Using an Apple iPad 4 as a Camera

For many of us, our favorite souvenirs from RV travel, shows, and events are the photographs we bring home. Over the years doing the Long Long Honeymoon website, I’ve used a lot of cameras – from burly $10,000 professional rigs to rinky dink $100 point-and-shoot models. Since many people ask me for camera recommendations, I thought it would be helpful to put together a series discussing my favorite (and/or recommended) cameras.

My first camera recommendation is a surprising one, even to me: the Apple iPad (4th Generation). I have a basic 16GB iPad 4th Generation with wifi only. It’s the cheapest “new edition” of the iPad. This model is equipped with two cameras: a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.2MP camera on the front. Both of these cameras were upgraded from the 3rd Generation version.

I must admit that the first time I saw someone using an iPad to take photos, I thought they were crazy. Yes, it does look a little strange to be holding a tablet aloft at eye level, composing a photograph. So why am I recommending using an iPad 4 as a camera? There are several reasons.

First, my iPad 4 is capable of surprisingly good image quality. I am impressed by the sharp resolution (2592 x 1936, plenty of detail for making prints) and pleasing color that the camera captures. This is the most important criteria for judging a camera: it can be used to take great pictures. I’ve taken several photos with my iPad that have left me pleasantly surprised.

The author's favorite chihuahua! (Photo taken with iPad 4)

The author's favorite chihuahua! (Photo taken with iPad 4 - click the pic for more info)

The iPad 4 is equipped with a capable f2.4 five-element lens. It’s easy to focus: simply tap the screen on the place you’d like the camera to focus. It will adjust exposure for the tapped point as well.

The iPad 4 “retina display” screen is a beautiful high resolution method of viewing your photos. You won’t find a ‘real camera’ that offers such a rich display.

There are a variety of iPad apps you can use to process and edit your photos. You can even get apps that allow you to take panoramic and 360-degree photos. And with social media like Instagram and Facebook, you can immediately share your photos with the world.

The iPad is capable of good 1080P (back camera) and 720P (front camera) video, and includes a simple image stabilization feature.

But suppose you want to get serious about photography and use a tripod? Yes, there’s even an iPad tripod mount. This little gadget will help with getting a steady, well composed shot with no motion blur.

Yes, you can even mount your iPad onto a tripod!

Yes, you can even mount your iPad onto a tripod! (Click the pic for more info.)

Of course the iPad has many shortcomings as a camera. The ergonomics are not ideal. The shutter could be faster. It’s not the best in low light. The display has a bad glare in bright light. It has no telephoto lens (so you better not try using it to photograph a bear).

But an iPad is discreet, portable, and useful for many functions other than just picture taking. It’s the sort of gadget you find yourself carrying everywhere and using every day. It’s ideal for RV travel, since it’s so compact and does so many things well.

In the future I’ll talk more about “serious” photgraphic cameras from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, and other fine companies. But for today, I suggest the Apple iPad 4 as a surprisingly capable camera. What matters in the end are lovely photos – and used properly, the iPad 4 is capable of taking lovely photos.

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