Need help replacing PaS camera

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
rk219 Forum Member • Posts: 51
Need help replacing PaS camera

tl/dr: looking for a camera to bring hiking in dead of cold snowy winter and all rest of year, mainly for landscape but wouldn't mind a bit of telephoto ability, good quality, decent low light ability, shooting aperture mode, possibly RAW post processing, United States, Verizon (Tracfone). Initial thoughts were Samsung Galaxy S20 series or Google Pixel 4/4a/4a 5G/5 but open to other suggestions.

My hiking camera broke; Sony RX100 IV. As a side note I also have a Canon 50D that I usually do not bring with me for hiking and backpacking. The nice thing about the Sony was that it fit nicely in my hip belt pocket of my pack. I already bring a cheap smartphone and I would consider upgrading for the simplicity of not bringing a camera. I always saw myself venturing into a mirrorless set up after the Sony.

But now I am interested in the possibility of venturing into the phone camera world. I have never done any kind of research nor do I have any experience whatsoever with smartphone cameras until yesterday when I began reading about them.

This camera would mainly be used for snapshots in low light forest and brighter mountain vista environments; dawn, broad daylight, and dusk. I only occasionally use the telephoto end of my cameras / lenses and more often use a wider angle of view. I did, however, find myself occasionally wishing for more than the 70mm max of the Sony, but it was never a deal breaker (I'm under the impression that the 24-70mm focal range is 35mm equivalent).

My desires are good image quality with the possibility of shooting RAW (with a bit of post processing, but if good in camera JPEG processing I'm good with that -- I don't often print and if I do it is never above 11x14), ability to set camera controls, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc, a fairly wide range of focal lengths but definitely something I can shoot landscape with.

Ideally I could use it on the Verizon network (Tracfone).

My initial thoughts led me to the Samsung Galaxy S20 series or the Google Pixel series. But after reading a bunch of threads in here I'm not so convinced of the Samsungs. What I liked about the S20 series (mainly the Plus) is the ultrawide angle (not sure how 120 degrees matches up in mm's, looking at a table, maybe around 12mm?) but the telephoto end of 76 degrees FOV doesn't seem very much? Is that around 28mm? I saw the Ultra goes up to around 100mm but it is quite a bit more expensive.

The Pixels 4a 5G and 5 go from, I think, 16 mm to 26 mm. And the 4 goes from 26 mm to 46 mm and the 4a only has one lens, 26mm.

Am I right in thinking those are all basically prime lenses with digital zooming in between?

Am I over thinking this? WWYD?

Canon EOS 50D Sony RX100 IV
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Jostian
Jostian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,585
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

rk219 wrote:

tl/dr: looking for a camera to bring hiking in dead of cold snowy winter and all rest of year, mainly for landscape but wouldn't mind a bit of telephoto ability, good quality, decent low light ability, shooting aperture mode, possibly RAW post processing, United States, Verizon (Tracfone). Initial thoughts were Samsung Galaxy S20 series or Google Pixel 4/4a/4a 5G/5 but open to other suggestions.

My hiking camera broke; Sony RX100 IV. As a side note I also have a Canon 50D that I usually do not bring with me for hiking and backpacking. The nice thing about the Sony was that it fit nicely in my hip belt pocket of my pack. I already bring a cheap smartphone and I would consider upgrading for the simplicity of not bringing a camera. I always saw myself venturing into a mirrorless set up after the Sony.

But now I am interested in the possibility of venturing into the phone camera world. I have never done any kind of research nor do I have any experience whatsoever with smartphone cameras until yesterday when I began reading about them.

This camera would mainly be used for snapshots in low light forest and brighter mountain vista environments; dawn, broad daylight, and dusk. I only occasionally use the telephoto end of my cameras / lenses and more often use a wider angle of view. I did, however, find myself occasionally wishing for more than the 70mm max of the Sony, but it was never a deal breaker (I'm under the impression that the 24-70mm focal range is 35mm equivalent).

My desires are good image quality with the possibility of shooting RAW (with a bit of post processing, but if good in camera JPEG processing I'm good with that -- I don't often print and if I do it is never above 11x14), ability to set camera controls, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc, a fairly wide range of focal lengths but definitely something I can shoot landscape with.

Ideally I could use it on the Verizon network (Tracfone).

My initial thoughts led me to the Samsung Galaxy S20 series or the Google Pixel series. But after reading a bunch of threads in here I'm not so convinced of the Samsungs. What I liked about the S20 series (mainly the Plus) is the ultrawide angle (not sure how 120 degrees matches up in mm's, looking at a table, maybe around 12mm?) but the telephoto end of 76 degrees FOV doesn't seem very much? Is that around 28mm? I saw the Ultra goes up to around 100mm but it is quite a bit more expensive.

The Pixels 4a 5G and 5 go from, I think, 16 mm to 26 mm. And the 4 goes from 26 mm to 46 mm and the 4a only has one lens, 26mm.

Am I right in thinking those are all basically prime lenses with digital zooming in between?

Am I over thinking this? WWYD?

I think most OEMs (Samsung, Huawei, Apple and Pixels) have decent enough IQ for your needs, I find Huawei slightly more natural in its processing than Samsung or Apple, and Pixels are always pretty solid, so maybe it comes done to the different focal lengths for flexibility. The Samsung S20 Ultra is better than the S20 and 20+ (as only the Ultra has a dedicated tele lens, the S20 and + just crop into a sensor for the tele length, and I can tell you the IQ from the Ultra's tele lens is way better (I had the S20 Plus and the Ultra) and the 108mp sensor after many updates is really good now. Note as good as the Note 20 Ultra (where they managed to iron out the issues from the S20 Ultra). You can only shoot RAW with the main camera

Probably the best option is the P30 Pro (it still has Google services) but it has nice variety of focal lengths, and one can shoot RAW will all 3. Of course the one big plus with Huawei (the only OEM that offers this) is that if you shoot in pro mode with any of the lenses and have RAW enabled the accompanying jpeg is processed directly from the RAW file so no overprocessing etc. Although I must say I prefer the IQ from the Mate 20 Pro.

With the Pixels you get good IQ but not the versatility (no tele lens), and with the iPhone the tele is only 2x optical whereas for the P30 Pro its 5x optical, there are other options to like the Xiaomi Mi 10 pro which also offers great IQ. Check out the camera specs here between the P30 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro and S20 Ultra, with links to individual reviews next to indi phone pictures towards the top. Maybe it helps narrow things down. https://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?&idPhone2=10040&idPhone1=9635&idPhone3=10508

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seeblue Senior Member • Posts: 1,762
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera
1

Don’t over think it. And you can’t have it all (low light, UWA, WA, Portrait, Telephoto, Verizon) unless you’re willing to pay closer to $1,000 for it. Verizon will limit you to more mainstream brands (Samsung, Apple, Google, LG, Motorola).

I’d also point you toward an iPhone 11 as a starting point. That’s a UWA and WA lens with a pass on the portrait lens, and this phone has a good battery life. Get your feet wet. Resale value is good, so there’s that too, if you feel a need to upgrade quickly. Not Verizon, but Cricket (AT&T) has a good deal on IP 11 right now ($499). I’ve used this MVNO before and they’re fine.

You can’t vary the aperture on a smartphone lens, although you can adjust fake bokeh on the go on some models. On the highest end models, using more manual controls, it can take a lot of PP work to beat an image taken in Auto Mode. So you may find your workflow changes.

For a lot of us, with a smartphone, you’ll take many more images than you ever did with a camera. You’ll spend more time viewing them on a smaller screen AND less critically. And you’ll also find that you’re post-processing a lot less of the images too. It also can change travel photography to more of a broad documentary exercise (more social or thematic) and less of a one looking for keepers and masterpieces.

I2K4
I2K4 Senior Member • Posts: 1,250
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

Others can advise you on top tier smartphone cameras, I'd just recommend - especially after owning sophisticated cameras - that you put thought into your personal habits and preferences for a "hiking camera", in particular a) computational HDR algorithms as with iPhone and Pixel versus less conventional lens and sensor configurations / manual controls / DNG / post-processing, b) shooting without an EVF or directional (flip out) screen, and c) battery battery battery given the screen drain and multifunctional (including emergency communication and geolocation) uses of the phone. Personally, a decent phone as a camera always in hand is great, but that's not the same as a good compact on the order of your Sony or Canon G series for a planned photographic outing of many hours and many shots. Setting optics and viewfinders aside, without either a swappable battery or a battery case, phones can be very limiting or heavy on compensating paraphernalia.

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Lars Luciano Veteran Member • Posts: 3,603
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

All the cameras / phones you listed are good. If you dive into settings, explore it's capabilities, test it to get use to it you should be happy.

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vv50
vv50 Contributing Member • Posts: 777
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

rk219 wrote:

Am I right in thinking those are all basically prime lenses with digital zooming in between?

yes, phones use digital zooming.  much better to zoom with your feet

Am I over thinking this? WWYD?

set a budget. buy the phone that falls under that budget.

Jostian
Jostian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,585
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

I2K4 wrote:

Others can advise you on top tier smartphone cameras, I'd just recommend - especially after owning sophisticated cameras - that you put thought into your personal habits and preferences for a "hiking camera", in particular a) computational HDR algorithms as with iPhone and Pixel versus less conventional lens and sensor configurations / manual controls / DNG / post-processing, b) shooting without an EVF or directional (flip out) screen, and c) battery battery battery given the screen drain and multifunctional (including emergency communication and geolocation) uses of the phone. Personally, a decent phone as a camera always in hand is great, but that's not the same as a good compact on the order of your Sony or Canon G series for a planned photographic outing of many hours and many shots. Setting optics and viewfinders aside, without either a swappable battery or a battery case, phones can be very limiting or heavy on compensating paraphernalia.

yip most OEMs have fancy computational stuff happening, like the S20 Ultra which combines 9 photos into each indi photo on the main camera, similar to what Huawei and Xiaomi do, all have there 'magic' though they all over-process still in the SOOC jpegs, especially iPhones (check out the iPhone 12 camera test thread), still way to smeary in the fine detail, as mentioned in GSMArena's iPhone 12 Pro review (where the camera is rated as good, not very good or excellent) this piece sums up the camera review

"The main camera saves good-looking 12MP photos with low noise levels, balanced sharpness, always accurate white balance, and colors, and the contrast is pretty high. The dynamic range isn't jaw-dropping, but we'd say Apple's hit the sweet spot with its latest Smart HDR and the photos look natural and well balanced.

The images are not ideal, though - high-frequency detail such as grass or foliage is not rendered in the best way we've seen from a flagship device. Various objects like grass, bushes, window blinds, distant people, car plates, etc. present a challenge for the camera and often come out smeared or deformed."

Samsung's also process a bit to much (though greatly improved over the last 4 months, with numerous firmware updates focused on the camera), Pixels are good but their camera hardware is getting on (as mentioned in reviews) and they are heavily relying on the computational side.

I think you should rather look at overall versatility like a phone with a UWA, amin and tele (3x optical or more).

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Jostian
Jostian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,585
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera
1

I2K4 wrote:

Others can advise you on top tier smartphone cameras, I'd just recommend - especially after owning sophisticated cameras - that you put thought into your personal habits and preferences for a "hiking camera", in particular a) computational HDR algorithms as with iPhone and Pixel versus less conventional lens and sensor configurations / manual controls / DNG / post-processing, b) shooting without an EVF or directional (flip out) screen, and c) battery battery battery given the screen drain and multifunctional (including emergency communication and geolocation) uses of the phone. Personally, a decent phone as a camera always in hand is great, but that's not the same as a good compact on the order of your Sony or Canon G series for a planned photographic outing of many hours and many shots.

yip absolutely agree, I have the Sony RX100 VII and its superb, more than step up from any cameraphone, plus you get the proper zoom range (optical zoom from 24mm to 200mm), not 3 primes and digital zoom in-between like on phones, way better ergonomics etc. and way better IQ.

Setting optics and viewfinders aside, without either a swappable battery or a battery case, phones can be very limiting or heavy on compensating paraphernalia.

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OP rk219 Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

Thank you all! I hadn't realised I was getting replies as I thought I had set some kind of e-mail notification. I'm gonna dig through these responses. Again, thanks so much!

Richard_CC Regular Member • Posts: 288
Re: Need help replacing PaS camera

I had a DSLR and a Sony RX100 M2.  After a while, the DSLR rarely went out with me.

I now have a Sony RX100 M2 and a Huawei P30 (non-pro version).  The Sony rarely goes out with me.

Most of the time I leave the Huawei in its "AI" mode, leaving it to sort out what it wants to do.  Occasionally I will adjust the exposure minus a stop or two for a dramatic sky, or turn off AI if I want to take a picture of a person with the background sharp 'for the record' - AI often says portrait and blurs the background.

Apart from that, I spend a lot more time walking and looking and a lot less time fiddling with a camera.  You can never reproduce the 'greats' unless you have the time to wait for the light (and in Ansel Adams case, a mule train for the tripod and full plate cameras).

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