The camera department is probably the one where the Samsung flagship has the most advantage over its rival. The Samsung Galaxy S5 brings an improved camera sensor to the table. First off, it comes with a 16MP sensor all the while retaining the the same 1.12 µm pixel size. This has been achieved by incorporating a larger 1/2.6" size sensor as opposed to the 1/3.06" of the LG G2.
Secondly, the new sensor has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and thus takes images in the screen's native aspect ratio. Not only the camera live viewfinder but also the photos match the screen better.
The Galaxy S5 also comes with the first ever implementation of phase-detection auto focus in a smartphone, which is said to focus in just 0.3 seconds - that's a great speed for any point and shoot camera, let alone a cameraphone. The LG G2 can't cope well with that as its auto focus is slower than the average.
The Galaxy S5 also has a wider f/2.2 aperture compared to the f/2.4 of the LG G2. This in theory should allow the sensor to capture more light, thus allowing for a faster shutter speed in low light.
The Galaxy S5 also premiers Samsung's ISOCELL sensor. With ISOCELL individual pixels are located in actual cells. Barriers between the pixel cells reduce the crosstalk between them by 30%, which reduces noise in low-light conditions. An added advantage of the cells is that they improve on the back-side illumination by growing each pixel's light-collecting capacity by 30%, which enhances the dynamic range.
The only area where the LG's flagship has an advantage is the optical image stabilization, which lacks on the Galaxy S5. The advantage of OIS, aside from being hardware-enabled and probably better performing (we test OIS vs DIS in the video quality section), is that it's always on and doesn't take away from the field of view like digital image and video stabilization would. Another advantage of OIS is that it can allow for slower shutter speeds where without it camera shake may become too pronounced.
Video recording is also in favor of the Samsung device here. It matches the 30 fps and 60 fps 1080p shooting of the LG G2 but brings a much better UHD (4K or 2160p) recording at 30 frames per second. The LG G2 also benefits from OIS here and as we said we'll be testing what effect it has a little further on.
The user interface of the Galaxy S5's camera app has been redesigned to match the minimalist philosophy behind the new TouchWiz. The core layout hasn't been touched but the result looks better than before.
You get a unified camera and camcorder UI with two virtual shutter buttons. There's a column of shortcuts on the left, the middle two of which are customizable. All settings are collected into a grid of shortcuts so you can access everything easier.
Samsung Galaxy S5 camera interface
The Mode option is a scrollable list at the bottom. Several options have been combined into Shot & more - Best photo, Best face, Drama shot, Eraser and Panning shot.
A new mode is Virtual tour shot, which is similar to panoramas except you can move forward, turn left or right, and move some more. The result is an animation of your camera movement, the phone will even draw a map with your path. Interestingly, additional camera modes can be downloaded, too.
Pretty similarly, on the LG G2's camera interface you get a bar on the right with the still/video toggle, a virtual shutter key and gallery shortcut on the right and a column with four shortcuts on the left. You'll need to toggle between the camera and camcorder interface by swiping the virtual lever. Each view gives you the relevant options and modes and you get a 4:3 viewfinder in camera and 16:9 viewfinder in camcorder mode.
You can pick between one of twelve shooting modes - Normal, Shot and Clear (erases something from a picture), HDR, Panorama, VR Panorama (Photo Sphere shot), Beauty shot, Dual camera shot, Night scene, Sports, Time Catch shot and Intelligent Auto mode, which automatically selects the right scene.
Selective focus gives you the ability to choose where the focus in a shot will lie. It takes two shots and processes them so you can photograph a close-up subject and blur the background or blur the object and keep the background in focus. The third option is everything in focus, here's how those options look.
The processing isn't perfect, but the upside is that this mode is very quick.
Selective focus: all in focus • near focus • far focus
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S5 brings a world's first in cameraphone autofocus tech, a new ISOCELL sensor, along with higher resolution without sacrificing pixel size. While optical image stabilization is a big bonus to have, UHD video is bigger as it brings twice the resolution of FHD.
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