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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Apple's most confusing product: Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter

Apple's most confusing product: Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter
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Apr 19, 2016, 01:40 PM
 
If you don't know what an Apple product does, then the odds are that you don't need it -- and if you're curious, then you can certainly just ask in an Apple Store. Maybe you can debate whether you need a MacBook or an iPad Pro, but you know what they each are, and you can try them both out in a shop with someone from Apple genuinely helping instead of just trying to sell you something. Except for the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.

Practically the first thing Phil Schiller said when introducing this new version was that you can use it for much more than just cameras. Yes, you can connect a camera via USB cable with this to your iPad Pro, and it will import the photos and movies just fine, but that's a trifle compared to all the other things it can do. This is really a kind of universal USB adapter that happens to have camera in the name, and happens to have an icon of a camera on the cable, but does so much more. Plug in an Ethernet adapter if you like. Plug in a microphone. The cable and your iPad can take it all, because alongside the USB socket on this adapter, there is a Lightning port. So you can charge your iPad at the same time as connecting a USB device, and that makes all the difference: with this plugged into the mains, you can connect anything.



USB devices get power via their connection, and many like microphones need more than the iPad can spare when it's on battery, so this is the handiest thing Apple could've done. It's so handy that we knew immediately that this is a solution to a problem we've got.

It isn't. We were wrong. We're out $40 on this, we are $40 and a trip to the Apple Store wrong about it. Possibly we should've paid more attention to the Apple Store guy who kept trying to get us to buy the non-USB 3 version until we said "iPad Pro" enough times and then he nodded. Worryingly, he looked at the box we were pointing at, and that we had been fully capable of picking up off the shelf, and he said: "It's a good thing they label this now, isn't it?"

Yes. Or no. Our problem is that we have been given around 44Gb of HD video footage to edit, and the only time we can do it in is during a couple of long flights. Cue editing on the iPad Pro, which we are actually looking forward to doing. Except getting the footage onto the iPad Pro feels like a bit of a mission impossible.

Except we were sent it all on the smallest USB stick we have ever seen, and here is the cable that lets you plug USB devices into your iPad. Sold. Connected, plugged in USB device and yes, the Photos app opens up automatically. It presents you with an Import screen where you are supposed to then see thumbnails of all the photos and videos on the USB device. What we saw was a blank, white screen or after a few moments, a screen replete with all our previous photos, as the iPad given up on importing.



We could never see any thumbnails, we could never import anything. There's a very good reason for that: the iPad Pro needs USB sticks to be in the MS-DOS FAT format, instead of anything more recent than the 1970s. Of course it does. We copied off the video to our Macs, reformatted the USB, copied it back, nothing. We tried that with four different USB sticks of steadily lower capacities in case that was the problem, but seemingly it isn't.

We found some advice saying you need to fool the iPad Pro into thinking this is a camera by creating a folder called DCIM and putting everything in there. No. We were also told that the format of the video matters a lot and yes, we're sure it does, but this was all .MOV stuff, we should be fine. Still, to be sure, we also dragged some straight JPEG images over to the USB stick and it wouldn't see those either.

We're still investigating, and if you have slapped your forehead at any time while reading this because you know the obvious solution, we'd be grateful to hear it. In the meantime, we have no time, we have no more time to experiment, we have to get this footage on.

It is a slog and a chore, and it is exactly what a cable adapter would've been useful for, if it did what it appears to say it does. It feels as if Apple started by making a camera adapter and then one lunchtime, thought it would be a laugh to try plugging in a microphone. Gobsmacked to find it worked, they said go on, try Ethernet next. Then let's try USB storage -- but no, the coffee's going cold, you can have too much fun. Somebody remember to tell the naming department that it isn't just for cameras.

-- William Gallagher (@WGallagher)
     
Inkling
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Apr 19, 2016, 02:46 PM
 
Thanks for the heads up. Not being able to attach USB devices that easily attach to a laptop is one of my main gripes at iPads. Why does Apple make that hard to impossible?
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
     
wdswong
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Apr 19, 2016, 04:32 PM
 
To make transfers "think" you have a camera your storage device needs:
- to be formatted in MS-DOS FAT
- image files need to be in a directory "DCIM"
- image filenames need to be in old MS-DOS 8.3 format
example: Movie123.mov

This is a Photos and Image transfer thing.... hopefully not an issue with the USB3 cable... Same requirement with old USB2 lightning cable and iPhone....

Looks like you've done 2 of the three things, check the file names of the image files. Hope that helps.
     
MaxHedrm
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Apr 19, 2016, 05:35 PM
 
Another possibility. Make sure it's formatted FAT and uses MBR.
     
William Gallagher
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Apr 20, 2016, 01:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by ;4352827
To make transfers "think" you have a camera your storage device needs:
- to be formatted in MS-DOS FAT
- image files need to be in a directory "DCIM"
- image filenames need to be in old MS-DOS 8.3 format
example: Movie123.mov

This is a Photos and Image transfer thing.... hopefully not an issue with the USB3 cable... Same requirement with old USB2 lightning cable and iPhone....

Looks like you've done 2 of the three things, check the file names of the image files. Hope that helps.
Wdswong, you got my hopes up there – until I checked the video files I had been trying to copy over. They are already named in the DOS 8.3 format. And you're right, I'd done both the FAT and the DCIM trick.

So thank you very much for helping, I was hoping people would have ideas and you did. But in this case, it didn't solve my problem.

William
     
wdswong
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Apr 20, 2016, 06:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by William Gallagher View Post
Wdswong, you got my hopes up there – until I checked the video files I had been trying to copy over. They are already named in the DOS 8.3 format. And you're right, I'd done both the FAT and the DCIM trick.

So thank you very much for helping, I was hoping people would have ideas and you did. But in this case, it didn't solve my problem.William
I'm sorry it didn't work... I'm starting to notice in the various forums that there's a common theme that anyone attempting to connect the USB3 Camera Adapter to a storage device (whether USB Drive, USB SSD and looks like also Thumb/Flash Drives) are not having any success so maybe there is a some sort of storage device "detection that's not a camera" in the firmware of the cable that prevents use with storage devices. I know the previous generation of Adapters do have chips with firmware. You are right, very frustrating.
     
Lee Moon
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Apr 20, 2016, 08:55 PM
 
You might want to try renaming the video something like "vid_0001.mov" (in the naming format of 4 alpha characters followed by 4 numeric characters and the file extension. It seems like this is what I had to do in order to move video files onto an iPad Air 2 a couple of months ago. Oh, and I also had the file in one of the DCIM subfolders. Hope that helps.
     
scott8xx
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Dec 1, 2017, 10:27 PM
 
Hope he still followed this post. I just tried to use USB PNY 64GB to import images and movies (.mov) to iphone\ipad using the lightning USB 3 adapter and it is successfully found those files. The trick is i have :
1. Format USB as exFat
2. Make a folder DCIM
3. Rename all files with : "IMG_000x.jpg" or "IMG_000x.mov"
4. Connect USB to iphone with wall charger plug to adapter to make sure they have power.
5. After plugging, the IMport screen shown and I could choose files to import.

Remember, only the USB PNY works, not other USB.

Hope it helps.
     
   
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