Tablet PCs for Photographers Pt1

February 22, 2012 ·

Miles Hecker

by Miles Hecke r

Reasons You Need A Tablet PC

1. Paper books are history. With the rapid 2011 rise inebook salescausing chaos in the publishing industry your next photo book, whether it’s a fine art photography book or a technical book, will probably be an e-book. Very few people will invest the enormous amount of money it takes to publish a paper book when the writing as they say is on the wall. You will be reading that ebook sitting in your favorite chair or lying in your bed. I don’t think you’ll want to do it on your cumbersome laptop.

2. Portfolio cases are history. Your photos will look better and weigh less when you show them off on your tablet. It’s like having your own portable light table. Yes, you could use your cell phone, but does a 3.5″ or 4″ screen do the shots justice? Many new tablets even have a HDMI output so you can display the output on a HDTV or projector.

3. Air travel, especially international air travel is getting to be more and more difficult. The smart traveler is replacing their big and heavy, 35mm interchangeable lens SLR system which used a notebook computer for photo review, with a compact mirrorless interchangeable lens system and a tablet PC. Weight and size are both cut in half and the image quality, for most purposes is just as good.

E-Books Xoom

For Tablet PC’s 2012 is 2002

The year 2002 was a momentous one for the photo industry. The Canon 1D and 1DS were introduced and went into production. They were game changers. The transition to digital photography for professionals had begun and the rate of change was breathtaking.

For the tablet PC, 2012 is like 2002 was for SLR’s. The heavy hitters of the tablet PC world are about to arrive and the transition in paradigm they cause for the entire publishing world will be tremendous.

For the photographer, there will be many options, both hardware and software wise. What’s a mother to do?

Tablet PC Market Segments

At the low end of the tablet PC spectrum, we have devices like the Kindle Fire and the Nook Color. Priced at or under the $200 mark, these devices have tiny 7″ screens and limited internal storage. They are built to be low cost solutions that one might purchase as book readers and cool toys for one’s children.

As a photographer your choices lie in the mid range or premium tablet PC market segments. Which segment you make your choice from will depend on your individual needs. A list of the 5 most popular midrange tablet PC on the market as of January 2012 is shown below.

Kindle Fire

Midrange Tablet PC’s

Apple Ipad2

Motorola Xoom

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10

ASUS Transformer

Acer Iconia A500 Ipad2


Galaxy Tab 10

Asus Transformer

Iconia A500 $499.00 16GB Wi-Fi

$455.00 32GB Wi-Fi

$395.00 16GB Wi-Fi

$395.00 16GB Wi-Fi

$349.00 16GB Wi-Fi 9.7″ IPS

10.1″ TFT

10.1″ Super-PLS

10.1″ IPS

10.1″ TFT 1024×768 pixels

1280×800 pixels

1280×800 pixels

1280×800 pixels

1280×800 pixels 1GHz Dual Core CPU

1GHz Dual Core CPU

1GHz Dual Core CPU

1GHz Dual Core CPU

1GHz Dual Core CPU 16GB-64GB Storage

SD expansion to 64GB

SD expansion to 48 GB

SD expansion to 48 GB

SD expansion to 48 GB iOS 5.0

Android 3.2

Android 3.2

Android 3.2

Android 3.2 1.34 pounds

1.5 pounds

1.3 pounds

1.5 pounds

1.69 Pounds 9.5″x7.3″x0.34″




10.3″x6.97″x0.52″ HDMI out with adapter

HDMI out built in

HDMI out with adapter

HDMI out built in

HDMI out built in

All of these tablets use a dual core CPU running at a clock frequency of 1 GHZ and are the same performance wise. One difference between them is the screen quality. The IPS and Super-PLS screens have the widest viewing angle and color gamut and both are excellent. The TFT screens are a little more prone to variation in image contrast with viewing angle change and have a slightly smaller gamut, but are still very good, and acceptable for image selection and culling

To store images you should get the maximum SSD storage you can buy with the unit. For the Ipad2 you can order it with 64GB. It is not user expandable. For the Android tablets, you can add a 32GB mini-SD card via an expansion slot and bring total storage up to 48GB or 64GB.

To download images from your card reader you will need a female USB port. The Ipad 2 does not have one built in. You will have to purchase an expansion kit for $29. To send output to a HDTV, you will have to buy a special connector for the Ipad 2 and Galaxy. I’ve listed the current low street prices for each of the five tablets, equipped with the appropriate gadgets to optimize them for photographic uses on the right.

Apple Ipad 2 – $767

Motorola Xoom – $485.00

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 – $455.00

ASUS Transformer – $425.00

Acer Iconia A500 -$370.00

Samsung retina display

Samsung 2560×1600 retina display

High End Tablet PC’s Arrive

The biggest news in Tablet PC’s for 2012 is the emergence of a number of high end super tablets. They will take their place at the upper end of the tablet market both in price and capabilities. All these premium tablets will have quad core processors or very high speed dual core processors. They will also have super high definition displays. The trade has dubbed these retina displays in deference to Apple’s iPhone 4 ground breaking technology. They will also have more SSD storage, 32GB or 64GB for a minimum. They of course will have a premium price tag to boot. The minimum price will be about $599.

The first two of these to be announced are the ASUS Transformer Prime 700 and the Acer A700.

The next of these to arrive might well be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 12. Apple might be an 800 lb gorilla in consumer electronics, but Samsung is a 1000 lb gorilla in the corporate world. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 12 will show the world it’s muscle. It will have a huge 11.6″ display with an astounding 2560×1600 pixel resolution. This display has been shown in a technology demo for the electronics industry last May. It has the same resolution of my 30″ HP LCD display stuffed into a magazine size page.

The last of these to be announced will probably be the Ipad 3. It’s announcement should take place in March. All of these will arrive beginning in the spring or early summer. A list of the forthcoming premium tablet PC’s and their known specs is shown below.

 High End Tablet PC’s

Apple Ipad 3

Acer Iconia A700

ASUS Transformer Prime 700

Samsung Galaxy Tab 12

9.7″ IPS

10.1″ TFT

10.1″ IPS

11.6″ Super-PLS

2048×1536 pixels

1920×1200 pixels

1920×1200 pixels

2560×1600 pixels

iOS 5.1

Android 4.0

Android 4.0

Android 4.0


$599-32GB $699-64GB

$599-32GB $699-64GB


1.5 GHZ Quad Core CPU

1.3 GHZ Quad Core CPU

1.3 GHZ Quad Core CPU

2.0 GHZ Dual Core CPU

Android 4


Any of the mid range or high end tablets listed above, properly equipped, are capable of meeting the needs of a typical photographer. The high end tablets will make displaying and culling a large folder of photos somewhat easier and quicker. It will also make the reading of an ebook with complex graphics or photos more pleasant, but that is as they say, just icing on the cake.

A more important issue for photographic use is the software running the tablet. We include both the operating system and application software in this regard.

For a discussion on this topic and some relevant purchasing advice continue to Part 2 of this article.



About Miles Hecker

Miles has been involved with photography for over forty years. He teaches digital photography at Casper College in Casper,Wyoming. His photos have won awards fromNatures Best magazine,, The Luminous LandscapeandWyoming WIldlife . Miles’ photos have been published in American Vignette, Backpacker Magazine, Natures Best Images, Popular Photography, Wyoming Audubon, and Wyoming Wildlife. He is co-founder ofWyoFOTO LLC.


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