/ Technology

Why I don’t take a compact camera on holiday any more

When packing for a holiday, a compact camera used to be one of the first items I’d throw into my suitcase. Now it sits on a shelf at home while I enjoy myself in the sun.

It’s much simpler to take portraits and landscape shots with my phone and share them instantly with friends and family via social media.

I find that the phone gives me a similar photo quality to that of a digital camera and without the hassle of the extra bulk in my pocket.

So when is it worth taking a compact camera?

If you don’t own a phone with a good camera, there’s still good reason to travel with a compact camera. Cheap phone cameras struggle when there’s not a lot of sunlight about, whereas ‘proper’ cameras take good photos in virtually all situations.

Anyone who has strained to use their phone to properly capture a famous landmark that is too far away will know that it isn’t up to the task. A smartphone’s digital zoom has no moving parts, and the image is cropped and digitally enlarged, reducing the overall quality.

Compact cameras, on the other hand, come with the added benefits of a more powerful flash and optical zoom – this physically moves the lens within the camera, maintaining image sharpness and resolution.

What about a DSLR?

More serious photography enthusiasts might invest in a DSLR. It’s perfect for handling more challenging shots – I enjoy experimenting with different lenses for difficult lighting conditions.

And when I’m shooting in direct sunlight, a viewfinder ensures I don’t have  to rely on a reflective display to compose a picture.

But basic DSLRs costing upwards of £300 – pretty hefty – so some may prefer sticking with a great-value compact or their phone.

If you own a phone that did well in our test lab, take the time to learn the shortcuts to fire up its camera from the lock screen, and make sure you back up your photos to online storage (via wi-fi) or to your PC. Nothing is more frustrating than missing that crucial shot or losing your holiday photos.

What do you use to take your holiday photos – smartphone, compact camera or DSLR?


I’m in the habit of carrying around a compact camera when on holiday, out for a walk and when attending events. It sits unobtrusively in a case on my belt and gets used frequently.

I recently invited to take a group photo to put on a website and realised that I had left my camera at home. I asked if I could borrow a camera and was presented with a phone, the same model as the one in my pocket. The photo was perfectly adequate.

I plan to carry on carrying around my compact camera but I will experiment with the phone and find out what the limitations are.

Perhaps Ryan can advise if he carries a spare battery or an instant charger to avoid the embarrassing running out of power at an awkward moment? How many photos can you take on a phone without running out of power or room.?

I know my son has a three battery add-on back to his phone so he is well-equipped for serious usage during a day or so. However not all phones can benefit from this.

On my last holiday I maxed out a couple of days with just under 1,000 photos and I was thinking this would be extremely difficult with a phone even if it had the power and the capacity. A 50x optical zoom on a bridge camera with the single lense can be had for under £300. It does mean you can take photos of scenes. ships, and buildings others can barely see let alone think of taking pictures of..

For ambling around maybe a phone but for holidays and serious work a simple camera with the biggest zoom is ideal. DSLR are heavier,, more expensive – particularly if you have bought a range of lenses.

: ) So no camping for you then!

The ability to upload I took as the way out for storage problems however uploading does take battery power – and requires a reasonable connection. I have lately been in areas where this is not a foregone conclusion. Particularly irksome when in some tiny town you have several people all trying to hog the bandwidth before the place closes.

Having 32GB cards solves my problems but mobile phones are not all able to accept external cards.

Fortunately some one is on the case:

I still take a proper camera when I know I need to take photos. Even my 9-year-old Canon Ixus 900 has 10 megapixels, more than my iPhone 6’s 8 megapixels, and it has a proper optical zoom. Smartphones are great when you need to take a photo unexpectedly or on a night out, but are no good for photographing distant objects.

I always take a compact camera phone with me on holiday or days away. As I travel alone I have to always ask someone to take a photograph of me (especially with something of interest in the background). I am certainly not going to hand my £300+ smartphone out to a complete stranger in case they run off with it. Anyway the insurance wouldn’t cover it and the inconvenience of having it stolen or dropped by someone else is just too much to think about. I haven’t yet got a selfie stick but would certainly buy one if it made my life easier. When I return from a holiday or days away I upload the entire shoot from both my camera and my smartphone. It is interesting to see how different photos of the same scene are from each device.

love the convenience of my smartphone ..but the lack of a zoom drives me mad, especially when taking holiday photos.

Phil says:
27 June 2015

Uploading to “the cloud”, in reality the hard drive on a internet server who knows where and probably insecure, is fine if you’re somewhere with a decent signal. There are still parts of the UK let alone more remote parts of the world where this would be impossible.

I have a compact camera which I carry with me most times in case I see anything interesting, using it on holiday proved frustrating because of it’s limitations and hunger for batteries. I could get through three in a day. For this reason I treated myself to a DSLR and a couple of lenses which not only produce results I’m satisfied with but is much more sparing on battery power.

You might be interested in this, where we’ve had a look at camera battery life.


We always take a compact for those quick photos and a DSLR for when we feel more creative. Taking photos on a phone is just not the same. A friend recently had to show us her holiday photos on her phone and it was a real chore looking at them.

We also have 3 batteries for each camera so never run out of juice. We always buy 2 spare manufacturers batteries when we buy a new camera and they seem to last quite well. Buying batteries when a camera is a few years old is fraught with getting genuine ones when High Street camera shops are getting rarer.

Canon Powershot S100. Great little camera, with a good menu full of options. Wide angle lens plus 5x zoom, and respectably good at macro shots. What camera phone can do that? Mind, the newer S120 has added wi fi, so you can send out your photos quickly as well. Besides, it is as solid as a brick and tiny as well.

For years I have carried a compact camera when I’m on holiday and often if I go out for the day. It’s a small one that fits in a compact leather pouch that sits neatly on my belt. Unfortunately the camera met its demise and I need a replacement. At present I’m using my phone (not as easy to use and less versatile) or a better camera that’s too large to carry round for any length of time.

My prime requirement is to find a small compact camera with a strong case that fits on a belt. I don’t want to spend more than £150 because I just want to take snapshots and have a better camera if needed. I spoke to Which? Member Services to try to find out which compact cameras come with cases, but they could not help. I then spoke to Panasonic, the manufacturer of my now defunct Lumix DMC-FX35 camera and they could not tell me which models could be supplied with cases. Since I still have the Lumix case I might visit a camera shop and try to find one that would fit, but there don’t seem to be many shops with cameras on display round here.

If anyone has any suggestions I would be grateful. I’m looking for a camera with a close fitting case that will fit on a belt and not a larger one that will take spare batteries and cards.

I currently use an old Samsung L310W that I half-inched from my brother after he’d stopped using it. It’s far better than any of the cameras on the cheap Android phones that I tend to carry. I do have a generic padded case for my camera, but I don’t use it, as a prefer “pocket carry” for compact cameras.

Before I carried a mobile regularly I used to carry (a different) compact camera in my left pocket. My mobile now inhabits this pocket on its own to avoid damage by keys, coins and sundry other items. The belt pouch effectively provides an extra pocket that is never used for anything else.

Cargo trousers have usefully large leg pockets for mobile phones, wallets and even small cameras. My old (about 15 years) Pentax Option 550 is still on working order and has a hard leather case with a belt slot. In many ways, more useful than my Panasonic Lumix when just out and about.

The advantage of a phone camera is the ability to instantly distribute a picture to anyone.

I have a pair of cargo trousers but am not keen on them, so that’s not a solution for me. Most of the photos I have shared here were taken on my phone. I might look at cameras that will transfer photos by Bluetooth or WiFi to save messing around with cards.