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View Full Version : Forsaking a camera for just a phone



SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 15:39
I tried this back in 2008 for my thu-hike and it didn't turn out so well. The quality of the camera on my phone wasn't all that great and water resistance was an issue a couple of times. I also had a tendency to run out of juice if I left the phone on too much which was solved by carrying a couple of extra batteries.

Now phone technology is getting better. I've been pretty impressed by some of the pictures I've taken with my phone when out on maintenance trips or the couple of times I forgot (or broke) my camera. Water resistant cases are available for most popular phones which would solve that issue. Mounting to a tripod or a stic pic is still somewhat of an issue. Always looking for a way to carry less and also save weight I've thought about this issue again as an exercise in troubleshooting the issues but haven't actually tackled the real-world application.

So I thought I would ask if other folks had already done this - forgo carrying a camera on hikes and just use a cell phone. What have been your experiences and how have you dealt with issues that came up from using it.

Cuffs
2013-01-27, 15:57
I will still carry both phone and camera. It will be a long time before a phone has great macro capabilities. Same with zoom. Phone can do it, but the quality of the pic degrades very quickly.

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 15:59
That is a good point.

Cuffs
2013-01-27, 16:07
The phone is great with scenery but I still like pics of the little details I see along the way... hence the camera and macro.

Bearpaw
2013-01-27, 16:13
I wouldn't even consider it. My camera is so much sharper than my phone, and I can mount it on a tripod or stick pic. There is just no comparison. I'll gladly leave the phone behind, but not my camera.

JERMM
2013-01-27, 16:18
carry a real camera, leave the phone behind

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 16:43
Anyone seen one of these: http://www.amazon.com/BestDealUSA-Angle-Macro-Mobile-Camera/dp/B007VI3S1M

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 17:57
FWIW, I hear all the "Go camera, leave the phone" but that doesn't answer the question of how you did or would deal with the shortcomings if you did.

So a quick comparison of systems I've come up with looking at solutions to the problems as I've seen them.

To attach the phone to a tripod or sticpic there is this: http://joby.com/smartphones/griptight-mount/# at about 0.60 ounces

For a macro lens, there are a few options like this: http://www.tmart.com/Universal-0.67X-Wide-Angle-Macro-Lens-for-Digital-Cameras-Cell-Phones_p131402.html?gclid=CPC58tKvibUCFQcHnQodtjAA DQ&utm_campaign=product&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=base&fixed_price=us_us

or this:

http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/macro-lens-band/

I found a reference for the first one at 4.2 grams.

For waterproof, I found something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Seidio-CSWSSGS3-BK-Waterproof-Samsung-Galaxy/dp/B009XBCORO at about 2.7 ounces

So these three components come out at about 3.45 ounces. The stickpic could be left mounted to the clamp when stored saving a step in set up.

Compare that to my current camera at 4.95oz + 0.51 for a battery, and 0.91 for long distance hikes where I'll need to charge the camera batteries. That is 6.37 ounces. So any savings in weight is only about 2.92 ounces. Not much. The number of parts stays about the same since you need three items to make up for three items.

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 17:59
For camera quality, as I said, it's getting better all the time. Here are some examples of camera quality for the S3


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAVl5voC9XM

Skidsteer
2013-01-27, 18:18
I've been carrying phone-only for about two years now. IMO the average quality of photos is actually better this way.

It doesn't work well for super close-ups though.

Bear in mind I take an incredible number of photos with my phone on an almost daily basis for work. Over a hundred per day is not unusual for me. I think all the practice helps a lot.

Ewker
2013-01-27, 19:44
we take both with us but I am liking the pics from the phone than the camera. We have installed Dropbox on our phones and computer which makes it a lot easier for transfering the pics. We take the pics and it gets sent to the dropbox on our computer

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 20:39
I've been carrying phone-only for about two years now. IMO the average quality of photos is actually better this way.

It doesn't work well for super close-ups though.

Bear in mind I take an incredible number of photos with my phone on an almost daily basis for work. Over a hundred per day is not unusual for me. I think all the practice helps a lot.I suspect you are right. A long time ago I remember a "pass around camera" project using a cheap disposable camera. The pictures were better than many I've taken with real cameras. I suspect the reason was the people taking the pictures knew what they were doing.


we take both with us but I am liking the pics from the phone than the camera. We have installed Dropbox on our phones and computer which makes it a lot easier for transfering the pics. We take the pics and it gets sent to the dropbox on our computer
I hadn't thought about that benefit. That would certainly save on sending stuff back home. It would also help on storage space for long trips since you could delete the files locally after they were in the drop box. I've got a drop box I use for guidebook files and it wouldn't be much to add that to my current phone.

Some reasons why I would look at something like this include the drop box thing. But the cell phone these days is multi-functional. It can be a radio, a gps, an MP3 player, a book reader, portable computer, an e-mail machine, and a text sending and phone device. On long hikes it is nice to have my computer for checking e-mail instead of waiting for someone to free up a public computer. It's nice to be able to send a simple text at times to update the home front. It's nice to have a phone when I need one to arrange shuttles or food delivery. It's nice to have a GPS when I need it on those rare occasions without needing to carry a whole 'nother device. In the pack it can stay totally off and unused or on airplane mode so you don't need to hear it ring but can still use it for all it's other functions. Phones cameras now have jitter control, countdown timers, face recognition, flashes, and are getting better all the time.

Ewker
2013-01-27, 22:11
only downside is the battery life of the phone. You either need to bring extra batteries or carry a solar charger. I have read good and bad reviews on them on other backpacking sites.

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 22:18
I've not heard of a solar charger that works from anyone using them out east. Out west maybe.

I found that with 3 batteries I could get all the pics I needed, and that was before I had a phone that included airplane mode. I think now it would work even better, except maybe if you listen to a lot of music. I've got an MP3 player that weighs about as much as one spare phone battery but has 51 hours of play time for a full charge. Unless phone energy use really gets efficient I don't think I'll replace that with my cell phone. But in town, power isn't an issue if you are carrying a charger or bouncing one.

JAK
2013-01-27, 22:49
I carry the phone for emergency use, and the digital camera I like to take lots of shots without worries, so I like to keep the two separate. But with some thought and the right phone and backup battery I think you could make it work.

JAK
2013-01-27, 22:58
Never thought about airplane mode. My stuff is old, but paid for. Next time I need to replace the phone I will definitely consider its hiking capabilities. What about analog? The phone I use has both digital and analog, and I need the analog where I hike. Is analog needed along the AT also for better coverage, and is digital and analog still available in the new phones that have airplane mode and better cameras?

What is a good choice?

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 23:32
I don't know about analog for certain but I do know my phone has a warning symbol when digital service isn't available and only the phone will work. But if you are on airplane mode and only using the phone as a camera that wouldn't matter.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

SGT Rock
2013-01-27, 23:50
As to what phone is best, that is hard to say and would just be an opinion. I like my Samsung Galaxy S which will work for all these functions. Finding a water resistant case isn't something I've looked into. For me, at this time anyway, this just an intellectual exercise.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

Ewker
2013-01-28, 00:39
We have the Samsung Galaxy S3..we finally upgraded to the 21st century...lol

I have an Ipod that I would carry for music and maybe a kindle for books iffin I was going to be out for a while. I know you can download books and music to the phone but ti seems like it would wear the battery down even more. Of course you could always carry a phone, kindle and mp3 player...Time will tell which way I go...have to say it will probably be buying extra batteries..lol

SGT Rock
2013-01-28, 04:46
The Samsung S3 is a good phone. If I were upgrading today that would probably be the one I would get if money were no matter - it would cost about $150 to me. If I were more concerned with my budget I would go with the Samsung Axiom which would only be $50 with a 2 year contract or upgrade to an existing line.

Jim Henderson
2013-01-28, 13:37
Technology is always changing so be sure to check the date stamp on our replies to make sure it isn't old news....

I have a nice compact "SLR" type 8M camera(not the pocket cameras and not the removable lens types) that I use when I want all the features of a decent camera. It takes magnificent pictures and is adjustable in more ways than I can remember or even use. Up until last year, all the phone cameras I had were just %$#@! Now I have a Nokia Windows cell phone and it takes surprisingly good pictures in most situations. Interestingly the reviews on the web did not like the camera features due to color shift, but my phone seems to make excellent pictures in average conditions.

BUT, always a but ain't there. The cell cameras I have used and the new Windows cell phone camera I now use, are NOT very flexible as far as lighting, speeds, aperatures, real zoom(not digital krp), speed, etc like a good Camera. The flash on cell cameras, surprising they have one, is only good for very short distances(probably not much more than an average living room, if that). Also, battery life with the cell/camera, if you leave it turned on is short in my experience. My Nokia lasts 3 maybe 4 days while turned on but with little calling etc. I think all of the smart phones, including mine have a built in non replaceable battery, so taking a spare is not an option. You will need a remote charger of some sort if you run out of juice.

In short, for general snapshot photography where you are not going to be out for too many days, the new smart cell phone cameras are probably adequate for most users. If you understand my yammering about aperatures and digital zoom etc, and if you want high quality scenery or action photos, you will probably be happier with a camera, with a pocketfull of batteries. The cell/camera is great for snapshots without a lot of fussing with the settings. A real camera is great for those once in a lifetime scenes or wildlife action shots or special conditions that either cannot be handled by a cell/camera or take too much touch screening to get there.

A good "all in one" camera is not very heavy in comparison to the old film SLRs and will give much better pictures(if you know how to use it) than a cell camera.

Just my thoughts,

Jim Henderson

Hog On Ice
2013-01-28, 14:50
is there a compact camera with an IR remote shutter control? I want something I can setup on a tripod then get into a hammock (for example) and then trigger the camera - currently using an older phone for gear shots but the most it gives me is a 10 second time delay which is no where's near what I need to get into a hammock.

Skidsteer
2013-01-28, 15:02
is there a compact camera with an IR remote shutter control? I want something I can setup on a tripod then get into a hammock (for example) and then trigger the camera - currently using an older phone for gear shots but the most it gives me is a 10 second time delay which is no where's near what I need to get into a hammock.

I have an old Aiptek 8 mp that has a remote so yes they are out there.

Weary
2013-01-29, 11:13
These days I'm unable to get to many high ridge lines, but I'm always on the lookout for good photos of our local protected lands. Phone photos certainly have improved, but so have good digital camera photos. A modern camera can do wonders in the hands of a moderately competent photographer. I'll stick with the best instrument I can afford and that isn't any cell phone I've seen yet.

auburnbreeze
2013-01-29, 11:25
Seems trivial but I just put my phone and/or camera in freezer bags.

SGT Rock
2013-01-29, 19:53
That works until you want to take a picture in moderately damp weather. I spent two days drying a phone after doing this once.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

SGT Rock
2013-02-01, 20:16
I got to thinking about this and remember posting about this a while back. A waterproof treatment that is done directly to your phone so there is no case. Two companies are in business, it looks like one only does it as a part of a manufacturing process and the other is an aftermarket process you can have done to your phone.


http://www.hzoinside.com/

and

http://www.liquipel.com/

And it looks like the next generation of cameras on the Samsung and iPhone are going to 13 megapixels.

http://www.galaxy-s4.info/samsung/samsung-galaxy-s4%E2%80%B2s-13-mp-camera-module-spotted


http://www.redmondpie.com/iphone-5s-to-ship-with-a-13-megapixel-camera-from-sony-says-report/

Who knows where the next generation of phones will go with that, but probably even better. Rumors are the Samsung Galaxy 5 will likely have an unbreakable screen and may have a flexible screen.

Mags
2013-02-05, 15:03
iPhone or similar for basic snaps and ease of photo sharing.

A better camera for any up close or wides shots IMO.