Backup and mini-vacations camera: smartfone?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Braza, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Braza

    Braza Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2013
    Hello everyone!

    First of all, sorry for my english in advance, because I'm not an english-speaking person. :)

    I's curious about buying new smartfone (I think it would be an iphone 7 plus) as a backup camera, or the camera I've always carrying with me.

    I already have E-M10 with some lenses, but one think I've noticed, that most of the time Olympus stays at home (sometimes I forget even to charge it). That's because I don't want to carry around a camera bag with my camera in it, because It's bulky (even the micro four thirds camera, yep).

    And I reaaly thinking about the smartfone as a secondary camera (and in future it can replace my main camera, who knows?).

    What if I would take only a smartfone in a vacation or holiday? Am I alone in this thoughts? :)

    Today I see, that hi-end smartfones can take some great shots. I remember, then I was young, I use to shoot with my PowerShot A85 (it has 4.0 megapixels in and it takes not very good quality pics at all, by the way). Then I buyed G7 Canon, and that was far better quality for my shots. But now, what I see, that iphone 7 or galaxy S7/S8 could reach this quality, that G7 could do.

    So, then you could say, that NOW you have the camera, that reaches all your expectations? Or this is even a marketing things, that pushes us to want a NEW camera every year, and it forces us to THINK that we need all this new sensors, features, lenses, sharpness, megapixels and etc.? :)

    Any thoughts? :)
  2. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Smartphones have decent cameras and there are some interesting developments there (like the monochrome sensor in the Huawei P10). The questions you have to ask yourself are:

    1. Are you willing to restrict yourself to one or two focal lengths (depending on phone, Iphone 7 has 2, Huawei P10 has one), because any "zoom" will be just as good as cropping.

    2. Are you happy with the lowlight performance a phone can give you.

    3. Are you happy with the controls these cameras offer (a lot of them do offer manual now, but it is clumsy)

    4. Do you want natural shallow DOF. I don't really buy this computer generated stuff, even with the two lenses. It's a crutch, but maybe it works for you.

    If currently you are only using the standard kit zoom you are not getting everything you can out of your camera. If you use an ultra wide angle or medium telephoto zoom, and you like the pictures you get from it, a smart phone won't be able to replace them. In the end, it is a tradeoff, like choosing mu43 over FF. Smartphones have some strengths over dedicated cameras, but image quality is not one of them.

    Alternatively you can look at cameras like the just announced tz90 or the tz100 from Panasonic. They are small enough, that they may not need a dedicated bag, although they are obviously still larger than your phone and an additional device you carry. They offer a good focal range and great image quality.
  3. Braza

    Braza Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2013
    Yes, of course, I know all this limitations. Didn't use digital zoom for 15 years of shooting photos. :)

    Low light capabilities on smartphones are not good, I understand that. But you know, that all the photography is about the light, and even with FF DSRL you cannot take good images in some situations, then your object has no luminance at all.

    I found that most of the time shooting I used aperture priority mode on my E-M10 camera. So this is not so far away from "Full Auto" mode, I guess. :) And again, I'm not talking about making professional shots (but some apps could deliver you manual controls, and RAW files, for example), I'm talking about point-and-shoot scenes. In trips and vacations, 90 percent of time I just point and shoot with some framing and finding best composition for photo. :)

    Again, I already know about limitations, such as DOF and etc. But how often you need shallow DOF in cases like going for a walk at the seaside, or climbing the mountain with your friends, to shoot some panoramas and nature?

    I used 25 and 17mm lenses, not the kit lens. That's the reason, because I don't see trouble to have a "fixed" lens on smartphone. Last time I used zoom lens was several years ago, I think.

    As for little PS cameras like you advising, there will be the same problem, I think. They will stay at home most of the time, and again I will end up shooting with my phone, that I always have with me.
  4. RichDesmond

    RichDesmond Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    It all depends on what you shoot. A phone would not work for me. Here's a recent thread that discusses some smaller alternatives to a m4/3 setup.
    Which 1" compact?

    I have a Panasonic ZS100, it's quite small and takes very good photos.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I'd say the only way to know is to just try it out. I've traveled with just a smartphone before on shorter trips and got some great photos. You just have to use your photographer brain and work within the limits of the gear. You aren't going to get crazy low light shots (although smartphones have fast lenses, so you can do some low light). You aren't going to be able to pixel peep or print huge. But you can make some excellent photos.

    I think especially for general sightseeing, the 28mm-ish focal length that most phones have is pretty ideal. And in daylight, they can make some very sharp shots and the auto-HDR makes them better than a regular camera in certain situations. For indoor social shots, they do good enough for small prints or Instagram sharing, which is probably enough for many. I don't recall any huge framed photos of a bar selfie in anyone's homes, can you?
  6. mmmartin

    mmmartin Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 9, 2017
    Manila, Philippines
    Go and be happy! Especially if you don't print, anyway.

    Here's a Flickr album of iPhone photos from my favorite photographer, Ming Thein: iphoneography
  7. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I find the ~25-30mm equivalent focal length on smartphones generally fairly boring, though useful enough for generic landscape / sightseeing shots. Pretty much every photo you see has that perspective now. The worst thing is seeing all the shots that have some people standing in front of a teeny tiny landmark way in the distance, with a huge foreground dominating the image. With a smart phone you have no choice.

    I definitely use it, but whenever I travel, the 14mm (28mm equivalent) end of my 14-140 sees less than 30% of all the keepers I take, and about 1/3 of those shots end up being panoramic stitches.

    Everyone is different. Some people find depth of field control to be an absolutely necessary, invaluable tool for their creative needs. I find that perspective and field of view is something that I love to control, and having telephoto reach on my day-to-day lens gives me the opportunity to make photos that no one else will see or capture.

    If I wanted something smaller but with high quality, it would definitely be a TZ100 or some similar travel zoom. Just put it in a little belt pouch, or clip it to your pack's shoulder strap.
  8. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    Sure you have a choice. That's why I said above, you have to use your head and make a photo out of what you have. Get closer to the landmark and move around to play with perspective. Shoot a Panorama. Crop a little. With the Iphone 7+ mentioned by the OP, you also have a 56mm lens to utilize, doubling the options.

    Obviously it's not as flexible as a 14-140, but you don't have to be a lazy tourist and just happy snap from wherever the crowd is standing. You can still act like a photographer. In some ways it is liberating only having one view to think about. In others it is frustrating, but that kind of makes it more rewarding when you get great photos anyway.

    Another thing to consider, though. Is that if you've decided smartphone quality is good enough, there are some pretty sweet small sensor cameras for peanuts that have a nice zoom range. Truly pocketable ones with 10-20x zooms. My wife has an elph 330HS with a cracked (but functional) screen that I sometimes take on short casual trips as a phone companion. The phone is better for quick instant grab shots and indoors due to the aperture. The Elph is great for outdoors because of the focal range. It's a great combo for trips where you know the shots are all just for facebook or a photo album. And the camera is so small, thin and light it can just slide into a pocket and you don't even notice.

    Of course, I recently bought a 1" sensor compact and that's on a whole different level. But you still definitely know you are carrying a camera and it can't just disappear into your pocket.
  9. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Sounds like you've made your mind up! :) Use a phone and see how it works.

    For me, yes, I've found that sometimes my iPhone 7 takes better pictures than my m43 or my P&S simply because I don't have them with me. Sometimes the quality of an iPhone picture is better than my 7 year old P&S. But, there are things that drive me crazy about my iPhone. Cropping, or using the digital zoom, provides a nearly unusable image if viewed on a screen larger than 4-inches, at least in my opinion.

    I can use an optical zoom or RAW files on my P&S. I can enter full manual, priority settings, or even just do full auto if I need to hand the camera to someone else. I can't do many of these things with my iPhone. My P&S takes up a tiny bit more space in my pocket (it's about the size of an iPhone 3g), but it's worth it to me when I don't want to carry my m43.

    That doesn't mean that I won't use my phone for pictures. I do all the time and nothing will stop that.

    Like @RichDesmond@RichDesmond said, it all depends on what, and how, you shoot. Do what works for you.
  10. Braza

    Braza Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2013
    The thing is that you anyway need to pick up this little belt pouch with you anywhere you going. Are you agree, that sometimes you just don't know, will you take photos or not, when you decide to go for a walk or going to spend your holidays in some places.

    That's the reason I'm talking about, if the iPhone (or any other smartphone) is the only camera you always carry with you, you would like to have maximum quality of the pictures and keepers from it.

    I just realize, that even if I took my camera bag with all these lenses and stuff with me in trips, it will stay at home at least 50 percent of time I need to take a photos. Just because it's not as bulky as DSLR, but it's an extra bag you need to carry with you all the time. :)
  11. longviewer

    longviewer Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    SW Washington (Longview area)
    Jim R
    I shall never own a phone that takes high-quality images, that's not a priority for me when seeking a telephone update. And the reason I'm using :mu43: is that all smaller sensors (even 1") are unable to capture what I want to convey in photos. For strict documentation a smaller camera or cell phone is OK, but the creativity is pretty much all done with software - and that isn't my cup of whiskey tea. I have a GM1 and 20+30mm primes plus 45-150, and that's ideal for me.. though my wife would complain as that's "her" camera!
  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    You may just luck into it sooner or later. Even the lower end models have pretty good cameras these days. Technology trickles down eventually. Even if you don't use it as a primary imaging tool, it can start to find ways into your life because you can't bring your main camera everywhere and your phone is always with you.
  13. longviewer

    longviewer Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    SW Washington (Longview area)
    Jim R
    'tis true - so far the megapxl count has gone up, but the lenses have not improved worth noting. For now the phone costs stay low so I can keep my :mu43: gear in better form :2thumbs:
  14. Braza

    Braza Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2013
    As you can see, you mention the sensor size as the main reason. And for your purposes, m43 sensor is good, but 1" sensor isn't? But why not APS-C? Why not FF? Why some people think that FF format is a must have to take best quality pictures and they forget about medium format cameras? :)

    First of all, camera is a tool. In some situations sensor size doesn't mean a lot, but in some moments it does.
  15. BosseBe

    BosseBe Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 7, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    As I always carry my backpack, I have a GM5 + 12-32 +35-100 +15/1,7 and the flash in it, in a Tenba BYOB7. Less than 1 kilo and I don't really notice the weight.
    It's my everyday carry pack and light travel pack.
    Of course I also carry my phone, but the interface for taking pictures with it is confusing to me.

    I don't know if you are carrying another bag or backpack, but if you are, why don't bring a small capable camera with you?