Apple iPad 2 camera may not be ideal for still photos

ipad-2-rear-camera

When the iPad 2 was announced just a few days ago, many of us were wowed by its specs. It’s thinner than the iPhone 4, lighter than the previous iPad, it has Apple’s new A5 processor and the battery life is still rated at 10 hours. What’s not to love? Apparently, it’s the rear camera.

Apple says that the camera is capable of recording 720p HD videos, but doesn’t say much for still photos. Similar to the iPod touch, it turns out that the rear camera takes low-resolution photos. Wired discovered that the iPad 2 camera takes 0.92MP photos, which is rather paltry in an era where mobile devices are taking 5, 8 and 12 megapixel photos.

I will have to defend the iPad 2 here, however. Sure, Apple included a rear camera for shooting videos, so why not make it decent enough for stills?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m walking through Times Square and I see bright billboards that I want to share with friends, my first thought isn’t, “Oh, snap! Let me whip out my iPad 2 and take a photo of this!”

Wired says:

The specs for the iPad’s rear-facing camera only lists one number: 720p. That should mean 1280 x 720 pixels, which gives a megapixel figure of 0.92, clearly useless for stills.

Indeed, it’s virtually useless for stills, but it also depends on what you’ll be using them for. If you’re just sharing things on Facebook, Twitter or your personal blog and your images never exceed 500-600px width, you’re fine. But if your plan is to print 2-foot posters of your images, then perhaps the iPad’s rear camera isn’t the best choice.

Still, for a device that costs a minimum of $500, it would be nice to have a better image sensor, rather than these bottom-of-the-barrel ones Apple insists on using. Will we ever get one? It’s starting to look rather doubtful.

OK, good point, but the first-generation iPad was also a minimum of $500 and it didn’t include a camera, and it had a slower processor. It’s a pretty weak argument to make. That’s like saying an iMac costs $2,000, so it should have a 15MP CMOS sensor front-facing camera on it.

[Via: Wired]

  • http://twitter.com/AppleTechWorld AppleTechWorld

    I find nothing wrong it’s a mobile tablet it’s not a mobile phone. The point of the ipad is iPhone an Macbook comes together to make something new.

    • http://getyourgadgetsgoing.com Tristan Thomas

      Can you tell me which part of the Macbook is in the iPad?

      • Tedpc

        I’m loving my Acer Iconia A500 10.1 Inch Android 3,1 tablet! I’m so relieved I did not buy the IPad 2. This one does more and costs less. The rear-facing camera is 5 MP while the front is 2 MP and yes, I do take pictures with it! It takes excellent pictures and while not quite the resolution of my 8.1 MP Vivitar, it’s close enough. Yes, I hold this 10.1 inch tablet up and take pictures! I do that because I can and with an Ipad, you realistically can’t and the whole idea that it’s for Facetime is ludicrous.

        Apple really shortchanged buyers with the IPad. Doing stuff like putting a .97 MP sensor in just makes it all the easier for competitors to pick up dissatisfied customers. I won’t mention the fact that not only is the screen smaller, but has a lower resolution than my Acer. Then there’s twice the RAM and so on and so forth.

        I bet a lot of Ipad 2 buyers are full of regret. They should be!

  • http://lenteconvexa.tumblr.com/ Fábio Oliveira

    I would say 0.98MP minimum. If you take a picture with your iPad you wouldn’t want it to stretch the image to fill all the screen so it needs to have 768 pixels at least. But taking it for granted with just the video specs looks like a long stretch.
    Wait for next week if the camera is that important for you.

    • Meerkatmac

      Using Photo Shack Pro, I get the following: Rear Camera: 960 x 720 pixels (0.7Mp), 72 x 72 DPI, Focal Length 3.85, 1/15, f/2.4, ISO 800Front Camera:640 x 480 pixels (0.3Mp), 72 x 72 DPI, Focal Length 3.85, 1/15, f/2.4, ISO 2000

  • http://getyourgadgetsgoing.com Tristan Thomas

    Please don’t do that. The fact that this newer thing came out and cost the same as the iPad 2 means Apple is ripping people off. Also, its very unlike Apple that, when they do something they usually do it right. Don’t 1/2 ass it.

    Why does Apple get to choose what people will be using their iPads for? Technology is suppose to be convenient. If I am on the train and reading a book on my iPad and see something I want to take a picture of why should I take out my phone when my ipad is already there?

    Its more about having the ability to do something then just about having the feature. Once the feature is there, let the masses determine how to use THEIR product.

  • http://getyourgadgetsgoing.com Tristan Thomas

    Please don’t do that. The fact that this newer thing came out and cost the same as the iPad 2 means Apple is ripping people off. Also, its very unlike Apple that, when they do something they usually do it right. Don’t 1/2 ass it.

    Why does Apple get to choose what people will be using their iPads for? Technology is suppose to be convenient. If I am on the train and reading a book on my iPad and see something I want to take a picture of why should I take out my phone when my ipad is already there?

    Its more about having the ability to do something then just about having the feature. Once the feature is there, let the masses determine how to use THEIR product.

  • J Bengtson

    Hi res still photographs would have made this an ideal tool for scholars. This could have been an instant digital scanning device; something very useful for paleography and research work. With this camera it’s a joke. Very disappointing from apple.

  • Jdraziw

    i’m not trying to shoot EVERY photo i take with my ipad, but i would want to take photos with my ipad.

    people try to act like a 10 inch screen is sooooo outlandishly hudge to hold up and take a picture, ummmm… ok, since when does everyone have to take pictures with the smallest camera in order to not be “in their right mind”.

    people please. get with it. i love viewing my pics through my ipad. right now, i have to either se dropbox or the camera connection kit to get photos to the ipad when i could take many photos with the ipad.

    the camera is really the ONLY thing that apple has angered me with. it’s the reason i didn’t get an ipod touch, and the reason i won’t be upgrading my ipad.

    They could have AT LEAST put in a 2MP camera. and for anyone who wants to say it’s too thin to have a decent camera…

    the ipad is BARELY thinner than the iphone 4, which has a 5MP camera. as i would say on twier: #nuffsaid

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1210218825 Steve Librandi

    as an electronic media major, who is studying this technology, dont use the devices for taking video or pics if you want good quality, a 150 dollar canon point and shoot will kill these images, only phone Ive seen that has good quality stills is the sprint evo, asking a device like this to shoot pics is just not realistic, or maybe it is, point is the company is ok with a sh tty camera so be it. I have a iphone and ipad one, will use other devices for pics

    • Anonymous

      If this is true, as a person that travels for business, I do not carry around a digital camera with me during my travels. If I were walking around Times Square as mentioned in the article, how may gadgets would I be carrying with me, Smartphone, Tablet, and a Digital camera…whats the point if they all have around 5mp lens and the basic shooting modes for aperture and iso settings. I’m not taking wedding pictures here, just pics of cool surroundings.
      So for those that have their iPad2 with them when traveling, why should they have to swap devices just to take a Picture. Right now I just use my phone for the pics and they come out surprisingly well.

  • http://joesvolcano.net Dave

    Uhm, you guys are idiots.

    The other thing they say on their tech specs is 5X digital zoom. That means they are blowing up the picture by a factor of 5 and then re-cropping it to 1280×720. If they really did that with only 1280×720, you would only have 256×144 of source pixels left after re-cropping… The pixels would be HUGE after doing a 5X zoom.

    Just compare with the iPhone 4 tech specs, which ALSO say digital zoom of 5X. They amoutn go digital zoom Apple will allow is going to to be a function of the amount of original camera resolution. The iPad 2 has a 5 megapixel camera.

  • Anonymous

    The video recording resolution has no bearing on the camera’s still ability. My Canon S95 records 720p but it has a 10MP sensor. I would expect the iP2 to be 5MP as in the iPhone. What it lacks, which I would use much more frequently, is Flash.

  • dg

    A decent camera would only add a few pennies to the manufacturing costs; so Apple really has no excuse.

    Sounds like Apple is already planning for the iPad3.

    • Abc123

      You mean they withheld another feature?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tzahi-Wolkowicz/542437366 Tzahi Wolkowicz

    If that data is indeed true – it makes A LOT of sense.

    It’s a small sensor camera, and the choice to use a ~1mp sensor is actually beneficial to the overall image quality (noise ratio, dynamic range) if you ignore the actual resolution, which is low indeed for stills work.
    This is very good for video and low-light performance but indeed, a bit worse for stills.
    Having said that, how many of your tiny 5mp cmos chips with high signal noise and Bayer pattern actually do produce even a 2 megapixel worth of clean image data? AFAIK – NONE.

    itinko – Video recording resolution has ALOT to do with camera’s still ability. The 10MP sensor on your S95
    isn’t cropped for 720P video – it’s line dropped and than resized – it takes lots of processing power, which is handled by a dedicated image processor (DIGIC 4, in your case). It ain’t that complicated to understand why this situation isn’t optimal for a general purpose computing device – unlike your shiny canon compact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasper.lynn Jasper Lynn

    i’ll be honest – the last thing I want to do is whip out my iPad 2 and try to take a picture with it. I mean, the fact that I can barely hold it with one hand and use the other hand to tap the “Take Picture” button? It’s bound to fall on the floor sooner or later right?

  • Ben

    You’d think that it shouldn’t be an issue but it is. The ipad is always handy and always around. We’ve taken half a dozen shots around the house with it of our 1yr old. Having a 9″ view finder is kind of cool but the quality of the shot is rubbish. I’d be ok with the 0.9mp size if the quality and sharpness wasn’t so bad. It is virtually unusable.

  • Choyak

    Oops….. 1280×720 is .92 BUT aren’t there three colors so the camera is .92 x 3???

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