Smartphone cameras are so damn good in 2017 that it’s increasingly difficult to justify carrying my standalone camera.
I just returned from an excellent two-week vacation that took my girlfriend and I to Paris, Munich, Venice, and Rome. In the days leading up to the vacation, in which I had to pack two weeks’ worth of clothing and necessities into just an international carry-on roller bag and a messenger bag, I had the difficult decision of whether or not to bring my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II camera. I already had my LG G6 in my pocket, but I knew I should have the pro-level camera for those “just in case” moments and reluctantly packed it, alongside an extra SD card, battery, and charger.
Returning from the trip after traveling thousands of miles, visiting four cities in three countries, shlepping around my camera, I ended up only taking it out of our apartments and hotels a single time. The LG G6, it turns out, was more than capable of chronicling our trip with amazing photos, proving my standalone camera to be superfluous on vacation.
New flagship phone + Google Photos editing
We’ve all taken turns gushing over the LG G6’s camera setup, both in terms of its top-end quality and extra versatility provided by the combination of a standard and wide-angle camera. The G6’s cameras were fully on display during my vacation, where I spent time around some great scenery, weather, and food for a couple of weeks.
Here are a few of the great shots I took in Paris.
And then in Munich.
Then we made our way to Venice.
And on to Rome to finish the trip.
I’m super happy with the quality of these photos — and not just the 30 included here, but the 100+ more I took and created an album with. Throughout the trip, I made ample use of the wide-angle camera to get great shots that I just couldn’t get with any other phone, and when I walked around to capture my surroundings, I treated shooting with the G6 just as I would my Olympus: taking care with the framing, lighting, and camera settings to get the most out of it.
And again, just as I would do with my standalone camera, I’m often doing some edits on these photos — and while the G6 takes great photos, the output is of course enhanced when I spend a couple minutes making tweaks. Google Photos has super powerful editing tools, and with a few taps I can apply a crop and some small adjustments that make the photos look exactly how I want. Indeed, not all of the photos shown above are unedited right out of the camera — but neither would my photos from my Olympus be, and I’m in full support of editing photos before sharing them.
The phone is dramatically smaller and internet-connected
I’m not here to argue that the average photo I take with an LG G6 is better than the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mk II. I am, however, going to advocate on behalf of a phone that’s compact and likely to be within arm’s reach 24 hours a day, compared to a relatively large and heavy camera that requires some sort of strap or clip to keep available.
I can simply take a larger quantity and variety of photos with a phone than a camera.
I can simply take a larger quantity and variety of photos with a phone than I can with a standalone camera, and that increase in photos taken means far more to me than getting the highest possible quality, especially when the difference in quality between the two is smaller than ever. Add that to the fact that I just don’t have to carry around (and be worried about) a big chunk of expensive camera equipment, and it’s a big win for me.
Then there’s the angle of sharing. I keep a huge private collection of photos, but I love to share my favorites with the world. That’s just simpler with a smartphone, and it’s one of the joys that has come along with improving smartphone cameras and cellular networks. Yes, there’s technically a way for me to send photos from my camera to my phone over Wi-Fi and then share them out, but it’s so clunky and slow that it just isn’t going to happen. I’m better off just sharing what I took on my phone instead.
A smartphone can aboslutely be your only vacation camera
I’m a big fan of photography and love taking photos with my Olympus — both professionally and for fun. But when it comes to a vacation where we’re walking 5 to 10 miles every day and not knowing each morning what the day has in store, carrying a camera is far more of a burden than the extra image quality is worth.
This particular revelation was brought on by the supreme quality of the LG G6‘s camera, but this is the case for any leading smartphone today. Take really great image quality (and ease of use), add in great on-phone editing tools and an always-available network, and you may find you’ll be okay carrying just a smartphone on your next vacation without worrying about what you’re missing.