This is Why I Want a 5MP Camera on my Tablets

Mike Cane posted a rant earlier today over on his blog, and I wanted to chime in and agree with him.

Earlier this week I attended the Asus Windows 8 introduction. I had with me a Nikon CoolPix that takes 8MPx photos.

You know who was getting better pictures than me?

This woman using her iPad to take pictures:

I could see her captured images. They were far better than what the damn camera I was using got!

And because she was using a tablet, she could see right away if the image was actually good or not. On the crappy small viewfinder on the back of the CoolPix, I couldn’t tell a thing. Only when I got back to my desktop could I see if the photos had proper focus or were blurry due to motion.

I have long been an advocate of tablet photography and I have even taken some flack from commenters (here, here). In fact, the lack of a rear camera is most of the reason I never bought a Nexus 7.

I like taking photos with a tablet for the same reason which Mike iterated earlier today. The 7″ or larger screen lets you see how the image turned out right away. That’s not something you can do with the 2″ or 3″ screen found on most cameras or even the 4″ on the iPhone.

Size matters. If I could get a $600 camera built around a 7″ screen, I would buy it in a heart beat.  My current camera is quite good, but even with all its settings I still have to take multiple backup shots just to make sure the 2 or 3 photos I need come out okay – because I cannot judge how well they will come out.

Yes, taking a photo with a tablet looks weird, and yes, a 10″ tablet does tend to block the view of anyone behind it. But any decent camera used in the same position would be as annoying.

But that’s just me; have you ever tried tablet photography?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Lyman26 October, 2012

    Nikon Coolpix 8MP cameras have sensors that date from the 2003-2009 era with screens to match. Those are 4-5 year old weak TFT screens.

    Modern Coolpix’s have twice the screen pixels in the same area ( now around 400K versus old approximately 200K ) , double the MP ( ~16), better processor (maybe an Expeed 2 processor) , and far better low light resolution. The last is likely the actual core problem with the picture being taken here. Nikon even has a few 3″ 900K pixel screens Coolpix models, but the average Coolpix is now at 400K.

    It isn’t the MP or screen of the iPad that is outclassing that other camera. It is the age (and implicilty the more robust underlying hardware/software that comes with being newer). If could attach a modern 3″ screen and a better processor to the old 8MP sensor you would probably get better pictures out of it too.

    As for Tablets as cameras…. no. Again it is resolution, not size that is the issue. It is actually easier and more cost effective to make a 3″ hi-res screen than 10″ one. If it is the only camera you have in your hand (or brought with you ) fine. But generally better? No.

    1. Mike Cane27 October, 2012

      I have found the CoolPix to be utter crap and would not give one as a gift to my worst enemy. Save your pitch. CoolPix is dead to me.

  2. k1tsun326 October, 2012

    I think Lyman’s explanation must be correct, because frankly the iPad I have (an iPad 2) takes really poor photos. Pictures taken outside in bright light look washed out, and pictures taken indoors in regular light tend to look too dark. I’m trying to remember what kind of digital camera I have; it takes far better images than any of the smartphones or tablets I’ve used, even though I think it’s six or seven years old now. Of course I never have it with me and I pretty much only use my phone to take pictures.

  3. cookie26 October, 2012

    I guess then you should want the 5.3 inch Galaxy Note.

    1. Nate Hoffelder26 October, 2012

      That’s not a $600 camera.

  4. Smoley26 October, 2012

    >>Yes, taking a photo with a camera looks weird,…

    Huh? Not on my planet it doesn’t. Taking a photo with a tablet or phone does though.

    Makes me wonder how anyone today would have done shooting with a 35mm film camera where you couldn’t see what you photographed for *days* after taking the shots and every shot (good or bad) cost you money. I weep for the future.

    1. Nate Hoffelder26 October, 2012

      One film camera required a lot of skill, and two. a lot of mistakes could be fixed while developing the film.

      And I fixed my mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.

      1. Tyler27 October, 2012

        I believe it would be a lot easier to fix mistakes with Photoshop than to fix mistakes during the developing process for most people.

        1. Nate Hoffelder27 October, 2012

          Photoshop is expensive and I don’t know how to use it.

          1. Mike Cane27 October, 2012

            +1 I use Photo Toolkit and sometimes even the automatic controls frustrate me. I tend not to doctor pics unless really, really necessary. I had to apply a filter to some photos of screens to get rid of sensor moire patterns.

  5. Samir Shah26 October, 2012

    iPad Mini.

    1. Tim Gray27 October, 2012


      And now I’m wondering if that genuinely does have a market among photographers for checking composition.

      Aside – it’d be good to have a photo app that lets you take the picture comfortably with one hand. The standard photo app on my iPod Touch isn’t it.

  6. Meryn27 October, 2012

    As has been said before. The amount of megapixels generally means nothing when it come to taking high quality pictures. The quality of lens and sensor, your abilities as a photographer and the ergonomics of the camera device all are more important. Just try to take steady shots with an ipad while manually determining focus and timing.

    Sure, a larger viewscreen will help you separate the wheat from the chaff early on, which can be quite useful with a limited-storage device. But, in all, i think that camera companies have probably found the right balance in their 100+ years of making cameras.

    1. Nate Hoffelder27 October, 2012

      ” But, in all, i think that camera companies have probably found the right balance in their 100+ years of making cameras.”

      Except they have not been making digital cameras for more than a couple decades. And in most of that time most camera makers have aped the design of film cameras without actually thinking about how to design a camera from scratch.

    2. Mike Cane27 October, 2012

      Nokia seems to have done very well with cameras in their phones, with Zeiss optics too. That level of attention to a camera is what’s needed in pocketable and tablet devices. A dedicated camera for most people would be like buying a CD player over an iPod to listen to music.

  7. Tim Gray27 October, 2012

    Yes, the larger screen may help with composition. But I feel confident that the potential quality of the final image is greater in something that has proper lens optics and control over shooting options.

    Though it is pretty amazing what a camera the size of a pea can do for point and shoot.

  8. Eolake27 October, 2012

    I agree very much, and I’ve blogged about it too.
    Key is the quality of the camera. It needs more space than the half-thimble they have now.
    You inspired me to a post of my own:

  9. Mike Cane27 October, 2012

    >>> and yes, a 10? tablet does tend to block the view of anyone behind it

    I’m glad she did! It let me see just how much more detail in dark areas she was getting via her iPad camera that turned out to be totally black in my own photos. Her iPad seemed to be more sensitive to light over the crappy CoolPix.

  10. Alex28 October, 2012

    If you are really serious about quality of your photos, buy a proper camera and learn how to use. Even my old Canon A580 CHDK hacked can do better photos than any tablet or phone camera. And if you know how to do a proper focus, every picture will be sharp without need to check, easier for small sensor cameras with a huge deep of field. Do you want a 10’display on a camera? Buy one DSLR and connect to your ipad, done!


    1. Nate Hoffelder28 October, 2012

      When I checked last fall (while buying a camera) all the DSLRs seemed to come in $600 to $2k kits with several lenses. This requires far greater skill than I currently have or even have the time to learn or maintain.

      Like many people, I don’t use a camera that much. That’s why I need one which will make things as easy as possible.

      1. Alex31 October, 2012

        Any modern camera, even the most expensive DSLR, have their “green zone”: a totally automatic operation, needing no knowledge from the user. Larger sensor cameras have relatively small deep of field (the area in focus), small sensor cameras (P&S) have more deep of field, that means more easy to have a sharp in focus picture. The program’s inside the camera work better if the camera have some room for error, low light cuts that room and needs perfect shutter and aperture settings. Get a point and shoot with a clear lens, like the Canon S100 f2.0 lens and you have greater chance that the program gets the photo right. On the other way you need to study some photography.

    2. Mike Cane28 October, 2012

      Most of us are just taking pics for the Net, not for the sake of art. Point and shoot suits that best.

  11. Sweetpea29 October, 2012

    If you want to make pictures with your tablet, make sure it has a flash…

    I rarely use my tablet for photography. Only when I want to make a quick snap and the camera isn’t in the area (my tablet usually is). I wouldn’t want to carry my tablet around an event or something to make pictures. I prefer a small camera for that…

  12. Manu LM1 November, 2012

    have you guys ever seen what pro photographers do on their >3K full frame ? they immediately check on the 3inch screen (now very good quality screens) and ultimately zooming in to check if the image is blurred or not.
    So yes a bigger viewing screen would be great.
    For the tablet photography, it can’t beat a good SLR camera, but its great for viewing… I believe a feature like live view on Ipad or any other tablet could be a killer app in the photo world (think of you son saying, hey dad, it’s blurred…).

  13. […] stories this Tuesday morning include an interview of Oyster’s CEO (link), a defense of tablet photography (link), a deeper look into the backlash against longform content being published simply because […]

  14. […] model I carry. This could have been the solution I am looking for as an alternative to tablet photography, but unfortunately Samsung doesn’t have plans to release it in the […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top