/ 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.


Hi dieseltaylor, thanks for your comment. I don’t usually take a spare battery around with me as my phone is sealed, and it’s not user-replaceable. I don’t carry an instant charger either; even with heavy usage, my phone will last a full day, and I can recharge the battery at my hotel via a wall socket at the end of each day.

As for running out of storage space on a phone… I use Google Photos (similar cloud storage services work just as well) to store all my photos in the cloud, syncing my collection once I’m in range of a wi-fi connection. Once the online backup is complete, I then delete the photos that are stored locally on the phone, which means I’m never running out of storage space.


: ) 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.