One of the first things that I always do when I get a new iDevice is check out the quality of the camera. Although I was happy to see FaceTime included with the iPad 2 last year when I reviewed the iPad 2 camera vs. the iPhone camera I shared my disappointment with the camera quality but also said that you really are going to rarely use the iPad as a actual camera. I can’t see myself out with friends just hanging out and whipping out my iPad to take a few photos. That being said though over the past year I have found a few instances where my phone wasn’t on me and something really cool was going on right in front of me while I happened to have my iPad right on my lap. It was only a handful of times but still did happen and after grabbing a few images was always reminded how poor the camera was.
Even though it doesn’t get much use I was happy to see that Apple was upping the game with the New iPad camera. There really is no comparison between the 2, even in good light the new iPad camera looks much better than the iPad 2 and when you get into dim lighting situations it really is night and day the difference. The camera they are using for the new iPad is a Omnivision OV5650 which is a 5 Mp camera featuring 1.75 µm pixels. This is actually the same camera they used for the iPhone 4. The sensor supports HD (1080p) video at 30 fps.
Here are some sample comparison images to get a feel for the difference in various lighting conditions. You can click on any image to view it full size.
This shot is in a very similar lighting situation with a large window light coming in from the left however there are lots of areas of shadows and you can see how you start to loose detail in the iPad 2.
Where you can really see the difference is when you crop in tight. Here is a closer view of these images:
Where you really start to see the difference is when the light goes down. This scene didn’t have bad lighting, again a large window but with the curtains partially closed so not much light was coming through. The iPhone 4S can actually handle a situation like this pretty well but the iPad2 really suffers in these situations and starts to become unusable.
and for comparison here is the iPhone 4S
Up close again you see the weakness in the iPad 2 camera (from left to right iPad 2, new iPad and iPhone 4S)
When you get into typical indoor lighting conditions the iPad 2 got very pixelated and blotchy. Here is a comparison that had lighting with 1 lamp in the office, a window with a little light coming through and you can see the iPad 2 (on the left) becomes pretty unusable with this type of light. The middle section is from the new iPad and the right is the iPhone 4S.
Just some quick first testing from the new iPad camera. Again its going to be rare that most of us are running around shooting portraits and landscapes with a iPad (although the size is much smaller than what Ansel Adams used for those beautiful landscapes he created. Although it might not get used a lot it is nice to have a decent camera in there now just in case you need it.
More info and reviews coming on the new iPad over the next few days so keep checking back! Also leave a comment below with any questions or your own thoughts on your iPad experiences.
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