Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch full review

Our iPad Pro 9.7in review continues. On this page we discuss the iPad's new camera features, and then we get down to some serious camera tests.

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iPad Pro 9.7in review: Cameras

The Pro 9.7 has the best rear-facing camera of any current iPad - and that, annoyingly for last September's early adopters, includes the Pro 12.9.

The 9.7's back camera is rated at 12 megapixels with an f/2.2 aperture, compared to the 8Mp/f/2.4 offered by the larger Pro, the Air 2 and the mini 4, and the 5Mp/f/2.4 model on the mini 2, and it's been equipped for the first time with a flash.

It also gets the Live Photos feature, where short snatches of video are captured before and after still photos so they can be animated, that we've previously seen on iPhones only; 4K video recording (up from 1080p); a sort of 'super slow-mo' option (240fps, up from 120fps) as well as the option to shoot 120fps slow-mo at 1080p, up from 720p; larger panoramas (63Mp, up from 43Mp); auto HDR; and a focusing feature that Apple calls Focus Pixels.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera

And the front-facing camera is much improved, too, although in fewer ways: the megapixel rating has gone up from 1.2Mp (across the board) to 5Mp, and the Pro 9.7 gains the Retina flash feature - which lights up the screen as an improvised front-facing flash - that we know and love from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. It also gains auto HDR on the front-facing camera, which the Air 2 and mini models don't get, but unlike the rest of the improvements I've listed here the Pro 12.9 does get this one.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera tests

We took the two sizes of iPad Pro, together with the iPad Air 2, out into the north London sunshine for a series of photo tests. In sunny weather most of our shots were of a broadly similar standard - despite the Pro 9.7 in theory having a substantially more capable sensor.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera comparisons

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera comparisons

We couldn't detect any difference in detail when shooting flowers and plants; if anything the Air 2's shot seemed to handle a heavy zoom into the individual petals better than the Pro 9.7's, but it could go either way. The 9.7's colours seemed truer to life, but only slightly.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera comparisons

Our shot of St Pancras Hotel in moderately overcast conditions was a better demo of the Pro 9.7's camera chops. There's much more 'pop' to the Pro 9.7 image, better contrast; the Air 2's shot looks muddy and subdued in comparison (although bear in mind that both are decent shots which we've zoomed into quite heavily to seek out weaknesses).

If you can bear it, take a look at these selfies (or rather, zoomed-in details of selfies), taken by the author with the front-facing cameras. (Bear in mind that the photo taken by the 1.2Mp camera in the Air 2 is of course much smaller than that taken by the 5Mp iPad Pro, and we've blown the former up even more for a comparison of how well each shot stands up to a heavy zoom.) You can clearly see more pixellation in the Air 2's selfie, as you'd expect.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera comparisons

We gave the Retina flash a quick try-out too. A direct comparison wasn't really possible here, since none of the other iPads have any kind of flash on their front-facing camera, but we took an unflashed shot with the iPad Air 2 just so you can see what you'd be stuck with if taking a selfie in the dark.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera comparisons

The Retina flash does a surprisingly decent job of lighting the subject, with colours holding up fairly well and no noticeable overexposure, although there's a bit of blurring around the bottom of the picture. 

Next page: The iPad Pro 9.7in's speakers and audio quality, and the all-important accessories >>

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