LG has packed quite a few hardware features into the LG G3’s 13 megapixel camera. The dual-tone flash looks like it has been lifted straight off the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8, but the laser autofocus is a real innovation that we’ve never before seen in a mobile camera.
Most cameras rely on contrast detection to focus. That’s all well and good in bright conditions, but in low light there’s not enough contrast and this means the camera struggles to focus. The LG G3’s low-power laser sends multiple beams of light for the contrast detection to focus on.
See also: How the LG G3 laser autofocus works
Does the laser help? It certainly does. In low lit conditions the LG G3 focuses and takes a picture very quickly – as quickly as taking a picture in good light. The Galaxy S5 pales in comparison. You need to stand perfectly still for a few seconds for it to focus and take the shot. And the results are also clearly visible. In the picture below taken in identical conditions the cuddly toy is sharper in the LG G3 shot, thanks to a combo of good focusing and optical image stabilisation. The buttons on the phone in the background are a lot clearer too, as is the detail on the bison’s hump.
In well-lit conditions the LG G3 can’t quite compete with the Galaxy S5. The higher megapixel count of the S5 means that there is a fair amount more detail in our blown up shot of the London Gherkin. However, the LG G3 still performs very well and trumps both the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8.
The LG G3 also copes very well with macro shots. There is more detail in the LG G3’s flower, particularly in the petals.
Keeping true to LG’s “Simple is the new Smart” tagline, the camera app is really easy to use. There are just four modes, Auto focus, Magic focus (macro), Panorama and Dual (which takes a picture with the front facing camera at the same time as the rear). You can, of course, change a few settings such as resolution and HDR mode and the camera can also capture 120fps slow motion video and up to five minutes of 4K footage.
The 2.1-megapixel camera is a true selfie-cam. LG has increased the size of the image sensor and lowered the lens's f-stop to f2.0 meaning more light gets into the sensor and better photos can be taken in lower-light conditions. It works too, the LG G3’s front camera takes decent low-light pics and comes with gesture control so you can get your pose ready. Lift your hand in front of the phone and make it into a fist and you get a three second countdown to prepare the perfect pout. If a gesture is too much effort you can also use voice commands to activate the cameras.