iPad 2 Camera Mostly Unused

Flickr's monthly camera usage reports indicate that almost no one is using the iPad 2 to capture images and upload them to the photo-sharing site.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

May 16, 2011

3 Min Read

Statistics compiled by Flickr show some troubling data about the iPad 2. Flickr keeps active logs on the types of cameras that are being used to capture images that are then shared on the site.

Flickr's stats show that in the most recent month, there were but 24 active iPad 2 users each day on all of Flickr. About 14,000 photos have been uploaded to Flickr from the iPad 2.

By way of comparison, there averaged 4,423 active daily users of the iPhone 4, who have uploaded 7.15 million photos. Users of the iPhone 3G (which has the benefit of old age) are active, too, with 3,308 people uploading each day for a total of 34.9 million (since 2008).

Before we read too much into these statistics, remember that the iPad 2 has only been on the market for about two months, compared to 11 months for the iPhone 4 and 34 months or the iPhone 3G. But still, those are pathetically low numbers for the iPad 2. Why?

To say that the iPad 2's cameras aren't meant to take photos is an understatement. They both produce horrible images.

The camera application itself is a copy-and-paste treatment of the iPhone's camera. It is as basic as they come. There are really only a few options. Images are captured by pressing the software button at the bottom of the screen. If you want to switch to the user-facing camera or video recorder, there are buttons that let you do that. The application also supports zooming. Otherwise, there are no fancy features to the camera software.

The cameras on competing devices, such as the Motorola Xoom, RIM PlayBook, and Samsung Galaxy Tab, are much better. They rate 5 megapixels, 5 megapixels, and 8 megapixels, respectively.

How are the results with the iPad 2? Bad, bad, and bad. The user-facing camera captures a pathetic 0.3 megapixels (VGA). Images are chock full of grain, blocky, and the camera had real trouble handling white balance correctly. It's pretty much worthless for anything other than FaceTime chatting.

The main camera is better, but not by much. It handles essentials such as white balance, color representation, and focus well, but there's still so much grain/noise that images are mostly unusable.

Beyond the quality problems, as I've said in the past, using a tablet as a camera is beyond awkward. It's just not meant to happen. Don't believe me? Look at this image, which I captured at the Google I/O developer conference last week. See those guys holding the huge tablets to take video of Jane's Addiction? Does that look comfortable or natural? No, it sure as heck doesn't.

Tablets aren't meant to be used as photo-capturing devices. To tablet makers, I say: Stick a decent camera on the side facing the user for video chats, but leave the dedicated imager to smartphones or, better yet, point-and-shoots.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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