My review of the LG G3 is still ongoing, but so far I’ve been having a good play with the camera, and couldn’t wait to post some results for you to look at – including a comparison of the 4K video recording offered on the LG, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and Sony’s Xperia Z2.

It’s worth noting that by far the easiest camera to start up is the Sony Xperia Z2, on account of a dedicated camera button. If I ruled the world, I’d make it law that every phone has one.

The LG G3 camera can be started by a long press of the volume down key on the back of the phone, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 by the traditional camera app icon or lock screen. Suffice to say, in terms of convenience – Sony wins, closely followed by LG.

In a couple of scenarios, I also took some photos and a video with the HTC One (M8) to see how ‘UltraPixels’ compare with the new wave of smartphones with up to 20.7-megapixel cameras. The HTC camera can be launched using the power button and a gesture, which takes a bit of getting used to.

So let me say again, any company that boasts about offering an exceptional camera experience – put a camera button on the damn thing! Allowing the use of the volume keys to take a photo isn’t enough, while a proper two-stage key is also very important too.

All of the photos can also be downloaded to view offline for closer inspection (see link below photos) or simply click on any individual photo and look for the ‘View full size’ link at the bottom right of the gallery page.

Camera Test

Camera testing notes:

  • All photos were taken in automatic mode, and each camera had one single chance to get things right. This was to simulate a real world situation where you pull your phone out and take a photo, without wanting to mess around.
  • The exception being the HTC One (M8), which was set with HDR mode on due to the lighting conditions on the day, while the others all selected HDR mode automatically as required.
  • Every phone was set to the highest available resolution for 16:9, but the Sony Xperia Z2 can only operate at 8-megapixels in automatic mode (using the extra pixels to produce a clearer image, in much the same way as Nokia’s PureView cameras). The Z2 can take photos at 15.5-megapixels in manual mode (16:9) or the full 20.7-megapixels if opting for 4:3.
  • The 4K videos further on are totally unedited, but there will be losses due to the re-encoding by YouTube. However, remember the old saying, Garbage In Garbage Out; thus the videos will still be a good reflection of the original recorded video. If anyone really wants to see what they’re like, ask me for a direct link to the raw files.
  • I will be doing more photo tests in the coming weeks to test different scenarios, including more low-light photography, using the LED flashes, plus some of the manual modes or other features.

Photos

4K Video

Carpark roof

LG G3

Samsung Galaxy S5

Sony Xperia Z2

Fountain

LG G3

Samsung Galaxy S5

Sony Xperia Z2

HTC One (M8) – 1080p only

Conclusion?

The photos generally speak for themselves, but there’s always going to be a difference of opinion (some preferring a sharp or softened look, more vivid or more muted colours etc), so look at the pictures and make up your own mind.

Take time to look at the photos at 100% to see how heavily processed some of the photos can be, losing a great deal of detail that isn’t immediately spotted when reduced to a fit a smaller display. Of course, if you don’t intend to ever print the photos out or zoom in and crop, this might not be a major problem or deal breaker.

The LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5 both have a very fast autofocus, while the HTC did a very poor job with its HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode enabled. The alternative would have been a poorly lit, or over exposed, photo – neither of which would have been better outcomes.

Given HTC is now seemingly returning to using higher megapixel sensors on some new devices, like the 13-megapixel camera on the HTC One Mini 2, it might mark the end of the 4-megapixel UltraPixel sensor – or at least a major rethink and redesign.

But for overall ease of use, thanks to its two-stage camera button, the Xperia Z2 is probably the best phone for taking still photos quickly and spontaneously. When it came to audio on video recording – the LG G3 sounded considerably better than the rather tinny and lifeless results on the others.

And with these thoughts in mind, it’s time to continue on with my review of the G3…

Benchmark Test (AnTuTu X)

Finally, for those who may have missed it previously – here’s how the LG G3 fared against the other flagships.

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Written by Jonathan Morris

Writing about technology, with a focus on mobile, since the early 1990s! Former editor of What Mobile magazine, writer for The Telegraph, Stuff, Know Your Mobile, Pocket Gamer, Smart TV Radar and more. Regular Tweeter, occasional YouTuber, keen amateur photographer and forum moderator. If you like what I write, please consider deactivating your ad blocker or making a donation via PayPal to help fund this site.

3 comments

  1. THANK YOU for running these tests!
    I’d be most interested in your own subjective impressions of the G3 vs. the S5. I’m red-green color blind and not a good judge of photography sometimes. I display my cell phone videos on a very large 60″ television and small motions look terrible at that magnification, so excellent video image stabilization is essential. And I am not willing to sacrifice resolution in order to achieve this. I’ve READ that the digital image stabilization used by the S5 reduces resolution, but that the optical stabilization in the G3 does not. Would you agree with this? How good is the G3 stabilization, how well does it perform? How well does the S5 stabilization perform?
    Also I’ve read comments by other reviewers that the colors in the G3′s videos look less vibrant than the S5′s, and that the colors in the G3 still photos look “washed out” compared with the S5. Is that your impression?

    Like

    1. Digital stabilisation will reduce the resolution slightly (as it will crop the image to make it appear steady) but when you’re working at extremely high resolution, the loss is slight.

      The G3 OIS works well, as it does on other phones like the Lumia 1020, but you do need to wait a little while at times to make sure it is ‘ready’ and you still need to be as still as possible.

      And as for the colours – the display on the G3 itself makes a lot of images look a little more bland and less vivid than the others. The Samsung with the OLED display is the most saturated, and probably the least accurate, but you can adjust the colour. And when you look at the photos and video on a desktop (or TV) there’s not that much in it.

      The S5 does seem to soften images rather too much, but you won’t see that on the phone display and probably not even on a 60 inch TV either, to be honest.

      Like

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