A picture taken with a real camera, especially an SLR camera, is usually of much better quality than a picture taken with an iPhone or iPad. But once you take some pictures, it is so much more useful to have them on an iPad so that you can view them on the large screen, edit or crop them, and even email them. Although the iPad does not have a port for SD cards, you can add an SD port with an accessory. I've been testing an SD Reader with a Lightning connector from Photojojo. Photojojo is a company that specializes in photography-related items — their website has a great design and is full of fun products — and they sent me a free review unit so that I could check it out. This product is an inexpensive ($20) and compelling alternative to what Apple sells.
Using the Photojojo SD Reader is very simple. Just remove your SD card from your camera and insert it upside down (label face down) into the SD Reader. Then plug the SD Reader into the Lightning connector of a fourth generation iPad or an iPad mini. The Photos app will automatically open and ask if you want to import the pictures. (Videos are also imported.) You can import all pictures or select individual pictures to import. When finished, the app will ask if you want to delete from the camera (i.e., the SD card) the pictures that you just imported.
Once the pictures are on your iPad, you can do just about anything you want with them. It is especially nice to be able to view the pictures on an iPad screen, which is much larger than the screen on your camera. You can easily delete the pictures that you don't want to keep. If you want to edit the pictures on your iPad, you can do that using the edit features of the Photos app or any of the more sophisticated third party apps. Whenever you get back to a computer, simply connect your iPad to your computer using the USB to Lightning connector, and your computer will import the pictures just as if you had connected your camera or an SD Reader to the computer.
The Photjojo SD Reader includes a Micro SD slot. I don't use Micro SD cards so I wasn't able to test that. It also includes a USB slot that you can use to connect directly to a camera using the cord that came with your camera. I tested the USB slot by taking some pictures with my iPhone 5 and then using the Lightning to USB cord that comes with the iPhone to connect the iPhone to the Reader. It worked great and transferred all of my pictures from my iPhone to my iPad. If you use the Photo Stream feature to automatically send pictures from your iPhone to iCloud then you won't need to use a physical connector, but I don't use Photo Stream so this is useful.
I previously reviewed a similar product from Apple for the 30-pin connectors, the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. I like that product because for $29 you get two tiny, well-made items, one with an SD card slot and one with a USB slot. But if you have an iPad 4 or an iPad mini, you cannot use that 30-pin connector kit. Instead, Apple now sells two different items. For $29 (a little cheaper on Amazon) you can get a cable with a Lightning connector at one end and an SD slot at the other end, and for another $29 ($21 on Amazon) you can get a cable with a Lightning connector at one end and a USB Camera Adapter at the other end. So you have to pay up to almost $60 for the same type of product that used to cost $29. Moreover, unlike the 30-pin versions that were small and compact, the products sold by Apple are long with cords, making it less convenient to pack them into a camera bag. Here are the Apple products:
So how do you decide between these Apple products and the Photojojo SD Reader? First, you should consider quality, and while I haven't tried the Lightning versions of these products, based on my extensive experience with the 30-pin versions, I suspect that the Apple products win in this category. My biggest gripe with the Potojojo product is that it feels very cheap. It uses very light plastic, the connections are rather tight, and the build quality is not that impressive. Second, however, consider price. Instead of almost $60 for both of the Apple products, you can get the Photojojo product which handles both SD and USB (and even Micro SD) for only $20. Third, I love the small size and design of the Photojojo product which is similar to the versions that Apple made for the 30 pin connectors. It takes up very little space making it easy to toss in a briefcase, bag, or even your pocket. The following picture shows the old Apple 30-pin products on the left and the Photojojo SD Reader on the right.
If you plan to get heavy use out of a product like this, and if you don't mind having only an SD slot or only a USB slot, then the Apple product may be worth it for you because Apple's products are always well made. But if you want to have versatility, or if you want something that is small and compact, or if you don't plan to use this product all the time and just want to have something inexpensive for when you need it, then the Photjojo SD Reader is the one to get. As much as I liked the 30-pin products I bought from Apple in 2011, I have used them maybe 10 times a year, making it tough to justify spending another $60. But at $20, the Photojo SD Reader is a perfect alternative.