iPad 2 cameras hands-on

The iPad 2 is equipped with two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera and a rear facing 720p HD camera. Check out the video above for example footage with both cameras.

Recording video on the iPad 2 is a little awkward given it's large size, but it gets the job done. Another thing that takes some getting used to is that when using the front-facing camera to record yourself in landscape mode, the camera is positioned to the far left (or right). It feels strange looking so far from the center of the screen because I have grown accustomed to looking at the top of a device or just the screen while recording video. It's clear that you are not looking at the camera if you stare at the screen while recording.

The quality of video taken with the VGA and HD cameras are as expected. In well-lit situations, the HD camera produces excellent results and the VGA camera gives acceptable quality. Both cameras do an ok job in bad lighting situations, but admittedly do better than I was expecting. In fact, while taking footage in my daughter's poorly lit bedroom, the video looked pretty bad; but after uploading it to YouTube and watching on a computer, it didn't look too shabby.

Taking still photographs with the iPad 2 is not nearly as rewarding as video. The photographs come out mediocre even in excellent light conditions. With that said, I was actually rather impressed with the close-up photograph I took of a bush. Digital zoom with the rear-facing camera, however, is awful. It's not even worth your time to test it out.

Considering the fact that the iPad 2 is not, and should not be, regarded as a primary camera, I am content with the quality of the video and photographs obtained with the iPad 2. Of course, I would love to see better cameras, but they do a good enough job for my needs.

To check out the photos taken with the iPad 2, follow along after the break!

Side note: the video above was edited with iMovie on the iPad 2.

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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Why I'm passing on the iPad 2

There are 67 comments. Add yours.

JF7FSU says:

The camera really sucks. Anything indoors is so grainy it looks like I could do better with a daguerreotype.

Andrew says:

Cameras are awful. I feel like apple barely reached the level of old 1st gen Razr phone cameras. I am personally very disappointed and would have gladly paid extra $ for something decent.
Love the new iPad2 and have played wih it a lot today....but it really isn't a major update over my 1st gen. I was hoping to snazz up my blogging with more regular updates with the new camera option. Not sure if I can bring myself to post much from these substandard cameras. Don't have an IPhone 4, and my eyes don't work well enough to type a lot on my 3GS... Guess I'll post blurry, noisy, black and white "art" photos from my ipad2 in the meantime. Haha

Andrew says:

Just to clarify. The device itself is very nice and I see it's increased power (in particular, GPU) to start showing some major leaps over 1st gen as developers start utilizing it. Cameras, however, still embarrassing.

dloveprod says:

At first I was gonna justify the cameras being so bad by saying, well their must meant for video, then I remembered the photo booth app and that went out the window, oh well might as well just let it go and enjoy everything that's great about it.

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kevin says:

Cameras are terrible. Why would Apple put sub par cameras in and call it HD? Its not HD!

jwriherd says:

"HD" is anything over 480 horizontal lines, which doesn't mean it will look great if it's HD. Pixel density and so many other things factor in, the camera prob shoots in 720 but low pixel density and the intake of light is prob nothing compared to the iphone 4. I do think they should have done a better job, but who is buying an ipad 2 for the cameras?

Carioca32 says:

It´s an euphemism. Apple marketing is calling it HD no mask the fact that the back camera of the iPad 2 is less that 1 megapixel. The old reality distortion field in action.

jwriherd says:

Not really. The definition for what HD is simple. And this cameras falls under it. It's a crap camera, just a crap HD camera. My iPhone 4 has a good HD camera, but compare it to an HD camera used to film Incepton, then there is no comparison.

SteveW928 says:

Thanks much for posting these! (Oh, and your daughter is mega-cute!!!)
Yea, those aren't that great, but kind of serve the main purposes of doing the video conferencing and adding people to your address book, or putting the occasional quick-pic on Facebook, etc. If I intended on taking photos, I think I'd bring a pocket camera along, as even a super cheap one will blow the cameras in all these phones and tablets away!
My main reason for wanting a bit more rez in the rear camera, would have been to be able to snap pics of a book at the library, and maybe be able to OCR it. So, in that regard, a 4 or 5 MP camera would have been nice, even if not the same one as the iPhone4. But, nothing that will keep me from buying one.

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AlfieJr says:

cameras are just for FaceTime. geeze, that is not hard to figure out. all this fuss is silly.
smartphones all have decent cameras now. and the iPad is not a smartphone replacement. obviously much easier physically to take snapshots with a phone. everyone has a phone anyway.
you want good vacation pix with optical zoom, or a big flash, get a real camera.
Facetime is for enjoyment, not precision. and if you are going to mess up your face with Photobooth anyway, what the heck does fine detail matter for?
silly fuss.

Andrew says:

Then why bother putting a second "camera"? Not needed for FaceTime.
I am a full-time professional photographer and of course I take my real cameras out. But that doesn't excuse nor make me any less put out by the less than bad cameras on board this device.

iBoy says:

I don't know why but Apple always sucks on the camera. It wasn't until iPhone 4 when it wasn't a laughing stalk to competitors. So Apple!

jwriherd says:

Cause the camera's get the job done, if you're really into photography the best smart phone camera and point n shoots are all jokes. These are just for convenience and fun. Buy a Xoom, it's a glacier compared to the ipad 2 in the benchmark tests, but it has a 8 mp camera so it's way better.

PetrN says:

ipad2 is 8,8mm thick, how could anybody compare cameras with devices almost 50% thicker? Yes, this compromise, but it is better to have whole tablet thin than thick like xoom because better cameras. At least for me.

Darkstar says:

I was not impressed by the thinness of the new iPad. I would rather have the same thickness of the old iPad but with a 1080p video camera and capable 5-6MP digital camera. Slap 128MB of storage on there and it would have sold me in a heartbeat. Guess I'll have to wait for next year.

Salty walty says:

Agreed!!!! At least 3mp. C'mon apple, u would think the prices for the lens components would be down to zero.

Joel says:

Agreed as well. Give me the original iPad case (which is fine and thin enough for me) and a better camera.

webvex says:

Yes, people seem to forget about the thickness, or lack thereof. It's thinner than the iPhone 4, and they had to go with less focal length on that. They could go with more resolution (megapixels), but the focal length will always be limited in devices that thin and digital zoom always sucks. It's a choice: thin devices or decent cameras. Of course, like the display, they're holding back features for the iPad 3 as well.

Marcus says:

Well this comment is a load of crap; this tablet is barely 1mm thinner than the Blackberry Playbook and it can afford to pack a 3mp cam in the front and 5mp in the rear.

James says:

True. The lack of Auto-focus is another deal breaker for me, since it's needed for some apps.

Chris says:

I think iPad 2 is effectively a 3GS upgrade over the original. iPadS may have been more accurate. Perhaps iPad 3 will be the iPhone 4 upgrade equivalent.

Darkstar says:

You know, I was standing in line with a black 64 Gig Wi-Fi iPad 2 in-hand, all ready to purchase it. That is, until I got to play with the one on the display next to the purchase line. I was so disappointed with the cameras that I got pissed off and left. I mean, come the flip on Apple, the friggen iPad is a flagship device. Its camera should at LEAST have been as good as the iPhone 4, if not better, but it was far worse. It is what killed the deal for me.
I consider myself an amateur photographer, and I also like to shoot videos of all kinds of random things, but the iPad 2 was a complete failure of photographic bliss. A piss-poor excuse for a camera and video recording device. A 1280 x 720 digital camera? Freaking pathetic.
I would have happily left with an iPad 2 had it had a 5MP rear facing camera, and would have been even more exstatic if it had 1080p video recording. But, unfortunately, it looks like my hopes and dreams will have to wait another year. Something tells me I'll be disappointed yet again.

Andrew says:

FYI - it's not even 1280x720. It's 967x727. (not even 720p as promoted)

Baba Booey says:

ATTN: EVERYONE.
If you want to take pictures, you should buy, let's see, what is that thing called...........oh, yes, A CAMERA.
Anyone that does not buy iPad 2 because they were expecting a 10 mp camera is simply a jackass.

Carioca32 says:

Funny, I take fine pictures with my iPhone 4, no need for a dedicated camera. Let´s face it, if this was on a competitors product, no one here would be saying "gets the job done", which is also an euphemism for "crap".

Joel says:

Having the original iPad, I expect more. Apple puts out an image that you have the best, so as a consumer I want the best. I'm willing to pay for the best. Plus their competitors have better cameras. I checked out the xoom's camera yesterday and was wishing that was on the iPad 2.

Marsha Leigh says:

I agree. I take great shots with my iphone4 when out and about-it's just so convenient and easy to hold and drop in my bag. OR take out my tiny REGULAR camera if really necessary. I'm happy with seeing the quality of pix/vids so far and for mainly facetime as I wouldn't switch using the ipad as a camera (too hard to manage walking around I think.) I think people are being a little unrealistic how Apple chose what was important.

Joel says:

I wasn't expecting 10MP camera. I was expecting a camera that was better than my daughter's toy camera I got her 2 years ago. Coming from an iPad 1 the only thing I care for is for the camera. Without a good camera, iMovie because useless so I might as well stick to my original iPad.

Elijah says:

This is one of the reasons I'm not upgrading. Apple couldceasily put a nicer camera in there, at least on the back. It might work well with the smaller iOS devices, but not an iPad!

Edward says:

Forget the camera, how about a nice retina display for the new iPad!?! They could have doubled the resolution on this bad boy like they did from the 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Joel says:

After finding out that it is only 900 mhz dual core I believe the reason why they didn't go for the higher res was that graphics would not perform as well on the device.

Joel says:

The camera's are the main reason why I returned my iPad 2 even after standing in line for over 2 hours. Greatly disappointed. I will be sticking to my iPad 1 for now.

Darkstar says:

Cameras were the reason I gave my iPad 2 to someone else and left before I bought one. Thankfully I'll save some money until next time. Let's hope for a 1080p video camera in the iPhone 5!

Seth says:

Good article Leanna!! I like how your daughter is just looking up at you, like..."what are you doing mom" It will be neat for her to see this later in life.
While it would be nice to have better cameras, they seem fine to me. It is frustrating that Apple left out better cameras, (more than likely because of thickness, cost & incentive on iPad 3) but the iPad is so much more than a camera device. I personally will use other cameras, DSLR, iPhone 4, Flip etc... for my photography/video needs and use the iPad for all the other things it is designed for. The cameras look good enough and will not be a deal breaker for me. If only for Facetime, they are perfect...let's just hope Facetime improves and more people begin to use it. :)

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Monyk says:

I have not had any time to play with either of those. I am not sure if my caerma has video lol :) Maybe? That was AWESOME! I loved it and must try. I see a budding director :)

good grief says:

10 seconds is all you could manage? wow

steven says:

Camera's Bad.....Baby Cute! :)

hannes says:

You have the cutest baby congrats :)

Matt says:

Shat the he'll do you people want? The video is perfectly adequate! Who in their right mind would use an iPad to shoot video as their primary device. You idiots, don't buy an iPad then. Go buy an HD video camera for like a flip or kodak camera. Anyone who takes their iPad to shoot video is just stupid. The iPad camera is a nice to have feature but is certainly not necessary. Those who are complaining should just go buy a Xoom and play with the fewer than 100 apps. Oh and with the Xoom you can shoot video also and by the way you will still look just as stupid as people who will be using the iPad as their primary video camera. Good luck editing your video on the Xoom. The iPad camera may not be great but I garauntee that my videos will be much more interesting to watch because I can edit itnon the iPad. I love how people complain about a product that they don't have and is market leader. Obviously the MS and Google fanboys are feeling some heat from Apple for once in their lives. I myself have had google, ms and apple products and only want the best product. The iPad 2 is the best tablet by far and everyone knows it.

Ericg1480 says:

While i agree that the cameras could have been better I think they do a decent job for what they are. I played with the xoom and i thought the camera's on them were terrible, I thought they looked grsiner than the iPad's.

Buck1127 says:

Not bad photo quality and all I can say is ....... Awwwwwww what a beautiful baby

SteveW928 says:

Yea, they actually look pretty good until you blow them up. And, I think what I'd mainly use it for (in regard to stills) would be just tossing a quick pic of something up on Facebook or something anyway... which it would seem to be plenty good for.
My main disappointment was that I was hoping it would have enough rez to snap a shot of a book to OCR. I doubt it will have enough, though I've never tried it with that low of rez. One would think they could have bumped the rez up, even if they didn't improve it in other ways.

kmiahali says:

The iPad 2 has a 0.9MP camera for stills, only 0.2 higher than the iPod touch. It's only good for HD video at 720p. Although I kind of wish it had flash.

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influenceuk says:

Looked alright when i viewed on my iPhone 4 the other night. Viewed on my desktop today and it looks a bit crap tbh. I was expecting alot more actually.

Dood says:

OMG are you telling me that it's not as quality as the RED cameras?!

Andrew says:

Not even as good as a toys R Us plastic stocking stuffer camera for a 3 yr old.
Btw:there are plenty of small little thin flip phones that produce better images than this. I don't believe size can be an excuse here. Heck if they didnt accomplish all they have with other features, people would be saying the same thing about battery life, etc. "can't be done, it's too thin, have to make compromises somewhere, etc..."
For the record, I still love the device. Just disappointed that Apple really looks cheap with this particular component. I realize there are some Apple Fanatics that will defend anything and everything that Apple creates. But call a spade a spade. It's not a true 720p pic and the picture quality for 2011 technology is very substandard in my opinion.
Take care.

TJO3 says:

I don't think this is "sub-standard." I really don't see why people think that this is so bad. Now back with the original iPhone, 3G, & 3GS I would be right next to you with my pitchfork. Those pictures were barely recognizable. I agree that they're not the greatest cameras ever put on a mobile device, but they're not nearly as bad as you portray. The iPad (and just about every other tablet out there) doesn't really fit what I think a tablet should be, so I totally agree that it has its problems. I really think that the camera is the least of my worries as a consumer for this product.

iBlackdude says:

Come on guys !!!!!! Did anyone noticed that she's shooting in crappy light condition ??
Any major camera will have the same result. That's why pro photographers uses extra light ! N
I smell a CONSPIRACY ! nn

Dood says:

Pro photographers wouldn't shoot with a camera that automatically adjusts FPS based on exterior lighting. So that's not even close to an issue.

ivango711 says:

if you are using ipad 2 for facetime, its suitable for that..Leanna, love the video and pic of the baby...very cute. I thought the camera/video was adequate for leisure activity or having fun..

patricksmangan says:

So, ever sense 4.3 i havnt been able to pinch to make youtube videos full screen like i used to b able to, its now just a regular web zoon :( BUG!

Jer says:

I was concerned about the camera, but played with one in the store just to see how it would look using Facetime. Totally acceptable for me. The lower rez will also speed things up a bit when bandwitdh is tight. People are worrying too much here, my Droid X has an 8MP camera and handles most point-and-shoot work, why bother using a tablet to shoot pics? Everyone has a smart phone with a half-decent camera now, and you can buy a good compact digital camera these days for $150.

OmariJames says:

decent I suppose. Seems like they used the iPhone 4 cameras.

Andrew says:

Not even close. Perhaps the iPod touch cameras. Definitely not the iPhone 4 cameras, or even the 3Gs for that matter.

TJO3 says:

The cameras don't seem like they're that bad. They seem on par with the other smartphones out there that have the 8MP cameras. The quality is pretty damned good. I feel you all are being way to hard on the quality. There's only so much bang for your buck that you're going to get at this price point. I just looked up some Sony Cybershot prices and they range from $250-$350. That's about half the price of the iPad 2 itself. Personally, having a camera on my phone, tablet, or iPad would only be a commodity. I don't take a lot of pictures and quality like what is shown in the video is more than acceptable especially because any pictures I would take would be taken outside. I'm actually really impressed with these cameras. Also, buying with Apple I go into the transaction knowing that I'm not getting cutting edge hardware. I don't feel that has ever been their game. I'm not overly upset about that either because they are very good with what they have.

RainyDayInterns says:

The rear camera's resolution is actually adequate for close-up work...with a little hacking:http://www.rainydaymagazine.com/RDM2011/Home/April/Week2/RDMHomeApr1411....
We have some ideas on how to make it more portable...stay tune :-)

Edhdsn says:

For you folks that have a Iphone 4 and a Ipad 2 get the app "Bump"
and you can transfer your pics without cables from your iphone to your ipad

Emilio says:

If you have an iPhone/droid you can get paid apps for free. Just dlawoond the app Checkpoints and sign up using the bonus code EICH420. Not that hard..

free ipad 2 no offers or surveys says:

I seriously doubt few if any with in-warranty idevices will go to a 3rd party repair shop.