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LG G Flex: Camera and Video

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

LG G Flex: Camera

The LG G Flex does not have a brand new or dramatically interesting camera. However, most of its specs are in-line with the fairly high-end LG G2, even if its real priorities are elsewhere.

It has a 13-megapixel 1/3.2-inch main sensor and an f/2.4 lens. However, the G Flex does not have the optical image stabilisation that set the LG G2 apart from its rivals last year. Its single-LED flash looks more-or-less identical to the G2’s, aside from having a square housing rather than a round one.

Finally, its lens has a focal length equivalent to 35mm, a smidge less wide than the 33mm of the iPhone 5S.LG G Flex 2

Camera App and Shooting Performance

The LG G Flex doesn’t try to do anything too clever with its camera app. There are controls on the left side of the screen, controls on the right and nothing essential in the middle, letting you handle everything with a pair of thumbs.

In Samsung Galaxy S4 fashion, there are quite a few extra modes as well as the basics, including dual-camera (back and front) shooting and one that merges multiple exposures in a single shot for dramatic-looking action photos. However, the phone doesn’t inundate you with the things. It’s mostly pretty easy to use, and there’s the standard touch focusing on offer as well as 9-point autofocus should you press the virtual shutter without ‘manually’ focusing.G Flex radio 2

Here's the camera app in action

G Flex radio 3

...and here's the mode selection screen

Shooting speed in daylight is great. Once the G Flex has focused, shot-to-shot speeds are very fast, even without using the burst mode. It slows down a little at night time – distinctly slower than the iPhone 5S – however, it’s still pretty snappy. It’s nothing like as slow as the Nexus 5 was at release.

However, we did encounter some problems with focusing. When shooting people, or reasonably close-up subjects, the G Flex would often seemingly mis-report being locked on when the results would often show at best a very soft focus – and that’s being charitable. If it’s not a pure focusing issue, we’re not convinced the camera system has been altered enough in terms of its shutter speed management to compensate for the loss of optical image stabilisation.

With OIS, slightly longer exposure times can be used without resulting in blur from hand judder. The sort of image softening we saw in indoors shots could easily be a result of using longer exposure times without having stabilisation.

Detail, Exposure and Colour

General photo performance is quite good. In the right conditions image sharpness is excellent – around the same level as the Samsung Galaxy S4. Colour saturation is sound and good levels of contrast lead to punchy-looking, vibrant photos.

G Flex 7

G Flex 6

G Flex 12

Even in dreadful daytime conditions, contrast and colour are acceptable

Low-light shooting

The G Flex has its own night mode designed to let you take low-light photos without having to use the flash. It does a pretty good job, too.

Although it uses some pretty serious noise reduction processing, the results stop short of looking truly plasticky. They do get close, though. Zoom into them and you can easily see where definition has been sacrificed in order to make the shots look vaguely clean, but for sharing over social networks rather than printing out at A4 size, the results aren’t too bad at all.

However, it’s here that you feel the loss of optical image stabilisation. We’d expect better sharpness and separation between objects if the phone had kept hold of OIS.

G Flex 9

Show with Night mode - The sky is noisy and there's plenty of light bloom, but the G Flex has held onto its colour saturation.

G Flex 10

G Flex 11

G Flex low light

Shot with Night mode

This shot shows the G Flex at its most plasticky. Although low on noise, the photo is overly smoothed-out. However, it'll do for Facebook.

HDR

HDR is becoming a standard tool in the arsenal of any mobile phone photographer. And the LG G Flex has its own HDR mode. It merges a couple of shots taken with different exposure settings to give you better detail – especially when there’s a strong light source in the shot.

The G Flex’s HDR mode works, but is not the best we’ve seen in recent times. Its focus seems to be solely on increasing shadow detail. However, this often decreases contrast significantly too, lowering contrast.

The best HDR modes make photos punchier, but this one doesn’t. Or at least doesn’t always. We also found our HDR shots were often a good deal softer than the 'normal' shots. As with our other focus complaints, this could be put down to the loss of optical image stabilisation, and the G Flex not fully taking this into account.

Here are some HDR demos:

G Flex 1

HDR mode off

G Flex

HDR mode on

Although the G Flex fares pretty well without HDR, the mode significantly increases shadow detail and reduces the flare/bloom effect of the sun.

G Flex 2

However, as you can see from this 1:1 pixel crop, sharpness decreases significantly.

G Flex 3

HDR mode off

G Flex 4

HDR mode on

Once again, the G Flex performs well without HDR, but the mode brings a more dramatic look to the clouds.

G Flex 5

Once again, though, sharpness takes a hit. However, it's less prominent this time around.

Macro

Its camera has issues, but we’re pretty impressed by the macro skills of the LG G Flex. The combination of a sharp lens, 35mm focal length and an unusually close focusing range mean it’s great for close-ups. You can get as close as about 7cm and maintain focus.

However, you do need a steady hand, and need to be a little suspicious of the G Flex’s green ‘I’m in focus’ reticule.

G Flex 8

Video

The G Flex’s video capture offers reams of features. Most impressive of the lot of 4K video shooting – that’s at 3,840 x 2,160 resolution rather than 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of Full HD.

There’s also live face distortion effects, dual recording (both cameras) and a rather unusual mode called ‘tracking zoom’. This uses a box-out that shows a zoomed-in portion of the screen, and you can pick which bit. You can have a lot of fun with the LG G Flex camera.

The only bit we miss is a true high-speed shooting mode. The G Flex has a 60fps 1080p video shooting mode, but 120fps is what provides a real ultra-slow-down effect.

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esseff

December 20, 2013, 11:46 am

It's all well and good having a curved screen, but not if we have to go back to plastic screen coverings like the ones we used to have with the old resistive technology. It took ages to move to glass, and then a good glass that won't scratch easily. Plastic scratches far too easily, so unless we're going to see Gorilla making curved glass to fit these soon (thus removing all the flexibility you like) I know I won't be having one.

aeonturnip

December 21, 2013, 7:14 pm

"the world's first curved battery" - I know what you mean, but I think I'd describe a regular AA battery as curved given that it's a cylinder. However, Apple may have something to say about this claim also as they patented the curved battery back in the summer... http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Prem Desai

December 23, 2013, 9:02 am

Is a curved screen what people really want?

From the specs alone, it would seem that this is of inferior quality to current glass based screens.

What I would really like is for manufacturers is to focus on practical things liks a battery that lasts a week and takes minutes to fully charge or a phone that is robust enough for daily use but doesn't need screen protectors and bulky cases.

betelgeuse

January 9, 2014, 4:01 pm

this will go the same way as the "chin" did.

Bobtheblob

February 10, 2014, 5:48 pm

I suggest you actually read the article before posting comments like this. If you look at page 3, you'll clearly see that it does have Gorilla Glass. Corning have already made Gorilla Glass flexible enough to work on this phone.

danielfrisbee

February 11, 2014, 12:48 am

I bent one in the shop today and it made a terrifying creaking sound, it seemed like it was breaking. Seemed quite pointless

james douglas

April 28, 2014, 5:33 am

Well i bought one off ebay and now every one who has seen and used it wants one!
Dont care what people think i love it, its different, its bold and hey wait a minute thats me.
oh by the way battery life 3 days!!! with heavy use. makes my note 3 seem pathetic!

Daniel Lamb

May 25, 2014, 4:27 pm

you obviously didn't read the full article, as they state quite clearly that the phone DOES use Gorilla Glass, and it IS flexible. Make sure of your facts before you write smack dolt...

Micah Fletcher

June 23, 2014, 11:04 pm

Just bought two LG G Flex phones. One of the units has a defective front facing camera that causes the error "Cannot connect to camera" to be thrown when selecting camera switch icon. The only way to recover the rear camera function is to Factory Reset. (tried all other options force stop camera app, restart unit,...). Even after Factory Reset front camera does not work and throws error (requiring Factory Reset again).

SHLina87

November 13, 2014, 8:29 am

Iv had my G Flex since the end of this last summer 2014 and I absolutely love the thing!!! I have always personally favored and leaned toward the brand LG my reasoning being that of I have absolutely NEVER had any sort of kind of ANYsuch issue, no kind of problem absolutly nothing has ever occured with anything I have owned or even used of the brand LG! I have had accidentally drops or have had it slipped out of my hands or off a piece of furniture, it has landed on the screen on various surfaces such as pavement, cement, gravel (large & small & pee sized), sand, grass, carpet ect! I have yet had a scratch appear on my screen thank the lord, I try to keep it as safe as I possibly can so that nothing to horrendous does come about and happen cause forking out a hefty $200 or so deposit is insane, and not being guaranteed a brand new phone even having to pay that much is just flat out insanely ridiculous! If you pay for coverage and still have to pay a deductible of $200 you should absolutly be guaranteed a new phone not a phone that has been refurbished, cause no sooner than not there is going to be issues if not already have one two or 150! But yes my G Flex has absolutely been amazing I have had NO issues or problems my bettery has worked and still works amazingly and last depending how much I use my phone but can last up to 1.5-2 days, the shortest amount of time has been about 3-4 hours because of me using it non stop!
I hope people who have gotten it or that are thinking about getting it enjoy it and at least give it a.try cause it is a lot of fun and does wonders!! The video is absolutwly awesome as well I watch shows movies and recordings all the time and pictures are even more fun ont his thing I am in love with the thing!!! I wouldnt mind trying out the
LG G3 for my next phone or if somethng else cokes out along this line I would defintly not hold back!!!

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