Entries in James (371)
In part 1 of this camera comparison we considered still photography, could the new iPad with its 5MP sensor compete with the iPhone 4S and its 8MP sensor? Not too surprisingly, both devices produced very similar results. Be sure to check out the entire article, which includes plenty of sample shots, for the full story.
1080p v 1080p
With video, things are a little different. Both the new iPad and the iPhone 4S capture 1080p video with decent stabilisation. We were expecting the iPad and iPhone 4S to be very evenly matched, and indeed they were. The samples from each device are almost identical. So much so, in fact, that it would likely take someone who is very familiar with iPhone 4S video quality to spot the differences. But there are differences.
The processed look
Just like with the photographs, the new iPad video capture has a slightly more processed look. We are not quite sure what's going on here. Why should the new iPad have a more processed look than even the iPhone 4 which also features a 5MP sensor? We are fully aware that minds sharper than ours are suggesting that Apple is simply reusing the 5MP Omnivision sensor as last seen in the iPhone 4, but the actual results seem to suggest otherwise. The iPad samples show some kind of edge enhancement that neither the iPhone 4 or 4S exhibit. It's not a deal breaker, in fact you may prefer this new look, but it does seem a little odd to us.
Is it possible that the new iPad is packing the exact same optics and sensor and the iPhone 4S, yes an 8MP sensor, but that the camera software is binning those extra 3 mega pixels in order to give a final 5MP image? It seems unlikely, but then it also seems unlikely that Apple has deliberately chosen to give the iPad photos and video a more processed appearance. The truth is, we just don't know the answer, and for most people the video capture from both the iPad and iPhone 4S will be indistinguishable, we really are just splitting hairs here.
Audio capture differences
Perhaps it's because the microphone on the new iPad well clear of our hands, or perhaps it's just a bit more sensitive, but whatever the reason, we are quite convinced that the new iPad picks up a little more ambient noise than the iPhone 4S. Play the video sample above through a decent set of speakers or earphones and hear it for yourself.
An end to end experience
There simply isn't another consumer video camera on the planet that has a display quite like the new iPad's display. It's also true that there is no camera available that has the video editing and soundtrack creation goodness that iMovie and GarageBand bring to the iPad. As an end to end video capture, editing and distribution solution, the new iPad is in a league of its own making. People will produce stunning videos using nothing more than the new iPad and a couple of cheap apps. Yes, the new iPad is a bulky device for capturing video, but you have to remember, this isn't just the camera, it's the entire solution, and an extremely powerful one at that.
Would you even consider taking photos or shooting video with an iPad? That's the big question, because if the answer is no, then the huge increase in camera quality that the new iPad has over the iPad 2 is a moot point.
It's clear to us that the current trend is to treat the very idea of tablet computer photography and video capture with utter derision, almost every iPad 3 review that mentions the camera includes a comment or two about how stupid you would look doing so. We are reminded of the reviews of early smartphones. 'Who would be so stupid as to take pictures with their phone', they said. Now less than ten years later the iPhone 4 is the most popular camera on Flickr. Conventional wisdom often misfires.
If you're still reading this then there is a good chance that you are open to the idea of tablet photography and video capture. It's also quite likely that you already own an iPhone or another brand of high-end smartphone. So, do you have anything to gain by using the iPad as your camera instead of another device? Perhaps.
iPad vs regular smartphone
Some of the latest smartphones from Nokia, HTC and Samsung are equipped with cameras that should easily outperform the new iPad. We have seen 8MP shots from some very popular smartphones that struggle to match these iPad 5MP photos, but in the main, the very latest smartphones are more capable at capturing stills. However, things are not so clear when it comes to video capture. Apple have done a sterling job with the video stabilisation, so much so in fact that it's quite hard to tell the difference between iPad 3 footage and dedicated video camera footage. The new iPad offers 1080p video capture with superb stabilisation at very high bit rates and with clear mono sound capture. If you are a proud owner of the new iPad, it's also worth noting that you just purchased a first class video camera too.
iPad vs iPhone 4S
In theory the iPhone 4S and the new iPad should be very close in terms of general camera performance. In some ways this is true. For example, both the new iPad and the iPhone 4S have similar dynamic range of luminance and colour balance. However, the iPad has a more processed look. The iPhone 4S shots have considerable more fine detail when viewed at 100%. Our guess is that Apple engineers have fine-tuned the iPad camera so that its stills and video look their best when viewed on the iPad display. This makes sense, though we would have preferred a slightly inferior iPad viewing experience and a cleaner final image. In short, the iPhone 4S captures cleaner, more detailed, images and video than the new iPad, though you'll need to zoom into the frame somewhat to notice the difference. The iPhone 4S takes the lead, but it's not by a country mile.
An end to end experience
One area where iPad photography and video capture makes perfect sense is when looking for a complete end-to-end experience. Consider this; the iPad 3 has a higher quality display then any consumer camera. It also takes great quality 5MP stills and top spec fixed lens 1080p video with stabilisation. Add into the mix iPhoto, iMovie and any number of the superb photo and video apps available for the iPad and you have a pretty compelling end-to-end solution.
There's one market for which the new iPad camera makes perfect sense. The education market is going to adore this new iPad. We can't wait to see how students of all ages put this new camera/computer combination to use.
Anyway, enough of our rambling. Be sure to check out this Flickr set for direct comparison shots. You'll find iPad photos first followed by iPhone 4S shots taken a moment or two later. In each case we have made sure that we've focused on the same area of the scene. They are all available at full resolution, so why not download them to your iPad or computer and examine them for yourself. We would love to know what you think, so please be sure to leave a comment below.
In part 2 of this series we'll be looking at video capture.
Further viewing: iPad vs iPhone 4S Flickr set
Let's make one thing clear before we begin, we are more than happy that websites, blogs and mainstream media keep Apple at the top of their game by revealing potential issues with new Apple hardware and software. No company is infallible and it's right and proper that genuine mistakes or problems are pointed out to prospective customers.
However, what concerns us it that a potential customers might miss out on some genuine innovation because of a few sensationalist headlines. That leads us to three potential issues with the new iPad that have recently caught our attention.
Some have said that the new iPad gives off considerably more heat than the old iPad. We were surprised by these claims, so much so in fact that we decided to put them to the test. We put our iPad 3 through a series of graphics intensive testing, starting with an hour of Open GL benchmarking and finishing with 40 minutes of Real Racing 2 HD. At the end of our 2 hour test we could discern no significant increase in temperature on the back on the iPad and only a small increase in temperature on the display. The increase in temperature on the display was noticeable, but by no means uncomfortable. We don't doubt that the new iPad runs slightly hotter than the older model under certain conditions, but we do doubt any claims of it being hot or uncomfortable.
Resolutionary is not so revolutionary
This is a tricky one. There are clearly some users that will not be able to spot a Retina display apart from a standard display in a busy street, but does that make the Retina display less revolutionary? No, the iPad is a giant leap forward in pixel density and hence, genuine image detail. The new iPad display contains four times the amount of pixels as the old display. The difference, to those that have used the new iPad for any length of time, is like night and day. Fonts that were previously collections of anti-alaised pixels are now rendered to a degree of quality that reveals their true beauty. Photos and HD video looks spectacular! In our opinion the new display is a game changer, and if you can afford it you should certainly pick the new iPad over the cheaper iPad 2.
The new iPad is 51 gms heavier than the last version, but still lighter than the original iPad. Over the last couple of days we have seen comments that describe it as 'too heavy'. We are big fans of Jason Bradbury, co-presenter of Channel Five's 'The Gadget Show', but even Jason seemed to be looking for issues with the new iPad, describing it as "… too heavy! & … too hot!". We're sorry Jason, but in our book an extra 50 gms (roughly the weight of a packet of gum) is a small price to pay for the four times the increase in pixel density and a camera that rivals almost any smartphone, not to mention LTE support.
Of all these complaints, it's the overheating accusation that's most worrying as it implies that there is something fundamentally wrong with the design or construction of the new iPad. Just to reiterate, in our CPU and GPU tests we have not managed to raise the temperature of the new iPad to anything close to uncomfortable levels. Be that as it may, we will continue to test other aspects of the iPad to see what bearing they have on the temperature of the case and screen.
Photo Credit: Nicky Coleman
Just a quick note about understanding thermal images like those used in the Consumer Reports article.
The white areas are not white hot, anymore than the blue areas are freezing cold. Take this thermal image of me (the chap on the far left), I can assure you that my forehead was not uncomfortable to the touch, merely that is was warmer than other parts of the scene.
ArtRage is one of our most treasured iPad apps, so naturally we were absolutely thrilled to see it updated to support the new iPad's super high resolution display. We've only had a quick look at this latest version, but we think it looks pretty spectacular.
Painting Credit: Unaipad2010. We'll be featuring more from this skilled artist soon.
App Store Link: ArtRage
Like us, you may have read a lot of complaints from owners of the new iPad claiming that the extreme high resolution of the new display makes graphics on the web look poor. Though text looks much sharper, we have to agree, graphics (including our own logo!) that have be produced with regular computer displays in mind, do look pretty poor.
Someone had to push web design forward, and it should be no surprise that it was Apple that took up the challenge. Regular displays have very poor resolution, even the 2009 MacBook Pro that I'm typing this on looks blocky. If display technology is to replace printed paper it has to get much better. The new iPad is a giant leap in the right direction.
So, until web designers make proper provision for much higher resolution displays, what can new iPad owners do to make everything look pretty again?
A simple fix
Use your new iPad in portrait mode. That's it! That's all you have to do. If you have fairly decent eyesight you'll have no problem at all in reading the smaller text. As a extra benefit you'll also see a lot more of the webpage.
To test this we took screen grabs from both the new iPad in portrait mode and the MacBook Pro when viewing the same website. Both screen grabs can be found here. We then compared both screen grabs in Photoshop to check the pixel detail. Amazingly, because of its massively high resolution, the new iPad has more pixels across its shortest edge than the MacBook Pro has across its longest edge!
The result is that even in portrait mode there is more detail on display on the iPad than on a MacBook Pro with its 1440 x 900px resolution. However, because everything is quite a bit smaller in portrait mode, those graphics that have been designed for older displays look much nicer.
Split keyboard to the rescue
Thanks to the split keyboard that arrived with iOS 5, it's possible to type at perfectly respectable speeds in portrait mode.
The new iPad with its Retina display creates possibilities, it has transformed the iPad into the best web browsing device available. Simply rotating the iPad into portrait mode still leaves you with more pixel detail than the web viewed on a MacBook Pro, but with twice the viewing area.
We'll bring you more unexpected uses for the Retina display soon.
The general consensus around the web is that the new iPad is roughly the same speed as the older iPad 2. The the CPU at the heart the A5X is still dual-core and it's even running at the same 1GHz clock speed, only 3D applications and games should see a speed increase from the new quad-core graphics engine, right? Perhaps not.
In our very first iPad 3 vs iPad 2 speed test, we recorded a 33% speed increase.
From a cold start we exported an 11 minute 1080p iMovie project to the camera roll at 1080p. The new iPad was able to encode the final video significantly faster than realtime, taking just 7:59. The iPad 3 completed the entire export, including copying the video to the camera roll in just 9:25. The iPad 2 completed the full export in 12:29. That's a saving of 3:04. In others words, the iPad 3 was roughly 33% faster. That's a significant speed boost.
We are not suggesting that the iPad 3 is generally 33% faster than last years model, but rather that there are clearly some areas, video encoding is one example, where users will see a significant increase in performance.
We'll carry on testing and report back what we find. Please let us know if you find any differences in performance that you feel will be of benefit to our readers.
The first iPad 3 reviews are starting to appear. Just as we expected, the main focus of nearly every one of these early reviews is the breathtaking quality of the display. Here's one of our favourite quotes from Joshua's thorough review at The Verge:
"You literally can't see pixels on the iPad's display when you hold it at a regular distance, and even up close you have to really inspect the thing to see dots. For rendered text or high resolution images, it just looks otherworldly; like a glowing piece of paper. There were moments when I was testing the device when I would just marvel at a single paragraph of text, or I kept zooming in and out on a particular headline to see how cleanly fonts are rendered on this screen."
We have included the video review seen above, but please be sure to read the entire review, it includes some remarkable screenshots of the Retina display and some 5MP camera samples.
Source: The Verge
Take a look at the most popular cameras on Flickr and you'll see that the iPhone sits on the very top of that prestigious list. If you're one of the many millions of people whose only camera is a smartphone, it's likely that phrases like 'point of convergence', 'aperture priority' and 'circle of confusion' are almost meaningless to you.
We are not suggesting that you can't take spectacular photos without a proper understanding of these terms, but it would certainly help you to fine-tune your photographic compositions and allow you to take part in more in-depth conversations if you did.
That's where Bokeh comes in handy
Bokeh (the book explains the meaning of the photographic term from where it get its name) is a book that takes you through the basics of SLR (Single-lens reflex) photography. Within its pages you'll learn about focus, depth of field, exposure and zoom, but more than that, you'll actually get to play with certain controls of a simulated SLR camera right there on the screen of your iPad. Bokeh is a joy to use, you can get through it in less than 30 minutes, but it's likely that you'll spend much longer experimenting with the SLR simulation.
Bokeh is exactly the kind of app that we always hoped the iPad would be home to. It's simple, fun and educationally. We wholeheartedly recommend it to those who are looking to get a grasp of the basics of SLR photography.
App Store Link: Bokeh. A Book About Cameras
We've mentioned Nikolai's work on numerous occasions, but we make absolutely no apologies for highlighting yet another of his incredible iPad paintings.
As a photographer you'll doubtless want your photos to look their very best on Apple's new Retina display equipped iPad, but have you considered the risks involved? This well reasoned article from Popphoto.com has certainly given us pause for thought. Some of the issues mentioned here will also apply to those who paint with the iPad.
On the 16th March 2012 the next chapter of the iPad story begins. Having already lived up to our greatest expectations, the new iPad goes all out to prove that it really is the most creative computer yet imagined. What makes the iPad 3 (yes, we'll be calling it the iPad 3) so much better for content creation? Two things; The stunning Retina display and the significant boost in camera quality.
Retina display. Better than a laptop display, better than print
We cannot express enough just how much of a difference this new Retina class display will make for content creation. As our correspondent at the launch event said, "It's truly marvellous! You simply have to see it with your own eyes to believe how good it actually is!" The general consensus from those that have spent time with the new iPad is that it exceeds even the quality of the superb iPhone Retina display. We've written at length about the advantages of a super high resolution display, we fully expect the launch of the iPad 3 to create a surge in the demand for similar displays across all computing devices, from phones to televisions. Can you imagine how sumptuous ArtRage will look on the iPad 3?!
Our correspondent mentioned that although photos, web pages and books looked very special indeed on the iPad 3, it was the 1080p video that really impressed. Many potential iPad 3 owners may never have seen 1080p video displayed at full resolution, so there's another advantage of the Retina display.
A camera to take seriously
We predicted that Apple would pack the iPad 3 with the same camera as the iPhone 4S but at 5MP and that is exactly what Apple did. The samples that Apple have used to demonstrate the quality of the new camera do a great job of showing just how much better this new camera module is.
We realise that there is a real stigma attached to taking photos and shooting video with a large tablet, but we believe that this bias will gradually disappear. Education and Enterprise seem like prime markets in which iPad photo and video capture to flourish. Be assured that now that iPad has a useful daylight camera we'll be helping you to get the very best from it here at iPad Creative.
iPhoto has finally arrived to the iOS and just as we expected it's quite special. Most iPad users will find that iPhoto does everything they need. One area of contention is photo management. Photos on the iPad still exist in a silo, even Apple's own iPhoto has only a limited access to the basic file structure of the photo and video library. This has to change, and we fully expect Apple to address this and other restrictions in iOS 6.
iMovie, GarageBand and the iWork apps also got significant updates. We'll do our best to cover those is future posts, probably after the 16th March.
What do you think of the new iPad? Let us know in a comment below.
Many thanks to Margi Laurin for the superb painting at the head of this page!
Sometimes you simply want to combine a few photos around a theme. Photoshop Touch, as powerful as it undoubtedly is, is just too complex for such a simply procedure. That's where PicFrame helps.
With PicFrame you get to pick from 34 fully adjustable frames to use with your composition. In addition to all the regular tools that you would expect from any photo composition app, you get control over pretty much every single aspect of the final frame set. There's even some pleasing photo filters to give your composition a unique feel.
We can throughly recommend PicFrame, it's a bit of a bargain!
App Store Link: PicFrame
Fancy is the companion app of the Fancy website. Fancy describes its service as "part store, blog, magazine and wishlist. It's a place to discover great stuff, to curate a collection of things you love, to get updates on your favorite brands and stores and to share your discoveries."
On any given day you'll find inspiring photos from across the globe. Typical subjects for Fancy items are breathtaking locations, beautiful garments, examples of exquisite industrial design and quirky gadgets. There's always something on Fancy that will make you smile.
Fancy is social, so sharing your favourite items via email, Twitter or Facebook is no more than two taps away. You also get the chance to comment on items and see who else has fancied that same items as you.
It's a simple concept that certainly isn't unique, however the power of Fancy is in the quality of the content. In the time we've been using Fancy, we can't recall ever being disappointed. Whether you spend time to click through and explore each item fully, reading other Fancy users comments, visiting the source webpage, or simply browse through the pictures, Fancy is always entertaining and often inspiring. If you're interested in art, design and travel, you'll love Fancy.
Web Link: Fancy
App Store Link: Fancy app
We've made plenty of predictions about what features the new iPad 3 (iPad 2S or 2X?) might bring, so we thought it might be a tad more exciting to predict what new apps Apple might decide to demonstrate alongside the new iPad during the launch event next month.
After a review of the continued success of the iPad, which will no doubt feature a warm and fuzzy video that shows how the iPad is transforming lives across the globe, the focus will then likely move to hardware improvements. As we've said many a time, we think that most attention will be given to the new 3.15MP Retina display.
iPhoto, a showcase for the Retina Display
We think that iPhoto for iPad has been ready for quite some time. Only the launch of iCloud and the iPad 3 with its Retina display has stopped Apple from rolling out iPhoto for iPad already. iPhoto will likely be the first app that Apple demonstrate during the iPad 3 launch event. What better way to show off the eye popping detail of the new display and the quality of the new 5MP camera module?
iMovie 2, a showcase for the new camera
Again, with the focus on the new display and the new camera module, iMovie 2 seems like an obvious candidate for a iPad 3 app demo. Expect iMovie 2 to include the ability to edit dual video tracks. The iPad 3 will also include 1080p video capture with image stabilisation, just like the iPhone 4S.
OnLive, so that's where it went!
Where is OnLive's gaming app? We know that it was submitted to Apple around the same time as the Android version, but almost 3 months later it's still missing. Intriguingly, neither Apple or OnLive are willing to give a reasonable answer as to its whereabouts. While it's possible that either Apple or OnLive have found a major bug that's holding everything up, or that Apple have flat out rejected the app on other grounds, this seems unlikely to us. We think something else happened.
We think OnLive submitted the app just as they said they did, Apple then tested it, and because of the controversial nature of the OnLive gaming service, the final decision as to whether or not the app got the green light had to be made by someone fairly high up in Apple's management team. This same Apple member of management asked the obvious question of OnLive, can this app be made to stream gaming content at 2048 pixels wide (Retina display quality)? The answer was yes, and a deal was made that meant that the OnLive app would be part of the iPad 3 launch event.
Real Racing 3, an old favourite returns
Back in May 2011 EA purchased Firemint, the developers behind the hugely successful Real Racing and Flight Control series. Not long after the purchase, EA declared it had stopping working on the latest iOS instalment of its Need For Speed series. EA simply stated that it was focusing on 'fewer, bigger, better' experiences. Firemint seems to be one of the favoured few developers that get early access to new iOS hardware, we see no reason why this would not be the case this time around. We expect EA (Firemint) to be ushered on stage to show off a spectacular looking Real Racing 3. With EA overseeing the project we should expect to see a garage load of licensed cars and music tracks. Real Racing will become to iOS what Gran Turismo and Forza are to their respective platforms, the definitive driving experience.
So there we have it, 4 apps that we half expect to see demoed alongside the iPad 3 at the launch event. What do you think, are we on the right track with our predictions? Let us know in a comment below.
We think this Brushes iPad painting video from Nikolai Lockertsen is required viewing for anyone looking to sharpen their iPad painting skills. It just doesn't get much better!
Further reading: All Nikolai Lockertsen posts
For those who have lusted after the awesome iCade arcade cabinet but found it to be too expensive and perhaps a little on the large side, the upcoming 8-Bitty by ThinkGeek is just for you. Much smaller and retailing at just $24.99, 8-Bitty looks like a real winner to us. Expect a full review once we get our hands on one, but we can already say that for those that were quick enough to grab the app while it was available, that 8-Bitty looks like the perfect complement to iMAME.
At the end of last year we posted an article that considered the possibility of a future iPad, one that might include a 3D display. After explaining why we felt that Apple might be the first tech company to provide a compelling personal 3D experience, we than considered what a 3D iPad would mean for artists. In short, we described a new art form; something of a cross between painting and sculpting:
"3D Painting: Imagine being able to create a 3D watercolour by gesturing in the space above the iPad display. You might start off with an overall light coloured wash in the top half of the scene to represent the sky. To do this you would paint with your 4 fingers at a distance of about 8" above the iPad display. The further away from the display your fingers are the deeper into the 3D scene your brush paints - effectively, it would be like painting into a 3D mirror image. As you completed your scene with you would paint in the details closer and closer to the viewer, all the time moving closer to the surface of the display. In short, this would be a brand new way of creating art - a cross between sculpting and painting. Good artists would still need a proper understanding of light and shade and certainly a full working knowledge of perspective, but think of some of the glorious artwork they could produce with a full 3D palette."
Interestingly, it seems that we were not alone in considering the impact that a 3D iPad might have on iPad painting. In fact, Mattis Folkestad of Machineboy was already well on his way to establishing an iPad experience that brings 3D painting to the current generation of iPad users.
Deepsketch is a wonderful complement to all the regular painting and illustration apps that are so loved by iPad artists. With Deepsketch and a pair of coloured 3D glasses (it supports practically every type of coloured 3D glasses), you can now paint into the 3rd dimension! With one simple brushstroke you can paint a line that starts just proud of the iPad screen and then descends behind it. Within a few minutes we had a good grasp of the power of Deepsketch and were able to create some impressive 3D scenes. However, our feeble attempts were simply no match for the skills of Nikolai Lockertsen. The images that you see here are all painted by Nikolai using Deepsketch. Please be sure to check out our other posts about Nikolai, you will not want to miss anything that this iPad artists does.
Deepsketch is simple, but extremely effective. Mattis seems eager to add new features on an almost weekly basis, so you'll certainly be getting value for money.
We maintain that 3D will play an important part in the iPad art scene, and until such time as Apple sees fit to step beyond the Retina display, Deepsketch leads the way into an exciting future. We look forward to seeing where Mattis takes Deepsketch.
App Store Link: DeepSketch
Steve Crowther started his blog back in May 2010. Its purpose is to enable his friends and family to follow him on his personal journey of becoming an artist. We have to say that even some of Steve's early work shows that he already possess all the skills needed.
Interestingly, starting in June of last year Steve began to experiment with iPad painting. Often using a perfect combination of the Nomad Brush and ArtRage, Steve is rapidly learning how to apply his traditional painting skills to this new digital canvas. Really, Steve's blog documents two journeys, the journey to becoming an artist and his passage to becoming a skilled iPad artist. Be sure to follow Steve on his journey by bookmarking his blog and following him on Twitter.
Further Reading: Nomad Brush Review
There's something uniquely satisfying about watching an artist perform. As many iPad painting apps now allow the artist to record every brushstroke, it's no surprise that there are literally thousands of iPad painting videos available online.
Some artists, such as Robert Miller, go one step further and craft the video into a piece of artwork in its own right. We have mentioned Robert on several occasions, as we feel that his art, both the final paintings and the videos, are a solid contribution to the large body of work that iPad artists have produced over the last two years.
Further Reading: Robert Miller
If you are new to iPad Creative, it's possible that you have never seen any of Nikolai's iPad paintings. We strongly encourage you to see all our posts featuring Nikolai as he is, in our opinion, the most consistently impressive iPad artist we know. Nikolai's skill with Brushes is rivalled only my his powerful imagination.
Whether he is painting full locations, or 'just' characters, Nikolai's use of light and insane attention to detail is second to none.
Head back here in a couple of days to see some more of Nikolai's artwork, paintings that he created using an app that few artists are even aware of.
Further Reading: Nikolai Lockertsen