The V30's primary cam has the widest aperture lens on a smartphone - you can't possibly have missed that in LG promo material. Of course, f/1.6 vs. f/1.7 isn't a world of difference - it's a sixth of a stop of light after all, but more more light is (usually) always better. Another 4% more light reaches the sensor, LG advertises, thanks to a glass lens element - as in, one of the 6 lens elements is made of glass as opposed to plastic. Additionally, the lens is stabilized.
Behind the optics there's a 16MP sensor with tiny 1.0micron pixels. LG customary mix of laser and phase detection take care of autofocus.
There's an ultra wide-angle camera too, LG wouldn't give up on one of its most successful features, right? This one is 13MP with an f/1.9 aperture lens - down from f/2.4 on the G6 and V20 - the V30 is all about more light. It's also better corrected against distortion, but at the expense of slightly narrower coverage - 120 degrees on the V30 vs. 125 on the G6 and 135 on the V20. That translates to a focal length around 13mm in 35mm camera terms. This cam isn't stabilized and is fixed-focused, but neither should be a problem at this focal length.
The camera app is the same as the one on the G6, complete with the (optional) filmstrip on the side to make better use of the 18:9 screen. There are also the Square camera modes that debuted on the G6, which perhaps someone somewhere has actually used.
Snapshot leaves half the screen as a viewfinder (for taking square photos, obviously) while the other half gives you a preview (technically, post-view) of the shot as soon as you take it.
Grid shot is like a camera booth - it creates a 2x2 photo collage. Again, half the screen is the viewfinder, while the other half is the collage in the making. After you're done capturing the shots, you can choose to re-take one or more if it turns out you made the wrong face.
In Match shot you take two square shots of objects that have little in common, and align them so that one flows into the other. And then comes Guide shot, which displays an overlay of a template image over the viewfinder so you can recreate the same framing. You can fine tune the opacity of the overlay too.
From a more practical perspective, the V30's manual modes for stills and video continue a trend with LG's V-series to offer full control over the photo and video capture process.
In the stills manual mode you can tap the Graphy button to access manual settings which other photographers have picked for similar conditions as yours, hopefully helping you get a better shot than full on auto. The phone will also give you clues if your manually selected settings are way off.
We are basing this review on a pre-production V30 unit running non-final firmware. We've pointed this out wherever it may affect the phone's performance. Once we have the retail-grade firmware we'll duly update the relevant review sections.
The V30 produces great-looking photos in a variety of shooting scenarios. It captures a lot of detail in good light and the bump from 13MP to 16MP shows if you look closely. And while you're all zoomed in, you'll probably appreciate the slightly lower noise - more a result of a different take on noise reduction than anything else.
Color rendition is marginally different from the G6 with more natural blue in the skies, deeper reds and less orange yellows - all of these very minor. Contrast and dynamic range are similar too, the smaller pixels haven't brought a visible degradation in these areas.
The wide-angle cam is now a little less so, but you'd better off going with the 'glass half full' approach and appreciate the lower distortion. It's a little softer that the G6's but then it's equally sharp almost all the way to the corner, where the G6 struggles.
And here's how it compares to LG's own previous iteration on the subject.
In low light the V30's output is slightly softer than what you could get out of previous LG phones - here the bias is towards heavier noise reduction, hence less noise, but also less detail.
The V30's HDR mode is on the conservative side and only makes minor adjustments. You can expect slightly brighter midtones and a little salvaged detail in the highlights, but not much in the way of boosted shadows - you'd need to brighten those up yourself in post.
The V30's panoramas are a little more detailed than the G6's but still somewhat soft. There's a noticeable waviness in the stitching of straight lines too. On more positive note, there are no issues with varying exposure as you sweep.
Once you're done with the real-world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool for some poster shots. We'll get you started with the V30 vs. the Galaxy S8+ and the HTC U11, but feel free to explore.
The selfie camera of the V30 is a 5MP unit with an f/2.2 aperture lens. As LG tends to do, this one has a wide-angle mode and a standard mode, though in either case the image comes from the same sensor and resolution is the same. You'd think it's directly reused from the G6, but the coverage in wide-angle mode is actually narrower - 90 degrees on the V30 vs. 100 degrees on the G6. In standard mode it's the same 82 degrees on both phones.
Image quality from the front-facing cam isn't particularly exciting. There's not much detail, but it's not like the 5MP on the tin indicate otherwise. The selfies will do, but you'd be better off relying on the rear camera for critical elevator shots.
The V30 records videos up to 2160p resolution with both rear cameras. While the optical stabilization is always there for you on the main cam, digital stabilization is only available in 1080p/30fps and not in 4K or 1080p/60fps. Other makers now offer stabilized videos all the way up to 4K and it's not like the V30 is lacking in processing power.
Footage from the V30's normal cam is very similar to what you'd get out of a G6, which is a good thing as the G6 shoots some of the best videos around. Color rendition is slightly different - the V30's videos are a touch warmer. Other than that, there's an abundance of detail, perhaps a hair more than with the G6 and a little more noise, but you'd have to be super-keen on pixel peeping into your videos to notice it.
1080p/60fps is nowhere as exciting. In fact, it's even softer than the G6's, which was pretty bad itself. We'd refrain from using it at all, unless the 60fps are a must.
1080p/30 fps videos, on the other hand, are a notch superior to the G6's. The color difference is there too, but the videos are a little more detailed and have a more natural look compared to the G6's a little excessively sharpened footage.
The videos from the ultra wide-angle camera are similar in quality to the G6. There's comparable detail though noise is slightly more visible in the sky. The difference in color reproduction has transferred to the wide-angle camera too. 1080p/60fps is, in fact, better looking than on the V30, with slightly more detail and definition. There's hardly anything that splits the two phones in 1080p/30fps, other than the colors, of course. In any case, you'd be using the wide camera for its exaggerated perspective which pulls the attention away from pixel-level imperfections.
One of the V30's key features is its Cine video mode. It allows you to create videos with a particular 'look', the 15 Cine Effects fine tuned by movie colorists. Alternatively, you can record in a flat profile for improved dynamic range and a clean slate for you to post process to your own liking.
Another neat addition is Point zoom. It lets you zoom in on a particular portion of the frame as opposed to just the center - you tap on the area you wish to zero in on and then use an onscreen slider to zoom, with varying speed too.
You'll find a few Cine Effect videos bundled in the following playlist, plus a flat video, and a regular one shot in auto mode for comparison. Finally, a Point zoom video will complete the picture.
You can, of course, download untouched video samples, the way they came out of the LG V30. We've uploaded a bunch of them up on our server: a set of three from the normal camera (2160p, 1080p/60fps, and 1080p/30fps), and a matching trio from the wide-angle one (2160p, 1080p/60fps, and 1080p/30fps).
Finally, a trip to our Video compare tool will tell you how the V30 compares to other phones we've previously tested. We've pre-selected the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the HTC U11, but you're a few clicks away from a battle of your own.