MacMost Now 393: iPad Camera Connection Kit

You can use the iPad Camera Connection Kit to import photos directly from your camera or an SD card. You can also connect USB headsets and some keyboards.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's take a look at the iPad Camera Connection Kit. So the camera connection kit consists of two dock connectors for your iPad. So the first is the SD card adapter. On one end here we've got a slot for an SD card and on the other end is the connector that you use to hook up to the dock at the bottom of your iPad. The other one looks similar, but on the one end we have a USB input and on the other end the same dock connector. There actually both pretty similar in size you can see the SD connector's a little flatter and wider than USB. So let's try the USB connection. Here I've got my Panasonic camera. It has a USB cable hooked up to it. It's the one that came with the camera and it's what I would use to hook it up to my Mac. I'm going to take the USB dock connector and I'm going to put it in the dock there. I'm going to take this USB cable. The camera's already on. I'm going to insert in. As you can see it's going to launch the Photos app immediately and it'll come up. And here I've got actually all of the stuff at the top is the same except I have a camera button now at the top and it shows me what's in the camera and I can select or de-select items. I've already imported these which is why the checkmarks are already there and I can delete them or import them. So if I hadn't imported these already, there would be no checkmarks at all. I could check off the ones I wanted and hit Import and they would then appear under Albums. You can see I've got Last Import and All Imported in Albums. Now let's try the SD card adapter. Plug that in here. And I've got the SD card, it's actually the same camera. I took this SD card out of the camera and I can insert it in and it will launch the Photos app just like before and show me basically the same thing. Now once you have put the pictures on your iPad the great thing is that when you sync it with your Mac those images will then transfer over to iPhoto on your Mac as well. So basically you can use your iPad as an intermediate step. So you're traveling somewhere, you take some pictures with your camera, you transfer them to the iPad, and then when you get back home you can transfer them from the iPad back to your Mac. So here's the interesting thing. This also works with video, so if your camera takes video which most do right now you can get the videos on to your iPad. Now the only playback on your iPad if they're already H.264 format. Some cameras do it, some cameras don't. So I was able to hook up some interesting cameras, like say my Flip camera, and transfer the AVI video files from the Flip camera onto the iPad. They wouldn't play on the iPad, but they would live there until I transfered them to my Mac in which time I was able to play them on the Mac and also convert them so I can use them back on the iPad if I wanted to. Now I tried several different cameras, both the SD cards in the cameras and the USB connector. And I found some interesting results with the USB connector. For instance I was able as I said to hook up the Flip camera to it. I also was able to hook up my iPod Nano and get the video from it onto my iPad and it would play. And I was able to hook up my iPhone to it, so I was able to hook the iPhone up to the iPad, get pictures from my iPhone and get video from my iPhone and both would look fine and play on the iPad. But you can use this handy USB connector for other things as well. Like for instance it works great with headsets so if you have a USB headset like this one, its got a microphone and its got two earphones, then you are able to actually listen to music on it and use the microphone for microphone-enabled apps. At least a few of them. Not all of them seem to work with the microphone. In addition people are reporting you can actually hook up a keyboard, a USB keyboard, using the USB adapter. Now it doesn't work with the Mac Aluminum USB keyboards, the ones that most people have now if you have wired keyboards. The reason for that is because these are high-powered USB keyboards. They're done that way so that you can hook up your iPhone to them and it will charge off of the keyboard. But then the drawback is that you can't use this because your iPad isn't generating enough power out of the USB port for you to be able to power that large keyboard. But I have heard that lower power USB keyboards will work with the iPad in the same way that the keyboard dock or bluetooth keyboard does. The fact that some keyboards and headsets work with this tells me that we'll probably see more uses for the USB adapter in the future. Hope you like this look at the iPad Camera Connection Kit. 'Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 29 Responses to “MacMost Now 393: iPad Camera Connection Kit”

    5/5/10 @ 3:17 pm

    Hi Gary I was just curious as to if the iPad connection kit worked with the iPhone? Keep up the great work.

      5/5/10 @ 3:36 pm

      It is possible. Not now, though. But the iPad is running iPhone OS 3.2, while the iPhone is still at 3.1. It is likely that the next OS for both will be 4.0. WHen that comes out, we’ll see if the iPhone supports this new hardware.

    5/6/10 @ 12:57 am

    If my photos are on a USB thumb drive/external hard drive will the copy to the iPad? Thanks

      5/6/10 @ 5:54 am

      No. Putting them on an SD card would be the way to do that, but you’d have to format the card like a camera would format the card. The images would have to be in the right place. Easier just to sync.

        5/10/10 @ 12:59 am

        Thanks and another question: If you have the iPad in the iPad dock and plug in the SD card reader in the back of the Dock will it transfer photos?

          5/10/10 @ 5:53 am

          I don’t understand the question. That’s what I show in the video.

            5/10/10 @ 2:05 pm

            If you have the iPad in the optional iPad Dock and plug the camera connection kit in the 30-pin connector at the back of the iPad dock will it transfer photos

              5/10/10 @ 3:43 pm

              Yes. The dock just extends the connection.

    5/6/10 @ 10:43 am

    Gary, Will a USB web-camera work with the kit?

      5/6/10 @ 10:54 am

      No, because there is no camera app. Theoretically, if someone built an app to access camera through the USB connector, then it could work. But such a camera would have to be very low power, and I’m not sure if such a low power camera exists. Maybe someone can come out with a battery-powered USB camera. But even then, Apple would have to approve the use of the USB connector access through their developer APIs, and then approve the app itself.

    5/27/10 @ 10:12 pm

    Hi Gary

    Amazing site. I’m hooked.
    Could the USB kit be used to connect to an external hard drive for the purpose of file transfer.
    I am aware of the method via iTunes.
    Thanks again.

      5/29/10 @ 8:25 am

      No, it can’t do that. The iPad doesn’t have an accessible file system, like the Finder. So there is no interface for moving around files. Instead, each app handles its own files. So plugging in a hard drive would be meaningless unless you had an app that could read it and give you an interface for moving files. Then those files would only be accessible to that app. So it is possible, but probably not what you are thinking.

      Chris Solario
      3/10/12 @ 9:28 pm

      It is possible if you jailbreak your ipad and download an app called ifile, I currently have a 250gb external drive hooked up to my ipad. Its pretty sweet.

    Gary Langley
    5/29/10 @ 11:02 pm

    In your video you said you were able to attach your FLIP camera to an iPad via the USB adapter. When I attempt that, I get “this devices uses too much power” error messages.

    Could you, perhaps, make a video demonstrating how to get video off of a FLIP camera onto your iPad? If, so, I can make a trip to Honduras without taking my MacBook Pro!

      5/30/10 @ 7:45 am

      I didn’t do anything special. I just connected it. But perhaps your Flip works differently. There are many different models. I’m using the Flip MIno.

    6/8/10 @ 2:21 am

    I have all my photos stored on external hard drive. My iTunes and music is on the same drive. Yet, while I have no problem syncing the iPad for music, apps etc. with my iTunes, I can’t seem to sync my photos. Why is that? How do I solve it?

    8/26/10 @ 5:21 pm

    Hi Gary another great video – I finally have got my hands on the camera kit and used it as you suggested to get videos off my kodak playsport video while on holidays so I didn’t have to drag around a laptop. You mention having to convert the movie files so thay can be played on the iPad – do you have any more info on the best way to do this? I think the format I have them in are MOV they so they show up on the iPad but obviously can’t be played. Thanks and keep up the great work.

      8/26/10 @ 6:00 pm

      You should be able to convert them with either iTunes or QuickTime X. See if they play in iTunes on your Mac. If so, then you should be able to right+click on them and select “convert for iPad” or something similar.

        8/27/10 @ 4:07 am

        Thanks for the suggestion – they play in iTunes no problems but I when I right click there is no option to “convert for iPad” however looks like the option is under the “advanced” window in iTunes – thanks again you are a legend.


    9/10/10 @ 6:34 am

    Hi Gary a good work on camera connection kit;
    my question is if i convert my videos taken with canon sx1 is (full hd mov files)in a mp4 hd format right for ipad.
    I could with camera connection kit import (from sd) this videos diveded in folders (for exemplas berlino trip; parigi trip; wildlife etc) and where are put this folders on ipad?
    can i see the preview of the videos?

    Thanks in advances



      9/10/10 @ 6:47 am

      You should be able to import your videos if they are on an SD card or can be imported via USB. But you most likely won’t be able to view them on your iPad until you take them into your Mac, convert them, and then sync them back to your iPad. You won’t be able to organize them either.
      So, basically, your iPad would just be a storage device. If you were on a trip and al you had was your camera and your iPad, you could offload videos on to your iPad temporarily to clear off space on your camera’s card. In that case, you are probably better off getting extra SD cards for your camera instead.

        9/10/10 @ 7:14 am

        Many thanks for your advices

        have a nice day


    11/16/10 @ 10:58 pm


    I have a question about iPad camera connection kit.
    Does iPad camera connection kit support API functions for developers?
    I want to develop an iPad application to browse and read all files( not only image, video but also .pdf…) in the SD card which connects to iPad by iPad camera connection kit.

    Many thanks

      11/16/10 @ 11:14 pm

      I don’t think it does. But the place to ask would be in the Apple iOS developer forums.

    5/5/11 @ 2:09 pm

    Hi there Gary,

    Can the iPad camera connection kit be used to connect other items?
    I am interested in finding out if i could connect my mobile broadband dongle.



      5/5/11 @ 2:12 pm

      You can use it to connect keyboards. And some have been able to use it to connect storage devices if they are formatted and used like camera SD cards. But in order for something like a Broadband USB device to be connected you’d need an app on your iPad that knew what to do with it. So the answer is definitely no, unless the maker of that device has an app specifically designed for that purpose (I’ve never heard of one).

    12/19/11 @ 3:59 am

    Hi Gary,
    I was searching on the web, but could not find an answer. I have a Canon DSLR with Compact Flash (400D). I want to make a shot and see the result within 5 seconds on the iPad 2 to check how it turn out. While connected to the iPad via the connection kit, camera trigger button doesn’t do anything. (As I know Eye-Fi doesn’t work well with compact flash adapters.) The transfer could be done via a USB cable – I don’t mind, since I don’t move in the studio too much. Though I don’t want to do through a computer as DSLR Camera Remote HD app does for $50.
    With this, I was wondering if you could suggest anything.

      12/19/11 @ 8:23 am

      Sounds like when the camera is connected via USB it goes into a mode where it can’t take pictures. So I’m not sure there is anything more you can do.

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