Travelling with a phone camera

This month, I went on one of my favorite vacations ever, in Vietnam! But then, two days before our flight, I suddenly found out that our camera broke. The timing couldn’t be worse; after all, when you’re travelling you want to take lots of photos and capture memories. Because of this, I had no choice but to use a phone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 4) not only as a communication device but also as my main camera for the trip.

Of course, nothing will replace a real camera but contrary to my expectations, I didn’t miss our old camera that much because my phone camera did have its advantages:

  1. It is incredibly lightweight and easy to carry around. This was important because our trip involved a lot of walking, and sometimes we would need to walk long distances to fully explore a certain site or vicinity. I don’t need something heavy that could slow me down or make my back hurt when I still have lots of places to visit.
  2. It’s small enough to bring anywhere. If I brought my camera along while riding on a bamboo boat or going kayaking in Halong Bay, I would definitely be able to take great photos, but I would be nervous as hell trying not to get it wet or something. My phone is small enough that I can keep it in my pocket as we row around the bay, but I can also take it out whenever I want and take photos of my surroundings.

    It was really fun kayaking in Halong Bay! And it was so easy to take this photo too!
    It was really fun kayaking in Halong Bay! And it was so easy to take this photo too!
  3. No one’s there to take photos of me? Selfie mode on! Lol, I know it’s a weird reason to like phone cameras but I’m saying this based on my experience. When my friends and I took selfies using our old camera, people always gave us weird looks. But with a phone camera, I actually look more normal when I take photos of myself because other people do it a lot, too!

    I took this photo myself while tomb-hopping in Hue!
    I took this photo myself while tomb-hopping in Hue! I had to hurry though because my group has already moved on to the next spot! Oops!
  4. Shooting photos is very quick. Just start the camera app, focus on what I want to capture, and it’s done. Most of the time, the phone’s auto settings work well enough. It’s pretty useful when you want something to quickly capture the moment with as it happens.
  5. I can instantly share my photos and experiences with others. Of course I would like to keep my family and friends updated about my experiences so they would also know how nice the place was or what I learned during the trip. It’s easy to upload or send a photo via message straight from the phone, unlike with larger cameras where I can’t post them on-the-go.

I would still prefer bringing our old camera to my next destination because I miss a lot of features that I can only get with real cameras, but my phone camera definitely served its purpose and I did take lots of nice photos with it. It wasn’t too bad at all and I would definitely use it again in my travels for some quick shots!

(Watch out for my series of posts on my Vietnam vacation, coming soon! :P)


  1. I’ve always wanted to travel, and travel to Vietnam especially. It looks so beautiful there. I’m glad your phone was a second choice and actually helped during the trip. I know, I would have freaked but staying calm saved you in this situation. I can’t wait to see more of your vacation! ^^

    1. You should go visit Vietnam someday! Vietnam is a wonderful place; and whichever region you choose, you’re bound to find something that you can only see or experience in that region, so you have lots of choices! 🙂

  2. I’ve only been to a couple of places here and there like San Francisco (with my high school’s choir) and then a trip to laughlin with my mom and our family. Both trips have been pretty fun. I’m dying to travel outside of the United States, and to the original 13 colonies i.e. Virginia, Massachusetts etc. I love my phone, and I do take selfies with it from time to time and phones can be extra awesome, because they are as you’ve stated “light weight” compared to a DSLR camera. I’ve never had one, only a Nikon (small light weight camera). But, anyways, I’m glad you had fun on your trip in Vietnam. Beautiful shot!

    1. Thank you Jamie! 🙂 I haven’t explored much of the US as well, there’s just so much to see 😀 But visiting the original colonies does sound like a great idea too!

      If you’re travelling outside the US, Vietnam would be a good choice 😀

  3. That’s too bad your camera broke! That’s definitely bad timing! Fortunately, phone cameras have improved a lot over time, and they can take some pretty nice photos.

    Even though I bring my DSLR on my trips, I still snap a shot with my phone, so I can post it online immediately. If I ask someone to take a photo for me, I’ll usually hand over my phone. Everyone seems to know how to take a photo with a phone, but a DSLR or even a point and shoot often confuses people.

    Looking forward to seeing more about your trip!

  4. I haven’t been to Vietnam for about 10 years! It’s such a bummer that your camera broke last minute. Thankfully you had a pretty good phone to take pictures with! The thing I like about phones these days is that they have a high quality camera built in so it’s a 2+ in one.

    The bay looks really nice! Phone cameras are really useful when you have a selfie stick ;). On my recent vacation, I took a lot of pictures with my phone and had them printed out. They came out pretty good, so no harm :D. Hope you enjoyed your stay in Vietnam (and that you went to the good parts of it :P)

    1. I’m so thankful that I had a great phone camera too! I can’t imagine a vacation without taking photos 🙁

      Lol, I know what you mean about the selfie stick. It’s really handy and you can capture more of the background than when you’re just holding the camera. 😀 Some of my tourist friends were so amazed though because they haven’t seen a selfie stick before. HAHA!

  5. Niiice! Looks like your trip to Vietnam was fun and awesome. I haven’t been there yet, so maybe one day . . . 🙂

    And I agree your pros on having a phone camera. They are definitely lightweight and easier to carry around. Still, a regular camera is good to have, too. When I went to Japan in January, I took my camera and my phone. I took multiple photos on my camera, and took single photos to share on Instagram XD So I had the best of two worlds, haha XD

    1. I agree, after all the things that I said about a phone camera, nothing can replace a regular camera. They have more features and they are really meant for taking nicer photos 🙂

  6. True. A phone camera has its perks but a real photographer knows that a real camera is a gem. I look forward buying a starter camera of my own but I’m not sure what to pick yet. Do you have suggestions?

    I’ve never been outside the country before but it seems amazing to visit scenic spots like you did. I’m starting to plan my travel ideas for the future. Guess I have to start saving up. 🙂

    1. I’m not a photographer either, I have just started appreciating the art of taking good photos and have yet to learn how to do it properly. My camera (a Samsung NX3000) is a mirrorless camera, not a DSLR, but it has DSLR-like features as well. It serves me well and takes really good photos with great detail.

      Travel is a really fun experience, and you will learn a lot too! Good luck and I hope you get to visit your dream places!

  7. I had a similar problem when I went to a safari park a couple of weeks ago. I forgot to pick up my camera, and didn’t even realise until I arrived. By then it was too late, so I had to use my phone to take photos instead. Some of them came out nicely, but it just wasn’t the same. I’m used to having all the features of a DSLR, so my phone wasn’t great in comparison.
    Vietnam looks great. I’ve never really done a lot of travelling, but it’s definitely something I plan to do in the next few years.

    1. Oh, it’s a shame that you forgot to take your camera to such an interesting place! I agree with your point, sometimes the phone’s auto mode just doesn’t take the kind of shot that we want. That’s what real cameras are for! 🙂

  8. That is a shame that your camera broke. But you do have a very valid point in the positive ways a phone camera can be used. Plus, the quality continues to improve with each new release. They will probably be some point in the future where you can’t tell the difference. However, having an DSLR can allow you to take different kinds of shots.

    I remember back in the day when digital cameras where the only things for selfies and it was kind of weird. It’s so random that it’s okay on a phone, but strange with a ‘normal’ camera. xD

    1. That’s actually one of the things I miss with my old camera, the way I can change the lens and adjust the settings to get a specific effect. Sometimes the phone’s auto mode just doesn’t cut it.

      Lol, I remember those days too! I think we all just got used to seeing people taking selfies using a phone, so when we do it with a larger camera it looks really weird.

  9. You have a Note 4, and I honestly think that the photos that your phone produces is of high quality already! Plus,I agree, it’s super convenient too. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jhanz! 😀 Honestly, I was quite surprised with the quality since I rarely take photos with my phone. Now I’m realizing that I’m wasting this useful feature 😛

  10. I haven’t traveled any where outside my country, India, but over here there are so many places for tourist attraction and because my family loves travelling I have traveled a lot in the country. In my recent short trip to Silvassa, I forgot to take my digital camera with me and hence, i took all our photos on my mobile camera and even though my mobile camera of Moto G is of just 5 Mpixel, the photos turned out to be great. I really want to buy a DSLR though 🙁

    Vietnam looks like a very peaceful place to visit 😀

    1. Wow, travelling in your own country is a great thing to do too! India is a large country and I think there’s so much to see in that place!

      Sometimes the quality of the photos that our phone camera produces can surprise us. But I understand your desire to buy a DSLR; nothing will ever beat a regular camera.

      Vietnam is a wonderful place and the people are nice. It’s definitely worth a visit 🙂

  11. Wahaha my phone camera is terrible so~ /o/

    It was actually good the first year I had it, and I definitely agree with you that it’s much easier to go place and share pictures with just your phone! I’m shopping for a new phone this fall. I’m either gonna go with a Galaxy Note or an iPhone.

    Can’t wait to see more of you Vietnam pics! Looks like you had a lot of fun. 😀

    1. Right? All the social media apps are on your phone so if you want to share something, it’s really convenient (more so if your accounts are all linked!)

      Both phones are really nice and have great cameras, so choosing one must be tough! 😛

  12. When I travel or want to take pictures in general, I use my phone (all my photos on my blog are from my phone or someone else’s phone). I think it’s because the iPhone 6 takes great quality photos. Cameras on phones are getting more and more high-quality. Aside from the nice fancy DLSR’s, I feel like most people don’t own digital cameras anymore.

    Can’t wait to see more of your Vietnam photos! The Halong Bay photo looks stunning 😀

    1. I agree, phone cameras nowadays are getting better every time. Sometimes you can’t even tell whether a photo has been taken with a camera or a phone (especially now that you can edit photos on your phone too!) 😀

  13. I’d hate go on holidays without the camera!!!! There’s nothing like a good camera.
    However, isn’t it great that phone cameras are so good these days. I recently got an iPhone 6 and I’m rather impressed by the camera in it. I used it a lot during a music event recently, and although you can’t do as much with it as with the Canon, it’s definitely a good camera, and you always have it with you too.

    1. Phone cameras are definitely getting better! Though they don’t have as much features as regular cameras, they do come in handy when you don’t have a DSLR with you 😀 Glad you’re liking your iPhone camera as well!

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