Analysis finds iPad Pro's LiDAR Scanner not ready for photo applications, cameras inferior...

Posted:
in iPad edited April 2020
A detailed investigation of the camera array rolled into Apple's 2020 iPad Pro illustrates the shooters are -- like every iPad that came before -- not up to the same standards as the current top-tier iPhone model.

2020 iPad Pro
2020 iPad Pro camera array features two lenses and a LiDAR Scanner.


With the 2020 iPad Pro, Apple for the first time built a dual-camera array into its popular tablet, mirroring capabilities first seen on iPhone 7 Plus. It also added a brand new LiDAR Scanner to the rear "bump" for good measure.

A closer inspection of the camera setup performed by Halide Camera app developer Sebastien de With, however, reveals the iPad Pro's shooters once again appear to be inferior to the array integrated into Apple's current premium handset series, iPhone 11.

Side-by-side comparisons show photos from the 2020 iPad Pro's wide angle lens are nearly identical to those coming out of the 2018 iPad Pro. Image processing is "a little different," but the changes are chalked up to minor software tweaks. More significant improvements, like iPhone 11's Deep Fusion computational photography, are not available as iPad Pro is powered by what is essentially the same A-series processor found in the 2018 model.

iPad Pro Compare
Photos captured with 2018 iPad Pro (left) and 2020 iPad Pro (right). | Source: Sebastien de With


A technical readout of included hardware confirms de With's suspicions.

"If you need something to compare it to, it's the iPhone 8 camera," de With writes. "Don't expect parity with Apple's latest iPhone 11 Pro shooters, but it's still a great set of cameras."

Interestingly, iPad Pro's ultra-wide angle camera is not the same module that debuted with iPhone 11 and 11 Pro last September. Instead of an effective equivalent focal length of 13mm, the tablet's shooter provides a slightly narrower 14mm equivalent.

The sensor, too, is changed. Unlike the 12-megapixel module deployed in iPhone 11, the new iPad Pro's ultra-wide is a 10MP sensor with an image output capped at 3,680 pixels-by-2,760 pixels. As de With notes, the sensor represents the most inappreciable resolution bump in a "new" camera since the 8MP iPhone 6.

That said, the smaller sensor allows for slightly improved sensitivity at a minimum exposure of 1/62,000 second compared to 1/45,000 second on iPhone 11. Minimum and maximum ISO is also different at a respective 19 ISO and 1824 ISO, compared to 21 ISO and 2016 ISO.

iPad Pro and iPhone 11
Photo from iPhone 11 Pro (left) compared to same scene capture by 2020 iPad Pro (right). | Source: Sebastien de With


As for the new LiDAR Scanner, de With, like others, notes the sensor's resolution is likely inadequate for photo enhancement applications, at least at this time. Data gleaned from the system is good for resolving larger objects at room scale, but likely not detailed enough to augment existing technologies like Portrait Mode, for example.

"The only reason we won't say it could never support portrait mode is that machine learning is amazing," de With writes. "The depth data on the iPhone XR is very rough, but combined with a neural network, it's good enough to power portrait mode. But if portrait mode were a priority, we'd put our money on Apple using the dual-cameras."

Halide built a proof-of-concept called Esper to illustrate the LiDAR Scanner's potential as a tool for creating augmented reality environments which, according to Apple, is the module's main purpose. The results are worth checking out.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    vukasikavukasika Posts: 103member
    This iPad “upgrade” gets less exciting with each additional detailed look at it.
    doozydozenomairagilealtitudeseanismorrismike54ElCapitanchemengin1
  • Reply 2 of 22
    I’m feeling like a fool for buying this thing
    omairchemengin1
  • Reply 3 of 22
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,824member
    I’m feeling like a fool for buying this thing
    You might be 'feeling like a fool for buying this thing' after reading articles like this. However, does your new iPad perform the functions for which you purchased it? If it does, it probably does so well and will give great service life, in which case you're quite likely not a fool.
    doozydozengregoriusmmwhitemacseekermuthuk_vanalingamuraharalkruppMplsPcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Of course the cameras found on any iPad are not the same as found on the top tier iPhone model. Is this really a surprise to anybody? 

    If anybody feels like a fool after reading something on the internet, and is so easily swayed by a few words, then why don't they simply return the best iPad currently in existence? It's not like they could have owned it for that long.

    I also have some bad news for anybody who bought a pair of AirPods. Prepare to be shocked. They're not as good as the AirPod Pros and they don't do noise cancellation. That's right, AirPods are inferior, just like the word used in the title of this story.

    edited April 2020 uraharalkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    I’m feeling like a fool for buying this thing


    Don't. Take a look at it holistically and it is the best iPad you can get right now. There will always be a new one released at a later date.

    If you really need an iPad, you need not regret this purchase. If you feel it would've been prudent to wait till the end of the year to see if a new one releases, then, if your iPad purchase is within the return window, simply return it.

    I don't need an iPad right now, but I really want one. That's why I decided to wait it out to see if there is another one coming out later this year.

    muthuk_vanalingamuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    vukasika said:
    This iPad “upgrade” gets less exciting with each additional detailed look at it.


    I kinda agree in general, but I've never expected the cameras on the iPad to match those on the iPhone. Personally, I don't see a scenario where I'd have my iPad, but not my iPhone on me, so I'm not too fussed about it. But, I'd rather wait for the next model owing to the other factors that have come to light about this model.

    However, for someone wanting to upgrade from a model prior to the 2018 iPad Pro, this is a real step up.

    edited April 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,285member
    The marketing around this thing is deceiving. It (the camera/sensor array) is marketed similarly as the iPhone 11 and it looks the same visually. And at this price point you expect the same performance.

    mike54lkrupp
  • Reply 8 of 22
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    That’s a huge difference in quality.  

    Most people that own iPads also own iPhones, making some components redundant.

    After seeding the new iPhone SE, I was immediately looking online to see if my iPad could become an external screen for my iPhone.


    lkrupp
  • Reply 9 of 22
    uraharaurahara Posts: 733member
    I’m feeling like a fool for buying this thing
    Would you be smarter if you have bought now a 2018 model?
    What other options do you have? Samsung? Microsoft? Are those options at all?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    uraharaurahara Posts: 733member
    I know people are making photos which iPads. Personally for me - it is not my use case. So I would be fine even if they didn’t update the camera at all. And I bought this newest iPad Pro. And will buy the new keyboard. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,444member
    I was hoping the LIDAR system would be good for 3D scanning applications, but it looks lIke that may not be the case. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Just curious why is this news? Was an iPad camera ever designed to be as good as the iPhone camera? Slow news day?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    mr lizardmr lizard Posts: 354member


    As for the new LiDAR Scanner, de With, like others, notes the sensor's resolution is likely inadequate for photo enhancement applications, at least at this time. Data gleaned from the system is good for resolving larger objects at room scale, but likely not detailed enough to augment existing technologies like Portrait Mode, for example. 

    This is something AppleInsider seems to struggle to understand. It was pointed out by multiple outlets early on that the dot projection from the LiDAR scanner wasn’t suitable for portrait photography, as the resolution of the projections is too low. You need many more dots much closer together in order to generate a depth map of a face compared to a room. 

    Despite this, as recently as April 11 AppleInsider’s own Andrew O’Hara wrote:

     “iPad Pro now has the LiDAR scanner which is used explicitly for capturing depth-based information. This is great for AR but also beneficial to be utilized for portrait mode that requires that depth information. So not only could Apple have had an opportunity to bring Portrait Mode to iPad with the dual-camera setup, but it could have greatly improved it over the current implementation.”

    There seems to be general lack of awareness around LiDAR resolution on the AppleInsider team. 

    aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    ElCapitanElCapitan Posts: 372member
    Apple's definition of PRO seems to get weirder by the day.  – On the one scale of the PRO spectrum they max it all out. At the other end they skimp on features that is included in one PRO configuration but not in another PRO configuration. 
    chemengin1
  • Reply 15 of 22
    I went to check my trade in value for the 2018 1tb lte 11inch Apple trade for it was a joke true underball $350
  • Reply 16 of 22
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    ElCapitan said:
    Apple's definition of PRO seems to get weirder by the day.  – On the one scale of the PRO spectrum they max it all out. At the other end they skimp on features that is included in one PRO configuration but not in another PRO configuration. 

    Not weird at all. It’s called the iPad PRO, not the iPad SPecWhore. 

    Pros about the care about the camera on an iPad because the device isn’t portable enough for a professional photographer. 

    They do benefits, not features. Simple as that. 

    It’s the same reason they don’t care about the tiny number of “professionals” who want to use the iPhoneSE as a studio-level second monitor. 
    edited April 2020 Wgkruegerfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,965member
    iqatedo said:
    I’m feeling like a fool for buying this thing
    You might be 'feeling like a fool for buying this thing' after reading articles like this. However, does your new iPad perform the functions for which you purchased it? If it does, it probably does so well and will give great service life, in which case you're quite likely not a fool.
    Ultimately, this is the gauge for any purchase you make, or at least it should be. Personally, I think the iPad Pro is overpriced, but it is a very capable piece of hardware and if the price/feature equation works for you then that's all that matters.

    ElCapitan said:
    Apple's definition of PRO seems to get weirder by the day.  – On the one scale of the PRO spectrum they max it all out. At the other end they skimp on features that is included in one PRO configuration but not in another PRO configuration. 
    To some extent, yes, but I actually agree with @Rayz2016 - people don't get an iPad Pro to use it as a professional camera; they use the camera on the iPad Pro to assist the other work they are doing. As such, the camera on the iPad Pro is plenty adequate. Now, for the price of the iPad Pro I think Apple could've put the better camera module in, but that's a different question.

    freshMacPro said: I went to check my trade in value for the 2018 1tb lte 11inch Apple trade for it was a joke true underball $350 Yeah - that's a total low-ball price, but even if you got a better deal I can't believe it would be worth it to 'upgrade' to the new iPad Pro - there's not that much difference in the specs/performance. 

    out of curiosity, I looked at refurbished iPads on Apple's website - a 3rd gen 11" 512GB wifi model is going for $850 and a 2nd gen 12.9" 64GB wifi model is going for $500. I get that Apple has to make a profit on the refurbs, but over $500????
  • Reply 18 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,444member
    I went to check my trade in value for the 2018 1tb lte 11inch Apple trade for it was a joke true underball $350
    Apple might facilitate the trade, but all of that is really through a third party reseller. Of course they’re going to lowball you. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,444member
    MplsP said:
    out of curiosity, I looked at refurbished iPads on Apple's website - a 3rd gen 11" 512GB wifi model is going for $850 and a 2nd gen 12.9" 64GB wifi model is going for $500. I get that Apple has to make a profit on the refurbs, but over $500????

    I don’t think consumer trade-ins is where refurbs come from, don't all those go to their 3rd party partners for that program? I assume most refurbs on their store are open box items, returns, repaired items, etc,.
    edited April 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,953member
    I was hoping the LIDAR system would be good for 3D scanning applications, but it looks lIke that may not be the case. 
    Yeah me too. I’ll be getting one soon anyway, but that aspect is a little disappointing. 

    Although as pointed out by the researcher, it could still be utilized to some effect. Possibly helping the cameras to know what is in the background & what is not etc. apps like Qlone will probably be able to make the most of it.
    watto_cobra
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