Friday, August 3, 2012

Transfer Compact Flash (CF) Card Photos to iPad

If you've read my other posts about transfering photos wirelessly to your iPad I've mentioned how wonderful it is and at the same time how unreliable it is if your camera uses CF and not SD.  This is my workflow process of how to transfer files from my CF card to my iPad.

Why am I going about this laborious method?

  1. The Eye-Fi card is too unreliable when using SD to CF adapter.  I constantly get errors when writing and reading to the card.  Did I just lose all my photos? WTH just happened? Why can't I see my photos! It freaks me out when doing important photoshoots!

  2. The Eye-Fi is too slow when writing to the card. The camera has to buffer the images and I have to wait for the write to finish. I have the Canon 5D Mark II card, a basic Raw image is already 20MB+ not including JPEG processing.

  3. On important shoots I like to take RAW+JPEG, when inserting the CF card into the iPad the OS sees both RAW+JPEG and thus downloads everything.  That's about 30MB - 50MB a photo, I don't have that kind of space in the iPad or the TIME to wait!

  4. This is the most reliable way for me to transfer images from my CF card into the iPad without any hick-ups. Works every time. I don't have to wait for Eye-Fi to transfer or look for the wireless pairing or care about read/write errors. I don't have to worry about running out of space. Worry free every time.

  5. Peace of mind knowing that I still have all my photos.

When using the CF card and iPad CF card reader the following is displayed

iOS knows that I have taken RAW+JPEG together and will therefore import both files and not just let me import the JPEG fail.  See above description of why it's a fail.


NOTE: This only works for JailBroken iPads and you have the CF reader.  As of this writing this worked for JailBroken iOS 5.1

To circumvent the above issue I prefer to use shareware app called iFile since it gives me the exact file structure and ability to read from my CF card.

Here are the steps to transfer files from the CF card using iFile.

Step 1

 I open iFile and click on the 'Shortcuts' at the bottom and select Flash Drive which will show the files from the CF card.

Step 2

If the files are not grouped click the Preference button and 'Sort by Extension'.

Step 3

Hit the 'Edit' button at the top left and select the JPG images.

Step 4

Click the 'Clipboard' icon and select 'Copy/Link'

Step 5

Navigate to directory /var/mobile/Media/DCIM/101APPLE

You can also use tabs in iFiles note the '3' in above image, it showing that there are three tabs, see below. It helps with traversing between different folders.

Step 6

Click on the 'Clipboard' icon again and 'Paste' the previously copied photos.

Step 7

Navigate to /var/mobile/Media/PhotoData

Step 8

Click the 'Edit' button at top right and select the Photos.sqlite and PhotosAux.sqlite file.

Step 9

Delete the selected SQLite files.

Step 10

Now open up the photo app and it will regenerate the SQLite files and generate the thumbnails again.  If the photo app is already opened close it out and restart it.

From there you should see your photos.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow. You just solved a problem for me and I was concerned about the volume of pix I am going to take on trip. Did not want to buy lots of extra cards for camera. One question, I may have missed something, but step 8 seems to be missing. If I overlooked something, I apologize.

    Additionally, by shooting raw+jpeg, do you leave raw on your card? Or do you process on your Ipad?

    Again. Thanks
    Bill Sterling

  2. Bill,

    Thank you so much for commenting. You are correct that I missed "Step 8", I've corrected the numbering. I also double check the process from my recollection and it seems to be correct. I added in a note that it was working as of JailBreak iOS 5.x but I haven't used this process since I've updated my iOS to 6.1.x

    When I shoot Raw+JPEG, I leave everything on my card as is. The main purpose of transferring to my iPad is allow for the clients to review the photos from the session. I get instant feedback about the photos and the clients love being able to review the photos that we've taken thus far. It also lets me know if I'm doing a lousy job or my focusing or composition is off.

    Thanks for reading Bill, I'm glad there is someone out there besides me who actually finds this useful!

  3. You betcha. I am in process of purchasing another laptop (windows) or go to Ipad. My son has ipad and desktop and Mac laptop. Loves them. I like traveling and outdoor photography ( kindergarten level). My issue is how to unload from card when on long trips, such as to Europe. Size and weight of Ipad appeal. Your article has really opened some doors to options and to getting pix from camera to computer to cloud. I also shoot raw.

    Thanks again