Camera review: LG's G2 smartphone is first 13MP Android with OIS
11 Conclusion & Gallery
Conclusion - The Good
- Good exposure in most light situations
- Sharp lens across the frame, no chromatic aberrations
- Snappy performance
- Volume buttons offer quick access to camera app from lock screen
- Camera app intuitively structured
- HDR mode produces natural results without ghosting artifacts
- Decent imaging feature set
- Large and bright screen (but see cons below)
- Manual focus mode can be helpful in certain circumstances
- 1080p/60fps video offers smooth motion when viewed in a compatible player
- Good battery life
Conclusion - The Bad
- Smearing of low-contrast detail and some processing artifacts, even at low ISOs
- Very strong noise reduction at higher ISOs results in soft output
- Very pronounced focus pumping in video mode
- Flash exposures use very high ISO
- Very slow shutter speeds in low light inevitably leads to motion blur in non-static scenes
- Screen very difficult to view in bright light
- Body materials feel a little cheap
- Panorama mode produces comparatively small, low-quality output
- Access to exposure compensation requires two taps
- High levels of noise and noise reduction in low light video
- Exposure cannot be linked to focus point
The first thing that you notice when holding the LG G2 in your hand is its very large and bright 5.2-inch screen that is great for framing your images. Unfortunately, in bright light it's more difficult to view than the screens of some competing models which makes it less ideal for shooting outdoors on a sunny day.
There's no doubt the G2 looks very sleek and arguably offers the best screen size/overall size ratio we have seen so far, but the rounded edges work less well for holding the device like a camera than more angular designs and the plastic material of the shell doesn't quite match the premium feel of competitors such as the Sony Xperia Z1, HTC One or iPhone 5s.
Overall the LG G2 is a very well specified Android smartphone with a decent imaging feature set and very responsive performance, but in terms of both image quality and camera ergonomics it's not quite up there with the best. The LG G2 is by no means a bad camera phone. It is indeed capable of capturing very decent images, but if mobile photography is the focus of your smartphone buying decision there are currently better alternatives around.
Features & Operation
The G2 provides quick access to its camera app from sleep mode or the lock screen via a long-press of the volume button. The latter also works as a shutter button in the camera app but no half-press functionality means it's less useful for mobile photography purposes than the dedicated shutter buttons on the Sony Xperia Z1, HTC One or the Nokia Lumia series.
The camera app itself is very intuitively structured and easy to navigate but we would prefer quicker access to key parameters such as exposure compensation or ISO. As it stands the G2's camera app is best suited for full auto point-and-shoot operation. In our opinion the unusual position of the power and volume buttons does not have too much impact on the device's ergonomics, especially for mobile photographers. When shooting in portrait orientation the volume rocker can be a good alternative to the on-screen shutter button but in landscape orientation it's awkward to reach and will most likely remain unused.
The G2 comes with a good imaging feature set but most of the modes are a little gimmicky and we've seen them before on other devices. Unfortunately one of the more useful functions, Panorama Mode, produces images that are smaller and less detailed than the best in class. The inclusion of VR Panorama, LG's equivalent to Google's Photosphere, is a nice touch though.
In terms of image quality the LG G2 is a bit of a double-edged sword. In good light and at low sensitivities the G2 captures decent detail, helped by the lens which is sharp pretty much all across the frame and free of chromatic aberrations. At a 100% view the images look a tad overprocessed with some noise reduction blurring and a little softer than some of the competition.
As soon as the light gets dimmer and in the ISO starts to increase the G2 applies very heavy-handed noise reduction which results in visible softness. Detail starts to suffer as soon as you go higher than base ISO and by ISO 400 most low-contrast detail is gone. At even higher sensitivities edge definition decreases as well and the entire image looks soft. On the upside the G2's high ISO output is pretty clean but personally I prefer the noise reduction approach that some other manufacturers have taken: tolerate some grain and focus on the visually much more unpleasant chroma noise.
On the upside thanks to the optical image stabilization exposure is good down to very low light, although shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second mean some motion blur is almost unavoidable with living subjects. The OIS also helps keeping things steady when shooting video but focus pumping is a real problem in video mode. If you would like to see the G2's image quality next to some of its competitors we recommend you also have a look at our most recent smartphone shootout.
The Final Word
The LG G2 offers top-end specs all around and does not disappoint as a camera phone. It comes with an intuitively structured camera app, a comprehensive imaging feature set and decent image quality. Its only real problems are the focus pumping in video mode and that some of the current competition is even better.
The Sony Xperia Z1 arguably offers better camera ergonomics. So does the Nokia Lumia 1020 while throwing class-leading image quality into the mix as well. The Samsung Galaxy S4 offers better pixel-level image quality and a feature sets that is at least as comprehensive as the G2's. Apple's iPhone 5s is of course always worth a look for mobile photographers who prefer iOS over Android and did very well in our recent review.
Many users will love the G2 for its big screen and snappy performance but if your emphasis is on mobile photography you should have a close look at some of the models mentioned above before you hit the buy button.
DXOMark Image Quality AssessmentWith an overall score of 73 the LG G2 takes the number six spot in the DxO Mark smartphone ranking. It produces "very good detail outdoors, good edge preservation in low light and good overall exposure." Images are well-exposed in very low light, thanks to the LG's optical image stabilization system, and the autofocus is "very fast and mostly repeatable."
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Ergonomics and Handling
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
The The LG G2 comes with top-end specs all around and offers an intuitively structured camera app, a comprehensive imaging feature set and decent image quality. Its only real problems are the focus pumping in video mode and that some of its closest rivals are even better. Many users will love the G2 for its big screen and the snappy performance but if your emphasis is on mobile photography you should have a close look at some of the alternatives before making your buying decision.
There are 35 images in our LG G2 samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
Nov 9, 2016
Nov 10, 2016
Nov 10, 2016
Nov 9, 2016
I own it
I want it
I had it
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.