Viewing photos on the new iPad's screen is an experience you're not prepared for.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
The new iPad's unique photo prowess
June 24, 2012
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard
Apple missed an opportunity when it named the new iPad the, um, new iPad. "iPad Pro" would have made a lot more sense, especially for photographers.
As of now, only one computer -- the new (and expensive) MacBook with Retina Display, also from Apple -- is able to match or better the display of the new iPad. And nothing at all comes close to the iPad's display at a similar price.
First of all there's the new iPad's incredible resolution. That's a measure of how well the screen can show the tiniest details. It's got more resolution than all but the MacBook Retina. More than the biggest, baddest, most HD of HDTVs.
Apple calls it a Retina Display. The pixels that make up the screen are so tiny you can't detect them from a normal viewing distance. Your retina sees everything as a smooth image, just as in real life. (The latest iPhone has a Retina Display, too.) This is cool for playing games and reading books, but activities like that seem like a waste of a good screen. Where the new iPad shines is photography.
Viewing photos on the new iPad's screen is an experience you're not prepared for. One reviewer said it was like the moment he first put on his new eyeglasses as a kid. I can only compare it to suddenly cleaning the window I'd been looking through all these years.
Then there's the new iPad's second incredible "pro" feature -- color accuracy. Nobody else -- not Dell or HP, not even Apple -- sells a computer with such a picture-perfect display right out of the box. Except for the iPad, every computer you buy needs to have its monitor tweaked and prodded into color fidelity.
Serious photographers routinely calibrate their monitors using an expensive hardware device because they know manufacturers simply can't guarantee a properly calibrated screen. If you'd like to try calibrating your monitor a less expensive way, go to this Technofile page: www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec011203.html.
(I think this is a scandal. That big HDTV you just bought came without any calibration, too. TV and computer manufacturers must think we're chumps.)
If I told a group of photographers they could buy a studio display screen with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind quality and then added that it could double as a portable display and do all this for a cost starting at $500, I'd get dozens of questions about where to buy such a display.
But we're talking about something that's much more than a display -- something that can serve photographers as a superb editing tool, too.
With its expanded memory and faster chips, the new iPad is a photo editor's bonanza. This is perhaps best shown by Apple's amazing new iPhoto app, which enables studio-quality lossless photo editing on the iPad and its cousins, the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Next week I'll describe iPhoto for the iPad. Whether you're already an iPad-based photographer or never even considered doing photo editing on a new iPad, don't miss next week's column.