Secrets of the iPad Camera Connection Kit

After some testing, it's clear that Apple's Camera Connection Kit is equipped to do a lot more than it advertises.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content, CNET Studios
As the Vice President of CNET Studios, Sharon leads the video, social, editorial design, and branded content teams. Before this role, Sharon led content development and launched new verticals for CNET, including Wellness, Money, and How To. A tech expert herself, she's reviewed and covered countless products, hosted hundreds of videos, and appeared on shows like Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and the Today Show. An industry expert, Sharon is a recurring Best of Beauty Awards judge for Allure. Sharon is an avid chef and hosts the cooking segment 'Farm to Fork' on PBS nationwide. She's developed and published hundreds of recipes.
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Sharon Profis
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With the third-generation iPad's super-high-resolution Retina Display and the newly available iPhoto for iOS, editing photos and videos on the go is becoming more practical.

Specifically tailored for the iPad, Apple's proprietary Camera Connection Kit allows you to transfer full-resolution photos and videos from your digital camera to your iPad without the need for a computer.

The $29 kit comes with two components: a USB adapter and an SD card adapter. Like its name implies, the intended use of these adapters is to transfer media from your camera to your iPad. But after a little tinkering, it's clear that these dongles can be used for much more.

Watch this: Secrets of the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit

Using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) to transfer and edit photos, videos
The CCK offers two ways to transfer photos from your camera to your iPad. If your camera uses an SD card, use the SD card adapter. But, if your camera uses another storage card (like Sony's proprietary card), connect it to the USB adapter with the included USB cable.

Once your respective adapter is in the iPad, the Photos app will launch immediately. Tap to select the photos you want to transfer, or tap Import at the bottom and select Import All. The imported photos will appear in the Albums tab in a new folder.

You'll then have the option to delete the photos from the SD card, which is useful if you're traveling and need to clear up some storage space on your SD card in a pinch.

Now that your photos are on the iPad, you can edit them in the iPhoto app, share them on Facebook, or even upload them to your Dropbox or other cloud storage service.

For the record, I've tested the Camera Connection Kit with the iPhone, and it is definitely not compatible. Bummer.

The USB adapter of the Camera Connection Kit can be used with more than just your camera. Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Using the CCK for more than just photography
Unlike its name implies, the CCK will also allow you to use other USB-compatible devices with your iPad. But because these devices draw power from the iPad, only some will work.

Here are some that may work (possibly with some limitations) with your iPad:

  • MIDI gear: Digital keyboards, drum sets, and synthesizers can be recorded using an app like GarageBand. Not all models will work, so check this list to see if yours is compatible. If the instrument can be connected to external power, be sure to plug it in.
  • USB microphones: Record higher-quality audio with an external mic, like the Snowball, which is compatible with the iPad via the CCK. With this setup, you can record voice directly into GarageBand or your preferred audio recording app.
  • Desktop keyboards: Your USB desktop keyboard is much more comfortable than those cramped iPad keyboards. Sure, it's not a portable solution, but if you find it necessary, you can plug in a regular keyboard to the CCK. Just ignore the warning message.
  • Card readers: If your camera writes to a CF card, and you have a small CF card reader, simply plug it into the USB adapter and the iPad will read its contents.
  • Ripped movies: If you have any ripped movies or personal videos, you can use the CCK to add extra storage to the iPad. You'd only import a movie when you're ready to watch it. To do this, rename your movies to match the file name structure of your digital camera. For example, "DCIM_4132." Then, drag the file into a folder labeled "DCIM" on an SD card or a thumbdrive. When you plug your SD card or thumbdrive into the iPad via the CCK, you'll be able to import the movie onto your iPad and play it from the Photos app.
  • Your iPhone or Android phone: This works, but with some limitations. If you need to transfer photos from your iPhone to your iPad in a pinch, plugging it in via USB will prompt the photos app, allowing you to import photos. And, as long as your Android phone stores photos in a folder titled DCIM, it will react the same way.

After some testing, it's clear you cannot read or write nonphoto files to an external hard drive or thumbdrive. This would have been a great way to expand your iPad's storage. Alas, it's not (yet) possible.

If you discover any unique ways to use the Camera Connection Kit, let me know in the comments.

Editors' note: This post was updated March 21, 2012, to include another way to use the CCK. Users can use the adapters to add extra video storage. Thank you, Twitter user @talljonathan for the tip!