iPad 2 camera review compared to iPhone 4

One of the main differences from the iPad 2 compared to its predecessor are the 2 new cameras Apple added. There is now a camera on the back of the iPad 2 along with a front facing camera. So how do these new cameras stack up to the camera of the iPhone 4? Here is a quick review of the iPad 2 camera quality. Also if you want to check out our first thoughts of the iPad 2 head on over to this article: iPad 2 photographers review.

iPad camera icons

new camera icons for iPad 2

First let me start off by saying what the iPad 2 camera does well and I really think was created for, FaceTime. It serves as a good webcam to hold video chats with your family and friends and the quality of these video chats is pretty good. Having a larger screen compared to your iPhone does make FaceTime calls much more enjoyable and this is definitely the benefit of these 2 new cameras. It feels like the perfect size screen to hold in your hands and have a video chat. Heading outside to talk photos with your iPad has a completely different feel to it though. First you tend to hold the iPad with both hands unlike a iPhone and clicking the button in the center can make you move the iPad and throw off your composition. It would be so nice if they had a touchscreen interface on the back of the iPad that you could use to fire the shutter. It is lightweight enough to easily hold with one hand but since its so large you automatically want to grip it with 2 hands so firing the shutter does seem a little awkward. Also the screen when in full sun can be difficult to see with the glare, so talking photos in full sunlight is a challenge.

Aside from some of these challenges how does the actual image quality of the iPad measure against the iPhone 4’s camera? Unfortunately its a disappointment, I don’t think the iPad is going to replace the 8×10 viewcamera any time soon. Especially in low light situations. the images taken on the iPad 2 are pretty bad. The noise that you get makes low light images look splotchy and almost have an appearance of a watercolor image. Take a good look at the 4th image down and you will see exactly what I mean. This was taken indoors and there was a decent amount of room light in this area, the iPhone 4 was able to handle the situation but not the iPad. Here are some sample images taken with the iPad and also the iPhone 4 as a reference. Click on any of the images to view them larger.

iPhone 4 vs iPad camera

iPad 2 Camera

iPhone 4 vs iPad 2 camera

iPhone 4 camera

iPhone 4 camera vs iPad 2 camera

iPhone 4 Camera

iPad 2 camear

iPad 2 camera

iPad 2 camera quality

iPad 2 on the left

The iPad 2 camera does fare much better when you are in brighter light. Here are a few outdoor shots that look decent on the iPad.

iPad 2 camera

iPad 2 camera

iPhone 4 camera

iPhone 4 camera

iPad 2 camera quality

iPad 2 camera

iPhone 4 camera

iPhone 4 camera

iPad 2 camera quality

iPad 2 camera

Overall the iPad camera leaves much to be desired, but with the bulk of using it as a camera there isn’t going to be much need for the camera function anyway. I think more people will be using these cameras for FaceTime video calls which does seem to have a good quality for a video chat. For everyone who picked up an iPad2 over the weekend what do you think, whats your favorite thing about the iPad 2 so far? Leave us a comment below or head over to our facebook page.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. I am going to be buying the iPad2 when it comes out in the UK at the end of the month and one thing is for sure I will not be using it for any kind of Photography other than using it for storage and for my portfolio. I cant really see what the point has been in this post to compare the iPad2 with the iPhone4 or any other camera for that matter.

    I don’t think it was ever envisaged that the iPad would be used as an actual image capture device other than for web based FaceTime, Skype and for playing with PhotoBooth, which lets face it has always been a fun toy for creating Gravatars.

    To compare them has been fruitless exercise on your part and I am pretty sure you could have done something else to get my enthusiasm levels up over what is an awesome redesign of an already classic product.

    Maybe I am missing something but I cant see there being a cult following for iPad Photography as there has been for iPhone Photography.

    At least give me an insight as to how I can use Garageband to create cool music for my slideshows… 🙂

    just sayin…

  2. I actually already purchased the iPad2. I was extremely excited about it especially because they provided a lot of hype about the front and rear cameras. I do not understand why Apple put in such terrible cameras. It does take alright pictures, but nothing close to the iPhone. It doesn’t make any sense that they didn’t use at least the basic camera they are now putting out on the iPhone. That being said, I haven’t typically used it to take a ton of photos. Like your review, I have noticed that it is a bit more difficult to take photos with it than a standard phone. Now, I have been downloading photos I have already taken with my device, and one of the most things I am currently doing with my iPad is using an app called ScrapPad to turn my photos into pages similar to Scrapbooking. That has been a ton of fun, and with all the other apps I have downloaded, I am still infatuated with my iPad2. Plus, I LOVE watching movies and streaming video to my device, and the quality of picture has been impressive. Thank you for your review. I was trying to find out if something may have been wrong with the cameras on my device, and I am at least comforted to know that I am not the only one having the issue.

  3. I’m so sorry your post didn’t exactly serve Stuart Little’s specific needs and expectations, but this post was far from fruitless to and for me. I’ll soon be trekking across the North American continent and plan on doing some multimodal journaling, integrating snapshots with text via mobile Pages. I’d hoped to be able to do this all with the iPad 2, but the photo samples and analysis you provide clearly signify I need to continue shooting on the phone and importing them to iPad 2 when I upgrade. I don’t need high resolution shots, but I also don’t need subpar, pixelated smack!

    As for Stuart Little, just because you didn’t envisage people using iPads in such ways doesn’t mean they don’t. Have the wisdom to recognize you are not the sun the rest of the world orbits around, dude. Damn, your tone pissed me off. Your enthusiasm? Please…

  4. That last photo looks like that street near Lawrence Expressway in Northern California. I swear I used to drive down that street all the time.

  5. Not lawrence expressway but pretty close by! We are here in Northern California too.

  6. Thanks for your review on ipad 2 camera. I assumed that it would be the same as the current iphone. I had intended to buy this for my wife to take pictures of our new baby and email them to everyone. After reading your review I’m thinking twice about it. Hopefully the next ipad will have the same camera is the iphone 4.

  7. It may have to do with camera resolution. On the iPhone 4 has a 5-megapixel camera sensor, and 720p video sensor. The iPad 2 and iPod touch 4 have a 720p video sensor but Apple didn’t add a 5 megapixel camera sensor, so it uses the 720p sensor on stills(with the sides chopped off so it’s not widescreen) so it’s 0.6mp. But, it advertises on both iPad/iTouch and iPhone, “720p video recording”, “front and rear cameras”, “FaceTime video calling”. So people assume that they are the same.

  8. I too am disappointed at the low quality of the photographs, especially in low light.

    I’ve been experimenting with various note-taking programs (such as Penultimate and Noteshelf) which allow me to take a pic and instantly embed it in a page. I was VERY excited about keeping a “nature notebook” using these tools, only to discover that the pics are clearly subpar in comparison to those taken with my iPhone4. I imagine the same must apply to video footage.

    For me, this is a major disappointment. Why hobble such a great tool with an inferior camera? And after paying out more than six hundred bucks, I did expect the a better shake.

  9. For people who use the iPad for business, having a good camera to scan documents would be a great feature. At the moment, iPad document capture apps suffer from the crappy camera.

  10. In my point of view iPhone camera is quite impressive than iPad 2 camera, although many have different views regarding these stuffs and iPad camera have more advanced features and qualities and the pics are shown that iPad 2 camera is far better than iPhone 4 camera.


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