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Proof the Google Pixel 2, not a DSLR, was all the camera I needed on my honeymoon

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Right before going on my honeymoon to Japan and South Korea, I made a crazy decision, a potentially stupid one that I might regret for the rest of my life: I wouldn’t bring a camera – at least, not a traditional one. I was going to take pictures solely with the Google Pixel 2.

Best case scenario, the phone will accurately capture the once-in-a-lifetime moments that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

But on the flip-side, what if it doesn’t? That was something that I considered, but not for very long. 

Having reviewed the Google Pixel 2 XL, I was astounded by the optics performance squeezed out of its cameras. Made even better by Google’s own wicked-smart image software, I wasn’t as skeptical as most would be by the prospect of forgoing a trusty DSLR on the most important vacation of my life.

And thank goodness, the big risk paid off. 

Performance: Honeymoon edition

In most situations, I actually felt at an advantage by shooting with the Pixel 2. Double-tapping the power button to get into the camera app was much simpler, faster and far less cumbersome than booting up a DSLR. 

Not to ding the tried-and-true camera type too much, but given we were usually out for 16 hours at a time each day, swapping batteries every few hours really would have been a pain. The Pixel 2 XL regularly put forward all-day battery performance as our trusty camera, along with being our guide on Google Maps.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper honeymoon without a wrench or two being thrown into the gears. For us, that wrench was Typhoon Lan, which started its strike when we were only beginning a long day of scoping out the sights in Osaka. It was rainy, to put it lightly, and I was so incredibly glad that Google opted for IP67 waterproofing with the Pixel 2. To be able to pull out the phone to capture the sights without worrying was a great relief, something I couldn’t do with last year's model.

Not to sound too gushing, but betting on the Google Pixel 2 let us focus more on the moments and less on messing with a camera. It quickly and accurately captured memorable scenes, backed them up to Google Photos at full resolution with no fuss each night while charging, and was ready to go at it again in the morning.

Here’s a catalog of my favorite images taken on our honeymoon. Starting things off are shots from the rear-facing camera. There's a mix of portrait mode captures and regular off-the-cuff photos below.

(The gallery is a bit long, but it gives a thorough look at how the Pixel 2 performs in a wide variety of settings.)

Next, let's take a look at some selfies.

I'm not here to argue that the Google Pixel 2 is better than a DSLR. In fact, I'm sure those results would have been even more breathtaking. But what I am here to argue is that the Pixel 2 comes as close as I've seen to taking DSLR-quality shots, ones so good that it makes forgoing a larger camera for a vacation a somewhat reasonable thing to do.

Looks like I'll bringing the Pixel 2 on the rest of my vacations. That is, until the Google Pixel 3 comes out.

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.