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iPad Q&A - Updated September 26, 2016

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Can you connect a camera to the iPad to transfer photos? How do you connect a camera to transfer photos? Does it have an SD card slot? Does the iPad work with the iPod Camera Connector?

For the original iPad, iPad 2, and iPad 3rd Gen models, Apple offers an iPad Camera Connection Kit for US$29, which includes a pair of adapters that make it possible to connect a camera to any iPad via USB cable or transfer photos directly from an SD card, respectively.

All later iPad models -- the iPad 4th Gen, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro -- have a "Lightning" port rather than the older 30-pin Dock Connector port, and as a result, the iPad Camera Connection Kit is not compatible with these models.

Instead, you will need to purchase either the "Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader" to transfer photos directly from an SD card to the iPad or the "Lightning to USB Camera Adapter" to connect the camera itself to the iPad. These adapters are US$29 each.

No iPad has an internal SD card slot, which seems unlikely to change. Also, as first confirmed by iLounge, the earlier iPod Camera Connector is not compatible with any of the iPad models, even those with a 30-pin Dock Connector port.

If you are not sure which iPad you have, see's iPad Identification section.

Connection & Photo Transfer Instructions

Regardless of the specific iPad or the adapter used, connecting a camera to the iPad and transferring photos is simple and straightforward. It is covered on page 49 of the original iPad User's Guide, but instructions are quoted from the manual below as well for your convenience:

  1. Insert the SD Card Reader or USB Camera Connector into the iPad dock connector port [or Lightning port].

    • To connect a camera or iPhone, use the USB cable that came with the camera or iPhone, and connect it to the USB port on the Camera Connector. If you're using iPhone, make sure it's turned on. To connect a camera, make the sure the camera is turned on and in transfer mode. For help, see the documentation that came with the camera. The USB port on the Camera Connector is only for cameras; other USB devices aren't supported [without jailbreaking].

    • To use an SD memory card, insert it in the slot on the SD Card Reader. Don't force the card into the slot; it fits only one way.
  2. Unlock iPad.
  3. The Photos application opens automatically and displays the photos that are available for importing.
  4. Select the photos that you want to import.

    • To import all of the photos, tap Import All.

    • To import just some of the photos, tap the ones you want to include (a checkmark should appear on each), then tap Import, and select Import or Import All.
  5. After the photos are imported, you can choose to keep or delete the photos on the card, camera, or [iPad].

    • To view the photos, look in the Last Import album. A new Event is also created, containing all the photos that were selected for import.

    • To transfer the photos from iPad to your computer, connect iPad to your computer and import the images with a photo program such as iPhoto or Adobe Elements.
  6. Disconnect the card reader or camera connector.

This Q&A should help you determine the best way to get photos directly from your camera to any iPad. If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch.

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