In defense of iPad photography

When the iPad 2 launched in 2011 with both FaceTime and iSight cameras, it challenged a lot of prejudices and preconceptions, including my own. The image of something the size of an ancient dry plate camera with an accordion up front and a blanket draped over the back leapt to mind, as did tourists in Tommy Bahamas clicking away on iPads as they saw the sights. Part of the problem was the cameras themselves — they were dismal at first and never seemed to catch up to the great cameras shipping with the iPhones. But the rest was pure snobbery.

It should have been evident at the time. If "the best camera is the one you have with you", then for people who only have iPads, that becomes the best camera for them. That was certainly the case for my own family, where several relatives got iPads years before they got iPhones, and used the cameras to capture not only priceless personal memories, but create arts and crafts and more.

Sometimes they still do because the big iPad screen makes it really easy to see all the details and make sure you get as crisp and as perfectly positioned a shot as possible. That's also why, during CESLive last year, surrounded by tens of thousands of dollars of high end camera equipment, we used an iPad mini with hand and lens mount as a roving close-up camera. Under those conditions, for that task, the size of the viewfinder combined with the ability to stream the video made it invaluable.

This is also where I point out the iPad mini cost less than the small LCD display I bought 2 years ago to mount on my 5D Mark III to shoot the breakout videos for Talk Mobile. Sure it doesn't have all the wired outputs the the shoe-mounted LCD has, but then the show-mounted LCD doesn't have any wireless.

Apple's own Your Verse marketing campaign has shown that off as well, highlighting professional photographers who have taken the iPad and its camera to the tops of mountains and the bottom of the sea.

And this year, at the iPad and Mac event, Apple even boosted the iPad Air 2 camera to 8 megapixels and f/2.4, and added burst mode, time-lapse, and more. It's still not on par with the terrific iPhone 6 camera, but it's no longer far, far behind either. Combined with that 9.7-inch view finder, for some people, in some specific circumstance, it might even pull ahead.

My parents, siblings, god children, and more have taken some amazing photos with their iPads. I've taken some as well. And I expect to see many, many more, personal and professional both.

Prejudice and preconception take a while to change. When technology goes mainstream, some power users take exception to the newly empowered ones. Same when colors like gold or sizes like iPad get seen in contexts we aren't used to.

But if we shift our focus from technology and objects to people and achievements, if we consider those who are preserving their priceless memories where they couldn't have before, the ones taking connected photography to places never before possible, that's when prejudice and preconception can be conquered.

That's when it's impossible to look at iPad photography and do anything else but celebrate.