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Summary:

Quick question: How many times have you seen someone using a tablet to capture video or take pictures? The odds are likely that most will answer “never,” but with the introduction Apple’s new iPad I think that answer is about to change, for three reasons.

ipad-as-video-camera

Quick question: How many times have you seen someone using a tablet to capture video or take pictures? The odds are likely that most people will say “never,” but with the introduction of Apple’s new iPad, I think that answer is about to change, for three reasons. The new iPad’s combination of a large, high-resolution screen, excellent camera sensor and updated editing software could change the way we think about creating video content with tablets.

For the past two years, people have suggested that taking video with a tablet simply looks stupid. That makes sense to a point. But to some, having a conversation with your phone about today’s weather looks stupid too. And holding up an iPad for a FaceTime chat isn’t the sexiest-looking activity either. Yet we’re still doing both. Why? Because these are both effective solutions. At some point, what used to “look stupid” can become the norm if it works well.

Strange looks aside, I think the new iPad will become a far more useful tool for video and pictures than people yet realize. Sure, our smartphones are superb for capturing images and sharing them as well; that’s why the No. 1 camera used on Flickr is a phone. Handhelds are generally always with us, making it easy to capture the moment. But editing can be a chore on the small screen and its limited number of pixels.

That changes with a 9.7-inch screen with 2048 x 1536 resolution. Think about it: You have a portable editing palette with 50 percent more resolution than even the best HDTVs currently available. Add in the updated iMovie software — and the new iPhoto app for still shots — and the editing process is favored on a tablet over a smartphone. Both software titles also work on Apple’s iPhone, where I’m sure they’ll be used as well, but if given a choice, I’d rather edit on the larger, higher-resolution display. I’d also prefer to show that content off on an iPad over a smartphone.

The other factor here is the camera sensor itself. Few tablet makers have invested the effort and cost to integrate a rear camera that’s worth relying on. The new iPad re-uses the sensor from its iPhone 4, which is very capable in all lighting situations.

If you have an iPhone 4, you know how much of an improvement that sensor was over the iPad 3GS camera. Besides the boost to 5 megapixels and support for HD recording, the camera has five optical element layers and a back-illuminated sensor. Even though the iPhone 4S improves on this, the top camera used for Flickr is still the iPhone 4.

Whether it looks stupid or not, the new iPad has all of the tools to morph the tablet into a stellar video content creation tool. If Apple didn’t think so, I can’t see why it would have boosted the camera sensor and created richer editing tools for this very purpose.

Image courtesy of Flickr user atmtx.

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  1. I see tourists using iPads as cameras all the time in SF. Not sure the reason.

    I saw a person at Fleet Week holding their iPad up in the air so that they could see above the crowd by using the video camera.

  2. I just used my iPad 2 to video tape during an on the road user research session. Normally I use my iPhone 4Ses with a Fostex AR-4i, but I drained both batteries. I was surprised how much I liked using it, and how helpful the larger screen size was.

  3. It’s a marvellous device for capturing imagery, with the huge screen a positive help, especially when precise cropping is needed.

    As for looking odd, well, perhaps it’s no odder than any large-format camera, though the tripod I use with a homemade clamp has raised a few eyebrows.

    My iPad 3 drives on April 2 – the extra pixel count on both still and video should mean a massive upgrade in quality. Whoopee :-)

  4. David Jefferis Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Ahem… “My iPad 3 drives on April 2″ …?

    Should read: “arrives”, FedEx/TNT permitting, of course.

  5. Not sure about taking pictures – taking pictures usually needs to be started quickly and finished soon afterwards, so iPhone + Photo Stream into the iPad’s iPhoto will probably work better – but I certainly see the new iPad being used for video. Video capture actually probably benefits from the iPad’s bigger screen.

  6. how again for you becaus tanhkds

  7. Ever been to a little place called “Disney World?” Was there a Christmas and saw dozens of silly parents running around taking photos and video with iPad 2s. They looked incredibly silly.

  8. That’s a really REALLY naive assumption Kevin. I know many semi-pro photographers that demand single-pixel accuracy from their photo editing, and a fat fingertip on a high PPI screen doesn’t do that.

    As for video, recording an hour-long 1080p stream requires some serious CPU power to render and edit. Unless you’re shooting 5 minute clips or less, I don’t see slates replacing camcorders any time soon.

    1. This sounds like a comment made by some guy a few years ago who didn’t believe cameras on phones would replace “real” cameras anytime soon either…

  9. New more powerful editing software like Avid Studio on iPad really makes it fun and easy to edit and share videos.

  10. We used the iPad 2 to shoot all of our coverage of CES in January (you can see a full video of our kit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN8SoL25190) and it was a great experience.

    We had a custom mount so we could secure the iPad to a tripod, and the increased portability was really nice. As others have mentioned, the larger screen made it REALLY easy to make sure you were getting the best shot.

    The improved sensor on the new iPad will only make this a better experience, too.

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