My iPad: An Important Piece of Gear

Today’s Post by Barry Staver

One item that goes on every location shoot with me isn’t even a camera, a lens, or other accessory. It’s my iPad. Nope, it’s not to keep up with any gaming or web surfing. It’s my digital age version of the old Polaroid attachments used for test shots.

What a necessary evil those were. In order to check exposure and framing during a shoot, many of us would attach a custom made back to a camera (either a 35mm or 120mm film camera). That back had a Polaroid film pack in it. By taking a shot with this back attached we could get an idea of how our photograph might look. I say this with a big smile because it was wrought with issues.


First, in order to work with 35mm, you had to dedicate a camera body just to the Polaroid back, switching the lens from the shooting camera back and forth. It was easier with the 120 cameras because you could easily switch the film back and use the same body.

The Polaroid’s film speed didn’t always match the film speed you were shooting, so some interpolation of the result was needed. The size of the Polaroid test shot was only as large as the camera sensor, so a 35mm test was difficult to view, certainly not to check critical focus. Each exposure left behind the gooey chemical mess and film pack backing that needed to carefully be discarded.


Jumping to present time, I either remove the SD card from my Panasonic Lumix GH4, place it into the iPad adapter cable and import images directly into the Photo App or I plug the iPad directly into the camera and perform the same download. Once the images have imported, I can see and review them in great detail. My clients like this too, giving them a good look as our shoot progresses.


Yes, it works great with video clips too, with one note of caution: Shoot short test clips to review.