It almost feels strange reviewing the camera capabilities on a tablet device. Coming from traditional photography, a tablet is the equivalent of holding up a picture frame to take stills or video which can seem weird at first, but in the right scenarios can be a fantastic tool. As camera kits go, you’re not suddenly going to have all the luxuries of a DSLR, but you will have enough quality for everyday use in the Apple iPad Pro 11.
As its still a social faux pas to be the one person holding up a tablet to capture footage at any social event, the tablet will probably be used for more generic purposes. This is how we are evaluating the latest iPad, rather than trying to cut it alongside the latest smart phones or even compact cameras.
We’re focusing completely on the iPad’s camera in the following lowdown, but it’s enough to say that it’s a clear advantage having an 11 or 12.9-inch viewing panel for all of your footage. A bit like having your own personal monitor display for instant feedback all the time. But as mentioned above, you have to be far more socially conscious of the way you’re holding up such a big screen.
The main camera is a 1MP affair with an f/1.8 aperture and a five-element lens. There’s a 5x digital zoom with Auto image stabilization and a sapphire crystal lens cover for extra protection. a Quad-LED True Tone flash can be used with image formats being HEIF and JPEGs.
The front camera is seven megapixels with an f/2.2 aperture, Auto image stabilization, Retina Flash, 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps and has less functionality or modes than the main camera. The front camera also has TrueTone snapper giving a reasonably nice background blur to your selfies.
Being a tablet capable camera, you don’t have manual controls, but there are plenty of still modes there for most shooting situations. As an all-around generic camera, these simple modes do the job. There are other useful modes such as making your own panoramas (up to 63 megapixels). If you need more variety or manual control, then you will be looking at the latest smartphones or higher-quality devices.
Video formats come in at the top quality of 4K video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps, 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps and 720p HD video recording at 30 fps. There’s even Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps and time-lapse video. Video also has continuous autofocus, geotagging and basic noise reduction, with output formats being HEVC and H.264. The tablet also has multiple microphones for video and audio recording as well as for speakers to judge the output of your audio. Disappointing there’s no headphone jack.
If you like a workflow all on one device, then you can use the iPad Pro 11 for service with Apple Pencil or a free version of Lightroom for photo editing. Thinking along the lines of the general purpose applications of stills and video from a tablet, this could be a good way to edit footage for output like presentations.
Judging the battery life of an iPad or tablet can be difficult depending on many factors like how many background apps are running, but Apple says, “Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on WiFi, watching video or listening to music.” Depending on your tasks, you can easily get a day’s charge from the latest iPad. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging, but I didn’t find that a problem as you can still use either a power adapter or a USB-C cable. In any case, you won’t find it hard to get a day’s play out of this tablet.
Still images from the iPad Pro 11 are perfectly acceptable as what you would expect from a tablet. You can only expect so much from a 12MP camera with a small sensor, but for screen viewing only, posting on social media or presentations, you can’t complain about the results. The same goes for video. The 4K video is sharp and does a good job of lighting the scene for an automatic solution.
Images also come out less noisy and with better low-light performance than other tablets currently on the market. If the iPad Pro 11 was the only camera device you owned, you’d only be slightly disappointed if you starting really pixel peeping or printing out large images.
|Apple iPad Pro 11||Apple iPad Pro 9.7|
|Main Camera||12MP||12 MP|
|Processor||A12X Bionic chip||A12X Bionic chip|
What to Expect with the Apple iPad Pro 11
The iPad Pro 11 is clearly a very capable device capable of very acceptable stills and video. The ideal applications would be for general purpose shots on holiday, daily life or for a presentation. This is where you want good quality from your stills and video, but not too bothered about manual controls or capacity for large prints.
Once you start to think about higher image quality and resolution (and possibly a more discreet device), you’re looking at the latest crop of smartphones, compact cameras, and DSLRs. Because the iPad Pro 11 is a general device aimed at either being an office device or even laptop replacement, it has to be all things to all men. Apple could shove a high-resolution camera into the iPad Pro 11, but in an already expensive device, the functionality may be lost on many. Especially for those who already have one of the latest smartphones.
Devices which try to be good at many things are usually never outstanding in one area. Smartphones are trying to break this rule with impressive camera facilities, but you have to view the iPad Pro 11 as a great all-rounder that just so happens to also have a good quality camera.
Therefore, for a tablet device, the iPad Pro 11 has a very capable camera and probably better than other tablet cameras, which produces very good quality and is perfectly fine for generic use. For existing Apple users a ‘pro’ version of the iPad is a tasty offering, but it has a lot of competition from Android tablets and even from the iPad Pro 9.7. The iPad Pro 9.7 has a 12MP main camera and a 5MP front camera, equivalent to the camera found on the iPhone 6S.
There are lots of nice little features which make the shooting experience and reviewing pleasurable. For instance, all photos have Apple’s Live Photos facility which attaches a small amount of video and sound to each image before you press the shutter button.
In total, if you’re buying a tablet first and then want the best quality images from a tablet, then you can’t go wrong with the iPad Pro 11, although it is expensive. If you need the best in image quality, then you need to dive into some of our past reviews for your ultimate DSLR setup. Then again, there’s nothing like viewing your images on a tablet screen when you’re out and about.