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How good is the LG G4 camera? A real-world evaluation

JR Raphael | May 11, 2015
It's been a long time coming, but top-notch photography is finally making its way to Android phones.

So how about the actual quality of the G4's images?

Straight shooting

First, a series of close-up (sometimes called macro-style) and mid-distance shots. On the whole, the LG G4 does very well in this regard.

The G4 does admirably well with close images in bright outdoor conditions. This flower shot is crisp with bold, true-to-life colors and impressive detail. Even when zooming in and studying the full-resolution image closely, the amount of quality loss is minimal.

The G4's performance is respectable, if not exemplary, with macro-style shots in naturally lit indoor environments. You'll see a fair amount of quality loss if you look closely at the full-res version of this image, but for most common uses — online sharing, printing and the likes — the photo is perfectly fine.

Here's one taken outside on a partly cloudy day. A very solid image, and one that compares favorably to a similar shot I took (on a different day) with the Galaxy S6.

Consistency is the key challenge with the G4's camera.

The difference HDR makes

HDR (High-dynamic-range imaging) adjusts the range of light to dark in photos in an attempt to make an image look like it was processed by a human eye rather than by, well, a processor.

This is especially useful in high-contrast scenes, such as brightly lit landscapes or low-light environments. By default, in Auto mode, the LG G4's HDR feature should kick in automatically when appropriate.

An example of the G4's light-sky struggles. This photo is okay but nothing special; the camera probably should have activated HDR. It didn't. (You can see how the Galaxy S6 camera handled a similar shot with much better results for comparison.)

If you compare these two shots, you can see a clear difference between non-HDR and HDR photographs. In the top photo, the lack of auto-HDR activation had a negative impact on the image's composition. The bottom photo was shot after I activated HDR manually — and look at that sky!

However, most smartphone users aren't going to take the time to fiddle with the settings. (And on top of that, an identical shot I took immediately after this one turned out significantly worse.) It's frustrating that the Auto mode often doesn't deliver.

In the right setting and with a little bit of work, though — manually activating HDR here, yet again, and trying a few shots until I got a good one — the G4 can absolutely capture some fantastic-looking photos.

The LG G4 vs. a "real" camera

It's been said that the best camera is the one you have with you — and so, even if you're a professional photographer, a decent smartphone camera is better than nothing when there's a photo to snap. But is it good enough so that you can leave the camera at home more often?

 

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