Review: Apple iPod Camera Connector

Small, simple, and easy (April 15th, 2005)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Apple Computer, Inc.

Price: MSRP $29 (US)

The Good

  • Size, price, and simplicity.

The Bad

  • Slow data transfer. Works only with iPod Photos. Before presenting the images or a slide show on a TV or monitor, the photos need to be synchronized with iTunes in the computer and movies cannot be viewed.

Photographers have long been clamoring for an easy way to use iPods with their digital cameras for field storage and viewing. The $29 Apple iPod Camera Connector finally fills that void.

Since 2003, the Belkin Digital Camera Link and Media Reader for iPods have been the only solutions to store photos as data files on any iPod. There was no way to view the images on the iPod, and the only information you could access was the file size and number of pictures. You could not determine whether an image was corrupted, or whether it was properly exposed. The only solution was to haul a PowerBook along on trips.

Apple Computer's iPod Photo offers a way to see digital images on the iPod and on display devices connected to it, but there is no support for field storage and viewing. The images must also be formatted in the computer by iTunes for display first. With iTunes 4.7 and the iPod Camera Connector, however, the iPod can now read photo files and format them for display on the iPod. Users can view any JPEG images imported via the Apple iPod Camera Connector. Although the iPod doesn't allow viewing of unformatted RAW files, the information for each image is stored on the iPod.

How It Works

Unlike the large battery-powered Belkin devices, the Apple iPod Camera Connector has no power supply or cables. It is almost as tiny as a camera memory card, and it is a highly portable interface between the camera and the iPod Photo. All of the functions of the Apple iPod Camera Connector are automatic. There are no switches and there is certainly no learning curve. You connect the camera to the Apple iPod Camera Connector with the supplied USB cable, then insert the Apple iPod Camera Connector into the Apple dock connector on the bottom of an iPod Photo. The iPod opens a built-in application, called Photo Import, and offers an Import Photo selection. Importing photos automatically formats them for viewing on the iPod screen. RAW files and movies cannot be viewed, but are saved and represented by an icon.

Real World Tests

There is one notable shortcoming, despite the new iPod Photos' USB 2.0 connection, the Apple iPod Camera Connector is slow. 40 pictures (151 MB) taken with a new Canon PowerShot SD500 7.2 Megapixel camera, (chosen because it supports USB 2.0 like the iPod Photo), took 6 minutes to load. Transferring the same 40 photos from a Minolta DiMAGE X via USB 1.1 took half a minute less. It seems that these two cameras use different transfer protocols, which accounts for the transfer time difference. The Canon SD500 uses PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol). The Minolta uses the more common and apparently faster Mass Storage protocol. Regardless of which transfer protocol the camera uses, it is clear that the process of formatting the images for display on the iPod Photo is the primary cause of the slow transfer speeds. Perhaps that is a fair price for the convenience of using the iPod for almost immediate photo viewing.

Petite and Elegant

Professionals will probably prefer a photo storage device like the $499 Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer, with its larger LCD panel and media slots for faster transfer speeds. Yet, downloading 60 big images in less than 10 minutes to an iPod Photo isn't that bad and it beats hauling around a larger device that can't play your tunes too. The Apple iPod Camera Connector is an elegant Apple solution at a great price.

Product photo by Ed Noonan. 4/22/05 - minor corrections made by Editor

by Ed Noonan


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