Phone camera vs small mirrorless vs point and shoot for your back pocket 'other' camera.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by karinaandjelic, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. Hi there, I haven't been on here for about a decade (life got super busy with kids, and had to put all my photography energy into shooting and my photography business - no time for the web sadly). I missed it. A quick question. What is your light weight go to photography option for when you are wrangling kids or on the run? I love my 5D Mark 1V, but I can't carry it in my handbag to have on hand when I am wrangling my three kids, or put it in my back pocket to use on the run. I bought an iPhone 12 Pro for this purpose, but sadly had it stolen last night, and probably won't get it back (yes find my iPhone worked briefly but police couldn't find it). So now I have to work out whether to buy another 12 Pro (whilst I pay off the other one for three years - eek), or just use an old phone and get a compact mirrorless or good quality point and shoot. What do you use for this purpose - a phone, mirrorless or point and shoot? Obviously as pros we want quality and especially great handling of low light... But also I need something small and portable. Will an actual camera be as handy as a phone? Am I going to use it as much? Will it perhaps be a good chance to stop taking photos on my phone and use something small but more professional? Or is this just not workable for the purpose... Interested in your thoughts, experiences and choices. Thanks for having me back!
  2. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    When carrying more 'specialised' equipment is not an option, I have a Canon Ixus 950 in a small protective case, that also takes spare card and batteries, and goes easily in my jacket pocket - posted several images taken with it on here, with no complaints about quality. Second hand, cost me £20 a few years ago !
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  3. I use a small camera for this, not a phone. I use a first-generation Lumix LX-100, but I bought it a long time ago, and I might make a different choice of camera now. I want the control a real camera gives me--easily changing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and controlling focus--and I want raw files. of course, the more expensive iPhones will produce raw files, but my phone won't. I tried small point-and-shoots, but I didn't get what I considered to be acceptable quality.

    For me, the main decision was pocketable vs. better controls. Sony and others make cameras that you can fit into a pocket. The Lumix will fit into a coat pocket, but not a shirt pocket, because the lens doesn't fully retract. In the end, I decided that better controls (not having to dig through menus) and ergonomics were more important for me than the smaller size.

    However, all of this is a personal decision.
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  4. In my own experience, I have bought several more-or-less sophisticated point-and-shoot digital cameras as a replacement for the Rollei 35 I used to carry.

    I'd have to hunt for them if I wanted to use them.

    Like the FORCE, the phone is always with me, and it does pretty well.
    is one I took and posted this last week
    morning light on the polyspheroid water tower iPhone 8
  5. I've never seen a device better designed to be dropped than a cell phone. I think the percentage of potentially dropped, stolen or lost phones is figured into their profit margins. Dedicated P&S is the way to go in my opinion.
  6. I’ve always carried a camera I could fit in my pocket - a Rollei 35 was my constant companion for many years. When the Sony RX100 came out, I bought one and still use it daily. But once I got an iPhone 7, I discovered how good a camera it had and found myself leaving the Sony home and relying on the iPhone when going out for an evening, dressing up, etc. The more I used the phone as a P&S, the more I came to like and rely on it. I did research phone apps and adopted Blux 644, Pure, and a few others for special purposes.

    Fast forward to fall 2020 and the amazing deal that made me buy an Apple Watch (which, sadly, has no camera). Having gotten into the habit of relying on my phone for more and more general photography, but leaving it home when wearing the watch, I now find myself without a camera far too often. So I leave my RX100 with my wallet & keys in order to remember it when leaving the phone home.

    The cameras in most good phones are now excellent for general use, and I have no problem relying on one. But the RX100 is without a doubt the best fixed lens camera ever and one of the best cameras ever. So I’d buy the least expensive and complex phone that has a decent camera and whatever phone features I need, and put the $ into an RX100. They still sell the second series new for under $500, which is a steal. The V has more features, but even v1 or v2 is stellar. I added a WiFi SD card for backup - other than that, I see nothing in the V, VI or new VII versions to justify spending over a grand on a new model except the viewfinder (which I’d like, but not enough to buy a new camera before the old one dies).
  7. As I aged I realized I need a camera that I can hold and brace against my forehead while I take a picture and I don't know of any phone that would allow mew to do that.
    And I think I prefer the perspective of a 35mm equivalent lens. Otherwise a phone would work fine for me.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  8. For a trip to Cuba, 4 years ago, I bought a refurbished Canon G9x. 20 megapixels, good AF, decent IS, limited zoom range. Fits in my pocket and I take it everywhere now.
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  9. That's a wonderful camera that's even a bit smaller than my Sony RX100. I think I'd be happy with it if I had one. But from the limited exposure I've had to it, the Sony has a few advantages for me. It seems faster in almost every way except battery charge consumption - startup, focus, write speed etc just feel quicker (no, I haven't measured). And there's no comparison on battery life - the Canon's good for about 235-250 shots in normal use (not eco mode), but I routinely get 325+ shots from a charge in my RX100. So for the OP, I'd recommend an RX100 over a G9X. The street price of a new RX100 v3 is $450, for which you get Wifi, NFC, a viewfinder, and tough-as-nails reliability. I've dragged my v2 literally around the world for about 7 years without a single failure.
  10. I rely on both a compact and my iPhone XS. I was using a Canon G7X MkII (I sold it in order to buy a Canon G5X MkII, but got distracted by a Canon R6 which I bought instead!) along with my XS and probably used them equally. On my phone I use the ProCamera app the most as it allows me to shoot jpegs, RAW, and TIFFs. It also allows me to make all of the manual adjustments that I did on my Canon. This app along with the editing capability of the native camera app on the XS allows me to fully edit my shots easily on the phone and download them to my computer to print very nice 8x10 prints. Of course, the sensor in my phone is smaller than the 1-inch sensor in the Canon and noise is visible, but the detail is amazing. I'm very comfortable using my phone as a compact, go-everywhere camera. I'm sure that the image quality of the iPhone 12Pro is even nicer. Here's a shot from the XS. 282Aa.jpg
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  11. I'm sorry to hear about your phone being stolen - that is not fun, both materially and psychologically.

    To answer your question directly, before I address a wider point, I agree with Otis - the Sony RX100 series cameras are fantastic for what they are, and will serve you better than even the best iPhones. I would not buy the first or second versions, but that's IMHO.

    I would not be buying an expensive phone until you pay off your stolen one. Just FWIW. You can get a used XS for a few hundred dollars, and really that is still a terrific phone.

    If you don't mind a prime lens compact, lots of people love the Ricoh GRIII. This video compares it to the larger Fuji X100V:


    I haven't upgraded by iPhone for ages. I am using a 6S, and I bought it secondhand. And the reason is precisely because I'm a photographer. I'd rather put my money into a compact camera that can give something close to professional results. The 8x zoom is also something that a phone camera cannot match.

    The cost of an iPhone 12 is about the same as a late model RX100. Which makes more sense for a photographer? You have to answer that question for yourself. So, my next iPhone will also be a secondhand one, and this will leave me room to buy an RX100 when my budget allows.

    FWIW, iPhones can be used professionally, depending on the job and where the photos will be published. I just think that you will get much better value for money from a zoom compact like the Sony.
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  12. Since I won’t spend that much money for a phone I have a couple of Nikon CoolPix cameras in different camera bags. Maybe not the latest and greatest but they do a decent job when I can’t use a dslr for some reason.

    Rick H
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  13. I currently have an Iphone mini, purchased for its size and its somewhat lower price. Its camera is somewhat wasted on me, as I use it, for example, to record where I parked my car at the airport. I almost always carry a Canon g5x II with a 1" inch sensor and a 24-120mm equivalent, f/1.8-2.8 lens which provides a long enough telephoto and sufficient low light performance when I leave my regular cameras at home.
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  14. Thank you so much everyone for your wonderful answers. They have provided me with lots of great information and food for thought. I have fibromyalgia which sometimes makes it hard for me to use my hands (not the best in our profession). It's fine - I work around it, and just make sure I am rested before a shoot, but it does mean that I don't use my real gear as much as I would like when I'm off duty (I do have guilt for not using it more with my own kids when I use all the gear for other people's kids), but I would also rather be present with them, and just use the gear occasionally. There's some great options and suggestions above. I shall enjoy looking through them. Thank you so much and have a great rest of your week / weekend all! Karina :)
    Karim Ghantous and Sanford like this.
  15. With fibromyalgia, there might be an advantage to replacing your iPhone 12 pro with another one (and a case which provides excellent grip) because you can use Siri to control the camera. The Canon G5x II which I wrote about earlier, like other small and sophisticated cameras, has tiny controls which might be difficult to work depending on the pain in your hands. As an alternative, a small but somewhat larger camera, the Panasonic LX100 II, could be a better choice, for controls that are easier to work.
  16. I owned a Sony RX100 and really miss it. It truly was a camera to put in your pocket. Today I would go for a new RX100 111, viewfinder, better processor, more limited range but improved lens, decent at low light, at a very good price. For twice the money I could buy a new model but I don't need 4K, or a touchscreen and the lens is more like a travel zoom.Sorry to hear about the theft, easy to say carry insurance but I haven't done it either. Keep well, Charles.
  17. I sold my compacts. They were all old and slow. An iPhone 8 Plus does a pretty good job for me. IMG_3947.jpeg
  18. I’ve heard that the best camera is the one you have on hand. Unless you know how to work the camera, be it it a camera phone or a top of the line dedicated camera, the photos you take can still be crap. what matters is having a good eye.
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  19. I once started on a trip to Thailand, with a camera bag full of DSLR and lenses and a small tripod. Halfway to the airport, I turned the taxi around, went back home, dumped it all, picked up a compact (a canon S95, but any model will do), and went on to a marvellous trip with no hassles at customs and no sweat. On my second trip to Thailand, I did pack a DSLR and a couple of lenses, but rarely used them. On one trip to a wetland, the boat was so low in the water that I was scared to even move my x-400mm zoom lest I tipped us into the water (there were no birds there, incidentally, at that time of the year). Conclusion: DSLRs are for special photographic trips, compacts for all the rest. My experience, anyway.
  20. I find my Sony RX100iv fits in my shirt or pants pocket. I don't carry a purse. Its 1" 20MB sensor allows great slide and video shows on my 75" TV. Its zoom is 24-70mm equivalent although later RX100 models go to 200mm at the same pocket size. It has P-Auto-T-A as well as full manual modes. It has 4K and 2K video as well as a very high-speed video for short bursts of around 900 frames per second for very high slow motion. 4K is limited to around five minutes due to heat. But you can run 1080 for as long as you want. Its articulating display is handy for low shots, children, and pets. I don't like cellphones for photography although I do use them. I find I can't see a cellphone screen in sunlight and holding and snapping pictures is just awkward. The RX100 has wifi or is it Bluetooth connect for sending pictures through your cellphone when needed.

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