New iPad vs iPad 2 camera and video test

We've tested the new iPad's 5-megapixel camera and compared it to its predecessor. Here are our findings, with bonus Lego Man Torch.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

I've spent today playing with Apple's new iPad, and I'm particularly interested in the 5-megapixel camera to be found around the back. Exactly how good is it, how much better is it than the iPad 2's snapper, and could it replace your digital camera? Check out the images below to find out, and click each one to see it full size.

I've found that the new iPad's camera is a serious step up from the iPad 2's effort, especially in low light and with close-up images. For example, check out these shots, where I was attempting to get a good-looking close-up photo. The first image is taken with the new iPad, the second using the iPad 2.

The new iPad handles close-up shots rather well.

The iPad 2's close-up skills aren't much cop, however.

Next, the new iPad certainly has its predecessor beat in terms of low-light photos. Once more, the first shot is taken with the new iPad, the second with the iPad 2.

The new iPad doesn't handle low light that well, but it's better than the following sorry mess...

So the new iPad's snapper definitely has the iPad 2 beat. But there's no challenge in that. Is it a good camera in its own right?

Here's a standard outdoor shot in cloudy ol' London. The iPad 2's image looks sharp at first, but if you click through to the high-res version -- go on, I'll wait -- you'll see once you zoom in slightly the people's faces turn into indistinguishable blobs.

The camera doesn't seem to be picking up that much detail, and while it looks reasonably crisp at a glance, the pictures you'll grab using this tablet's snapper don't hold up to very much scrutiny.

Colours seem quite natural though, I'm pleased with the yellow tones in this picture of the inimitable Lego Man Torch.


How does the new iPad handle video? Not brilliantly, to be honest. It captures footage in 1080p, but as you can see below, it suffers from quite a lot of blurring once the tablet starts moving.

Still, it's better than the rather woeful footage the iPad 2 harvests -- check out this similar clip...

So, my feeling is that while the new iPad's camera is a decent little snapper -- and miles better than the iPad 2's offering -- it's not a brilliant camera in its own right, and isn't a suitable replacement for your digital camera, or a particularly snap-happy smart phone.

There are advantages to using the iPad as your main camera -- the software is dead easy to use and it's simple to share, upload or edit pictures and video once it's captured. But you'll have to balance that with quite how daft you'd look waving an iPad around in public.

Do you own the new iPad? Are you impressed by the camera, or do you wish it was better? Whack a comment in the box below, or hit up our charming Facebook page.