Doing it via iTunes is one way, and it's also the free way.
However you can also do it directly, if you're so inclined, but it will cost you. Apple sell a widget to allow memory cards and USB cameras to be connected to an iPad and the photos taken straight onto it. You can see it here: store.apple.com/uk/product/MC531ZM/A
Once on the iPad I believe that when you next sync it with iTunes any photos you've uploaded will then be synced onto your computer according to your normal photo import setup.