Cameras were the “missing ingredient” pointed out most often when the original iPads were launched this year. Perhaps to make up for that, the new iPad 2 comes with two cameras, one front and one rear.
A lot of people were disappointed when the original iPad showed up without a camera. Different people were unhappy for different reasons. Some people wanted the ability to make FaceTime calls on the iPad, just as they could on the iPhone 4. Others saw it as a shortfall in the all-around-utility department of the device. Yes, it’s large for a camera, but you’re going to have it with you anyway, as it is an excellent portable device, so one may as well have a camera along for the ride in the same device, for all those snapshots that you would otherwise miss.
The new iPad 2 hit the street running, and with two cameras. The one facing the user is absolutely intended for making videophone calls, or otherwise being represented on the phone or the web by a live picture of yourself. Its resolution is fitting for that usage, delivering a 640 x 480 picture suitable for use on the Web. It is big enough to show who is talking but not big enough to overwhelm the broadband connection. Score one for Apple in terms of the front-facing camera. It does what is supposed to do, because it has the specs to support it.
The rear-facing camera, on the other hand, is a significant disappointment. Its resolution comes in at just 960 x 720, according to an AppleInsider story. That is a true shortcoming, seeing as the iPhone 4 rear-facing camera comes in at about 2056 x 1536 pixels, a world of difference. It is, pretty much exactly, the difference between a 0.7 megapixel camera and a 3.1 megapixel camera. The results are grainy and nothing nearly as nice as what I get with my iPhone 4. I guess photographers will have to start waiting for the iPad 3.