image is still the original resolution or if it's been scaled.
Those are the criteria I need to watch out for — format and resolution.
Since Photos.app is the only app that can import pictures from the SD card, that's where everything has to start.
I'll look at wireless file transfer options as well another day, but right off they have the disadvantage of being slower than the SD card reader — especially since the new Apple SD Card Reader transfers at USB 3 speeds when combined with the iPad Pro. There are dedicated wireless apps for individual cameras, and also third party apps like Shuttersnitch and dedicated WiFi cards like those from Eye-Fi that could bring something to the table(t), too. But again for today's tests, we're sticking with wired transfer via the Apple SD Card Reader.
Time to Import
Again as far as I know, Apple's own Photos app is the only way to import photos from the Apple SD Card Reader. On import, you see the three test images in B&W, which is logical because import apps always look at the embedded JPEG file, not the actual RAW file, in the import window.
That's it. Those three photos; the RAW only, JPEG only and RAW+JPEG are imported into the Photos app, and can be easily found in the Last Import album. Now let's look at some apps.