Editor's desk: 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 (opens in new tab). 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.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • If you're taking photos with an iPad and there's nobody else around, then fine, you look like a muppet but you're not in anyone's way. If you're doing it somewhere where there are other people, and worse, where there are crowds, then you're displaying an unacceptable level of selfishness. It isn't okay, and never will be.
  • This. Or get in the back row. Sent from the iMore App
  • I just wish people wouldn't do it right in front of me at the football stadium or in the grandstands at a race track. Rene makes some great points but if you hold a full size iPad in front of me and get in the way of what I can see, I don't like you. Sorry.
  • This is my problem with it. Most people that do it are not courteous of those around them. It looks dumb and obnoxious but people aren't self aware and they block others and that's where my irritation started with the practice. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd rather have someone taking a few shots with an iPad in front of me than someone talking loudly nearby on their phone for an extended period. The latter happens a lot more than the former, mostly by young people who are clueless about the obnoxiousness of their behavior.
  • You found a young person that talks on the phone? Posted via the 5s I'm not ashamed of using in my home.
  • So funny I forgot to laugh...
  • Even more weird are those who think the Plus iphone looks bad held up to face and instead recommend a bt headset. It's been years and I still think people wearing bt headsets in public look silly. And even sillier when they're using them as they tend to talk louder.
  • True, I only wear mine in the car or other situations when people can't hear me talking.
  • Don't say "young people" are being obnoxious about there behavior. Age doesn't mean anything, it's the individual. And I have seen more "older people" take pictures with a tablet in public. There are 13 year olds who aren't "obnoxious" and more mature than some 30 year olds! Sent from the iMore App
  • That's my experience: it's young people, not middle-aged or older, who talk loudly into their phones in public for extended periods. And I didn't say older people never did anything obnoxious--I was simply referring to one specific behavior characteristic of the last 10-15 years or so, but it seems to be getting worse more recently. Side note: I was sitting in a cafe recently near a young woman (about 20 or so) who loudly and excitedly told a friend 1) it was her 21st birthday, 2) she was going to get "really drunk" for the first time, and 3) gave the exact locations of the bars she was going to visit and the times. About 20 people could hear her. I then mentioned to her that it was foolish to broadcast all that information and, if she were my daughter, I would be really concerned. She blasted me loudly as if I was the one who was going to attack her. Unbelievable.
  • Chill gramps. Old people are just as rude.
  • "And I didn't say older people never did anything obnoxious..." Pay attention, junior.
  • I know you are a bit irritable today. Let me put on your talking pictures for ya.
  • Your wit betrays your youth and inexperience. Almost endearing. Almost...
  • An iPad just isn't something I use for photos because I always have iPhone. No problems with those who use them though. I'm not sure why others feel so strongly about it other than if you're at an event and it gets in your way.
  • Yeah especially when they are filming their kids at an event and blocking you from filming your kids. And then you're the jerk when you saw something... Sent from the iMore App
  • Living near a national treasure like Rocky Mountain National Park I am impressed by how many people pop out of a car with their iPad and take a picture. It is hard to beat the large image to compose a nice photograph.
  • It's true that the best camera you have is the one with you but as touched upon by the others if I get to my kid's event early to stake out a spot so I'm out of people's way and then someone comes in last minute, steps in front of me and shoves their iPad in front of my lens, it's rude and obnoxious. They're not blocking just my view but several other people's as well. Not to mention it's an incredibly unstable way to get a photo, they're unwieldy. A person would be far better off using their phone to get a semi decent shot. As a dvice to assist in photography when everybody has room to get their shot, sure. When the place is crowded or there's an event where everyone is trying to take pics, not so much.
  • If you use an Ipad as a camera in public you are a selfish moron. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • It is even funnier when they drop them Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I have an iOgrapher and lenses for my iPad Mini non-Retina. I have several pics from a Colorado trip. Good light, morning, sun behind me, tripod mounted. The scenes are a bit disappointing. The clarity was not there really and I think maybe the iPad was focusing on places within the scene but not on the scene. That may seem logical except there seemed to be odd focused areas that didn't match where I had focused it. (I am not a photographer, clearly). I have pics from my car from my iPhone 5S that are much better. Granted, you're talking 5mp compared to 8mp but I still expected better. That said I frequently find I get iffy photos with my iPhone 5S so I was surprised it was beating out the iPad to such a degree.
  • You are just a BAD PHOTOGRAPHER...
  • Oh it's worse. I'm not a photographer! :p
  • Sorry Renee, but in a public setting, there is no defense of iPad Photography. It's obnoxious, rude and selfish. If people actually had a clue - and more importantly, manners - in this day and age, it might be OK. But they don't. So until that day comes, keep the iPad in your bag and use a phone or camera.
  • This may be the thinnest iPad ever but it's one of the biggest camera's. It's easy for Apple to throw in a slightly better camera every year and add this to the feature list of upgrades, but anyone that needs a viewfinder larger than an iPhone should not be taking pictures in the first place, because they can't see.
    I would say that a better front facing camera is more worthwhile but its ridiculous for anyone to use the iPad for serious photography. In fact they should ban iPads from concerts and sporting events. If it's such a great and important feature why didn't they upgrade the camera in the iPad mini? The 2nd biggest viewfinder. Sent from the iMore App
  • Im on the fence about cameras in iPads. As long as people aren't being obnoxious in their use I could care less. People with no taste or couth can be and are more annoying just talking on the phone. Hell, let's just be thankful we won't be seeing anyone whipping out an iPad at the register to pay with Apple Pay! Sent from the iMore App
  • You don't have to like or use this camera often and that's fine but everyone has to admit that now the iPad is really premium hardware and not only a premium price. Display is great, button is useful, and a tablet being water resistant isn't that important as a phone so it doesn't have that many shortcomings when you look at the competition.
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