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When Apple releases a new product with upgraded camera technology, the developers behind popular photography app Halide often take a deep dive into the revamped camera features to provide us with some insight into how things work behind the scenes.

ipad-pro-macro-feature.jpg

Halide developer Sebastiaan de With today shared a look at the cameras in the new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, uncovering a hidden macro capability. The iPad Pro's camera has a different lens design than the iPhone camera, which allows it to focus on things that are much closer to the sensor.

The iPhone focuses to about eight centimeters, but the iPad's camera can get a lot closer, allowing for macro shots that aren't possible on an iPhone.

de With says that he was using the iPad on his lap when he noticed that it focused perfectly on his pant leg, leading him to try it with other objects. "iPad basically comes with a microscope," he says.

The rear camera in the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models has not changed from the prior-generation camera used in the 2020 models, so older iPad Pros also seem to be able to use this close-up shot functionality.

It can be difficult to get the iPad Pro camera to focus with the LiDAR sensor-assisted autofocus feature, so de With recommends a camera app like Halide for iPad to put it into a manual focus mode.

The biggest change to the 2021 M1 iPad Pro models comes in the form a revamped front-facing camera that enables a new Ultra Wide "Center Stage" feature that's designed to pan and zoom with you as you move around a room while on video calls.

The Ultra Wide camera functionality used for Center Stage has a 120 degree field of view, but it's all done with software rather than hardware. There's still a single front-facing camera in the M1 iPad Pro that handles both the standard focal length and the wider view.
The M1 iPad Pro has those 12 megapixels packed into the front-facing camera system to enable a more seamless 'dual camera system': one that is entirely created in software. The camera is ultra-wide and only ultra-wide; thanks to software corrections and extra megapixels, the system can just crop that wide and detailed camera feed down to its old focal length.
The standard front-facing camera view is cropped in from the wide-angle view, something that Apple has also done on the latest iPhone models. de With says that Apple's Center Stage feature is a "very impressive bit of software" that can only be achieved with a tight integration of software and hardware.

The full overview of the M1 iPad Pro camera can be read on the Halide website.

Article Link: Halide Developer Highlights Hidden Macro Camera Feature in 2021 iPad Pro
 
Last edited:

BeatCrazy

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The rear camera in the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models has not changed from the prior-generation camera used in the 2020 models, so older iPad Pros also seem to be able to use this close-up shot functionality.

Even though the rear camera hardware is identical between 2020 and 2021, it seems like this macro capability is only on the 2021. I just tried macro/manual focus on my 2020 12.9" iPP, and couldn't get any closer than ~3 inches.
 

jclo

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Even though the rear camera hardware is identical between 2020 and 2021, it seems like this macro capability is only on the 2021. I just tried macro/manual focus on my 2020 12.9" iPP, and couldn't get any closer than ~3 inches.

Hmm, I have the 11-inch 2020 iPad and I can get closer than three inches. Maybe an inch. Not sure exactly how close 2021 model gets?
 

BeatCrazy

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Hmm, I have the 11-inch 2020 iPad and I can get closer than three inches. Maybe an inch. Not sure exactly how close 2021 model gets?
Using the Halide app? I just tried again on my 2020 12.9", and with 0.0 focal setting, I can only focus on an object around 3" from the lens. 12 Pro Max is a bit further, maybe 5" away.
 

jclo

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Using the Halide app? I just tried again on my 2020 12.9", and with 0.0 focal setting, I can only focus on an object around 3" from the lens. 12 Pro Max is a bit further, maybe 5" away.

Yes, using Halide for iPad with the 0.0 focal setting. Maybe it's lighting? Or that I have the 11-inch model. The 2021 models may be able to get even closer, but Halide's shots seem to be about ~1 inch.
 
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DocMultimedia

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Sep 8, 2012
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The iPads often get some technology before the iPhone. I'm betting the next iPhone will have this feature (possibly as one of the options when selecting type of photo). I'm hopeful.
 

jmgregory1

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I saw his tweet earlier and decided to try it myself - it’s crazy how much closer to objects the M1 iPad Pro can focus on. I often have to take product shots to show to customers, including close ups, and this will help significantly. I’d prefer to have the same functionality on the iPhone, but one out of two ain’t bad…
 

tongxinshe

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Feb 24, 2008
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It’s weird that Apple has the technology but choose to not include it in the latest iPhone, leaving itself an unnecessary shortcoming when compared with the competitors.
 
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Homme

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Jun 17, 2014
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I’d rather have this on my 12 Pro Max since I take lots of macro shots. I need to clip on a giant lens every time and it’s a nuisance!

View attachment 1782364
Nice shot there man😊

so I assume if halide says that it’s going to work with 2020 iPad Pros then it could work with the 2018 A12X Pros maybe

i will try this on my A10X iPad later today to see if it can work on that iPads back camera as well. A10X iPP’s back camera has pretty good micro pixels of its time ( I think that is the term)
 

memco

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May 1, 2008
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I would love to know if the magnifier app can zoom that close. Would be very helpful for those with low vision.
 
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macduke

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Calling it a microscope is quite the stretch. But it does get a lot closer than my iPhone 12 Pro Max does. This is the closest I could get it to focus in Halide, which was also the same as Lightroom. This is on the 12.9" M1.

IMG_0007.jpg
 
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