Please sign in to post.

Phone vs camera for trip pics

I have a small sony camera with good telephoto capability that I usually use when traveling. Its small and produces good pics. I am considering using a cell phone for photos instead.
The downside to just using my phone for me is my desire for using telephoto for many shots. I recently checked out the newer I phones and see that the 13 pro and pro max both have telephoto capability.
Anyone with experience with these phones regarding this aspect of use?

Posted by
1355 posts

Ah, you are talking my speak! Advanced amateur photographer with major investments in too much equipment over the past 50 years. In 2018 held a "competition" with my wife for image results while on two week journey in London. My Nikon with F2.8 lens vs her iPhone. Result: the convenience of her iPhone and image quality convinced me to move to journeys with only taking iPhone (currently using a 12 pro). The available image enhancing apps greatly assist with creating in camera editing while on the go PLUS I have invested more mental commitment to using in phone video apps to gain a "moving" perspective to our journeys. I will not be going back to the Nikons even though I liked the look of wearing a camera vest and all the gear. Sigh. My wife said photo nerd appearance was not that good on me anyway.
The other side........... You really need to practice using iPhone zoom function in order to capture best telephoto image opportunities. Worthy of you tube research to learn how pros accomplish their images (plenty of YT posters to review). Suggest you find local buildings offering atriums to test your skills. Same goes for outside shots with practice makes perfect. TIP: October 2019 was inside Barcelona Familia Sagrada for 5th time over 20 years and always prided self on getting great interior telephoto images of the ceilings. This trip I reset my perspective and took zero interior telephotos and captured broader better image story telling photos. So keep an open mind about resetting your expectations of using iPhone for telephoto images.
I am starting to experience some "equipment creep" by adding a gimbal to help steady and balance shots while offering a new new tool for capturing video. Greatly helps with stabilization and perspective.
https://www.dji.com/om-5?site=brandsite&from=nav
but it is another piece of equipment to carry (wife observes).
Do consider purchasing a lens filter for the iPhone as it helps reduce glares while lower light and decreasing the F stop to capture better images.
https://backlightblog.com/iphone-filters-effects
https://www.lifewire.com/add-photo-filters-to-iphone-photos-1999619
https://www.sandmarc.com/pages/sandmarc-iphone-nd-pl-filter?utm_term=sandmarc%20filters&utm_campaign=US+-+Search+-+Branded+KW&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_acc=2162302622&hsa_cam=7491844983&hsa_grp=80128602399&hsa_ad=392538351044&hsa_src=g&hsa_tgt=kwd-340310284319&hsa_kw=sandmarc%20filters&hsa_mt=e&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_ver=3&gclid=CjwKCAjw8sCRBhA6EiwA6_IF4QTYUhq3lLELujdsjGuOx2vW8RTTxHpkpEn5IwTwosXyTJdavzE1qRoCKbQQAvD_BwE

ok, way too much information, I apologize.
If you are happy with your camera and know how to get the most from it then take a trip while testing both. The best equipment I invest in is learning new information on how to capture images. So first prioritize investing in your mental photographic skills.

Most important, take the time while on the journey to BE there instead of focusing on SEEING there.

Posted by
4961 posts

Marbleskies, I appreciate all of the details you shared. Especially agree with your last comments, “ The best equipment I invest in is learning new information on how to capture images. So first prioritize investing in your mental photographic skills.
Most important, take the time while on the journey to BE there instead of focusing on SEEING there.”

Posted by
166 posts

How does he Gimbal help stabilize? You are still holding it with your hand.
I thank you for your information. I have decided to just take my iphone instead of buying equipment I can't afford right now. It is, however an iphone 11, not the pro, so I won't have the telephoto lens. Perhaps I can upgrade. I'm not sure you can do that anymore without losing a lot of money.

Posted by
1355 posts

https://gimballife.com
Far better at explanation of how gimbals work than I can provide.
In short, the mechanics of a gimbal works to stabilize what the hand shake creates.

Posted by
147 posts

I took a class at the Apple store in using the iPhone 11 camera. Lots of tips and good advice for us novices. There are many modes of lighting available within the iOS. The lighting is the most important element with any camera of course. With the iPhone it can be manipulated in edit mode later too. But even if you just point it and shoot you will still get adequate photos. I don’t travel with a regular camera anymore.

Posted by
1355 posts

BTW................the best image you can capture is with your eyes.

Posted by
2705 posts

BTW................the best image you can capture is with your eyes.

I'm one of those that sometimes forgets to enjoy what I'm seeing because I'm too busy taking a photo.

But to the topic, I don't have an IPhone but my Samsung 20FE has very good capabilities. However I've found that since I don't use a regular camera anymore, I find ways to take photos without depending on a zoom function.

Posted by
1017 posts

I got an iPhone 12 last fall, and, in Italy, I ended up using it far, far more than my bridge camera (which I always swore by). I am considering not taking my camera on the next trip. The photos were excellent. As you say, the only downside is the limited telephoto. I haven't tried the 13 pro or pro max, but my next phone will definitely be one of those or the next generation from those.

Posted by
125 posts

Thank you Marbleskies for all your info much appreciated. Also all other tips too.

Posted by
292 posts

Thank you Marbleskies for sharing your knowledge regarding taking travel photos. My photo collection is my most cherished keepsake when I return from an adventure. It has been several years of trips since I took a dedicated camera with me. I know that my pictures don't measure up to someone with expensive equipment and hours of practice, but I am amazed when I look back at those taken with my iPhone 5 and compare them to the results that I am getting with my 13 Pro Max. The most important thing is that I carry one less thing that I am responsible for and I have captured memories that are precious to me.

Posted by
408 posts

I finally bought a mirrorless camera during lockdown in 2020. I've wanted one for years and I had nothing better to do than to up my photography game.

If you look at the price of a high end iphone -you can get a really good mirrorless camera for a fraction of that - which can run for days with one battery, swap lenses, and take much better pics in bright light as it has a viewfinder to look through.

I thought I wanted it for a decent zoom lens - but what I use it much more for is a fixed focal length pancake lens - which does that lovely soft background , and is superb in low light and for street photography.

The phone has its place but its not a replacement camera

Posted by
125 posts

So Pat comparing your I phone 5 and your 13 pro max is the difference noticeable?

Posted by
2956 posts

I enjoy using a camera. I have a mirrorless Camera as I want to manually choose my settings while being able to see what I am looking at and vary a telephoto perspective when I want. Viewing screens for my subject is limiting in itself…I want a viewfinder. My Canon is small enough to fit easily in my purse so it is always with me. I would not travel without it. Besides how the phone operates, I feel my iphone is too important to me to be popping out all the time. I need to not lose it, drop it or have it stolen. It is securely away as it is my computer while traveling.

And, on car trips, serious photo shoots or just fun I pull out my DSLR. However, most European trips it will stay home now.

Posted by
791 posts

On our recent trip to Iceland just last month, I debated about bringing my DSLR along with my iPhone 13 pro. In the end I left the DSLR at home and was happy with that decision. The phone takes amazing photos, and I am not a great photographer;) We were in Iceland in August as well and at that time had the iPhone XR. I have looked at a few of the photos from the same place and the difference between the two phone cameras is noticeable. I am very glad I upgraded. Even with the old phone, I had a wide angle and telephoto attachment, and even with those the 13 pro is still better.

Posted by
125 posts

Thank you for the info on the 13 pro
Exactly what I need to know

Posted by
1017 posts

My old phone was the 6s, and I never used it for photography. It took terrible photos. My new 12 mini takes wonderful photos. So, I'm guessing the difference between the 5 and 13 is even greater.

Posted by
847 posts

I have the iPhone 11pro so it has wide angle and telephoto. The wide angle is amazing and takes better shots than my camera (Panasonic FZ1000). So for most things the phone is just as good - sometimes better. But it can't compare for telephoto. The phone's telephoto is only 2X and if you zoom in any more it becomes very poor quality. Can't compare with a 'real' camera with at least 3X or more. The other main drawback is lack of a viewfinder. If you've never used a 'real' camera (just point and shoots without viewfinders) you might not notice that much but it is so much easier/better to frame photos with a veiw finder. In bright sun without a viewfinder you are just guessing what you are shooting. So I still bring my camera but do use the phone a LOT. However, I have long since ditched the interchangeable lenses.

Posted by
189 posts

Well, I have gone full circle from a Nikon DSLR to a compact Sony RX100 to an Iphone 11 Pro and now back to a mirrorless, full frame Sony A7c with a huge 28-200 lens. However, photography has always been a hobby of mine and part of the fun for me in traveling is to walk around with a camera in hand.

I have travelled with just my Iphone on several trips and only rarely missed having a dedicated, large sensor camera. The newer Iphones are just so good that the only times you will need more is for low light or extreme telephoto (zoom) shots. Even if I have a larger camera, my Iphone is heavily favored and used in restaurants and for spur of the moment shots. Similarly, if I am out on a quick errand, the phone might pick up a nice shot I would have otherwise missed.

The Sony RX100 is used when I am cramped for bag space such as on a hike or bike trip. Sometimes I will toss it in a jacket pocket as well. After comparing shots from the Iphone 11 and the RX100, I can honestly say that you would not be able to tell a difference between images taken from the two until you really start to blow them up beyond 8x10 and, frankly, we rarely ever do this anymore.

So, why did I just invest (???) $3000 on a new camera system when the new Iphones are so good??? And especially after extolling the virtues of traveling with just the Iphone on other threads???

Well, I simply like taking pictures. I like controlling the variables of exposure, f-stop, exposure compensation and ISO. I enjoy walking around with a camera in my hands and started to miss that. So, for those trips when I have space in the bag and time to walk around, I will take a big camera as a supplement to the Iphone.

I have found that the bigger camera gets me thinking about my shots. This often means I simply sit down and wait for something to happen or some variable to change, such as lights or crowds. This actually lets me slow down and enjoy the environment more whereas I otherwise tend to simply take a quick Iphone shot and move on. Also, when my kids where younger, I did not have the luxury of time to get out the large camera, compose the shot and take several versions. The Iphone was a necessity during these times.

However, I have no doubts that the Iphone is, in reality, up to the tasks of my demands 90% of the time.

Posted by
6 posts

No offense to the serious photographers in the forum, but I always use my phone. 1) I find that I take photos to remember the experience, not to hang on the wall. I try to take a good shot with my phone, but if it's a little crooked...that just reminds me of how awkward it was leaning on the railing to get the shot. Don't get me wrong...I like to frame some of the pictures that come out particularly well (behold the magic of post-production software), but I don't sweat the small stuff. I often end up showing the photos on my phone anyway (If I ever get out the slide projector in the living room someone shoot me) so the quality, etc. doesn't need to be perfect. Again, that's my take. I do appreciate an excellent photograph, but I want to click and move on. 2) A major upside of taking pictures on a connected device is that everything I snap gets uploaded to my Amazon Photos account automatically. While this is sometimes a nuisance when I find 17 pictures of Ikea shelves I like up there, I don't lose the memories if I lose my phone.
For me: Smaller, lighter and easier to carry than a camera. Automatic back-up and the pics are just fine. Besides, I'm carrying the thing anyway.

Posted by
194 posts

I purchased a Google Pixel 6 Pro in January prior to our RS tour. I was tired of dealing with my little Canon batteries and cards. The photo quality is excellent; additionally my phone pictures upload into the Amazon photo app, and so appear on my other devices. I've never been a big fan of smart phones, but I'm slowly being converted.

Posted by
125 posts

I ended up taking I phone 13 pro. Had some issues with it. The shutter would freeze at times which was frustrating. Also unfortunately early on the protective glass shield I got for the camera area got a crack which resulted in a starburst glare at certain magnifications. I was able to adapt for both issues. And other than that easy and convenient to use.
I realized after coming home that I could have had my phone set to automatically upload my photos to shutterfly or another storage service. I will set that for my next trip. I dont want daily photos uploaded as someone mentioned above so I will just manually set prior to a trip.

Posted by
1481 posts

"The shutter would freeze at times which was frustrating"

In Camera Settings > Preserve settings - do you have Live Photos toggled ON or OFF!

Also is Low Power Mode toggled ON or OFF on your iPhone!

Posted by
125 posts

I checked the camera settings and live photo was on as well as low power mode. I did experience many photos turning out to be in live photo which seems to come on without effort or desire. I have now turned that off. But I dont believe I was in that mode every time the screen froze. Also it was not in low power mode at that time. But good suggestions thank you.

Posted by
620 posts

So, I am also an avid photographer, and one of those people who gets a little too caught up in it , to the point that on the Greece tour the guide referred to me as the paparazzi. I have always used an SLR, partly because I am not a big fan of cell phones and didn’t even own one until about three years ago. On my last trip I lugged around my DSLR with a zoom lens and got a lot of great shots….and a sore back and shoulder. So, I invested in an Olympus mirrorless for the Greece tour. It came with a lens that has decent zoom, but I also purchased a pancake lens for inside museums. What I found, as the tour progressed, was that when I wanted a quick shot of something I got used to just pulling my phone out of my pocket as it was quicker. I also found it was easier to use in the museums than the camera as it automatically compensated for some of the odd lighting (a lot of the photos from the camera would have a yellow tint to them). However, I hadn’t read up on how to use the phone properly, and I found a lot of my photos were short video clips instead that had slight movement, and were out of focus. The photos from the camera are still superior, and due to the zoom lens I got a lot of photos that people just using their phone couldn’t get. I had so many more options with the camera settings. I did find that in some situations it was easier to use the phone for video than trying to hold the camera still for a minute or more. I went to Venice after the Greece tour, and standing on a crowded vaporetto trying to take a video with the camera was hard. I am still a big fan of having a real camera, but I found the phone does have its place.

Posted by
31622 posts

carol,

I definitely agree with the points in the previous reply. I am also an avid photographer and always pack along a full size DSLR, as it provides the flexibility to get the shots I want. I may only get to many of the locations I visit once in my lifetime so I want to make sure I'm able to get the best photos possible. I also pack a small P&S and an iPhone, as it's always good to have a backup if needed.

While phone cameras are much better than the were and improving all the time, I'm often frustrated because they don't have the ability to cover all situations. Some of the newer phones do have zoom capability but it's very limited, and certainly can't match the photos I can get with a 75-205 mm zoom lens. I find that I also use a wide angle lens frequently especially inside buildings in low light conditions, and the phone can't match that.

If you only have the Sony P&S and the phone for your trip, I'd suggest taking both of them.