5 Reasons Why Shooting Video with an iPad Sucks


Last Friday I was at my girlfriend’s graduation (sidenote: here’s her portfolio, it’s pretty damn good. lorettamaydesign.com) and I saw numerous people recording the event with the Apple iPad2 (apple.com). Now, I realize they aren’t professionals, but I’ve seen some videos shot with the iPhone4 that were really good quality (youtube.com, wired.com), and since it’s the same camera system I figured it could perform the same. WRONG! I did some test shots with it last night, and the footage is super sub-par. It comes out grainy, the exposure changes, and it’s bulky. I know there are apps out there like Camera Plus that allow you to have more control over the camera, but I wanted to test the stock video system to see how it performs.

This is my list of the
Top 5 Reason Why Shooting Video with the iPad2 Sucks

(in ascending order of least to most annoying)

1) Motion Blur:

Everyone knows that shooting on mini DV means you’re going to have some amount of motion blur. And everyone knows that Shooting on the 7D means you’re going to have aliasing/ moire. The iPad2 has such intense motion blur that it almost hurts to watch it. Unless you track with the object (which still has blur on it) objects whiz almost indeterminably. The reason this is so low on the list is because while there is blur on fast-moving objects, it still handles well considering there is no shutter speed control. It’s also possible to limit the effect in post.

2) No Mounts:

The iPad2 can’t mount! Now, this isn’t necessarily a knock on this fine Apple product. It isn’t made to be a camera system, so I wouldn’t expect it to be able to mount to a tripod. And I’m sure, if it doesn’t already exist, there will be an adapter case for the iPad2 to be mountable. (If the idea hasn’t already been copy written I call dibs). However, until this adapter is created, it will be impossible to get a solid shot possible of having smooth pan and tilt movements.

3) Manual Controls:

One of the things that has made the DSLR series of video cameras so popular is the amount of control that you have over the picture. It also comes standard on any”professional” camera. The ability to adjust shutter speed, aperture, white balance, gamma, knee, and every other possible setting is part of how you create visually stunning work. The iPad2 video camera has none of these functions. Yes there are apps that will allow you to have some of these controls, but there isn’t even a zoom function.

4) Light:

One of the most annoying things I found about shooting with the iPad2 is the way it handles light. There is virtually zero low light capability. I did a test last night at magic hour, and the footage was still grainy. I tried it under street lights, house lights, daylight, and it always came out grainy. I even tried it under my Cowboy Studio CFL (jdwiden.wordpress.com) lights, and it was still slightly blurry. However, I took the iPad into Walgreens, and the video was clean, crisp, and had great color. I guess those fluorescent lights work for the iPad2.

5) Auto Exposure and Focus:

The number one thing that annoys me about shooting video on the iPad2 is the auto exposure and auto focus function. This one sort of goes hand in hand with the lack of manual controls. But it takes that even a step further. Not only can you not pre-set anything, but if you’re in the middle of a shot, and a cloud goes overhead, the iPad will compensate and adjust the exposure by itself. The same goes with focus. And to make it even worse, it takes forever for the iPad to find exposure and focus.  I’ve left out the fact that audio (or lack-there-of) is a major issue with the on-board camera because I feel like this annoys me even more.

With all of this list said, yes there are a lot of issues with the video camera on the Apple iPad2. But, its primary function isn’t video. The sheer fact that this device has a 720p camera that actually works is enough to give Apple some kudos. And while there are issues, there are also fixes for these issues. The app store is full of applications that enhance the ability to shoot both motion and still, and also has a wide variety of editing tools. The final note I have about shooting video with the iPad is the post process. Unless you have an app that allows you to transfer footage, it is nearly impossible to get any clips over 30 seconds in length off of the device. I did shoot some clips to go with this post, but I’ve decided to leave them off to further illustrate the problems the device had. (Plus the clips would make even a novice cameraman weep).

When it comes to video, I give the iPad2 a 3 out of 10. But as a device as a whole, I give it a 9 out of 10.

One Response to “5 Reasons Why Shooting Video with an iPad Sucks”

  1. 1 Dave

    the ipad 2 doesnt have the same camera as the iphone 4. It has the same camera as the 4th gen ipod touch. They are both he same camera, the iphone 4’s camera is completely different.
    Both the ipad and the ipod have less then a 1mp camera, while the iphone has a 5mp camera.

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