Features

In terms of special features the LG G4 does look a little light next to the competition, but the ability to capture Raw files and full manual control over shooting parameters will certainly appeal to more serious photographers. The most frequently used special modes, HDR and panorama, are on board but other than that there is only the Dual mode described on the following page. If you like to apply filters or other effects to your pictures or to play with more unusual shooting modes you'll have to head to the Google Play Store.

Panorama

To access the LG G4's panorama mode you'll have to make sure you're in Auto mode first and then hit the Mode button under which the Panorama option is hidden. Once in panorama mode you can capture an image by slowly panning the camera and staying within the framing target that appears on the screen. The G4 is capable of capturing full 360 degree panoramas, but you can stop anytime by hitting the shutter button. Output images are very large with good detail. At just over 20,000 pixels wide and around 5,000 pixels tall for a vertical 360 degree pano, image size is comparable to the excellent modes on the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6. Horizontal panoramas are around 2800 pixels tall.

On the downside the G4 panorama images show a few more stitching errors than the best in class, even with very smooth panning. Moving subjects will inevitably cause ghosting and artifacts. This is true for most panorama modes but again, the G4 is not quite as good at dealing with motion in the scene as the best in class. There are also pretty strong luminance noise and vertical 'stitching lines' in the sky, though you have to zoom in pretty close to notice. Overall, the LG G4 panorama mode is capable of capturing very detailed and immersive images but is most suitable for largely static scenes.

Vertical panorama, 20288 x 4928 pixels
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Vertical panorama, 21568 x 4928 pixels
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HDR

The LG G4's HDR mode appears to be working in the same way as on most other models. Compared to a standard exposure, processing times are slightly prolonged which would indicate the camera is is capturing two or more frames at varying exposures in quick succession and combining them into one 'High Dynamic Range' image. Looking at the results below the mode is doing a good job at recovering clipped highlights and revealing additional detail by lifting the shadows. The intensity of both measures is dynamically adapted to the scene.

The difficult contre-jour situation in the sample below lead to a slight overexposure of the scene and sizable clipped areas in the foreground and in the sky. With HDR mode activated the camera is capable of recovering a noticeable amount of highlight detail and producing an overall more pleasant exposure with better color. 

HDR off
HDR on
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In the second scene below highlights remain pretty much untouched but the shadows are slightly lifted to create a less contrasty image and reveal some additional shadow detail. The end result still looks pleasantly natural. Overall the G4 HDR mode is doing a very decent job. There is no way to manually adjust the effect, but the both highlight and shadow detail are being recovered and the automatic results look natural. Pixel-level detail and sharpness don't suffer in HDR mode either. We have noticed some minor ghosting on moving subjects in some images, but it's usually not much of an issue. If you can live with the slightly longer processing time after hitting the shutter, there's no harm in keeping HDR on at all times.

HDR off
HDR on
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100% crop

Raw shooting

Thanks to a full implementation of Android 5.0's Camera2 API the LG G4 comes with the ability to capture DNG Raw files. We developed the image below, which was shot in sunny high-contrast conditions, in Adobe Camera Raw to find out how much it could be improved in comparison to the out-of-camera JPEG. We tried to recover as much of the clipped highlights as possible and optimize image detail. The following parameters were used:

  • Temperature 5600
  • Exposure - 0.60
  • Highlights - 100
  • Shadows +28
  • Saturation -13
  • Sharpening Amount 31
  • Sharpening Radius 1.0
  • Detail 39
Out-of-camera JPEG
Raw conversion in Adobe ACR

As you can see in the crops below in some image areas the highlight clipping is too severe to allow for full recovery. Despite applying negative digital exposure compensation and pulling the highlights down as much as possible there still remain noticeable clipped areas.

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In areas of less severe clipping, like the tree trunk in the crop below, recovery works very well.

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The LG G4 JPEG images already show, at least for a smartphone camera, very good fine detail. This can be further improved by some careful sharpening with a small radius as you can see in the crops below. However, the difference will only be visible at very large viewing or printing sizes.

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100% crop