It’s been over a week now and life with the 2021 iPad Pro is good. I certainly didn’t expect any different, but it’s fun to discover the little upgrades and features that separate each new Apple device from the one that preceded it.
Shoot your shot
One of those little surprises has come from this iPad Pro’s cameras, of all places. Apple fans like myself expect a lot in the camera department, but let’s face it. Photography has never been a big focus for the iPad lineup. While the cameras certainly aren’t bad, they have always lagged a couple of years behind the latest iPhones.
That isn’t any different for this iPad Pro’s Rear Cameras, which are actually functionally identical to last year’s model. For the primary Wide Angle Lens, that means it’s still equivalent to the one on the iPhone 8. The big updates that came last year were the additions of an Ultra Wide-Angle Lens and a LiDAR sensor.
While the hardware hasn’t changed, the developers behind the popular camera app Halide have discovered an interesting capability hiding in plain sight. It turns out the larger, thicker iPad Pro makes the Rear Camera Wide-Angle Lens arrangement ideal for taking Macro shots.
I highly recommend taking a look at their blog post to get the whole story. What I can tell you is that they are right on the money. The rear camera can properly focus on an object much closer than my iPhone 12 Pro can without assistance. However, I will second the Lux article that shooting Macro works a lot better with a third party camera app that allows manual focus. The iPad Pro’s autofocus via the LiDAR sensor isn’t tuned to track objects close up. Lux’s Halide offers this feature and I already own it, so that’s what I tested with.
Sebastiaan de With, the author of the Lux article, mentioned first noticing this Macro capability when he saw the rear camera focusing while the Pro was sitting close against his pants. I figured I would start there, as well.
Using Halide’s Manual Focus, I was able to get a pretty good shot of the denim I’m wearing today in a decently lit indoor space.
Next it was time to take it outside. Note that I didn’t touch these shots at all.
This rose in our front yard came out ok, especially considering the harsh sunlight on it. Next up I tried one in the shadows.
This shot is more color accurate, as these roses look more pink than red at the moment. There is a little less detail in this shot, but it still looks good and could be cropped a little closer.
This small wildflower came out nicely. Here is a crop emphasizing some of the details.
Not bad. I’ve had to use a third party external lens to get a Macro shot this good from an iPhone or iPad in the past.
Just for reference, here is a picture of the wildflower showing its actual size.
Again, this feature is pretty impressive. I will definitely be using the iPad Pro to take review photos instead of my iPhone 12 Pro on occasion to take advantage of this feature.
Face the front
It’s interesting to me that the 2021 iPad Pro’s Front Facing camera now has better specs than the Ultra Wide on the back. I guess that just reflects how important video chat and conferencing are, especially in a post-pandemic world.
In a previous article in this series, I mentioned how effective Center Stage is for video chat and conferencing. Using the Camera app, we also have access to the same Wide-Angle capabilities for taking photos.
As you can see below, the default state of the single camera lens is cropped to look like the Wide-Angle Front Facing Camera Lenses in other iPad models.
As you can see in the following photo, the Ultra Wide capability really opens up the field of view.
This feature is certainly more useful for snapping photos on an iPhone, but it works well in a pinch on the Pro, as well. However, the Ultra Wide-Angle capability of the Front Facing Camera will pay bigger dividends when used with video conferencing and chat apps. It and Center Stage were smart additions on Apple’s part.
That covers most of the new features of the 2021 iPad Pro. Now it’s time to dive into the details of using it at work and home on a daily basis and more accessory reviews. I’ll be back later this week with more. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to hear more about an aspect of the 2021 iPad Pro, let me know in the Comments below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog here.