The new iPad Pro 12.9 has the same 12MP rear camera found on the back of the second-gen iPad Pro from last year. Which means a Sony IMX315 sensor with 1.22 µm pixels. But there are a couple of changes, and the news is mostly bad.
Apple made the new iPad thinner, and while the camera is now humping at the back, the maker needed to shrink its design, too. The first thing the camera had lost since the last year's iPad is the optical stabilization. The second - the six-element lens now became 5-element.
Apple promises the new ISP within the A12X chip will make up for those losses with a 4-frame buffer for zero shutter lag, and there is the new Smart HDR feature. In addition to those 4 frames, the camera also captures interframes, plus a long exposure, all of which are merged into a single photo with improved dynamic range.
In addition to the Smart HDR, the iPad's camera also gets a stereo audio recording for all type of clips.
The 7MP selfie camera now can snap portraits thanks to the Face ID camera being used as a depth sensor, and you can adjust the bokeh strength real-time.
Oddly, portraits aren't available with the rear camera, despite the new IPS being capable of doing them with just one cam - like on the iPhone XR.
Finally, the quad-LED dual-tone flash with slow-sync is here to stay.
The camera interface remains unchanged from smaller iPads. You can switch between modes by a simple swipe, and when shooting stills, you can adjust exposure compensation with a tap and slide. There's a front/rear camera toggle, as well a shortcut to the gallery. The Portrait mode works only on selfies, but you get to adjust the bokeh strength on the viewfinder.
Before we begin, we have to mention that winter is coming around here, so the weather gets in the way of the camera to show its best. And we will try to account for that in our image quality analysis.
So, the 12MP images we took with the iPad turned out quite nice regardless of how ridiculous we looked taking pictures with a 12+ inch tablet. The photos are on par with the iPhone 8 snaps, with lots of detail and impressively wide dynamic range. The colors stayed true to real life, the contrast is great.
The noise levels are a bit higher than we'd expected - either affected by the bad weather or the algorithm is programmed to leave the noise untouched to protect some of the more intricate detail. The noise doesn't get in the way, but it's still there.
The sensor now lacks OIS, but it has Smart HDR, which is supposed to offer improvements in low-light. Quite expectedly, the low-light images aren't as good as on the new iPhones. There is lots of detail, but the noise levels are quite high, too.
Those are some very nice 12MP images, and when there is some light, the noise pretty much disappears. So, while not on par with the best in the smartphone class, we doubt you'll find a tablet that shoots better than this iPad.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) captures all kind of videos. All except the 4K@60fps clips also feature cinematic video stabilization. The iPad can also do 720p at 240fps or 1080p at 120fps slow-mo videos.
The 4K 60fps videos are available only on the new high-efficiency format (H.265 HEVC). The regular 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30, and 1080p at 60fps are available for both H.264 and HEVC. The 4K at 24fps film mode is here to stay, too.
One final thing, the iPad Pro captures wide stereo recording for the videos. This means spatial sound, just like some recent HTCs and some old Nokia phones did, and you should enjoy richer and deeper sound if compared to just regular stereo.
The 4K and 1080p videos captured both at 60, and 30 fps are virtually identical in quality, sans the difference in resolution. There is enough resolved detail though not the best we've seen for 4K videos, and the foliage presentation is just average. The colors are accurate, and so is the white balance. There are no focus issues or compression artifacts. And the dynamic range is nothing short of impressive.
And please, excuse the awful weather around!
The front-facing camera has the same 7MP unit behind a f/2.2 lens we saw on the iPhone XS phones. It can use the so-called Retina flash, where your screen lights your face up in particular color to provide more pleasing skin tones depending on the color of the available light.
There is plenty of resolved detail. The contrast and colors are excellent, while the exposure is always based on the human subject with Smart HDR taking care of correcting the background exposure. Those are some solid selfies indeed.
Smart HDR is also available for the selfies, so if you have it enabled in Settings, you will notice it doing its mojo.
You can do portraits with the selfie camera only. While the ISP should be capable of making portraits with the rear camera, it wasn't meant to be on this iPad. Anyway, the quality of the selfie portraits is quite alright, subject separation is excellent, and you can adjust the blur before shooting them.
Portrait Lightning effects are available, too, if those are your thing.