Do I Need a Better Travel Camera? | Understanding Whether Your Phone is Enough for Your Next Trip


Hi there, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In
this video, we’re answering a common travel question — Do I need a better
camera while traveling? (light chiming music) Capturing photos and videos is one of the most essential activities during a vacation. Until recently, most people would carry a
dedicated camera when traveling. In fact I remember carrying a large and heavy
SLR in the late 90s when I traveled to Italy. It took incredible photos, but it
was a bit of a pain carrying everywhere, especially while backpacking. Since we
now carry smartphones everywhere, a common question that I often get is
whether it’s worth carrying another camera when traveling. The answer is
obviously subjective, but I wanted to share our thoughts and provide some
insights on the strengths and weaknesses of smartphone cameras. Keep in mind that
I’m not a professional or expert photographer, and most of my experience
is capturing video for this channel. So let’s start with the pros of using your
smartphone. Number one: Always accessible. There’s an old saying in photography
that the best camera is the one that you have with you. We’re all accustomed to
carrying and using our smartphones, so using it on vacation seems like a
convenient and natural thing to do. Number two: High resolution video and
advanced features. The latest smartphone cameras are capable of 4k video at 60
frames per second which blows away my dedicated camera, the Canon G7X Mark II.
And the portrait mode photos on my iPhone X are arguably better than the
ones I’m able to capture on this camera. Number three:
GPS logging and sharing options. While a lot of dedicated cameras have the
ability to log your GPS location either natively or by using your phone and
transferring via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the process is just so much easier on your
smartphone. I can even share photos and videos to social media immediately, while
it’s much more of a process with my dedicated camera. Number four: Less to
carry. Having less items to worry about when traveling is really convenient,
and it usually means one less charger to carry as well. Number five:
Water resistance. I love that most newer phones are water resistant. This makes it
perfect for traveling, especially when you might encounter rough weather
conditions. So using your smart phone seems great, right? Well, there are a few
cons, so let’s run through the list. Number one: Limited low-light performance.
The biggest drawback and limitation that you’ll find when using your smartphone
is the performance in low-light conditions. This is primarily due to the
size the sensor. For example, my Canon G7X has a one-inch sensor which allows you
to capture a lot of light, especially in low-light situations. Most smartphones, on
the other hand, have a one-third to one- half inch sensor, so you’ll notice that
it struggles in low-light conditions, and the image and video tends to be a little
more grainy. This is usually not a problem in normal
daytime lighting, but more of an issue in the dark or indoors. Number two: Limited
optical stabilization. Most newer phones have great optical stabilization, but I
still think that my dedicated camera has better stabilization. Also, the amount of
stabilization can be adjusted on my dedicated camera. Number three: Concerns
over damaging or losing your phone. Having a dedicated camera can be
convenient, especially for situations like action sports. For example, we use a
GoPro when filming in aquatic environments and situations where
there’s a high risk of potential damage. Breaking or losing your GoPro will be
less costly than damaging your phone, which is a critical tool in our daily
lives. Number four: Limited storage space. We all
have had the experience of running out of storage space on our phone.
This can be super annoying when traveling. Of course, it can happen to
your dedicated camera too, but you generally have more options when it
comes to memory cards. Number five: Lower megapixels. This is more of an issue if
you plan to do professional work or create a large print of your image. My
Canon G7X, for example, is capable of 20 megapixels while my iPhone X has 12
megapixels. For most people, this shouldn’t be an issue, but is something
to be aware of. There are other technical limitations like not
being able to save in RAW format, adjust aperture and shutter speed settings, and
in the case of DSLRs, being able to swap lenses. But honestly, those are not likely
to be issues for the casual photographer or traveler, which is why I’m not
including them in the list. Plus, there are some workarounds for these issues on smartphones like using a more featured camera app. So, my personal
opinion is that for most people, a good smartphone camera is really all you need.
While you might not get the best low-light performance, the convenience
and daytime performance generally outweigh the cons. Unless you’re an enthusiast or
professional who wants more options, controls, and quality, I honestly
recommend using your smartphone as your primary camera while traveling. In
addition, here are some tips when using your smartphone on your trip. Number one:
Clean up your photos and videos. I recommend getting into the habit of
reviewing your photos and videos every night and deleting ones that you don’t
intend to keep. While digital photography allows you to capture as many images as
you want, it can easily lead to digital clutter, so take the time to delete bad
photos. You’ll not only be happy later when sharing your photos, but you’ll have
more space on your phone. Number two: Use Google Photos. There are a ton of
different photo management apps out there. I personally use and recommend
Google Photos. I like that my photos get offloaded from my phone and stored in
Google’s cloud. Google also has some pretty incredible intelligence around
their photo recognition. For example, I can type “hiking” and Google will find
photos that will meet the search criteria. I can even use Google Photos
with my iPhone. While I like Apple Photos, I’ve had problems with my photos and
videos not syncing across all my devices. Also, I pay a little extra to have Google
Photos retain the original file type and resolution, and even have it store and
local copy on my personal server. I know a lot of people dislike the idea of
Google having access to your photo data, but I personally find the intelligence
offered by their service to outweigh my privacy concerns. Number three: Carry a spare
battery pack. Using your smartphone camera for photos, and especially videos,
will drain your battery. I recommend carrying a spare battery. I’m
a huge fan of Anker spare batteries and chargers. In fact, I carry their power
cord mini plus battery charger in my bag at all times, and it comes in handy both
on trips and my daily life. Number four: Consider using a gimbal if you really
want to upgrade the quality of your smartphone videos. You might want to
consider using a gimbal. There are a few on the market like the DJI Osmo Mobile
and the Zhiyun Smooth. Just make sure to do your research before buying. For some
reason, the optical stabilization of some of the newer phones can interfere with
the gimbal, causing jittery video. A lot of video nerds like me are waiting for
DJI to release their second generation of the Osmo Mobile gimbal which will
hopefully resolve this issue. Do you carry a separate camera when
traveling, or do you prefer to use your smartphone? Please share your experience
in the comments section below. Also, if you have any questions, please let us
know. We’ve included Amazon links to some of the products mentioned in this video.
Trip Astute does get a percentage if you use our link. It doesn’t cost you
anything extra, but it helps us to continue building content for this
channel. If you enjoyed this video or found it useful, please hit the “like”
button and consider subscribing. Also, sign up for our newsletter on our
website for travel tips, news, and giveaways. Until next time, travel safe and
travel smart.

32 Replies to “Do I Need a Better Travel Camera? | Understanding Whether Your Phone is Enough for Your Next Trip

  1. Thanks for a very comprehensive review of taking photos while traveling. ย On a resent trip to Australia I used my iPhone 6. ย It did alright but I missed a good telephoto lens for some distant shots. ย Also I took the same phone during the total eclipse. ย It was not able to capture the eclipse, but then with only 2 1/2 min of total eclipse I was more interested in watching then filming.

  2. Are there any cameras you would recommend for filming for a couple of hours straight (considering both memory and battery life)?

  3. I literally just Googled this yesterday. I think I'll just stick with my phone rather than buying a $1000+ camera ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thank you for making this video, I just think it's funny how you list a bunch of minor reasons and at the end "oh also, you can't shoot in RAW or adjust shutter speed/ISO/aperture." LOL kind of important no?

  5. Limited storage space on a phone? cummon? are you serious?? how about the availability of micro SD slots? you're an i-phone fanatic that's why โ˜บ

  6. I would not recommend a smartphone for portrait photography because it only has a wide angle lens. Smartphones are a good alternative for landscapes in case you forgot your DSLR or DSLM. It is possible to shoot a portrait with a smartphone but the bokeh can only be achieved by the software and not by the aperture of the lens because you can't change it on the smartphone. Also the wide viewing angle of a smartphone camera is not so good for portraits. Nevertheless you can do some snapshots of portraits with the smartphone. If the light conditions are very dark the smartphone will struggle.

  7. My lg g4 can shoot raw with manual controls.. It works great for vacation shots ๐Ÿ™‚ have a 256gb sd card so space isnt ever a issue

  8. Great video thanks. I'm currently in the process of considering a new camcorder (which I have used for years) vs a dslr or sticking with the iphone. I make home movies of all camcorder and phone footage captured but am starting to lean towards just using my phone in future rather than purchase a new camcorder.

  9. Just buy a used Sony RX100 mk1 on eBay. I just bought a cream puff for $215. Pretty much blows every phone camera away. Itโ€™s ridiculously better.

  10. I have both a smartphone – a new iPhone XS ! – and a big heavy DSLR. And at my age (I'm a senior) I'm beginning to find the DSLR a pain.Literally. I'll still use the DSLR in situation where I won't be carrying it all day – e.g. on an excursion when we're on a cruise – or to local beauty spots near my home when I might also be using my tripod; or in the case of shots that I intend to print b-i-g and therefore need the resolution the DSLR can provide. But more and more I'm using the iPhone. I've just had a brief trip to Berlin and I only took the iPhone, and I'm pleased with the images I captured.

    You have to use each device to its strengths. There's no point trying to take an image of a distant vista with the iPhone – it'll look small and inconsequential, even with the longer lens on the XS. So you need to get in close and fill the foreground. Also, as you say you have to recognise that the smartphone camera will not do as well in low light as the DSLR.

  11. Don't be mislead: even with those fancy camera apps, you will still never get true aperture or shutter speed adjustment on a smartphone, because the matter of fact is, it's a fixed lens with no moving parts. Unless you're the kind of person who rarely takes photos, I'd still bring a dedicated camera on vacation, especially if you can afford a DSLR.

  12. Honestly i rather have a camera besides my phone! because say if youโ€™re getting a great shot or a great action shot of something and someone calls you and messes up the whole thing! Iโ€™d be pissed ๐Ÿ˜‚

  13. With Android you have memory cards plus on Android there's a feature to backup the photo to Google photos right away. After a bit of doing that you can use the free space feature on Android the deletes it from your memory card but keeps the backup on the Google server. I imagine there's a free space option on the iPhone Google photo app maybe? I don't know for sure but it would be unlike Google to exclude something like that.

  14. Oh yeah, for telephoto lenses there's options online, up to 10 or 20 zoom for a phone camera. I forgot what else I was gonna suggest. My mind went blank. Lack of sleep lol! Oh you can use the free version or paid version of Lightroom for Android. Brightens low light photos really well. I dunno if they have it for iPhone but they'd be missing out of they didn't. I absolutely love it. With a subscription there's an optional video editor as well.

  15. I think you made several points about the cons of using a cell phone and unfortunately, the ability to capture low light photos is very important in photography. Not only that, but I have found many instances when my cell phone would produce a very poor image in comparion to a decent point and shoot or SLR, even in good lighting. A camera of the size of the Cannon G7xX that you mentioned (fit in your pocket) would totally blow cell phones away for everyday shooting of photos or videos; not the other way around!

  16. #2, #4, and parts of number 5 have been taken care of in the new galaxy s10 phones. They come with up to 1.5 terabytes of storage, various camera lenses, professional image stabalization, and higher pixel resolution. Also in pro mode shutter times, white balance, focal length and other settings can be adjusted.

  17. Almost all the cons of the smartphone has been improved nowadays. Take a look at the latest huawei p30 pro. It has totaly revolutionized and redefined smartphone photography.

  18. Sensor, Lens, Low Light, Dynamic Range , Aperture , etc. These are way superior features to the cheap smartphone software editing.

  19. Usually I just use my Samsung Galaxy to take pictures when I travel because they come out good anyway. My next trip will be to New York for my first time and I plan to take one of my DSLRs but it's so heavy. Wondering if I should use a camera bag or a backpack because I wanna carry water too.

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