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Conclusion

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

Overall Conclusion

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.

Image Quality

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 Mobile Score
73

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

With 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."
On the downside there is "visible color shading with some indoor lighting," "in low light conditions, low-contrast detail is completely smoothed out" and "a slight white balance bias is sometimes noticeable outdoors." The DxO scientists also found the optical image stabilization system to occasionally produce blurred image areas.
In video mode DxO found the optical image stabilization to be "efficient for handheld motion and the video footage to display "low noise levels." On the downside video footage shows some color fringing, color casting under tungsten light and poor texture in low light. 
Photo Mobile Score 77   Video Mobile Score 64
Exposure and Contrast 80   Exposure and Contrast 84
Color 76   Color 69
Autofocus 74   Autofocus 46
Texture 69   Texture 66
Noise 83   Noise 80
Photo Artifacts 89   Video Artifacts 68
Flash 72   Stabilization 46
7.4

Summary

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. 

Sample Gallery

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. 

LG G2 Sample Gallery
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Comments

Total comments: 42
weemy

I am useing LG G2 and when i upload pictures to facebook or ebay why the pictures they are not clear
And do you have any idea to make the picture clear on the web???
Please can anyone help me??

0 upvotes
Noskism

Could anybody help me? I am hesitant between LG G2 and Nexus 5. I am looking for the one with better camera. According to specifications, reviews, comparisons...the winner is clearly the G2, except in one test…When you go to the review pics, download any one and zoom. Personally, a pic with clouds in a clear blue sky is the best to see this kind of effect. You can see there are little, subtle black dots that give the images a “robotic” feeling. I believe my brother, who is a graphic designer, called "digital sharpening”, and it something they can digitally do with the images. He mentioned it should be a camera feature you can turn on and off. Can you do that? Can you turn it off? The images from the Nexus 5 are smooth with no black dots. For them it is easy manipulate a pic without that remove it from one with it already. Thank you, I would like to have my new phone before I go in vacation in 2 weeks.

0 upvotes
Tomofumi

Just watching the focus shifting back and forth in video sample already turns off my desire to buy this phone...maybe some mods like CM11 can solve this problem?

0 upvotes
Pete Perry

Maybe I'm missing something but, the 5s has a lot of noise even in Bright Images and when the light gets lower the image smearing NR makes the 5s Images very unflattering.

From the Samples, this phone's camera looks better to my eye.

Now, keep in mind that I don't have either phone and I'm really just evaluating them for my upgrade but... I don't share their enthusiasm for either the S4 or 5s.

0 upvotes
ag89

I just recently switched from the htc evo 4g lte to the G2 maybe because im not used to switching the aetings on the camera everytime i want to take a picture but i think htc photos came out better

0 upvotes
tompabes2

Very nice results, and regarding the statement that "the optical image stabilization system may produce "different motion blur effects while taking images on a tripod", well... even my Olympus XZ-10 manual says to turn off IOS when the camera is used on a tripod!

1 upvote
PDavis

Did they really Just list as a con "very slow shutter speeds inevitably lead to motion blur in non-static scenes"? Really?

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

yes, because we would prefer for Auto ISO to go a little higher and thus increase shutter speeds and avoid (some) motion blur.

1 upvote
jkrumm

What they need is something simple, like a a setting for motion that favors higher iso, and a setting for still subjects. You could choose one as a default.

0 upvotes
Doug Pardee

The Android specs provide for an "auto-ISO favoring higher ISO" setting. It's called HJR (hand jitter reduction). I don't know if the G2's libcamera.so module provides that or not.

Many Android camera apps don't give access to HJR even if the camera makes it available. Some that do (at least on my phone) include Snap Camera, PerfectShot, Camera360 Ultimate, and Vignette.

Of course, even if you've got HJR available, how well it works is up to the libcamera.so module that the phone or camera maker provided.

0 upvotes
TanningJ

nice...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
technovice

Lars Rehm
I decided not to buy a phone with AMOLED screen after seeing how difficult they were to read in sunlight. I had the SG 2 and had wanted the SG 4. Every one said, " ...you need LCD to be able to see outside..." so have been looking at them. HTC One nice but poor camera, Sony Xperia 1, good but too big LG G2 seems to be the best spec wise but notice you said it is very difficult to see in sunlight. Why is this? Is it not better than SG 4? Which phones are better? Please help!

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

I used the LG next to the Xperia Z1 and Lumia 1020 outside and found it be worse then both. Xperia was probably best, then Nokia, then LG. I guess you could just set the brightness higher, but that of course means your battery won't last as long (and indoors it is very nice and bright already.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling

I found the Nokia 808 AMO LED screen to be very readable in direct sunlight. It does have the clear black display and RGB style AMOLED rather than pentile

0 upvotes
Pete Perry

Here's how it works...

The iPS LCD Technology has a brighter image than the AMOLED Displays but, that's the limit to their benefit...

When compared, AMOLED has better black levels, dynamic range, contrast, and color saturation.

Neither has an advantage in color accuracy as both can be calibrated to be fairly accurate.

You do have an Edge in sunlight with iPS LCD but, AMOLED has the edge everywhere else.

0 upvotes
rfsIII

People like iPhone photos because they have a nice vivid color balance. On sociAl media no one can see the noise. It's a whole different mind space.

1 upvote
bigley Ling

yes it seems to be the trend for higher saturation, sharpness and contrast to how people perceive a "good" image from a "bad" image

0 upvotes
HarrieD7000

Again an android gadget everyone wants and nobody uses because of the poor quality?

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Wouldn't call it poor quality, there are some better smartphone cams around but the G2 is not bad at all, it's also a nice phone if you want to use it to place a call or surf the web occasionally ;-)

4 upvotes
tompabes2

Poor quality? Did you have a look at the G2 camera samples on the Internet?

Comment edited 9 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
guamy

I wish they make the back panel a mirror instead of just a plain nothing.

1 upvote
KariIceland

Selfihs and self obsessed much?

1 upvote
CyberAngel

Yes you are!
Besides obvious make-up mirror there are other uses.

1 upvote
The Customer

That would be nice. Very useful for using reflected light to signal a search crew, if you're lost in the woods. Also handy for checking if you've got any food particles on your face after eating!

1 upvote
chj

Only thing I'm interested in is sports mode and it isn't even covered. Can I actually get fast shutter speed with this camera?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

yes, Sports Mode does the same as on virtually every other smartphone and increases the ISO for faster shutter speeds. Indoors it doesn't go any higher than 400 though which usually doesn't give you fast enough shutter speeds. Also, the wide-angle lenses of smartphones are usually not the best tools for any kind of sports photography.

2 upvotes
chj

Thanks for the info. But you say "the same as ... virtually every other smartphone" as if this is a common feature. Do many smartphones have this? I don't think so. I know the iphone doesn't allow any control over ISO or shutter speed. This is the first time I've heard about any form of shutter speed control on a smartphone. Those that are well acquainted with all the available features on all available smartphones may think what sports mode does is obvious. But for me, shutter speed control is the number one priority. Corner sharpness, megapixels, etc. make very little difference when the entire photo is a blur. Exactly how sports mode works is important to some of your readers. Your reply provides very useful information. I'm not looking to capture blazing fast athletes, but the iphone really can't handle ANY motion in anything less than full sunlight. If ISO/shutter speed control is available on other smartphones, I'd be very interested, and it should be mentioned in reviews.

Comment edited 11 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

you're right, the iPhone does not offer any control over shutter speed but most Android phones do. You can't set a shutter speed on any of them but you can usually set the ISO manually which of course (given they all have fixed apertures) changes the shutter speed. You just never know what exactly that shutter speed is when you shoot which is not ideal. But you could just set your phone to a certain ISO and then take picture and see if it's blurred. If yes, set a higher ISO. But again, any smartphone is a less than ideal tool for sports photography although many Android phones offer sports modes that are very similar to the G2's.

2 upvotes
bigley Ling

haha, probably the correct thing to say is sports mode on just about every smart phone, except the iPhone ;)

0 upvotes
tompabes2

@chj: if the iPhone doesn't have it, it's a feature and a good thing for ease of use and simplicity of the interface, while if an Android phone doesn't have it, well.. it's a con! That's the general rule! ;)

0 upvotes
Johnsonj

Sweet! Life is good.

0 upvotes
Almeida

"Focus Pumping"?

Don't you mean Focus Jumping? The error is all over the review...

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

No that's what I call it, because the lens element is going back and forwards continuously, like the interior parts of a pump. I am pretty sure I've heard this expression used before. If not, I have just invented it :-)

5 upvotes
CyberAngel

Focus Pumping. That's a major problem.
Otherwise I think you are too harsh unless you add that it's still better than a phone camera WITHOUT Optical Image Stabilization.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

I don't care if a phone has OIS or whatever other gizmo. What counts is the end results that you get when you press the shutter and there the G2 is not quite up with the best. However, as I've said before, it's by no means bad.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling

I would call it "focus hunting", rather than focus pumping, but that is just my personal opinion.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
jcmarfilph

Is does appear that iPhone 5s mid-ISO is as horrible as high ISO of the other 3 phones in the Studio Comparison low-light comparison.

5 upvotes
supeyugin1

iphone users don't care.

3 upvotes
jcmarfilph

Oh they gave up with the rubbish camera of iPhone?

4 upvotes
supeyugin1

No, they are still shooting with iPhone and thinking it's the best.

3 upvotes
KariIceland

Maybe because the iphone smudges its images like no other.

4 upvotes
bigley Ling

yes but when used for social media sharing like facebook, twitter and the Instagram, quality is not so important as capturing the moment.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 42
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