I mentioned in my previous post that I was unhappy with the camera and video performance of my new LG G6. The next evening, I decided to give the G6 a thorough test.
The following are photos I took with the G6 and my older G4 over three hours in town. All are night and indoor shots. To me, performance in low-light situations is what defines the real quality of a phone camera.
All photos are also shot using “Auto” setting. The LG G6 camera has a brightness level under this setting, whereas the LG G4 doesn’t. To keep things fair, I left the level at the default mid-level.
Lastly, all photos were reduced in screen size to fit into this post. Such reduction has an effect on sharpness and noise visibility levels, I know, but I believe the differences remain obvious.
LG G6 and LG G4 Comparison Photos
My Thai-Style Chicken Rice dinner, taken at the basement food court of Capitol Piazza. I.E., with incandescent lights all around. Seems to me that the G6’s output is slightly darker with more saturation.
This increase in saturation produces a more vibrant look, while the G4’s version is more natural. (My focus is not consistent here, so I’m only evaluating the colours) From a graphic design perspective, I would say I prefer the G4’s output.
Both look reasonable, but I feel the G6 is the winner here. Its output is better with lighting contrast, and because of that, noise is less obvious.
Upon zoom-in, it’s clear that the G6 produces rougher edges. Despite being noisier, the G4 does a better job in that area. How good or bad this is then depends on the situation the photo is to be used for.
Practically identical here, except for the focus. It seems to me that on auto mode, the G4 is somewhat better at capturing the right focus.
Action Shots Comparison
I got lucky. There was some sort of stage competition at Raffles City. This gave me the chance to compare how well the two phone cameras perform when it comes to high-speed situations.
By the way, UNCHARTERED … At first glance, I thought it was some sort of road show for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Who came up with that name?
Other Indoor Shots
Okay, I think both cameras do very well with typical indoor / shopping malls shot. However, on zoom-in, it’s clear that the LG G6 does a far more aggressive job with sharpening.
This produces clearer looking pictures when viewed on phones and tablets, but correspondingly, it also makes noise more visible. Since most photo-editing software comes with some sort of noise reduction function, I guess this is not that big an issue.
In practice, it’s also better for the camera not to “smudge” things in other to remove noise. That leaves more room for editing.
First of all, these two shots were taken from the same spot. The G4, at camera launch, offers a slightly wider angle compared to the maximum NON-WIDE angle setting of the G6. This resulted in the floodlights next to this scene being captured in the G4’s output.
That considered, it’s still remarkable that the G6 almost entirely did not capture any stray light. Contrast is at its best. Amazingly, I barely see any noise in the night sky too.
The LG G6 is hands-down the winner here.
The LG G6’s Strongest Camera Advantage: Super Wide Angle
It’s only fair that I highlight the G6’s strongest selling point. Its super wide-angle setting is amazing. With minimal distortion too. This would be really useful for landscape shots. No more stumbling backwards and struggling to capture everything!
Photo Quality Conclusion
Overall, I think the G6 camera is much better at contrast and balance. Under most circumstances, it also feels superior in terms of colour reproduction.
Its only problem is over-zealous sharpening. I can foresee this being an issue with close-ups, which was exactly what happened with the feature pic of my previous post. I guess I have to use the G4, or my DSLR, for these situations.
It’s an inconvenience, but no big deal. Practically every other person carries two phones around nowadays. The better contrast and the super wide-angle more than compensate too.
As I previously mentioned , this is a big deal to me. My G4 is still fully functional and in decent shape, and so I bought the G6 purely because I thought it would film better videos for my YouTube uploads. So far, it has not been satisfactory.
For various reasons, such as it being too cumbersome to carry two tripods with me, I couldn’t do a side by side video comparison in this test, but I think the difference is still obvious. The first video was taken last Saturday, and it’s of the new light-and-water show at Marina Bay Sands. The second video was taken around 10 months ago with the G4. It’s of the older light-and-water show at MBS.
I think it’s clear that the G6 output has far more noise. (Look at the sky!) After returning home, I further experimented with switching HDR on and off, and trying various ISO settings, but the results were the same.
This is really disappointing, given the recording excels in other areas. Notice too how the G6 audio is superior, with overall details including the foreground being clearer.
At the moment, I can only hope for some sort of patch to be released to resolve this issue. The way such things usually go, I think this is unlikely. I probably have to revert to using the G4 for my YouTube recordings. Or perform aggressive noise reduction during editing.
This situation is, to repeat, seriously disappointing. Noise reduction for video is also more tedious and time-consuming than that for photos. I hope LG is not going the old Nokia style of always overlooking one obvious flaw with flagship releases. IMO, that was what brought down Nokia.
Check out my other gadget reviews.
Update July 17, 2017: From day one of getting the G6, I have not been able to perform an over-the-air update. I also consistently ran into the situation of the update terminating at 81 per cent download. If you are encountering this issue as well, download LG Bridge and update via that. I have no idea what’s the reason behind this situation.
Wow your G4 is still working! What was its serial number?
I owned a G4 and was in love with its camera but it is now dead as of march 2017 due to the bootloop issue.
I got my G4 around Aug ’15, but I didn’t really use it till a year later; my even older Flex was still working. I have to say it’s been giving issues since I wrote this post. I can’t update or install anything without completely clearing the cache. Twice, it has dramatically blacked out on me.
I feel that my ex (lost) G4 did better in photos and videos concerning noise and colour reproduction than my actual s7 edge!.could you makeva comparison of both .thnxs !
I’m sorry, I don’t have a S7. But from what I’ve read, I think the G4 is overall one of the best camera phones ever.
Of course, I have to add too that noise reduction and colour management are often very personal preferences. Many would think the S7 is better.
I have run my YouTube channel off of my G4 for the past year, but I just upgraded to the LG G6 so that I could pass my workhorse, LG G4 down to my son. I just got the G6 and the 2 things that I have noticed so far are that the Front facing camera is REALLY lackluster and that the G6 has a LOT of trouble focusing in macro. Over time most of my G4’s issues were minimized with updates, so hopefully…?
Hey, thanks for commenting. Coincidentally, I just finished a YouTube upload using the G6, and I discovered the grain issue near completely goes away if there’s a direct i.e. blazing light source. This wasn’t the case with the G4, more or less.
Please take a look at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wprqBb1mil8 . I filmed this at FHD 16:9, 60 frames, with a studio light half a metre away and an overhead light. Only post editing done is the inclusion of a HDR filter during exporting.
As you mentioned, hopefully things would improve with updates. Unfortunately, I doubt it would be very much of a change, though. The G6 just isn’t too great with low and medium light situations.
I have a still functioning G4 that I use for picture taking. I alternate it with my V20 that has a ported Google Pixel camera which gives me the best of both photographic worlds.
At this moment, I’m still carrying both the G4 and G6, with the G4 reserved for some video situations. I guess that’s the way to go, despite all the promises made in sales promotion. No one single gadget is perfect for everything.
This has been a really helpful post for trying to decide whether it’s worth the upgrade to an LG G6 from a :G G$. Not sure about the battery life though as my LG G4 has swappable batteries which gives it a real advantage I think. Maybe I’ll get the Pixel 2 although it is very expensive!
I hope I’ve been of help. 🙂
Didn’t mention this in the post, as it was about the camera, but the non-removable battery in the G6 is a big downer for me. Had the same in my old Flex and while it didn’t matter at the beginning, it was a real nuisance when the phone started hanging. There’s no easy way to immediately turn it off.
Great comparison and thanks for sharing.
Hope it was useful to you.