Before we get started, I want to make one thing clear… this is a review of the iPad mini Retina for photographers. With that being said, I will not be discussing the camera on the iPad mini because I don’t know if it even has one…. no photographer should, as no photographer (or anyone for that matter) should ever use a tablet to take a picture. Now that we got that all cleared up, let’s chat about this new little tablet that Apple is going to sell a gazillion of this holiday season.

I was fortunate to pick mine up a few days ago and have already fallen in love with its size, performance and capability to help my life become more simplified. For a while I took a break from iPads in general and purchased Nexus 7’s for personal use and client gifts. I thought having Android tablets and iOS phones was fun, and in all reality it worked, especially with the 2013 version of the Nexus 7. Then Apple did their usual, announced two new tablets that made me salivate while watching the keynote. I tried to think of all the possibilities that these tablets would offer me for my job that other tablets couldn’t.

The first one they announced was the new iPad Air. Pretty much the same iPad that we have all become accustomed to using for everything from reading to ordering pizzas. I can still remember when the first one was announced, going to stores everywhere to buy as many as I could so that I could load a portfolio on them and send them to clients. Even then they were beautiful, functioned easily, but as much as we didn’t want to admit it, they were heavy. I found myself still using my iPhone to read news and browse the web while laying around because the iPad was, well, awkward.

Because of the weight of the iPad I gravitated towards the Nexus 7 and it’s small, light form factor. At seven inches it was easy to read and quickly took the place of my iPad. I looked past the contrast of the screen that made images muddy and the consistent crashes, because it was light, and cheap. I remember thinking over and over how it would be nice if Apple made a tablet like this….

Enter the iPad mini (the first one).

I thought it was going to be the answer, but in all reality it was just a smaller version of the iPad 2. The resolution was not all that exciting and the processor was old, but the form factor was great. All this led me to buying the Nexus 7 (2013) which had a spectacular screen resolution, but still the contrast issues I saw in the first Nexus. I could use it for fun, but for work it was not a strong enough picture and the ratio was too narrow for horizontal images to be run full screen.

Enter the iPad mini Retina…..


Now I have only had this thing for a few days, but have already seen what this tablet will do for photographers. Even though it is considered a 7 inch tablet, it feels much larger, almost like the original iPad. This is thanks to its higher ppi screen and larger ratio than the Nexus 7’s display. The quality of the display is what we have come to expect from Apple and it renders my work better than I have ever seen it on any tablet I have had previously. Even images not resized to the new resolution specs look great, something that I was worried about as I don’t want to resize a book every time a screen comes out. It is the first tablet that I have ever used that truly feels like a book, and in essence the way I always felt a tablet should feel. With the cover laid open the eye can envision turning a page, rather than swipe across a screen.

For work, it is perfect. I can manage emails, iMessages, and social presence from it with ease. While I could type a blog on it, I still prefer a keyboard for that sort of thing and I will continue to designate chores like this to a laptop or desktop. However, tasks such as signing contracts can be done on it, and more importantly, games play well on it, so I’m set for long flights… again.

So we’ve identified the new iPad mini Retina as a invaluable gadget for a commercial photographer to travel with, but the question remains, “will it work as a portfolio?”

Unfortunately, this is a rather tough answer in general. While I would gladly show my work on it and would use it as an on-the-fly portfolio without a second thought, I genuinely can’t answer yes or no. Some feel that the iPad Air will be the modern portfolio, so I purchased one as well and my wife has yet to let go of it. I like the look and feel of it (the Air), but have yet to see how it would offer anything that the mini can’t in ways of a photographer’s portfolio.

At the end of the day, there will always be true physical portfolios, and there will be tablet portfolios. The only determining factor of whether one will get you a job is the person viewing it.