The iPad 2 was only announced five days ago, and won't ship until late this week, but already we're seeing the beginnings of a small backlash against the device's two cameras. The strongest criticism comes from Wired, in an article entitled "Just How Bad Is The iPad 2 Camera?"--which was also published on, giving it a lot of extra exposure. And Wired isn't alone in the criticism.

The basic thesis of the article is that Apple might have been better served by leaving cameras out altogether than by adding in cameras as poor in quality as the ones they chose. In fact, the camera will shoot images at less than one megapixel. Yikes.

Did Apple Cheap Out On The iPad 2 Video Cameras? Yes & No ipadcamera2 300x336 The article's opening line sets the tone:

"It seems impossible for Apple to put a decent camera into anything but the iPhone, and despite many hopes, both cameras in the iPad 2 are about as rudimentary as you could get without having to load a roll of film in there."

The image quality is going to be similar to early 1990's-era digital cameras. And that's strange for several reasons, not the least of which is that higher quality cameras are commonplace these days--the average flip phone camera takes photos at higher than 1MP resolution.

But it's not that Apple is clueless about cameras--quite the opposite, in fact. The iPhone 4's camera is fantastic, and rivals the best smart-phone cameras on the market.

BUT, What About The Camera's Video Capability?

Video is only growing in importance and it appears that Apple gets it as opposed to the first iteration of the device. This time, with regard to capturing video, they included 2 cameras in the device (intended for use with facetime).  And, despite the poor image quality for stills, it appears that the video camera at the back of the device is 720p capable with up to 30 frames/sec.  Although not full HD, the video capability is inline with that of the Motorola Zoom, flip cameras, and many other devices.

That being said, the front camera is only VGA video which confers a resolution of no more than 800X600 in 4:3 format so you'd be better off using the camera in the back.  Unfortunately, unlike the iPhone, there is no video light/flash and so you will need to capture video in situations where light is not scarce.

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So What Gives?

Did Apple Cheap Out On The iPad 2 Video Cameras? Yes & No ipadcamera3 300x376 1. Maybe better cameras would have raised the price too much. Perhaps Apple compromised, and had to use cheaper cameras because they spent their budget on a slimmer case, a dual-core processor, or a fancy newfangled magnetic cover.

2. Maybe Apple didn't make this device for people who want high quality images. The most common defense of the original iPad that I heard from fanboys was this: "you just don't get it... they didn't make it for you." And you know what? I'm willing to believe that, to a degree. Maybe Apple wants to make consuming web-based content super easy for the non-tech crowd: grandparents, soccer moms, etc.

3. Maybe Apple's research showed that still images weren't that important to prospective iPad 2 owners. That's possible. But if so... then why put them in at all?

Whatever apple's reason for choosing low-quality cameras for the iPad 2, I think it was a mistake but Im pleased that the video camera in the back of the device is inline with the times.

Will It Hurt Sales?

Probably not. People who are in the sweet spot of potential buyers for this device are probably not going to be stopped in their tracks by a sub-par camera. And people who are most motivated by camera specs aren't likely to be on the hunt for a tablet device anyway for the primary purpose of capturing image or video content.

But sooner or later these two groups are going to begin to merge. And I guess that's why Apple's choice here is baffling to me. People want the ability to capture stills and video footage wherever they may be in life... at any time. And eventually, they're going to demand that any device with a camera have a camera that actually takes a decent picture.

  • Farrukh Hassan

    I've just buy ipad 2 and very disappointed with the bad camera/picture quality...:-(

    • Owais Aslam

      ooooooooooooo.muje gift kar dae phir farukh bhai...........:)

  • Phil Dinnis

    The I pad 2 camera is really poor and I'm not sure what they were thinking in putting cameras of less that 1 megapixel. It's all about making more money than the next that and lack of adobe flash are it's only downfall apart from that I'm a convert. Thanks sis xx.

  • David Ross II

    I want an ipad 2 Wondering if I should get that over other tabs.

  • chuck diesel

    I think the camera will be more user friendly for parents who want to put clips of little junior on a sports website like this one?

  • i-i-i-mememe

    It's not the camera resolution that's so unforgiveable (and it's pretty bad, but I can live with the resolution for posting blog photos). It's the unusable quality of the low res pictures that kills me.

  • Eric Spears

    I noticed that the camera had crappy images - At first I bought it was insufficient light or an artifact of looking at the pictures on the big iPad screen and that they would look better in some other context. But even the kids in my school, who think my iPad is super cool, noticed right away that the camera was bad.

  • Jon

    Who was planning on holding up the iPad to take professional quality photos? Thats what a standalone camera is for. Or even an iPhone 4 camera - its much easier to hold and more people are going to use a phone camera instead of looking stupid taking pictures with an iPad.

    The iPad 2 camera is basically for video chat -- for which the quality and resolution is great.

    • Kalyan

      Yeah. When you want to take a decent picture you will connect your hi resolution camera. Search for batteries memory cards if they are missing and once you find take snaps then connect your camera to computer use itunes to import it to see on your ipad. Wow sounds pretty simple.

  • Ronnie Bincer


  • Grant Crowell

    With such bad cameras for video capturing or even photography, and no SD card input, why not just get a 1st-edition iPad for $150 less, and use the savings towards a digital camcorder and an SD card adapter? As much as I would like to get one, I don't see what extra benefit there is for doing video production, post-producton, or distribution. Anyone else care to share their thoughts?

    • mcobrien

      Well said, Grant. The ipad 2's camera was designed for the average user who just wants to take a few pics/vids when the moment strikes ie; when they don't have their phone or another camera at the ready/maybe some facetime. And who would really anyone want to use an ipad for serious video production? So far, Apple seems to have a tablet that smokes the competition on features AND price with nothing on the horizon that will really match it, but a production machine, it's not.

    • Seth Ethington

      I have to admit I was really excited about getting an ipad 2 until I saw that the camera resolution was so bad. I think apple just lost a sale.

      • Jon

        I'm sure they'll cry over your lack of purchase