Given the right conditions, iPads take great photos. We're in Iceland right now and my wife is using an iPad Mini - the photos are fabulous! Hard to imagine that it has the same 12mp resolution as my high end Olympus had just a few years ago!
If I was still serious about teaching students to "see" photos, I'd have each of them use a tablet of some kind - great size for viewing and discussing composition on the spot.
Yes, these things keep getting better. Using stacking can really give beautiful noise free, well textured images. I would like to see some contraption to stick several components together.
1 - A tablet that can be tilted within reasonable limits
2 - A sony smart lens with sw that's photographerfriendly and actually works
3 - A tripod mount
That would give the modern day equivalent of a viewcamera I suppose, a more contemplative form of photography so to speak.