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iPhone 4S as only camera while backpacking?
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Guy Trek
(trek_guy) - M
iPhone 4S as only camera while backpacking? on 04/20/2012 12:00:37 MDT Print View

Does anyone here use an iPhone 4S (or similar) as the only camera on their ventures? The pictures it takes are pretty remarkable these days, and it also captures HD video very well. Since I take a phone with me on all hikes as a backup GPS and communication device, I am thinking of shedding the weight of my point-and-shoot camera. Yes, I know it has no optical zoom, and the quality won't be as good as a real camera (don't fall for the megapixel marketing), especially in various lighting situations. But the pictures it takes seem more than acceptable for most situations.

Do you use an iPhone as your primary camera while backpacking? If so, I'd love to hear your experiences and see some sample pictures that you've taken.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Phone cam on 04/20/2012 12:04:25 MDT Print View

I have taken several great shots with my Samsung, which seems to have a similar camera. I, too, have taken several great photos. Its not professional quality, but it seems as good as my point and shoot except for the lack of a zoom.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Absolutely on 04/20/2012 12:37:54 MDT Print View

I've been contemplating the same thing. The camera on the 4S is excellent and I have taken some excellent shots (including sunsets) with it. I'm not so sure I am going to keep my LX5...and my LX3 is going up for sale very soon. One of the major benefits of using a mobile device as a camera is that you can get specific functionality through software like time lapse, HDR or panorama shots. Additionally, even though it does not have optical zoom, I rarely use zoom when hiking - I prefer wide shots that show the context of where I am. If you need to get even wider, you can buy an additional lens like the Olloclip (which has macro as well), or as mentioned, use software to automatically stitch together a panorama.

There are cases where a small sensor camera does not work well: low light, photos requiring flash (camera phone flash is not that great IMO), video while moving (the best video is shot while the phone/camera is still or on a stabilizer)

Some of my favorite apps:
DMD (Dermandar) for automatically creating panoramas
Autostitch (also for panoramas but can shoot multiple rows of shots)
Luma (for shooting software-based image stabilized video)
Frameograph (stop motion and time lapse)
Camera Awesome (by Smugmug - still and video with built in image editing)


Edited by rcmike on 04/20/2012 12:43:11 MDT.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Yes you can! on 04/22/2012 11:59:58 MDT Print View

If you want to see some pictures I took last year on three week AT section hike with an iPhone 4 (4S has an even better camera), check out:

the first picture is Survivor Dave, who shuttled me to Amicalola Falls SP; plenty of me in the album.

Edited by QiWiz on 04/22/2012 12:01:07 MDT.

Kristofer McKenna

Locale: North Texas
sure on 05/01/2012 08:52:58 MDT Print View

When I had an iPhone 4 I used it as my only camera on a trip to Sweden/Denmark. I use my Xperia Active on hikes a lot, too, if I leave my Nikon AW100 at home. The pictures come out nicely, imo.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Five essential iPhone apps for photographers on 05/08/2012 19:15:20 MDT Print View

Tracy Grounds
(tracygrounds) - F

Locale: Indiana, USA
Iphone on 07/12/2012 15:25:23 MDT Print View

Even though I have a bag full of gear, I probably have more pictures in my portfolio that was taken with my iPhone. Unless you plan on enlarging them to over 8x10, the iPhone takes great pictures. Most of us display 90% of our pics on a computer screen anyway, and for that purpose the iPhone is perfect. Besides, it is nice not to have to carry another piece of gear.

scott Nelson
(nlsscott) - MLife

Locale: So. Calif.
Battery life and storage? on 08/01/2012 23:40:48 MDT Print View

What has been anyone's experience using their iPhone as a camera in terms of battery life and number of photos you can store? What would one expect to happen on a weeklong trip if you didn't use it for anything else? I could see bringing a charger that used AA batteries if needed. How many will the memory hold? Thanks, Scott

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
check out on 08/02/2012 08:31:27 MDT Print View

On the issue of phone camera quality -- if you have not done so, go to and see what they have to say.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: check out on 08/02/2012 16:50:37 MDT Print View

I note they are saying some good things about the new Nokia phone camera:

Gold award no less!

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

iPhone on 08/02/2012 22:10:22 MDT Print View

Scott - iPhone will hold A LOT of pictures.

If you put it into airplane mode (disable cellular, WiFi, bluetooth) and don't use it for games/music/ will last a week. If you turn it off every time after taking pictures - it will last even longer.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: iPhone 4S as only camera while backpacking? on 08/03/2012 08:28:41 MDT Print View

Check out these amazing photos from the olympics using only iphone 4, binoculars and an app called snapspeed.

Mike Petrucci
(mikepetrucci) - F

Locale: DC / NoVA
Re: iPhone 4S as only camera while backpacking? on 08/08/2012 21:42:52 MDT Print View

If I had a nicer camera, I probably would have brought that but I've used my iPhone 4S for just about every trip I've been on in the past few years. Hiking specific, I was in Colorado last year and snapped pics:

I'm going back to that area in just a few weeks and I'm going to test out the Life Proof case as I've heard good things.

Oh and I've noticed that if you keep your iPhone on Airplane Mode and turn it off when you know you're not going to use it, you can really get some solid battery life.

Edited by mikepetrucci on 08/08/2012 21:45:24 MDT.