Surface Pro 3 Camera Quality

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.

Microsoft has a short but decent write-up on how to do that here.

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?

If you want to follow the thread on the Microsoft Answers Forum, to see what others are saying you can find it here.


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