Some people are complaining about the Surface Pro 3 cameras. The complaints are centered around image quality and low-light performance.
The issue seems to be somewhat polarizing with some Surface Pro 3 owners with strong opinions on both sides.
Surface Pro 3 Camera Quality: Technical Explanation
It turns out that the Surface Pro 3 5MP front and back cameras are both fixed focus cameras. Each is setup for a different specialty use.
The front camera is tuned for up-close video with Skype or Google Hangouts while the back is tuned more for distance shots. Neither camera will auto-focus (AF) because AF requires hardware to be present to manipulate the lens and\or camera aperture that is simply not present in the SP3 cameras.
As a result, the cameras will simply never support AF.
Surface Pro 3 Camera Quality: Is There Anything I Can Do?
Sort of, you can manually adjust the camera settings a bit which might help with some of the quality issues. In particular, you can adjust the exposure time to help with the low-light quality problems from within the default camera app.
Note: if you are planning to use your Surface Pro 3 for “scanning” or taking pics of documents, don’t bother, it really sucks for that.
Surface Pro 3 Camera Quality: Design Flaw or Unrealistic Expectations?
So, there are two ways to look at the camera issues on the Surface Pro 3 tablets:
- They’re not intended to be top-of-the-line cameras and are tuned to be acceptable for the most common uses that each would be used for (Front-Skype. Back-Far away pictures/videos)
- The SP3 is supposed to be Microsoft’s flagship product. It costs 10x what my cellphone costs and my phone has auto-focus on its camera.
I can kind of see both sides…..
On one hand, Microsoft built a really versatile laptop/tablet hybrid that demanded a certain amount of compromise. If you want a high-quality camera, go buy a high-quality camera and don’t expect your tablet to do everything perfectly.
On the other, if my $100 USD Windows cell-phone can include an 8MP auto-focus camera, why can’t my $1300 Surface Pro 3?
If I had to pick a side however, I think I would come down on the side of the camera being a good compromise and not expecting super-high quality out of my Surface Pro 3’s cameras.
So what do you think?
Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.