Surface Pro 3 camera - awful

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by wataru, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    So, after watching the development of this thread for a while, I decided that I ought to go take another look at the cameras on the Pro 3. My local Best Buy had (at least) two on display. There was a display board next to one of the Pros, and so I used it to help judge the degree of focus at various distances. After playing with both the front (screen side) and rear cameras for several minutes, I came away with the feeling that they were both adequate for their intended purpose. To paraphrase another member's comment, I have never used a tablet camera to take serious pictures. I have a very capable and very compact Canon S120 for casual shooting, and it beats the heck out of any tablet or smartphone camera that I know of. I typically only use the front camera for Skype, and even the lower resolution cameras on the Pro 2 are more than adequate for that purpose.

    So, for myself, I am unconcerned. Should Microsoft have selected autofocusing cameras for their "flag ship" Pro 3? It would have been a good idea. Do the fixed focus cameras really "ruin" the Pro 3? No, I don't think so. Both cameras appeared to have pretty large depth of field, as one would expect given such a small aperture, so both cameras appeared to have reasonable utility over a reasonable range of distance. I think that's all a tablet really needs...
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
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  2. gcoupe

    gcoupe Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Steve, if it can't take a decent picture of a document, then, I'm sorry, but if I'm in an IT group looking to procure tablets for a Line of Business application, then that has to be a strike against it. As a private individual, sure, I'll use my Nokia 1020, but I'll be looking for an all-in-one device for LoB stuff. The camera in the ThinkPad Tablet 2 knocks the socks off the toy in the SP3.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
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  3. Randall Garrett

    Randall Garrett Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I'm looking forward to the (imaginary?) day when a future SP model has a Cherry Trail option and the rear camera module from the Nokia 1520 (1020, while technically superior, is overkill unless they were to open it up with more glass.) SteveS makes a valid point on tablet rear camera usage but gcoup "wins" IMHO because the P in SP is for "Pro" and that suggests business use, which includes photos for documentation purposes. Note that I am biased because I also produce "LoB" solutions.

    Just my 2¢


    -Randall Garrett-

    /end/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2015
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  4. Malamasala

    Malamasala Scribbler - Standard Member

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    On the other hand, PRO most likely just stand for "has windows pro", and the rest of the improvements over a regular surface is not included in the name.
     
  5. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    One of the most common uses of tablets I have seen in the field has been insurance adjusters. They will inspect a loss, taking a number of photographs along the way, notate the damage on them with a pen by circling the damage and email the pictures to the claims handler with his recommendations. The Adjusters need to take long shots and close ups. It would be nice to have adequate camera lenses in the tablet. I must admit that I love the Carl Zeiss Pureview lens in my Nokia.
     
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  6. gcoupe

    gcoupe Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    There's a new version of the SP3 User Guide been posted. Page 89 (page 83 in the table of contents):

    "Record video with either camera in 1080p HD, with a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen). Both cameras are fixed focus, so you don’t need to worry about focusing. A privacy light appears when either camera is on, so there are no surprises."

    Apart, that is, from the rather nasty surprise that the SP3 is indeed fitted with a toy camera. Microsoft sends its apologies to Insurance Adjusters everywhere, and suggests that they buy an alternative tablet for their work.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  7. wataru

    wataru Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Funny that the manual also spends a page on 'Panorama mode' on SP3 camera app, but in fact there isn't such a function. The manual is misleading in this aspect.
     
  8. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...Apart, that is, from the...surprise that the SP3 is indeed fitted with a toy camera. Microsoft sends its apologies to Insurance Adjusters everywhere...>>

    ...So, having looked at the cameras on the Pro 3 and not found them to be awful, I decided to take another look. Perhaps I had missed something. I ended up running two tests, with two Pro 3's. Using the rear camera (opposite from the screen-side camera), I was able to get clear images at a distance of approximately 18".

    That bears repeating: 18", not a meter or three meters or whatever! Could I read small font text in the image at that distance? No. Could I read somewhat larger text, like the letters on a Pro Type Cover? Yes, easily.

    I think this issue has been a little overblown, at this point. While the rear camera may not be usable for "scanning" documents with 10 or 12 point font, the depth of field is, IMHO, adequate for many enterprise applications, including close-up images of damage on reasonably-sized things.

    Our insurance adjuster has nothing whatever to worry about!

    This is not to say that auto-focusing camera modules wouldn't have been more desirable, but to write off the cameras without taking the time to do a reasonable evaluation is just an over-reaction.


    <<...the manual also spends a page on 'Panorama mode'...but in fact there isn't such a function...>>

    ...Maybe it's just me, but I could swear that I've seen a Panorama icon on the pop-up options bar. Have you looked there?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
  9. gcoupe

    gcoupe Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The panorama option is an on-screen icon; below the video and camera icons on the right side of the screen. Except it's missing on every SP3 that I've heard of.
     
  10. gcoupe

    gcoupe Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Here's an example comparison between the iPad camera (auto-focus) and the SP3 camera (fixed-focus). It was posted in a thread in the Surface forum on Microsoft Answers.

    iPad and SP3 Camera Comparison.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
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