Traveling with only a phone camera Locked

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OP timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

How did your friend feel about her phone photos?  Were they just casual selfies and snapshots or is she a more serious photographer?

I remember an article I saw a few years ago about, I believe, a national geographic photographer going on a shoot to somewhere far away with only an iPhone. The pictures published with the article looked really good

jimhughes
jimhughes Senior Member • Posts: 1,841
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

Phones? Fine, if all you want is kids standing in front of landmarks.

What if you decide to go whale watching?
https://jimhphoto.com/index.php/2020/03/12/whale-photography-for-dummies/

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www.jimhphoto.com

Raymond Cho Senior Member • Posts: 2,514
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

My 2c. It depends how you want to tackle this. There are those that get used to it or put up with the weight because they are in photography mode. If you want something smaller and you want the 24-70 equiv then maybe M43. I went with a preowned Fuji XT1 but I am going with primes bc the 24-70 equiv still a decent size for my travelling yes no car, 2 weeks in warmer months city sightseeing like many tourists I guess.

You can obviously use a phone then for other more specific days or outings you are in photo mode use your dSLR but I found that preowned stuff like from 2014 are not that expensive and they can be so much more compact like APS-C and M43 gears.

There is also the Sony Rx100 series. I went for a Ricoh GR first version preowned just bc I can be OK with the single prime lens and it is small.

To me a phone is OK I know other photog people that do that on trips, they only go there with a phone. You do loose the ability to use a proper camera and when you get back you cannot pixel peep etc .. but if one is just making smallish prints and online only it might be OK. For me anyway, even with using a FF dSLR or medium format film much of my stuff are appreciated at the start but later on they don't often get visited other than shared online with others.

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alcelc
alcelc Forum Pro • Posts: 17,562
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

IMHO, the shooter and his tool could lead to very different result.

An excellent photographer could produce nice output from low end photo tool (primitive P&S or a phone cam) whereas a camera novice might get disappointed output from top tier camera...

As long as we know how to maximize our tool, and apply the right technique certain quality of output could be maintained. Of course a better camera can always expect better result.

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Albert
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Bob A L Veteran Member • Posts: 4,639
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

jimhughes wrote:

Phones? Fine, if all you want is kids standing in front of landmarks.

What if you decide to go whale watching?
https://jimhphoto.com/index.php/2020/03/12/whale-photography-for-dummies/

Sounds like something I would consider leaving the camera home and taking a top of the line phone to.  Could even get some video of them.

OP timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

I can't put up with the weight and longer when traveling by foot. I walked all over Rome and other Italian cities with my D7000, a 4" long 24-70 eq. zoom, and camera bag over my shoulder from breakfast until we got back to the hotel after dinner every day for two weeks. I ended up with a stripe across my back from the camera bag and the imbalance of weight of camera and carry-ons caused caused me to slide down and escalator on my back. Never again.

It seems like the vast majority of responses have been, "get a compact camera and re-think the phone only idea".

My phone is a new and takes good pictures so far, can so raw+jpg, and does really good HDR for when I'm shooting in harsh light. I guess I can use a compact camera for travel and use the phone as backup or for special situations when it's needed. I guess the simplicity of a pocketable camera that weighs ounces appeals to me.

alcelc
alcelc Forum Pro • Posts: 17,562
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

Yes, I do similar type of traveling back to my younger days.

A reason to move away from dslr when moving from film slr to digital camera. Eventually end up with M43.

D7000, around 800gram in weight. Couldn't find the said 16~50 DX Nikon lens but guess it could be around 500gram (take the example of 16~80 f/2.8-4), it means 1.3 Kg on camera & lens always on your hand.

If I do it, I could take a Panasonic GX85 & 14-140 f/3.5-5.6 (total <700gram) for an eq AoV of 28mm~280mm, plus a 15 f/1.7 or 20 f/1.7 in my bag (120gram & 90 gram respectively). Not weaker IQ, sharp and lightening fast AFS, usable ISO3200 for SOOC JPG (noise acceptable to me), 4K ready, great 5 stops DUAL IS, 30fps high speed shooting...

Immediately reduce your burden by 50% and gain a far more wider range of zoom covering...

Then the 1" compacts if something like 24~360mm would be happy to you, says Panasonic ZS200 of 340gram would save further weight.

Never under estimate the capability of smaller size sensor camera system. You might face certain limitation one or two but they are actually more capable than some people think. When we are talking about proper camera, there are actually a lot to choose from.

Lastly, if you don't mind those limitation of phone, it also would do.

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iljitsch Senior Member • Posts: 1,095
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

Another two cents:

First off, modern cell phones take awesome quality pictures in good light. For instance:

So I wouldn't let anyone talk you into worrying about image quality, assuming decent light. (Phone cameras have been getting a lot better in low light, too, but for that I wouldn't just assume you're good without doing some testing.) (That is not to say that everyone should be satisfied with phone camera quality. Just that not everyone should be unsatisfied with phone camera quality.)

I do understand the need to not have to carry a big heavy camera and lenses. But it doesn't have to be an all (big camera + lenses) or nothing (just a phone) thing.

A phone camera is going to give you a nice version of this shot:

New York City, from the Empire State Building, 1999 on film

But not this one:

Chrysler Building, from the Empire State Building, 1999 on film

(Tip: if you can stand the (cold) wind for an hour, get to the Empire State Building observation deck half an hour before sunset, and you can get shots in the last daylight, during dusk and in the dark.)

That why I always want/need some decent tele reach. Then again, even when I carry my Nikon D7100 (and I guess now my Nikon Z fc), I usually don't want to bring along that huge 70-300 mm lens. So instead, I often carry a compact camera superzoom for that. A few years ago I got a Panasonic DMC-TZ70, which is a great little camera with no less than 720 mm equivalent tele reach. It also has an electronic viewfinder in addition to the back LCD, which is great for shooting in bright light.

And my iPhone + the Panasonic is a great combo when I don't want to carry the DSLR/mirrorless camera at all. Maybe I never even get the Panasonic out of my pocket a morning or afternoon, but knowing I'll be able to take tele shots, or much more easily get shots with difficult light that need compensation, is well worth filling up a coat pocket.

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Sebastian Cohen Regular Member • Posts: 182
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

eya1 wrote:

Yesterday I went for a walk in the CBD of Johannesburg. South Africa is renowned for its phenomenally high violent crime rate and yet we were keen to give it a go - too much time spent at home and not getting out so why not. We stuck to the western part of the city where we were told it was OK-ish to A) walk around & B) take photos.

My friend had her Galaxy smartphone and I had my XT2 & 35/2. I got some good shots

Downside - I got a lot of unwelcome attention because of my camera setup. People stared at it, more than my attractive partner with her smartphone.

So that got me thinking to either get a better smartphone OR get a smaller camera, like the GX85, which should not draw that much attention and is relatively less expensive so I won't mind too much having to get another one if needs be.

From a photography point of view, I'd rather go the camera route than a new smartphone. I enjoy the interaction with the device and can work with its limitations as opposed to a phone that won't meet my expectations as a photographer, even if I shoot raw.

Ja, but that is also a separate than the OP is asking I think, but even more important? Saftety.

The question then becomes, where are you traveling to!?

(I tried walking around Cape Town CBD and it did not feel safe and ended up not being safe. I was getting tailed by a few guy's who also appeared to be coordinating with someone on their phones. Suddenly in the next street a few guy's were in front of me waiting, they pointed at me so they knew who to look for. Went into the first shop, the two groups converged outside and I ordered an Uber. I am not getting into a race/poverty/whiteness thing here. I was a just a little bit naive European/not knowledgeable enough about the area. So my bad. There are area's in the world that are very poor and relatively safe. There are wealthy places that are dangerous. This was opportunistic crime, most likely organized/unorganized gang related. That happens in London, Paris, LA. I had no problems anywhere else in SA, but was strongly advised not to visit Joburg hehe. Hooking up with locals in such places is strongly advised for safety and to provide employment. You also get better pictures. Happy Braai Day on friday!)

Redhenry Contributing Member • Posts: 837
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

timoteotresgatos wrote:

I can't put up with the weight and longer when traveling by foot. I walked all over Rome and other Italian cities with my D7000, a 4" long 24-70 eq. zoom, and camera bag over my shoulder from breakfast until we got back to the hotel after dinner every day for two weeks. I ended up with a stripe across my back from the camera bag and the imbalance of weight of camera and carry-ons caused caused me to slide down and escalator on my back. Never again.

It seems like the vast majority of responses have been, "get a compact camera and re-think the phone only idea".

My phone is a new and takes good pictures so far, can so raw+jpg, and does really good HDR for when I'm shooting in harsh light. I guess I can use a compact camera for travel and use the phone as backup or for special situations when it's needed. I guess the simplicity of a pocketable camera that weighs ounces appeals to me.

With respect to the various responders here, I think the people who said that phone pictures are OK for snaps but nothing else might not be quite up to date. There’s a landscape picture from Robert J 498 of Lake Michigan on the iOS forum taken on an iPhone 11Pro and it’s great. Yes, I know it won’t compare with a billion megapixel full-frame Nikon). The reviews of the new iPhone 13 Pro are very positive. I’ve banged on about it here and there in these forums but Ken Rockwell’s review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max is quite an eye-opener. I have just sold my recently acquired Panasonic FZ300 to MPB - it’s a good camera but, frankly, requires too much work and thought to get decent results. I will be ordering an iPhone 13 Pro next week, so will definitely be using just that for any future holidays.

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Monty71 Junior Member • Posts: 25
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

Paul Nicklen had a post on Facebook today about his process. It was excellent and shines a light on someone’s thought process such as his, a creative guy who is the real deal. This paragraph stood out to me.

When someone looks at a photograph and thinks, "Wow, that is really sharp, or technically perfect," then it is not a powerful photograph: it is a good photograph. When someone looks at an image, and it beats them over the head, grabbing them by the heart and completely pulling them in, that's a powerful photograph. They're not analyzing it, they're experiencing it by having an emotional connection, and they don't even know why. The power of photography is making that connection with the viewer.

I say use whatever you want. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes you’d rather have a different focal length etc. etc. Make a decision, stick with it and be as creative as you would have been with a larger camera. Sometimes gear and photography takes over a trip and when you get home and upload all of those images on to your computer, you have a ton of photos , but you may not even remember the actual experience of being there because you were too busy looking through the viewfinder.

gary0319
gary0319 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,851
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera..an alternative

I dislike using my phone for anything other than “snaps”. When wanting something more than phone quality when traveling I throw my Olympus-lite kit into my airline personal bag.

20mpx E-M10 IV, 14-42mm (28-84 equiv) pancake, 40-150 (80-300 equiv) zoom and 9mm body cap FE. The entire lot is about 30 ounces. Works great.

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lightnchade Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Solutions to can't and won't

There are some photographers who can seemingly produce great images with almost anything.

But often we'll see their work produced using great gear, and we naturally assume the work is the result of having great gear.

It's tempting to say that nothing could be further from the truth, but that's a bit hyperbolic, but the role of the gear can be (and here in the forums usually is) vastly overestimated.

I've used great gear; Canon Full Frame DSLR with a bunch of L lenses and a decent speedlight setup, Sony Full Frame mirrorless with Zeiss glass.

I've got some nice shots, and some I can look at where I can say which feature(s) of good gear played an important role in the capture. But my 'work' (hobby) is not in the same league as many of the professionals and elite whose work I admire and respect.

And because I respect their work, I'll read books, articles and blogs about how some of the icon images were captured. And that's where the real differences become apparent.

The gear's features/limitations don't so much dictate what the photographer can achieve, but rather it informs how the photographer goes about achieving the shot. Which aspects they can rely on the gear for and which aspects they'll have to make happen.

Let's use a foolish extreme to overemphasise the point.

Imagine you want an iconic headshot of a wild lion.

One option is to use almost any camera, visit a place where wild lions roam, walk up close to the lion, wait for it to roar at you and at just the right time click the shutter. Then head out of there before the lion decides to eat you.

But for most people, these would be lengths you are unwilling to go to to get the shot.

And while this example is laughably foolish, it is at least as relevant to getting good photos as good gear is, and almost certainly more so.

Not in the taking foolish risks category, but in the how much effort are you prepared to put into getting the results you want.

In some areas, gear can help. A telephoto lens can more safely get you close to the lion and with less risk of disturbing it. But it's often the non-gear aspects of photography that separate good photos from great images.

Gear can offer some solutions to the things you can't or won't do, but there's much about shot making that's about how much you are willing to do.

If your travelling will be observational in nature, sightseeing, there's no doubt that some gear will help capture your observations in more variety and with less work, and you may feel restricted by a simple phone, although a caveat to this is the newer advanced phone cameras have numerous features that are continually helping it close the gap on premium compacts. I'm reasonably sure I'd get a decent set of sightseeing images out of the new iPhone with a lot fewer compromises than 5 years ago.

But if your travelling will be based on meeting people and engaging in local cultures, it's as likely your best images will come from a phone as it is from any other sort of camera you have with you.

OP timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

I spent two hours this morning shooting with my phone in a park. I learned a lot. No, I wouldn't be satisfied using only a phone for travel. I really thought it could work for me but I've changed my mind. I can use it for some travel photos but by no means all.

I don't have as much control over how the picture is taken with my phone compared to a camera. The reflection and glare off the screen is a problem at times. Raw files are only available in "pro" mode but it is far from a true "pro" mode - no aperture control. I like control - I used to shoot film with a Canon F1 in manual mode.

I also had problems occasionally getting the camera to focus on the exact spot I wanted like a foreground flower in front of a larger background. It can't always lock on to the smaller object and instead locks on to the background.

In two hours of shooting I ran my battery dry so I'd have to get a pretty powerful external battery pack for travel.

The images themselves seem to be very high quality but I just don't have the control i need to use it exclusively for travel.

iljitsch Senior Member • Posts: 1,095
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

timoteotresgatos wrote:

Raw files are only available in "pro" mode but it is far from a true "pro" mode - no aperture control.

That's because phone cameras have a fixed aperture. You only get to shoot wide open.

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Eddie Rizk Senior Member • Posts: 1,222
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

timoteotresgatos wrote:

I spent two hours this morning shooting with my phone in a park. I learned a lot. No, I wouldn't be satisfied using only a phone for travel. I really thought it could work for me but I've changed my mind. I can use it for some travel photos but by no means all.

I don't have as much control over how the picture is taken with my phone compared to a camera. The reflection and glare off the screen is a problem at times. Raw files are only available in "pro" mode but it is far from a true "pro" mode - no aperture control. I like control - I used to shoot film with a Canon F1 in manual mode.

I also had problems occasionally getting the camera to focus on the exact spot I wanted like a foreground flower in front of a larger background. It can't always lock on to the smaller object and instead locks on to the background.

In two hours of shooting I ran my battery dry so I'd have to get a pretty powerful external battery pack for travel.

The images themselves seem to be very high quality but I just don't have the control i need to use it exclusively for travel.

Agreed.

I am excited about having a much better phone camera, though, not to replace my real camera, but to take a new set of shots that I wouldn't have taken before.  I will now get some shots of friends that I just would have missed out on by not having a camera.  If I'm in an interesting place without my camera, I'll take some artistic template shots to come back and get with the real camera.

The only real camera use case the new phone will replace is that of documentary shots, looking at property with other real estate brokers, documenting a maintenance problem, etc.  I believe I can now document anything I see that's close enough.

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OP timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

I didn't know that! That's a significant limitation. I guess if you want shallow DOF you use portrait mode and hope for the best.

lightnchade Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

timoteotresgatos wrote:

I don't have as much control over how the picture is taken with my phone compared to a camera. The reflection and glare off the screen is a problem at times. Raw files are only available in "pro" mode but it is far from a true "pro" mode - no aperture control. I like control - I used to shoot film with a Canon F1 in manual mode.

...

The images themselves seem to be very high quality but I just don't have the control i need to use it exclusively for travel.

To embrace camera phones you ideally need to change how you shoot with them. You don't get the same controls but you do get access to a lot of built in intelligence to bypass or mitigate the limitations

Depending on the model, you can also buy a 3rd party camera app that allows you more familiar photography controls (if supported by your model). An app called Camera+ used to be well regarded for this.

Some phone cameras do have variable apertures, but most don't, and even in the ones that do, because of the crop (usually x6 / x7) you're typically shooting at ~F11+ equivalent even when wide open, so you still  don't have much to control.

Instead they use AI to selectively blur the image to simulate a wider aperture. The results vary based on the camera model, from laughably poor to pretty amazing.

It's as I was saying in the other post, the people consistently getting good results from mobile phones are usually the ones willing to go to extra lengths to get them, which includes adapting to make best use of what is available, but which is not everyone's cup of tea.

mxx
mxx Senior Member • Posts: 1,219
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

timoteotresgatos wrote:

I also had problems occasionally getting the camera to focus on the exact spot I wanted like a foreground flower in front of a larger background. It can't always lock on to the smaller object and instead locks on to the background.

With most phones these days you can just tap on the screen where you want your focus.

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OP timoteotresgatos Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Traveling with only a phone camera

Yeah, I did that but sometimes it doesn't get it right when the flower in the foreground is small.

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