In the world of tablets, you have plenty of options when it comes to photography and editing. To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list with the best models for professional image and video editing- whether you prefer iPadOS, Windows or Android. Don’t look any further: our selection covers all the bases for photographers who seek perfection in their craft.
What are the best tablets for photographers? Professional image editing applications like Photoshop and Lightroom are now accessible on a variety of tablets. Though, the apps available for each tablet will also depend on its operating system.
Tablets are the best way to view and edit photos with high-quality results. Not only do they provide you with a more tactile experience when editing, but also make image retouching easier than using a mouse on your desktop computer. From iPadOS, Windows and Android devices – we’ve compiled the top tablets for photographers in one list! Take advantage of these powerful tools now for an effortless photo editing journey.
At the beginning of our article you will find our list of the best, which gives you a rough overview. We then go into more detail about the individual tablets and also link our detailed reviews.
We begin with the best tablets for photographers, although these are not budget friendly. After that, we will provide you with more affordable alternatives. Every device on our list is suitable for professional image and video editing tasks. We don’t delve too deeply into each tablet’s camera quality because it goes without saying that any serious photographer would never consider taking pictures using a tablet.
Tablets for photographers: an overview
- The best tablet for photographers: Apple iPad Pro M2 (at Amazon*). In our view, the iPads Pros from Apple are without a doubt the best tablets available today. Featuring an 11-inch or 12.9-inch display and 120Hz refresh rate, these devices come with optimal image-editing capabilities thanks to their support for the innovative Apple Pencil 2. Moreover, they boast incredibly powerful hardware – boasting of M2 chips that match those found in MacBooks – making them extremely fast when it comes to photo editing on Lightroom or video processing on LumaFusion and Adobe Premiere Rush! These features clearly outshine any Surface Pro 9 models currently available in the market.The only downside: Lightroom Classic and the desktop Photoshop version are currently not available for iPadOS.
- Almost as good as iPad Pro M2: Apple iPad Pro M1 (at Amazon*). If you don’t need the latest and greatest, we highly recommend that you purchase the iPad Pro with M1 chip. While it is a bit less powerful than its counterpart with an M2 chip on paper, this does not make a conspicuous difference in performance. Otherwise these two tablets are practically indistinguishable aside from minor distinctions.
- Best iPad Pro alternative: Apple iPad Air (at Amazon*). The Apple iPad Air is almost as good as the Apple iPad Pro. In theory, the Apple iPad Air has a little less performance than the Apple iPad Pro, but in reality you hardly notice any difference. The processing of high-resolution photos and videos also works flawlessly with the Apple iPad Air. The display is slightly darker compared to the Apple iPad Pro and only offers 60 Hz. It is also only available in a 10.9-inch version.
- Best Windows tablet for photographers: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (at Amazon*). Although the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 comes in the form of a tablet, it is actually a normal Windows PC. The advantage: The desktop version of Photoshop and Lightroom Classic also run on the device. However, compared to a normal laptop with the same equipment, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is very expensive. In terms of performance, it is inferior to the Apple iPad Pro and Apple iPad Air.
- Best Surface Pro 9 alternative: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (at Amazon*). The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 doesn’t trail far behind the newly released Microsoft Surface Pro 9 in terms of features, yet it offers an incredibly economical price. With only minimal differences in hardware performance, you can save a great deal on your purchase of the more affordable model.
- Best Android tablets for photographers: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series (at Amazon*). Android-inclined photographers ought to consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series. Lightroom Mobile works well, however enthusiasts of this platform have no access to Affinity Photo and generally speaking, iOS applications are usually more optimized than their equivalent on Android.
- Best mid-range tablet for photographers: Apple iPad 10 (at Amazon*). The “standard” Apple iPad 10 also offers surprisingly good performance for its price. Image processing with programs such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop runs very smoothly. Unfortunately, the tablet’s display is not laminated. This means that you sometimes have the impression that you are not touching the display directly when working with the Apple Pencil. This can be a hindrance when retouching photos.
- Good entry-level tablet for photographers: Apple iPad 9 (at Amazon*). The Apple iPad 9 offers a classic look and slightly reduced capability than its relatively more advanced counterparts. Despite the fact that this device is older, it’s still decidedly cheaper to purchase; however, much like the Apple iPad 10, it does not have a laminated display which presents certain usability issues.
- Best 8 inch tablet for photographers: Apple iPad Mini (at Amazon*). Professional photographers with a love of portability should consider the Apple iPad Mini. This portable tablet offers an 8-inch display, ample power for photo editing, and is small enough to fit into practically any article of clothing! The only issue that may arise is what’s commonly referred to as ‘jelly effect’; when scrolling through screen content it can appear slightly offset from its original position – but don’t let this minor blip deter you from utilising your viewfinder on the go.
- Cheaper Galaxy Tab S8 alternative: Xiaomi Pad 5 (at Amazon*). Photographers who crave Android devices but don’t have the budget for a Samsung S8 series are in luck with the Xiaomi Pad 5. With its superb display, powerful processor and solid pen, plus its metal frame giving off a luxurious vibe, it’s an appealing model. Although not quite at par with Galaxy Tab S7 and S8 regarding features like fingerprint reader and MicroSD card slot (and slight performance drop), software update streak is still on point.
Best Tablets for Photographers: An Overview
Apple iPad Pro M1 & M2: The Winner
No list of the best devices would be complete without mentioning Apple’s iPad Pro. Boasting 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, this is far superior in performance to all other tablets currently on the market. It owes its power to the M2 chip, which is also installed in the current MacBooks. Due to the lower price, however, the predecessor model with M1 is the smarter choice. The M1 model also offers more power than currently needed for image editing on a tablet and is otherwise almost identical to the current version.
Both models support the very good Apple Pencil 2, but it has to be purchased separately and currently costs around $110. The tip of the pen is pressure-sensitive and supports 4000 pressure levels. The stylus can be attached to the side of the tablet, where it is charged via induction.
In apps like Photoshop, Lightroom or Affinity Photo, the Apple Pencil 2 is particularly suitable for masking objects. The pencil is also very useful for retouching portraits. What we particularly like about the Apple iPad Pro is the large selection of apps optimised for the iPad, such as Affinity Photo.
In addition, the iPad Pro offers Face ID facial recognition, four excellent speakers, a high-quality build, good cameras and a LIDAR sensor. And if you’re looking to take your experience even further, Apple’s Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard Folio are both perfect options for optimised typing convenience.
It is a bit unfortunate that Lightroom Classic and the desktop Photoshop version are currently not available for iPadOS. This leads us to the only major point of criticism regarding the current iPad Pro models – the tablets are partially limited by iPadOS and cannot unfold their full potential. It’s high time for Apple to release an iPad version of Final Cut Pro, their signature editing program.
We also find it annoying that the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro still comes with the “old” Retina display and does not have the more modern Mini LED display like the 12.9-inch model. The mini-LED display ensures even better contrasts and black levels and is comparable to an OLED panel. The dark side of mini LED technology: blooming. This ensures that, for example, light text on a black background is sometimes underlaid with a slight “veil”.
Nevertheless, photographers will literally be delighted with both the 11-inch and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Because the displays are very bright, sharp and, thanks to 120Hz, offer seamless functionality – especially with the Apple Pencil 2.
In summary, the iPad Pro offers the best performance of all current tablets with both the M2 and the M1 chip. In addition, it has a beautiful display and, thanks to 120Hz and Apple Pencil 2, great ease of use. However, the basic version only comes with 128GB storage. Photographers with vast libraries may find the storage inadequate, and models with up to 2TB of space can be quite expensive.
Photographers who work with an Apple Macbook Pro will appreciate the high colour homogeneity of the displays. Speaking of the Macbook Pro, the iPad Pro can also be used as a second display for a Mac via the sidecar. An ingenious feature, because your iPad can function as a high-quality preview monitor, for example. Thanks to the iPad, image editing is even more fun on the Mac.
Thanks to all of its excellent features, the iPad Pro is unquestionably the best tablet for photographers.
Also Read: Our Apple iPad Pro Review
Apple iPad Air: A Good iPad Pro Alternative
The Apple iPad Air is a good alternative to the Apple iPad Pro. It costs less, but also has the powerful M1 chip. This means that the Apple iPad Air is faster than any Android tablet. It supports the Apple Pencil 2 and offers 2 keyboard variants. The design is chic, the cameras are good and the tablet has a good LCD display and up-to-date software.
But the iPad Air has to make a few compromises compared to the iPad Pro: The 10.9-inch screen only has 60Hz and the tablet only offers 64GB of storage space in the basic version. For example, this version would hardly be suitable for wedding photographers due to the low storage capacity. If, on the other hand, you buy the 256GB model, you’ll be paying as much as Apple iPad Pro’s 11-inch variant.
Since the files in professional photography and videography are getting larger and larger due to higher resolutions, fast data transfer is also essential. The iPad Pro offers a Thunderbolt connection, which is visually indistinguishable from the USB-C connection of the iPad Air, but offers a higher data throughput.
Whether this is crucial for you depends on how important the speed of transferring photos and videos is in your workflow. The larger the files you want to transfer, the more noticeable the difference in speed will be. You should also consider that with the iPad Pro you have the option of surfing the 5G network for an additional charge, while the iPad Air only offers LTE.
Despite being slightly costlier than the Apple iPad Air, we still highly recommend that professional photographers opt for the Apple iPad Pro due to its exceptional features.
Also Read: Our Apple iPad Air Review
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 and 8: Best Windows Tablet
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 was already the best Windows tablet on the market. The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 comes with even more performance, but differs only slightly from the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. With both variants we get a stellar design with a practical kickstand and a great keyboard, a high-quality 120Hz display and sufficient computing power for image and video editing. The camera quality is also very appealing for a tablet and is ideal for video calls. The aspect ratio of the screen is 3:2.The display boasts an impressive resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels, providing you with a vivid and high-quality viewing experience. Contrast, saturation, and brightness are set to optimum levels for outstanding picture quality.
The advantage of Windows is that the desktop versions of Photoshop and Lightroom Classic also run on the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and 9. However, compared to a normal laptop with the same equipment, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and 9 are very expensive. The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 costs around $1200 in the basic configuration with a 128 GB SSD. The SSD can be replaced, which is particularly useful for photographers. In terms of performance, however, the devices are inferior to the Apple iPad Pro and Apple iPad Air.
The biggest advantage of the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 & 9 is Windows 11. You get a full Windows computer and can use all Windows software and peripherals accordingly.
Also Read: Surface Pro 9 Review
Apple iPad mini: Best 8 -inch Tablet
The Apple iPad mini is also powerful enough to edit high-resolution photos and videos. It’s equipped with the Apple A15 processor, which while it can’t keep up with the M1 chip, still has enough power to beat most Android tablets. The high-quality metal housing and the pleasant weight of 297g are also convincing. It also features a nifty fingerprint reader, decent stereo speakers and cameras, and the USB-C port.
It supports the Apple Pencil 2 and can access the wide variety of tablet-optimised software in the App Store. The iPad mini is therefore the best 8-inch tablet on the market and, thanks to its compact format, the ideal companion for photographers who are often on the go.
The screen of the iPad mini is optically high-quality, but offers “only” 500 nits and 60Hz. Unfortunately, the jelly effect of the display is a bit annoying. The entire screen content doesn’t move evenly when scrolling. This leads to an offset display and is distracting. However, this does not interfere with editing photos.
The iPad mini is available with 64GB and 256GB of storage. Apple fans who value mobility will be well served with the iPad Mini. As with all Apple tablets, its greatest strength is the wide variety of customised software.
Also Read: Apple iPad Mini Review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series: Best Android Tablet For Photographers
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series is one of the best Android tablets on the market right now. The tablets are powerful and have a high-quality metal housing. Photographers benefit from the excellent S Pen and the large displays. In addition, photographers will appreciate the microSD card slot, thanks to which the storage space can be expanded by up to 1TB.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 has an 11-inch LCD screen. The more powerful and larger Galaxy Tab S8+ (12.4-inches) and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra (14.6 inches) offer Super AMOLED displays, which provide better contrasts, more intense colours and deeper blacks compared to LCD technology. All three models of the S8 series offer high-quality screens that make image editing fun. However, color fidelity lags behind the iPad Pro’s display.
A cool feature that e.g. Apple does not offer is Samsung DeX. This puts the tablets in a kind of desktop mode. A taskbar will then appear at the bottom of the screen and apps will open in a floating window.
If you connect conventional mice, keyboards or an external SSD to the tablet via a USB-C hub, you can then work almost exactly as you would with Windows or macOS via Google Chrome or Microsoft, for example. Thanks to the USB C 3.2 Gen 1 connection, users can also connect the Samsung Galaxy S8 series to external monitors.
However, you are still limited to using Android apps. Lightroom Mobile and Adobe Premiere Rush run great, but Android fans will have to do without Affinity Photo.
All three tablets of the S8 series are fully laminated and offer a 120Hz panel. The result is smooth animations and a fluid working experience with the S Pen. Incidentally, the S Pen is included and does not have to be purchased separately, unlike with Apple. Like the Apple Pencil, the S Pen also offers 4000 pressure levels. This allows the pen to be used, for example, to carry out precise retouching work and masking on photos.
With the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series, your security is ensured with a fingerprint reader. This feature appears on each device, but varies amongst models – found in the power button for S8 and under the screen of both S8+ and Ultra variants. Furthermore, these tablets offer extraordinary sound quality from their speakers along with top-notch cameras compared to other devices of its kind.
Android 12 including the Samsung DeX desktop mode is already pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series. Another positive aspect is that Samsung wants to provide the Galaxy Tab S8 series with a security update every quarter for five years. In addition, the devices are to receive four major Android updates, which makes the tablets future-proof.
Also Read: Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Series Review
Apple iPad 10 & 9: Powerful Mid-range Tablets
Don’t be fooled by the entry-level status of Apple’s iPad 10 & 9. These devices are incredibly powerful, as evidenced by their Geekbench 5 benchmark test results; in fact, they even outperform Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series.
Editing images on Apple iPad 9 & 10 is effortless with apps such as Lightroom or Photoshop; however, neither version of the tablet has a laminated display. As you use an Apple Pencil to retouch photos, it may feel like there’s a disconnect between your pen and the screen – making photo editing more tedious than necessary.
If you don’t mind the older design and can live with a little less processing power, the older iPad 9 is also a good choice. The workmanship of the iPad 9 and 10 is excellent and the cameras are good.
Both the iPad 10 and iPad 9 support the first-generation Apple Pencil. With the iPad 10, however, you need an adapter for the Apple Pencil 1, because the iPas 10 has a USB-C port, but the Apple Pencil 1 has a Lightning connector. It would have been more elegant if the iPad 10 had simply been given Apple Pencil 2 support. The Apple iPad 10 & 9 come in 64GB and 256GB versions.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Cheaper Galaxy Tab S8 Alternative
If you’re an Android fan with a reasonably-sized budget, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is an excellent choice. Through its 120Hz display, impressive speakers, quality cameras and lightning-fast performance it offers terrific value for money. Plus accessories like the active pen and keyboard cover further bolster its appeal. Preloaded with Android 11 and now upgradable to version 12, this tablet will make sure your tech stays up to date; although how many more OS updates it can handle remains unclear.
Editing images and videos with the 11-inch IPS display and 120Hz refresh rate is seamless. The screen is remarkably similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8, so much that one would be forgiven for assuming they had installed the same display. If you’re looking to purchase this tablet, you can choose from two storage options: 128GB or 256GB – whatever works best for your needs.
The stylus of the Xiaomi Pad 5, which can be purchased separately and offers 4096 pressure levels, does not quite live up to the competition from Apple and Samsung, but is good overall. What we write with the pen is displayed with a slight delay. This is not very annoying, but it is noticeable in a direct comparison to the premium competition.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 may not be as fast as a Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, but it is more powerful than other mid-range Android tablets. However, the similarly priced iPad 10 has a clear edge in terms of speed. Photographers who prioritise budget and don’t mind having an Android device should consider the Xiaomi Pad 5 for their needs.
Also Read: Our Xiaomi Pad 5 review
Which tablet is the best choice for you?
This depends on your preferences regarding the operating system and apps, but also on factors such as the display size.
First, ask yourself which operating system best meets your needs. For example, you will find a large variety of customized apps and programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom on iPadOS that run very smoothly. However, the software is not the desktop versions of the programs. You can find this under Windows with the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 & 9. However, these tablets cannot keep up with the performance of the iPad Pro models. If you like Android, you should take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series in particular.
The budget also plays a role when buying a tablet. If money doesn’t play a secondary role for you, you’ll find the iPad Pro, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 as the respective flagships for iPadOS, Android and Windows. If you have a little less budget available, the Apple iPad mini, Apple iPad 10 & 9 and the Xiaomi Pad 5 are also worth a look.
Speaking of the Apple iPad mini: you should consider how large the display of the tablet should be, especially for image editing. Is the compact 8-inch screen of the Apple iPad mini sufficient or is the display not big enough for you? Then the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with 14.6 inches might be the right choice.
Storage capacity also plays a key role for most photographers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series, for example, offers the advantage of expanding the storage space via a microSD card. With Apple, on the other hand, you should be aware of how much storage space you need before you buy it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whatever tablet you choose, you’ll be able to perform professional-level editing with no difficulty. iPad Pro models are the most powerful and reliable option for image manipulation; however, even cheaper tablets like Xiaomi Pad 5 will let you edit photos and videos just as efficiently. When it comes to editing photos, the megapixels of your camera or photos affect its performance. For instance, 24 MP images consume fewer resources than 50MP ones while 12MP phone and tablet pictures are no hassle for current tablets anyway. Moreover, even 4K videos can be edited with ease on powerful iPads like the iPad Pros or iPad Airs.
Under Windows we can fall back on the great variety of all desktop programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Classic, Capture One, Luminar Neo and Co. There is something for every photographer here. There are customized versions of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Affinity Photo on the iPad. However, iPad owners have to do without Lightroom Classic or a desktop version of Photoshop. There is also Lightroom Mobile and Photoshop Express on Android, but no Affinity Photo. The programs on the iPad often run a little more smoothly than on Android devices because the apps are usually better adapted to iPadOS and Apple delivers more performance thanks to its own chipsets. In addition to the well-known programs from Adobe, there are many other apps for image processing such as VSCO, Enlight and Snapseed for both iPadOS and Android.
The Apple iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy S8 Tab+ & Ultra and Surface Pro 8 & 9 have the best displays. It should be emphasised that the current iPad Pro display harmonises wonderfully with the display of the current MacBook Pro, thus ensuring a very similar colour rendering. This comes in handy if you edit photos on both the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro.
If you value the cheapest possible tablet, you should take a look at the Xiaomi Pad 5 if you like Android. We recommend the iPad mini and iPad 9 & 10 to Apple fans.
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