Photo Import with the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

A few weeks ago I bought this cable to connect my phone to my camera. So after a few uses it seems like a good time for a quick review. The bottom line is that it works, and other than a few camera related quirks it’s a good value at $30. As a bonus it can even be used to transfer photos from one iPhone to another.

The cable

Artisinal data transfer, every byte imported by hand.

Without the little camera symbol on the big end, it’d be hard to guess exactly what this cable does. There’s another version that connects a SD card to a camera. I prefer this one for a couple of reasons. To use it I don’t have to pull the card from my camera, and with a USB cable it’ll connect to cameras that use a non-SD memory card. Also since it’s a wired connection, there no chance of interference or a flaky wifi connection .

When I went to the Apple Store to buy it, the guy that helped me made sure it worked with my iPhone 5. He wasn’t sure since it was an older 32-bit model. With a quick test we verified that having the latest iPhone 9.3.1 software let the cable work. I think the cable will work with 9.2 or later, but don’t quote me.


There’s not a lot to using the cable. I’ve found it works best if the camera’s off when plugging everything in.

Ready to connect.
Then unlock the iPhone and turn on the camera. After a few seconds the import screen pops up.
The first import screen showing all photos in the camera.
One thing to note, it shows all the pictures in the camera. This means if you shot Raw+JPG (either to the same card, or to two cards) it will show two thumbnails of each picture. If this is the case and I only want the JPG to transfer, I’ve been choosing the second of the pair and it seems to give me the JPG. This could be because the JPG has a slightly later timestamp, since the Raw is saved first then the JPG is made from the Raw. Regardless, it works for me. Once the thumbnails are loaded, just tap the ones to import. A blue checkmark keeps track for you. When you’re happy with the selection, tap Import in the top right corner.
Selections are shown with the blue checkmark.
Now you’ll get a confirmation screen that give the option to import just your selections or everything. Make your choice and wait while the pictures download.
Ready to import, just wating on a tap.
When the import is finished, you’ll be asked if you want to delete the photos from the camera. On this screen I’m always going to choose Keep. Deleting images directly from the card could cause formatting problems with your card(s) and I’d rather wait until the whole card is downloaded later to reformat.
Danger! This could delete pictures from your camera.
And we’re almost done! Once the cables are disconnected the iPhone will show us what we’ve just imported. The Last Import album sticks around too. This makes it easy to find the imported pictures especially if you’ve used the built-in camera in the mean time.
The Camera Roll's last import page.
The Lightning to USB Camera Adapter cable is one of those little things can really save the day.
It's a cool piece of kit.

iPhone to iPhone

If you plug a Lightning to USB charging cable into the camera adapter and connect each end to iPhones, you’ll get the import screen and can transfer photos from one to the other.

This might seem silly, but if there’s no internet you can still move photos when you otherwise couldn’t.

I hope you enjoyed this and find it useful. If you’d like to support the creation of more tutorials like this please donate with either PayPal or credit/debit card. Thank you.