The low quality iPad 2 camera is no secret by now, as Allen has already showed you showed pics and I’ve showed you what happens when you try to scan documents using it. I wanted to find out how it would stand up to my Canon 300 HS compact camera in a direct comparison though, so that’s what I set out to do. Results after the jump.
The Canon 300 HS (or SD4000IS as it’s called in the US) is a pretty cheap camera these days. It came out last year and was priced towards the top of the line for consumer level point-and-shoot cameras back then, but has since dropped in price. I picked up mine here in Norway for half of last year’s MSRP, so it’s a nice buy. The iPad (both 1 and 2) can also read the video files from the 300 HS without conversion and directly imported from the camera using the Camera Connection Kit so it’s a nice choice for iPad users. There are of course other compact cameras out there as well, but I can only test what I have.
To give the iPad 2 as much of a fighting chance as possible, I used auto mode for both video and photo on the Canon. I set the photo resolution to 2mpix as that was the closest I got to the iPad 2’s resolution, turned off Flash and started shooting. The iPad 2 camera is decent as long as you have plenty of light, but once that starts to fade you’re screwed- as you’ll see especially well in the video from my building’s hallway where the lighting is very low. The iPad 2 also lacks optical zoom and doesn’t have the wide angle lens of the Canon, so I didn’t use the zoom in order to show the difference in what you can capture in the picture with the different lenses (a lot more on the Canon due to it being more wide-angle).
In the photos and videos below the iPad 2 is on top with the corresponding Canon 300 HS video/photo below it. Click the photos to see the full versions.
The conclusion is pretty clear; while the iPad 2 camera can be fun to play with if you have decent lighting, it really can’t stand up to even a “cheap” compact camera. $200 to carry around a second device and a camera kit is a bit too much money and work for some, but if you really want great photo capabilities with your iPad it’s pretty much your only option as the built in camera is bad. I carry my Canon with my everywhere and don’t see it as a hassle- and having it also means I don’t have to run around with a 10″ camera.