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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Bricks

Admiral Sackbar and friend

Sky

Flower focus

Indoor portrait

Old Cadillac

Peeling paint

Hydrant

In the garden

According to Apple, the 5-megapixel camera on the back of the new iPad (third-generation) uses the same five-element lens system and digital processing as the successful iPhone 4S.

To put this claim to the test, we shot a number of indoor and outdoor photos on both devices to see the difference for ourselves.

In this first example, you'll see a photo of bricks taken with the iPad (left) and the iPhone 4S. Can you spot any differences in detail, color, or clarity? Neither could we.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
For this indoor photo, we photographed our beloved cubicle mascot, Admiral Sackbar and his armpit-sniffing woodland companion.

The iPad photo is on the top, with the iPhone version below it. You'll notice that the iPhone photo is slightly closer, and tricks the camera into a shallower focus. This was an unintentional, but recurring, quirk, caused by how we naturally wanted to hold each device and view its screen.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Side-by-side shots of telephone lines against blue skies, with the iPad again on the left. The blue of the iPhone photo looks slightly more saturated, but otherwise the photos handle details and color gradients similarly.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Here we have a close-up of some flowers, with the iPad's photo on the left. In both cases, the tap-to-focus feature brought the foreground flowers into a shallow focus. If there's a reason the iPad photo looks a little sharper, I'd credit the fact that the large screen made it much easier to identify that the shot was in focus and framed well.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
CNET's Dong Ngo poses for a portrait in the windowless subterranean dungeon known as CNET Labs. Again, we have the iPad photo on the top, with the iPhone 4S photo below it. In both instances the built-in face detection and autofocus worked as advertised.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
This photo of an old Cadillac demonstrates how identical the iPad's camera (top) and iPhone 4S' really are under some conditions.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Here's another shot where we are stumped to tell the difference between the iPad's camera (top) and the iPhone 4S'.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
This hydrant offered an odd mixture of hues and textures to test the cameras against. But aside from the iPhone 4S' camera (below) offering a slightly color richer saturation than the iPad's, both cameras handled the photo identically when it came to focus and details.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
A close, but not too close, shot of some flowers. I'll let you decide which one's the iPad and which is the iPhone 4S.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
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