ClamCase has been making pro keyboard cases for iPad going back to the iPad 2. So I’m not writing about anything new here – but it is new to me. As an event photographer I have to be mobile, efficient, and effective. For years I sacrificed my own mobility and efficiency with the misplaced notion that lots of gear made me a better photographer. To be fair to myself, in some cases the technology I needed in order to have a lighter footprint was in its nascent stages and not yet available to pro photographers. This all changed in the last couple years so I began my gear diet in earnest.
In lieu of the three Canon bodies, five to seven lenses, a 13″ Macbook Pro, and all kinds of unnecessary photo gadgets I “couldn’t live without” that I toted around in my Lowepro Vertex 300 AW backpack (with a Manfrotto 680B monopod attached), I switched to a Domke F-803 Waxwear Camera Satchel Shoulder Bag carrying a Fujifilm X-T1 & X100T, a few smaller, lighter lenses, an iPad and little else.
Considering all the changes I made, it has been a remarkably smooth ride so far. Sure there is new learning. Habits have to change. Workflow is altered. Muscle-memory has to be retrained. But all in all it has been a pleasure…except for one piece of the new puzzle.
Making the move from a Macbook Pro to the iPad has been a colossal pain in the arse…but not for the reason you’d think. The common wisdom would be that moving from a mobile powerhouse to a “crippled” tablet would be where my pain point rests. It’s not. I understand that for most photographers the move from a laptop to a tablet for all your work in the field is a non-starter.
I am shooting for social media and it is critical that I get photos edited and published on the fly, in the field, rain or shine, desk or not, power or not, etc. I have had many situations where I was literally sitting in the dirt, transferring images from a camera to the laptop to edit and publish. Computers with lots of open ports and keyboards with lots of spaces to get dust, dirt, and water trapped into them is not ideal for these situations. Also, when a keyboard goes down on a laptop, the whole laptop is out of operation. The iPad is by far the better solution for me in the field.
The best solution…almost. I despise…DESPISE typing on the iPad screen. No screen keyboard can replace the tactile feel of a physical keyboard. If I could create a Frankenstein phone it would be an iPhone with a Blackberry keyboard on it. Wait…someone already did that. But I digress.
My solution over the past several months to the issue of needing a physical keyboard has been via three separate products from three separate companies: the SEIDIO EXPERT Case for the iPad and an Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard wrapped in an Incase Origami Workstation for iPad. I made this solution work because all the other solutions I tried didn’t work as well as this one did.
I have recently been introduced to the ClamCase Pro and I must say – after only having it for a few days, it’s all I’ve been wanting for and more. ClamCase’s keys provide the tactile feel of a laptop which helps me type faster and more accurately. In addition to the QWERTY keyboard layout, there are 14 special function keys that allow you to copy, paste, control volume, control music, go to theme screen, and other helpful functions.
The Hinge – That Beautiful Hinge!
The ClamCase Pro’s 360º hinge enables the iPad display to be positioned at any angle. This comes in handy from everything to client photo viewing when tethered to a DSLR to watching streaming podcasts hands-free. It’s the little things.
The ClamCase Pro offers suitable protection for the iPad. The hard shell polycarbonate case protects all sides of your tablet and guards against dents and dings.
Aluminum bottom – A striking, precision-tooled bead blasted aluminum enclosure encases the keyboard.
Polycarbonate Top – The case includes a scratch resistant polycarbonate for enhanced protection and durability.
Soft Touch Hinge – A soft touch coating on the hinge adds grip, style and comfort. This small detail makes more difference than you’d expect. It makes the iPad easy to carry and I had no concerns about it slipping from my grip.
I usually read a few third-party reviews after I’ve written my first draft on a product. In this case I found some back and forth with other reviewers about the cost of the ClamCase – notably that it is more than the reviewers think it should be. I disagree.
Remember my previous solution I duck-taped together in order to accomplish some of what the ClamCase pro accomplished for me? Let’s look at the price of that solution:
SEIDIO EXPERT Case for the iPad – $39.95
Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard – $69.00
Incase Origami Workstation for iPad – $49.95
Total – $159.90
ClamCase Pro for iPad 4 – $169.00
For a $10 difference I gained a real protective case (the SEIDIO is awesome and helped the iPad stand on an angle but wouldn’t protect the tablet from any kind of drop and forced me to find a flat surface to work), dedicated keys specifically for the iPad that the Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard does not have, and one single, enclosed solution that is easier to manage and work from than my previous set up.
The ClamCase Pro is more efficient to use, well-made, and protects the iPad without compromising on portability. This setup is still thinner and much lighter than toting around a Macbook Pro in my little Domke bag. I’m not sure the laptop would even fit in that bag.
The ClamCase Pro is the best all-around, all-in-one iPad case & keyboard solution I have come across, ever. Giddyup.
It’s a neat product indeed, however I’ve never found myself wanting a physical keyboard for an iPad. I find that the space on the screen is large enough for me, with that said I use the slightly older and larger version, the iPad 2.
I’m also curious on how you edit on your iPad, how is it performance wise? I’m probably dead wrong but it feels like you can’t do any heavy editing on it, does it even accept raw files? If it’s possible to have a smooth workflow I might consider getting an iPad to edit on while I’m traveling.