Monday, May 18, 2015

New LG G4 Smartphone Review: Raw File Output!

Testing Focus and DOF at About 3-4", HDR
LG G4 unadjusted, cropped, shot in HDR mode
Over the last few days I've had the opportunity to try the new LG G4 smartphone.  I'm going to skip to the end and encourage you to enter to win one, and check the see if the @G4Preview tour currently underway will be near you, so you can try one out as well:

I've been watching the larger phones to decide when to jump in, and the LG G3 was reviewed as competitive with the top models on the market, especially for camera performance, so I was eager to try this new model out.  Here's the basic overview:

"The LG G4 comes equipped with one of the best cameras on the market not only for any smartphone, but for digital cameras in general." Highlighted features include: 
  • f/1.8 Lowlight Lens, 
  • Manual Mode, 
  • Optical Image Stabilization, 
  • Laser Autofocus, 
  • High-res Image Sensors (16mp rear camera, 8mp front camera for great selfies)
  • Color Spectrum Sensor in addition to many, many more features
It's an attractive phone right out of the box, with its leather case.
Leather case!

The slight curve to its face makes the LG G4 easy to hold
So far so good, but I'm all about the camera.  In particular, the reviews I've seen so far highlighted the image stabilization, and as an avid DSLR shooter, I know the advantages of RAW format.  I've been waiting for years for access to higher quality RAW files from a high resolution smartphone.

So let's get right to it.  Have you every tried to capture a decent photo of a California poppy?  Most digital cameras do crazy things with the white balance and color, but as you can see at the top above, the Color Spectrum Sensor measured a perfect white balance and created a stunning result right out of camera.  Click on the photo to see the higher resolution original.

Now let's look at another unedited shot, straight out of camera, captured in low light using the camera's HDR mode. Like every automatically created JPG, the camera made some automatic adjustments, and there is some compression in the output when you view it in detail, as we should expect:

Looks great for most uses, but click on the image to see what auto-created JPG looks like up close.
It's great to have 16 megapixel, 5312 x 2988 results, and no doubt it'll look good on a standard monitor or printed to common prints sizes, but on this phone, can we use another mode to do even better if we really want to dial up the quality?

Shot in RAW and adjusted, saved to JPG, yielding MUCH higher quality!  Click on the photo to inspect
When you look at this new image up close, the result speaks for itself.  RAW files to the rescue!  The prior image, automatically adjusted and saved to JPG, looks great and would work fine for most uses, but if you might want to blow the result up into a larger print, the RAW file is clearly the way to go.

I'm still trying out the other features of the phone.  The image stabilization is truly superior.  The panorama mode is solid.  I still need to try out the 4K video on a worthy subject.  We've had some dull, gray, rainy weather over the weekend, but it looks like we may have better light for the next few days, so I can show you what this device can do under a variety of interesting conditions.

Follow my Twitter account @JeffSullPhoto for links to my latest samples, and follow @LGPreview on as well for updates on the LG G4 Preview Tour.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of LG. The opinions and text are all mine.