I used my smartphone’s camera on holiday.

Now I know Danny will disagree with most of what I am going to say below, so I warn you Danny. Read at your own peril.

Earlier this year we went to Cuba on a family holiday. It was a very pleasurable holiday and I can’t recommend the country enough. However there were a few reasons I decided to use my smartphone’s camera.

Anyway, I made a critical mistake. I deliberately didn’t bring my DSLR. Now that was a problem because I don’t own a (good) point and shoot camera. I own about 4 older point and shoot cameras but my best point and shoot (a 12Mp canon SR one) failed with an inexplicable lens error about a year ago and it still hasn’t resolved itself.

Now Cuba is still a socialist country, and I was a little unsure about bringing a pretty large DSLR camera and more importantly a bunch of lenses into a country with such “strict” border controls. Perhaps I was worried about a negative experience I had traveling with my DSLR before.

Anyway I made the decision to take and use only my Nexus 5, which would have been fine for most people, but I really regretted the decision from about day one, and I had quite a few problems.

  1. The new Google Camera app proved to be incredibly unreliable, and I had no internet connection to see if updates had been released for it.
  2. The colour reproduction looked dreadful at first but proved to be slightly better than I expected.
  3. I really missed having an actual proper lens with manual focus and optical zoom. The lack of both features really upset me.
  4. I missed the beautiful depth of field I can pull from a prime lens at a fast aperture .
  5. Low light on smartphones is really bad

There were however some positives.

  1. OIS proved remarkably useful
  2. Manual Exposure saved the day several times
  3. Lens Blur allowed for more artful shots
  4. The 1080p video from the camera impressed me.
  5. It’s tiny! Taking photos and videos from ‘hidden’ vantage points proved very easy especially when taking photos of people in Havana
  6. Panorama mode was used several times for capturing scenes that would have just been too wide for even my widest lens.

I guess you could say that I brought this whole issue on myself. If I had bothered to fix my old point and shoot, buy a new one or just grow some balls, the whole thing would have been a non issue. And perhaps if I wasn’t so critically demanding and pernickety of my photographs, I wouldn’t be having this rant. I just have one piece of advice though. Travel with a proper camera. Please. Don’t rely on your smartphone’s camera.

PS : Stay tuned for a proper review of the FDR-AX100 and a demo reel.


Write a variety of articles, when I get the time. Usually do more longform and analysis than I probably should. Also an editor.

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