LG Optimus G

One of the more important features of the LG Optimus G -- of any current smartphone, really -- is the camera. The Optimus G actually will come in a couple flavors. We took the 13-megapixel smartphone for a test-drive last week in Seoul, South Korea. Other regions will see an 8-megapixel shooter, with the added bonus that it gives the phone a slightly slimmer profile.

So how'd the camera perform? Pretty well. We do have to keep in mind that we were using a preproduction unit, but we were told the camera should be pretty darn close to the experience we'll have in a retail unit.  But the camera app was decent enough and had all the usual bells and whistles in the usual places.

Our one main concern was that a number of our pics seemed to be a little hazy. We tracked that down to our greasy fingerprints on the lens, and we found ourselves having to constantly wipe it down before taking a clear picture. That's not something we have to do with every device. (Or maybe we should be more worried about it?) It'll be interesting to see if that's just us holding it wrong, or if others of you will muck it up just as much.

Anyhoo. We've got a bevy of sample pics after the break. Some are in HDR, but we're not going to tell you which ones. The HDR mode actually seems to be kind of weak, so we're curious if you can spot it in action. 

Warning: Pictures open in full resolution in a new window

There are 33 comments

tommydaniel says:

Those are all really bad....

voiceonly says:

I agree, if they're not blurry from camera shake, they are very noisy. The grain on the pics when viewed full size is really not acceptable.

Granted I'm a wedding photographer and maybe more critical than most, but when you take a pic, on a 13mp camera, in the sun (aka well lit subject), these pics should be razor sharp and clean.

I know the lens is not up to spec with Canon's "L" series, or Nikon's pro-line, but at 13mp, you think they would get the grain/noise out. Maybe it's their compression scheme, but whatever it is, it's not good.

icebike says:

You've hit the nail squarely on the head, their compression scheme is totally rubbish.

Look at the foliage in the waterfall picture at full resolution (download and view image with any decent image software). The compression, when displayed at 1:1 (full res) is an absolute nightmare.

Ok, foliage is tough, and the camera shutter was at the equivalent of 1/20th of a second shooting at iso 700. We will give them that one.

Lets try DMZ pavilion, 1/315 sec ISO-100, trees above Mohawk Lady, again just a mess. Rocks and foliage behind the D, more mess.

Lets try the Johnny Rockets sign. 1/591th shutter speed, ISO 100.
Not so bad on the brick work, but the Johnny sign itself is a mess. Its off-axis so the lense has some real edge problems. But the stuff half way down the street again gets really messy.

But the compression seems to be pretty terrible.

marisdaman says:

I had to keep rubbing my eyes cause i thought it was my eyesight.

mas4489 says:

some are decent, most are very blurry. Not good to show off a 13mp camera.

edr1983 says:

When you say that it's "preproduction hardware and the experience should be pretty darn close to the retail version". Does that mean it will be better or worse than this? I agree with tommy, those look really disappointing, especially when they were claiming to have developed the best cell phone camera in the world.

Irvgotti says:

What sensor is the Op.G using

John-Smith says:

Wow, I think some of those shots look amazing. Awesome camera, there are a lot of out of focus shots though. I wonder how many of the bad shots were user error vs the camera.

Thanks for all the sample pics!

musicdjm says:

Wow those suck, I hope its just the operator otherwise id rather stick with my Nexus 5mp over another crappy LG again

musicdjm says:

Wow those suck, I hope its just the operator otherwise id rather stick with my Nexus 5mp over another crappy LG again

kj11 says:

I agree with mass4489. Some look good, others really look washed out.

Is there any way to know what regions will get the 8MP and which will get the 13MP? I'd really like to get my hands on the 13MP here in the States.

Cobravision says:

Any indoor/low light pics to share?

n25philly says:

Once again showing how meaningless megapixels are. They only have to do with size. 13 megapixels just means bigger garbage. There will never be a good camera on a cell phone because you can't put a real lens on on. Take a good sensor, and lots of magapixels and it will look like garbage because your shooting through a pinhole which means most of those megapixels will be wasted.

icebike says:

Megapixels are not meaningless, no matter how many times people genuflect in the general direction of David Pogue when they repeat this nonsense that he started.

Without adequate Megapixels you can't do image stabilization.
You can enlarge your photos.
Pinhole has nothing to do with it. A focused image on a sensor plane carries no information about the lens that projected it.

It all comes down to sensitivity of the individual sensor elements.

Given equivalent light sensitivity only a fool would choose fewer pixels.
This is something Pogue never understood, because he's a journalist, and not an engineer or a photographer. Even 99% of photographers have zero clue about the science involved.

hoosiercub says:

Well optical science aside, these photos look like shit, crappy point and shoot cameras have been shooting at this amount of MP for a few years now, and produce images just as bad.

If your sensor is junk, it's not going to matter how big a digital image it can produce is, it's still going to produce garbage.

More megapixels does not mean better images, that's a fact, until you take into consideration light values, stabilization, and thousands of other interferences that can occur within the lens during actual photography.

My 5 megapixel cell cam produces images much clearer, more saturated, and less blown out than these with ease, that's less than half the actual pixels provided here. I wonder what would happen with images on the Optimus G if you cranked it down to a mere 8MP over the 13 and adjusted some of the settings in the camera itself, I imagine it would help considerably.

icebike says:

You have to look deeper into the images than just the picture, and when you do you realize many of these shots are low light hand held shots taken with a lightweight (unstabilized) camera shooting at 1/30th of a second or lower.

We also don't know anything about the jpeg compression used, the sharpness setting (which is often a the only controlling factor in the compression methodology).

There is no way you can compare a random shot someone handed you with another camera you have and make a pronouncement like you did.

If you and Phil were standing side by side with camera's set up the same taking the same shot, then your statement might have some validity. Other than that, its apples and oranges.

n25philly says:

Where did I say megapixels aren't important. The megapixel count isn't. Take a picture with a good high quality lens on a good camera that has only 3 megapixels and it will produce a better picture than this cell phone. Why? Because if you're shooting through a tiny crappy little lens most of those megapixels are going to be filled with garbage.

I'd rather have less megapixels on a camera that wasn't garbage than have a crappy camera that has a lot of megapixels. In a crappy camera like this a large megapixel count is just going to make the file size bigger.

Oh, and I do know the science behind photography which is why I know the common thought of throwing more megapixels into a camera makes it better is pure 100% BS

icebike says:

The size of the lense has nothing to do with what "fills the megapixels".

If you had a clue about the science, you wouldn't make statements like that.

WindRunner says:

Panoramas are not HDR (pretty sure that'd be a pain to do on a phone-camera, no matter how nice your hardware right now).

My guesses for HDR in action:
Row 1, photo 2 (building w/ tree)
Row 5, photo 1 (nighttime buildings - if this HDR, it highlights one of the remaining shortcomings of HDR on phones)
Row 8, photo 1 (street sign)
Row 9, photo 1 (street scene beneath the photo of the sign)

icebike says:

All of those might have benefited from HDR, but none of them show any indication of it in the EXIF info.

cjhindy says:

Ok, not the best pics for a 13 meger, but the camera is better than the very lame one on my Photon 4g, and I want to upgrade it, but how does LG do on signal reception. I live in a spotty area and have twice tried to switch to HTC, but they get really poor reception. How does LG compare to Motorola in that area?

eljedo says:

in my experience - nothing can match Moto for signal reception and radios. My Moto can get a completely usable signal where my Samsung and LG phones were completely without signal. I loved that about my Motorola phone, but that was about the only good thing it had going for it, besides the build quality, which was great.

cjhindy says:

Thanks, that's what I experienced with HTC, but was hoping for better results with other brands... It doesn't make sense that companies wouldn't do the work to make the signal reception a priority!

ippikiokami says:

You should really do the test with a clean lens. A smudged lens will make it harder for any camera to focus and take clear pictures.. Even a DSLR

For all the people going crazy. You do know this sensor is in the same line and tech as the 8mp for the iphone right? It's just a newer gen 13mp one.

tyson.clarke says:

Here here. I'm not fan of 'the OS that must not be named' - but you can't beat the camera and app on it.

xKrNMBoYx says:

Don't expect the camera to be better because the megapixel is higher. Yes higher megapixel allows you to have a higher resolution picture so you can zoom in and out/crop your photos without ending up with a low resolution crop. But the quality depends on the sensor and how they made the sensor work with the phone.

I wouldn't pay a dollar for a camera with 2000megapixels if it had a horrible sensor in it *well i might for a dollar

YzBrad99 says:

A lot of these pictures are really hazy. The camera lens probably should have been wiped clean from greasy finger prints before pictures were taken. That still wouldn't help the fact that some of these pictures are really out of focus.

Asterisk says:

Pretty shitty camera.... LG dropped the ball... again..

tokuzumi says:

Looks like standard cell phone pics to me.

crxssi says:

It could be 1,000 Megapixels and it wouldn't change a thing,

Tiny lens.
Tiny aperture.
Tiny sensor.

It is a gimmick. Number of pixels is normally pretty irrelevant.

KamilG225 says:

I'll be honest, it is pretty difficult to look at these photos. They're pretty noisy and the majority of them have weird blurry spots. This is coming from a photographer though, so I may be slightly biased lol

aaronwe says:

Memo to all cell phone makers:


Give me a great-quality 5MP sensor and quality glass at f/2. That's all I want. 13MP pieces of junk like this are not acceptable.



The Galaxy SIII camera is oh so close to this, but it's not a phone. I'll gladly suffer through the extra size of a real lens if I don't have to carry a separate phone and pocket camera with me.

Will the 8meg camera be much worse than this I wonder? I was looking forward to this phone but unless the pics are going to be better than those I might have to look elsewhere... :(