LG Optimus G review: Grand Slam
13 megapixel camera
The LG Optimus G comes with a 13 megapixel camera, capable of producing still shots with a resolution of 4208 x 3120 pixels. There is a single LED flash, but as usual it won't be of much help in most low-light situations.
We found the camera user interface, which consists of two bars of shortcuts to be quite convenient. At the right you get the usual still camera/camcorder switch, the virtual shutter key and the gallery shortcut, which lets you quickly preview your recently captured images.
If using the onscreen shutter isn't your cup of tea, you can use the volume rocker to snap a photo. It lacks the half press to focus functionality, but then again, so does the virtual control.
Alternatively, you can capture shots using only your voice. There's a dedicated entry in the settings to activate the voice shutter and once you have done so, you can use one of five words to trigger it. "Cheese" and "Smile" were to be expected, but "LG", "Kimchi" and "Whisky" work too.
The left bar of the camera interface holds five shortcuts, four of which you can customize to your liking. The last one is the extended settings menu, which holds the option to edit the bar, along with the options that didn't make it to the bar.
The Optimus G camera interface lets you set the resolution, ISO, white balance, focus mode (auto, face-tracking), shot mode (normal, continuous shot, panorama or HDR), geo-tagging on/off, preset scenes, color effects and brightness.
There's also a cool time machine option, which allows the Optimus G to capture shots before you have pressed the shutter key. This comes in handy for those cases when the action is too quick and you are worried you might miss the moment.
In terms of image quality, the Optimus G is doing well, without being overly impressive. The produced photos have accurate colors, but the overly aggresive noise reduction wipes off most of the fine detail.
Here are a few shots we've taken with the LG Optimus G.
We've also done a few macro samples with the Optimus G. The smartphone's camera can focus from pretty close range, allowing to go really close to the subject.
Photo quality comparison
The LG Optimus G joins the long list of tested devices in our photo comparison tool. Unfortunately the higher resolution didn't really give the Optimus G an edge against the Galaxy S III and the One X. The three did almost identically well on the ISO chart and while the Optimus G did have a slight advantage on the second chart it was the worst of the three in the third one. The page of the tool has information on how to use it.
There's 1080p video recording, too
The LG Optimus G camera is capable of shooting 1080p videos at 30fps. The camcorder shares its interface with the still camera, but offers fewer settings.
You can adjust the exposure and the white balance, add a color effect or toggle audio recording. The video recording resolution can also be lowered to 720p, 480p or even as low as QCIF if you need to conserve space.
There is still no way to change the focus mode - it's always set to continuous, but unlike the Optimus 4X HD, the Optimus G has no issues with that. Given that LG already addressed the issue on its former flagship with a firmware update, the lack of problems here is hardly a surprise.
The option to capture still shots while recording video is present here as well, though its implementation isn't as good as we hoped. Instead of capturing full-res still (or at least ones cropped to match the 16:9 aspect of the video), the Optimus G does 1920 x 1080 shots, which renders the feature pretty useless. After all you already have such images as frames in your videos, so having them as separate images is hardly giving you much extra.
The quality of the videos is good overall, but their dynamic range is rather limited and the resolved detail isn't all that impressive. You might want to keep the exposure compensation to -0.3 or -0.7EV in scenes where wider dynamic range is required to prevent the highlights from clipping.
On the positive side, the colors are accurate, and the contrast is pretty good.
And here is an untouched 1080p@30fps video sample taken with the Optimus G.
Video quality comparison
In our video comparison tool, the Optimus G didn't quite manage to match the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III performance in either good or bad lighting. The Optimus G videos are still perfectly usable, but it's obviously lagging behind the One X and, particularly the Galaxy S III on this occasion.