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Secrets of the Camera Connection Kit

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While it may be intended as a tool for adding photos to your iPad, the Camera Connection Kit can do more than Apple (s aapl) tells you about. Having had one for the last week or so, I’ve tested what capabilities the kit has, and what secrets are hiding under the white casing.


It’s clear what the main purpose of the Kit is: importing and managing photos and videos from digital cameras. What Apple doesn’t tell you is that you aren’t limited to using an SD card or the USB cable for your camera.

Most of the time, when you buy a MicroSD card, it comes with an adapter that lets you use the MicroSD in an SD card reader. Since part of the Camera Connection Kit is an SD card reader, this means you can, perhaps unsurprisingly, use it to read a MicroSD card as well. This also works with Memory Stick Pro Duo, the card Sony (s sne) uses in its cameras as well as the PSP. All you need is an adapter to change it into an SD card.

The Kit also works great if you have an all-in-one card reader. If you do, you can use it in a USB port to read CompactFlash, MMC, Memory Stick Pro Duo and other types of card as well. One half of the Camera Connection Kit is a USB port, so, although the functionality is undocumented, a USB card reader will work. Reading the card isn’t as fast as when using a card directly in the slot or a USB cable, but it works and doesn’t break the iPad or the memory card, which is always a good thing.

One last thing that Apple does mention, but doesn’t push much, is using the USB slot in the Kit to connect your iPhone to your iPad. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything fancy like transferring apps or tethering, but you can import photos from your iPhone camera roll to your iPad. You can even use the iPhone camera while the devices are connected, and any new photos you take show up directly in the list on your iPad.

Saving Space

If, unlike me, you’re running out of space since your iPad is host to thousands of songs, videos, photos and apps, you can use the Camera Connection Kit to your advantage. Memory cards are fairly cheap nowadays; you can pick up an 8GB SD card for around $20. You can save precious space on your iPad by storing videos, such as TV shows and movies, on an SD card instead of directly on your iPad. When you want to watch them, plug the SD card reader into your iPad, pop in the card, and import the video (you can’t watch directly from the card). When you’re done, delete the video to make room again. The downside is keeping enough space free on your iPad to import the video. However, keeping about 1.5GB free still gives you more free space than you’d have if you had 8GB worth of video on the iPad.

Other Accessories

Since the iPad was released, people have been upset that it didn’t have a built-in USB port. Apart from a camera cable, USB keyboard or a headset, what would you plug into it? Probably not much else.

There are some keyboards that don’t work with the iPad; the Apple wired keyboard for one. If you try to use it, an error message will be displayed saying the accessory uses too much power, probably because of the keyboard’s two USB ports. However, a cheap Windows (s msft) keyboard works just fine.

Headsets have the same issue. Some models work; others don’t. While I haven’t been able to test any personally, some users have been able to get them to work and say they work well.

To my knowledge, those are the only accessories that work with the iPad, but let us know in the comments if you’ve found any others that work using the Connection Kit.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: The Case For Removable Media on the iPad

22 Responses to “Secrets of the Camera Connection Kit”

  1. Hi, sorry for digging up this post, but do you know if I can connect a camera-equipped cellphone that way?
    E.g., I got a Nokia with USB port, and I wonder if I could use the connection kit to transfer photos taken with it. Any experience with such a setup?

    • Rory O'C

      @ m.fehn

      Old tread, but I want to know this as well as I am want to buy a tough phone most likely nokia 3720 and use it with the ipad.

      Any info would be much appreciated!

      • @Rory O’C

        I tried with two Nokias (6300, N79) and it worked like a charm. Had to play around with the phone’s USB settings though, which (for the 6300) are tucked away under “connections”. HTH

  2. I took a chance on the NuForce uDAC-2 based on comments on some audio blogs. This converter does a nice job expanding the soundstage on the ipad. It runs fine using the camera connection kit, battery drain appears to be minimal. Just make sure you have decent headphones. It is pretty inexpensive for what you get. RIYListen to music on your ipad alot.

  3. Now I know why apple refuses to include SD card slots and standard USB interfaces in their devices (iPhone/iPad). So they can dupe customers into paying $50 for a dumb adapter. This company used to be so great…

    • I would have said that it’s more because of the space issues. On an iPhone, there is absolutely no room for either of those ports (and why do you need them on an iPhone anyway?), and on an iPad, there might be space for an SD reader, but the device is definitely too thin for a USB port.

      Also, while I don’t live in the USA, don’t the kits cost $29 rather than $50?

  4. I was pleasantly surprised that my Creative HS-1200 wireless headphones with mic work for listening to music and recording voice notes. However, they did not work with Skype.

  5. I have recently purchased the camera kit. I’m satisfied, but only just. I don’t think Apple did a very good job in the way they implemented the import functionality.

    For example when you import photos, the imported photos are stored in the ‘last import’ folder. If you do an second import a new folder is created called ‘All imported photos’ and the original ‘last import’ folder is replaced with the ‘new’ Last Import folder.

    In my view Events should automatically be created just like in iPhoto.

    Secondly, when you sync the imported photos are not synced to the iPad. You have to manually import them from the iPad and then manually delete them from the iPad.

    In my view all imported photos should be automatically synced. And just like when syncing your digital camera the software should ask the user if he wants the photos to be deleted from the iPad.



  6. Ramesh Mulye

    Has anybody tested 3G USB Internet Stick modem on iPad by using USB connector of the Camera Connection Kit? Is it likely to harm the iPad if one does?

    • I haven’t tested one, but I think I can safely say that it wouldn’t work. I think I’m right in saying that those sticks need drivers installed, which isn’t possible on an iPad.

      That’s not to say it isn’t worth a try, the worst that can happen is you’ll get a popup saying the accessory isn’t supported.

  7. It’s not an iPad, but for those who’re interested, the 2-g iPod touch works fine with the iPad keyboard stand. I tried mine at an Apple store and even keys like screen brightness worked.

    Also, let’s hope that, since Apple has now written the necessary USB drivers, the soon-to-be-announced iPod touches will also support this camera connection kit.

  8. It seems several microphones work just fine. Specifically, the old FlexMic from MacMice (yeah, I’ve had it a long time, I love it!) works just fine, and both Blue’s Snowball and Snowflake work well with it. I do podcasting and audio notes in my college classes and the Snowflake is the right size for class.

    • What’s the trick to getting the Snowflake to work? Is there a specific app or settings that must be used? I’ve plugged mine into the camera kit adapter but iPad doesn’t seem to see it.