Hi Lifehacker, I am going on holiday to the US in a couple of months and was wondering whether I should take a normal point-and-shoot camera or use my iPhone (4S). The only benefit I see in using a point and shoot is that it has optical zoom; however the iPhone is far more convenient in that I would only need to take one device. I don’t intend on visiting any great landmarks, it will be mostly be shots of me and my friends. Thanks, Shutterbugged
Picture by Jeff Turner
The iPhone 4S has an excellent camera, so on that level there’s no reason not to save yourself some luggage space and simply take it along with you, especially if you’re not aiming to take super-fancy shots or use zooming options a lot. You can also enhance the experience by adding photography apps to enhance your work.
So for the sake of compact packing, I’d definitely consider just taking the phone. With that said, there’s a few things you should bear in mind.
Keep an eye on battery life. If you’re using your iPhone for games, apps or messaging, you can easily run down the battery and then find yourself unable to take a shot at the crucial time. While you’ll probably want to avoid making a lot of calls because of roaming charges and thus might use it a bit less than usual, this can still be an issue. Make sure you plug it in to charge overnight.
Remember you have limited storage. The big downside of the iPhone as a camera is that you can’t easily swap in additional storage if you take a lot of photos, and you’ll need to connect the phone to a laptop or upload the photos online. We’ve covered this issue in some detail before, but the big lesson is this: make sure you aren’t wasting space with unwanted apps, and only email or sync your photos when you’re using a free Wi-Fi connection. There’s plenty of free Wi-Fi in the US, so you’ll have some options.
Don’t accidentally sync all your photos. iOS 5 can automatically sync every photo as you take it, but you absolutely don’t want to do this in the US, as you’ll pay a ridiculous amount in roaming charges on the phone, and there’s no way to selectively use the feature — it’s an all or nothing option. So make sure you switch it off. Go to Settings –> iCloud –> Photo Stream and make sure it is switched to Off. While you’re at it, go to Settings –> Network –> Data Roaming and switch that off too.
If readers have any other iPhone travel photography tips to share, we’re all ears in the comments.
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