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Apple's iPad 2 back camera under-used, stats reveal

updated 07:00 pm EDT, Mon May 16, 2011

Few using it to create shareable photos

Daily upload stats of Apple products used to create photos submitted to popular photo site Flickr reveal, unsurprisingly, that the cameras on the iPad 2 are not particularly popular for photography, particularly when compared to other Apple mobile products. While users upload about 4,400 photos per day taken with an iPhone 4, a mere 22 per day on average upload a photo taken with an iPad. Various factors could be behind the disparity, including the large gap between numbers sold of each model -- but the consensus is that the iPad 2's camera is simply better suited for video than still images.

Some 15,000 photos on Flickr (which is hardly the only photo-sharing site, but a very large community that offers a good representative sample) have been taken on the iPad, according to the site's own statistics, compared to over 52 million images stored on Flickr from other camera-enabled Apple mobile devices. Interestingly, about 8,000 images on Flickr report having been taken with Apple's original line of QuickTake cameras, though now only averaging one or fewer users per day.

The iPhone 3G was the second most popular Apple camera behind the iPhone 4, with 3,300 images per day on average being shared. The iPhone 3GS, despite having a measurably better camera on-board than the 3G, only manages about 2,000 images per day average. Flickr cautions that their ability to detect specific cameraphones and other models automatically is not perfectly accurate -- since it is reliant on existing and relevant EXIF information -- but is representative enough to draw conclusions and establish trends.

The cameras on the iPad 2 have taken a critical drubbing for their lower quality than those on the iPhone 4; the back camera, which can shoot 720p video, still only uses a sub-1-megapixel lens, shooting still images at about 960x720, while video (being widescreen) is shot at 1,280x720. Either way, the resolution of the iPad's back camera is roughly equal to the earliest popular digital cameras of the 1990s.

Although many critics were surprised at the low resolution of the iPad camera (particularly when compared with the rear camera of the iPhone 4, which shoots at 5 megapixels), the larger size of the iPad meant it was never designed to be used as a replacement for a point-and-shoot camera, whereas modern smartphones of all brands clearly have taken the place of all but the best consumer P&S models.

The front camera on the iPad has a resolution of only 640x480, and is again intended for video (through FaceTime) rather than still images. At present, the iPhone 4 is the second most popular camera of any type for uploading photos to Flickr, directly behind the professional-level Nikon D90. It and the iPhone 3G are far and away the most popular cameraphones as well. [Charts courtesy and Flickr]

by MacNN Staff



  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Because it's a piece of c***

    It's not even a single megapixel for Pete's sake, OF COURSE no one's using it.

  1. AllanCook

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I have a perfectly good iPhone 4 with a pretty nice camera, so I can't imagine ever using the rear-facing camera on my iPad. But I use FaceTime a good deal, so I'm grateful for the front-facing camera.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    A .90MP camera doesn't create very good images...

  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    But the video is really good

    Agreed the still camera is poor, but the iPad2's video performance is really fantastic.

    Second day I had my iPad 2 I went to a gig at a Castle and took some videos of the band playing. High contrast scenes between unlit crowd and very well lit stage could have given most cameras shooting on Auto a hard time as they tried to average out between the highlights and the shadows to create a terrible image where the band were overexposed and the crowd showing too much detail - but that didn't happen. The iPad Video camera measured the light for the bright part of the picture, and I got some excellent shots. And the screen is the best video viewfinder on the market! Framing scenes is dead easy.

    I am disappointed the camera isn't a little better though. It's very poor IMO, although one or two of those 22 pics on Flickr I believe are mine!

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Now people understand...

    How bulky it might be to take picture with an 8 x 10 camera—albeit there is not a bellow nor dark cloth to mess around. Oh, I forgot the film holder and tripod.

    On the other hand, it looks plain silly to use the iPad to take pictures in a crowded place.

    Wait a minute. Using the highly-reflective iPad screen to take pictures requires a dark cloth!

  1. DA360

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cameras better for conferencing, etc.

    Well, there's three easy factors in this:
    1. The camera quality isn't that great. It's good for video conferencing such as FaceTime but that's about it.
    2. People don't always have their iPad on them like they do with their iPhone.
    3. The iPad is a very big device to take pictures with. I am sure that factors the biggest as it seems odd to snap a picture or record a video with it.

    Again, I think the cameras function FAR better in conferencing then taking actual pictures.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    an AMAYzing camera is what ...

    it would take for people to take more pictures. Either that, or having the camera point out the top instead of out the back. Hey! I think we're onto something here!

    Mr. Steve! Have the designers design the next iPad so the camera points out the top, not the back! Duh!

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