Forget the stigma attached to taking photos with a tablet. Yes, seeing someone holding a giant iPad while everyone around them is holding standard-sized phones is amazing. That is why we need to normalize and accept it, for various reasons. More importantly, there are people with mobility and visual limitations who would benefit significantly from having a great camera in a device the size of the new iPad 2022.
I don’t just mean a better camera, I mean a camera that’s as good as anything you’d find on the best iphone. The base model iPad could have the same camera as the base model iPhone 14. The iPad Pro would use the iPhone 14 Pro camera. So not just the best tablet camera, but a camera that could be featured in our best camera phones ready.
The new iPad Pro (2022) got a camera upgrade this year, in an unusual way. The camera module remains essentially unchanged from last year, however the Apple M2 chip inside has a new image signal processor and new hardware encoding/decoding capabilities for a number of video codecs. All of this makes it the first iPad capable of recording 4K video in Apple’s ProRes format.
In promotional photos, Apple shows a videographer holding the iPad centered on a handle mount. This feature is not a joke. It’s easy to imagine an editor reviewing footage on an iPad Pro and realizing something was needed, then using the same device to take that extra shot.
A great camera, not just great for an iPad
Apple should have gone further and given the iPad a significant upgrade to the camera module, including better lenses, sensors, and image stabilization. I’d love to see Apple fully embrace iPad photography and give every iPad, from the ipad-mini to the iPad Pro, the same level of camera quality you’ll find in the company’s compact smartphones.
I have a relative whose hand shakes. They had a career as surgeons before facing early retirement, in part due to this mobility problem. I think of them every time I check a phone. For most of us, a phone is a responsive touch screen. To them, it’s a million tiny buttons, and almost every button is the wrong one to touch.
Using a bigger screen is much easier for them in every way. Touching the right app icon, typing on the keyboard, even grabbing the device is much easier. The camera is one of the few features left for those who trust the phone. I wish Apple would bring this facility to the iPad camera.
Users with mobility problems would not be the only ones to benefit. It’s also easy to imagine why visually impaired owners might also enjoy having an iPad as their primary portable camera, rather than the much smaller iPhone.
In addition to having a larger screen viewfinder, it would be great to have more readable controls and settings. Even for a user with no visual problems, it’s hard to see if a subject is in perfect focus when viewed on an iPhone screen. However, an iPad’s screen is large enough that focusing is more reliable.
Give us a camera upgrade option
There are many possible reasons why Apple doesn’t include flagship phone-quality cameras in its tablets. No manufacturer does. Samsung doesn’t, not even in its Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Google doesn’t either, from what we’ve seen of the simple single camera on the back of the upcoming pixel tablet.
It could be a matter of cost. The base model iPad skyrocketed in price vs. iPad 10.2 (2021), thanks to a striking redesign. Adding the cameras to the iPhone 14 is likely to be too expensive for Apple to want to absorb that expense.
This makes less sense on the iPad Pro, as it already packs a camera punch and Apple isn’t shy about sky-high prices. Even a camera option, such as a “Max” version of each model, would be a welcome addition.
Come on Apple, you love plugins! Give us a $149 option for better cameras on any iPad and I’d know exactly who I’d recommend it to.
Better for everyone means better for me
To tell the truth, I’m being selfish. I want a better iPad camera for myself. I want to use my iPad as a camera, for all the reasons I mentioned above, even though I don’t have those physical limitations. I want a bigger screen, bigger buttons, and controls that are easier to see.
I want a device that’s big and easy to hold, one that gives me a wide, clear view of the photo I’m about to take and share. I want to use the same device to take the great photo, then edit it, and then send it. This is Apple’s vision for ProRes video on the iPad Pro. It’s my vision for photography on every iPad.
Giving users with physical limitations a better camera on the iPad is a move toward social equity. It gives everyone an equal opportunity to take great photos. I would also benefit because, as with all moves toward equity, we all benefit when devices become more accessible.