What will iPad 3 Mean to Photographers?

The announcement of the upcoming iPad 3 surprised no one; it would have been surprising if Apple hadn’t announced a new iPad, with a higher resolution screen and a more powerful processor. The question for the photo industry is: how will this impact photographers? Or more to the point: why should you get one?

Lets start with the key internal change. Quad-core is clearly the future of mobile devices, and offers the power needed for more powerful graphics and photo application. Its obvious that serious image editing will be the future of tablets, and this device will be the poster child for advanced editing tablets. Photoshop Touch, and NIK Snapseed will scream on a quad-core.

Next is 4G. Yes, for those who use their tablets via cell connections, and can afford the bandwidth this will entail, it will be advantageous, in those locations where higher speed connections exist, but wifi does not.

The other key feature is the “retina display”, if Apple chooses to use that description for a higher resolution iPad screen. There is no question that the current iPad’s screen is soft, especially when used adjacent to an iPhone. And for photography sharp, detailed display of images is king. Anyone who moved from an pre-retina display iPhone to a more recent model is well aware of the difference this entails, and even at the larger scale of an iPad this will be striking.

As a portfolio tool, a high rez iPad will be the most desirable image display choice on the market, and photographers will be one of the main markets for this upgrade. If there are any improvements in external presentation functions, that would add to the desirability of the new device.

Also, as a reader was so kind as to point out in the comments below, the iPad camera is currently the iPod camera, with an image quality far below what the iPhone4, and especially what the iPhone4s can manage. A camera update would be an important consideration for those not too embarrassed to hold up their great big tablet, and shoot a photo with it. Personally, I’ll use my phone whenever possible, and grab the file on the iPad.

So, to wrap up: increased editing performance, increased cell speed, improved editing and portfolio resolution, possible presentation enhancements and other, yet undetermined advances (likely to include a better camera)… plus the general appeal of owning Apple’s latest and greatest. That should be sufficient.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Published by cdtobie

This blog covers a range of issues of interest to photographers and those involved in the digital photographic workflow, digital tools and platforms, and fine art output.

5 thoughts on “What will iPad 3 Mean to Photographers?

  1. And don’t forget Apps in general. If Retina is a new feature, then all existing iPad apps (including Angry Birds) will run at reduced size (768×1024). There may be the 2x button, but then you’re at super-blurry quality. Which means apps, including mine (“PhoozL IQ”) will need a whole new version for the new retina resolution, which is rumored all over the place including 2048×1536. But like you say, this is a good thing because current images on iPad2 are on the soft side (you can really see this with text).

    And for non-photo use, like movie- and TV-show watching, I assume that will be even better. It’s funny how my wife and I now fight over the iPad2 so we can watch different things. And together, this is how we watched “Mad Men,” “Downton Abby (PBS),” and now “Luck (HBO).” So iPad can also bring you together, yet another benefit ;-).

    P.S. Great blog you have here, CDT! Glad you’re doing it. Will try to be a regular reader. Do you have email signup? I like that best.

    1. Hi Harald,

      Yes, and no. If the iPad3 has exactly doubled pixel count both ways, and an app has its files optimized for the lower resolution of iPad1&2, then it won’t be “super blurry” it will be about as blurry as it was already (the innate softness of current iPad screens), except for the text and other vector elements which will automatically be sharper.

      If you build your text into images, well, thats less than ideal on several levels and loses you sub-pixel sharpening already. Thats best left for heavily manipulated text with shadows, reflections, texture, etc… rather than standard text. Besides, text within images defies translation.

      Tell me what you mean by “email signup”. WordPress offers various ways to follow blogs or posts already. Is there more I need to do myself to provide the best options?

      1. No and yes. On the image size thing… and using my app as the example because I went through the process and had to figure it out… For iPhone, all image assets are provided in two sizes to cover both Retina and non-Retina: “2x” or the size as they would appear on a 640×960 screen, and “non-2x” or half size. I’m looking at two square images I used right now, and one is 320×320 and other 160×160. The way I did it was to first create the Retina (2x) size and then do a Save-As copy at 50% for the non-Retina version. Both sizes are uploaded to Apple and the device displays the correct-size image. But with iPad, there is only one screen resolution (768×1024) so only one image asset size was needed. If iPad3 has double the resolution (we don’t know that yet but will on March 7), then apps at 768×1024 should display at 1/2 size on the new retina screen, and the 2x button (to fill the screen) will make them Super Blurry. Unless I’m missing something. But on top of that, I will have to go back to the drawing board and either upscale my image assets (not the best choice) or redo the images from scratch (which will cost me as I use a lot of stock and only purchase in the smallest sizes that I anticipate I can get away with in the near future — and iPad3 was not in that future when I purchased my current set of images — maybe not the smartest move but hey!).

        TEXT: All “standard” text is handled programatically, as you say. But there are lots of graphic elements that can include text, lines, shapes, buttons, yada yada that still need to look good. And right now, my art director/designer eyes kinda cringe with the quality of ALL these elements on the iPad2 screen. One doesn’t usually notice on pure images, but anything with sharp edges is borderline right now. I’ve just come to accept it and not worry about it. Double the resolution will make a big difference on that issue.

        YOUR SIGNUP: It looks like you’re missing (or I don’t see) a widget for “Sign up with email” (not for these comment threads but for the whole blog). Just search for one in WP Plugins.

  2. hi David, I think it’s possible you missed two things here, though with regard to the development of the iPad overall. The camera (rear facing) in the iPad2 ain’t that great at all: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/03/just-how-bad-is-the-ipad-2-camera/ Of course, it’s still possible to import images into the thing and work on them there (editing-wise, etc.), but the next-version tablet would surely have more appeal as a photographic device if the native pictures it took were better. Also, pressure-sensitivity for a stylus would be a great boon also, even to apps like Snapseed (and what they might do with the enhanced performance you cite).

    1. Hi John,

      I believe pressure sensitivity belongs on the long term hope list (if it does appear in iPad3, Wacom is going to be scrambling!) but I agree on the camera quality issue sufficiently that I will edit the post to include mention of it (only us Geeks ever actually read the comments, and it belongs up there where it will be seen.)

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