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IPhone 5s for photos or dig camera?

What are most people using for travel photos?Should I bring a separate digital camera or will iPhone 5s suffice as a camera for pictures in Europe? My first time going and I want great pictures. Thanks!

Posted by
2251 posts

This question comes up a lot, as Ken noted last week. Here's a recent thread:

Generally speaking, I think an iPhone will be good enough for a lot (most) people. Your declaration of "I want great pictures" causes me to suggest considering a dedicated camera, such as the Canon S120 or the Sony RX100, both are mentioned here frequently, and both would be a significant improvement in overall photo quality and features.

There's also this:

Posted by
703 posts

hnole, I recently started a post regarding what type of camera to 'buy'/use for travelling. It was deliberately posted in the Packing category in an attempt to show that if you are trying of pack light ( which is something that RS suggests ) then think about what camera to take. The post raised some issues!

my take on this issue ( my own opinion, for what its worth, each to his/her own etc etc) is how many people actually consider that often venues don't let you take photos at all?

So if you are going to museums/ churches etc, you set out for the day, pay your entry and then find out 'no photos allowed'. I have been surprised with my travels how many places this applies. ( it is something that is not always shown on the venues web site) So be prepared for this.
This is part of the basis for my justification that expensive heavy and bulky cameras need to be considered.
I totally realise that people enjoy using cameras and using them as part of their trip ( I do to) but I leave my DSLR at home. I consider my good quality compact camera is more than adequate , when I consider all the factors. ( I bought it as a travel camera)
We also have an iphone, that we use ( in conjunction with our camera) but to be honest the photos are not always that good. sometimes they are a better photo, eg: taken from a better angle/composition etc but I would not like to only rely on the phone.

To answer your question 'what are people using' I would have to say ( from what I have observed on numerous trips) they are often carrying around DSLR cameras. But my question to myself is, is this just a paradigm. have they considered the alternatives, and/or been able to purchase an alternative, IF they consider the quality of photos they need and aren't necessarily that 'into photography'. Obviously if your into photography then its probably not a question.

Seeing you ask, I would say take your other camera as well. And if it can take video, then consider taking some video. I look back on my early travels and wonder why I didn't take more short videos, as well as the photos. it only takes up a small amount of time, providing you have a large card/s ( which are getting cheaper) and can capture the sounds and sights in an interesting way.

Posted by
11292 posts

There's an easy way to answer the question for yourself. Take some pictures around your home town with your iPhone and with your camera. Do you find the iPhone pictures sufficient, or do you prefer the ones from the dedicated camera? Which did you find easier to use? Did you find it burden to carry both the phone and the camera? Everyone will answer these questions differently, so you should figure out what works best for you, rather than relying only on other's experiences.

Posted by
506 posts

We used the Iphone 5 for two trips and it just bogged up our phone and because we don't have a Mac Book we had to go through this long download at Target to get them on a disc. So before our trip to Italy in May I just went out and bought a new small Cannon camera and I am so happy with the ease of the chip and the quality has gone up so much in those camera's too. It has a 20X zoom on this little thing.

Posted by
5793 posts

Herald and Judy make good points. As Herald suggest, try you phone as a camera recording images of subjects and scenes you're interested in. Test low light no flash situations to see if the electronics will focus in a reasonable amount of time and your image stabilization works to your satisfaction. Print or view as you would want to display your great pictures.

As Judy notes, check your storage capacity. Run short and you need to either upload to the "cloud" or start deleting. I carry an extra high capacity*chip" for my camera.

Posted by
31524 posts


My first suggestion would be to read the Threads that were linked in the first reply. Those may provide some insight into your question.

To reiterate my previous comments, smartphone cameras are fine for snapshots in good conditions, but have some definite limitations in some conditions, mostly low light and with moving subjects. Smartphones will never be able to equal the quality of cameras with larger sensors, despite some of the software "tricks" they use for digital zoom and post-processing.

I always travel with both a DSLR as well as a good P&S camera (used for different purposes but it's also good to have a "backup").

My suggestion - at a minimum, buy a good quality P&S Camera with a fairly long optical zoom. There's a significant clue at the end of your post - "My first time going and I want great pictures."

Posted by
703 posts

an other thing worth considering is if you need to upload things to the cloud, unless you do it via your phone account, don't expect to much from hotel wifi. we have stayed in various accommodation types and mostly the speed of the wifi is very slow. Often even Viber and skype etc don't work properly.
with a camera at least you can get a few inexpensive cards and take as many shots or video as you want.

Posted by
4958 posts

One important question: will you ever print any of your pictures? Or will you simply post them on Facebook and/or email them to friends? If you'll never print them, you are much more likely to get away with a phone for a camera. If you think there's any chance you might ever want to print and/or frame one of your pictures, you'll notice the difference between your phone camera and a nicer camera. But on a screen - often not as much.

Posted by
5793 posts

And the usual selfie sticks are intended for phone cameras not real cameras.
(And who would want to risk a DSLR on the end of a stick?)

Posted by
1733 posts

And selfie sticks are really annoying and ought to be banned anyway. I travelled with a Canon Powershot, and was quite happy with it. It's small enough to fit into my day bag. If you get something like that, just be sure to take time to learn about it and practice with it before you go on your trip.