Hi Big, I think I solved it - kind of. After thee hours of calls to three different apple support people I was ready to buy a Surface Pro and be done with Apple. At my current billing rate (tax accountant) I spent roughly $12,000 of time fighting with it.
As a final attempt, I uninstalled itunes and the related apple software products, I then deleted all the apple folders I could find: the program folders, all the media folders, the iPod photo data base folder, all the apple and itunes files and folder in the Users folders. I stopped short of messing with the registry files. Then I reinstalled itunes.
Next I set up a folder for photos I wanted on my iPad and only put in about 30 pictures...it worked. The reading photos step only took about 60 seconds and then actually copying the photos only took about 5 seconds. So I started copying them in tranches of about 400. After about 8 hours I had about 4,000 photo’s transfered.
Note that the more pictures you have in the folders from which your transferring photos the longer it takes, even it you’re only transferring a couple hundred pictures. At the end the “reading photos” step would take close to an hour, but then copying the pictures (a few hundred) would only take a couple of minutes.
My plan is to continue moving them about 500 at a time; I’ll start it before bedtime and let it run all night.
It’s completely ludicrous that the software is written that pooly.
Hope that helps.