This has been an amazing year for Android cameras, especially for those of us fortunate enough to mess with all of them. Not only are we seeing incredibly powerful experiences from top of the line Samsung and LG phones, but the mid range experience has stepped things up in a big way as well. While few Android camera apps can compete with the manual experience LG includes with the G4, the quick point and shoot mode is what most folks use just about every time the app gets opened.
With that in mind, we're checking out the LG G4 against the recently released Moto X Pure Edition to see how these cameras compare. For each of these samples, the Moto X Pure Edition is on the left, and the LG G4 is on the right. If you want to take a deeper look at these photos, a link to the uncompressed version straight off the cameras is available at the bottom of the article.
Detail is one of the most important parts of up close shots, and in a full auto shot that detail usually has to be grabbed in a split second. Auto focus for the Moto X Pure Edition is plenty fast, but not always totally accurate. What you see here is the result of a slight misfire, resulting in the LG G4 grabbing a lot more detail.
The G4 is also slightly less true to life with color accuracy, resulting in a slightly warmer photo that actually looks nicer than the Moto X Pure Edition photo.
Full Auto HDR
Sunrise photos in HDR require a powerful balance when stitching photos together to create that one perfect image, and while the Moto X Pure Edition and LG G4 appear to both do a great job at a glance, zooming in on the G4 photo reveals a lot of problems caused by a less-than-great HDR stitch.
The bright circles around the birds in the water, the lack of detail in the foreground and far background, and the slight graininess around the boats reveal the Moto X took a much better photo.
The goal in this photo was to see how well the two cameras handled focusing on something specific. For Motorola, that means using the manual focus mode. For the LG G4, good old fashioned tap to focus is all we need.
The yellow bunch of leaves in this photo was the target, and as you can see the G4 missed entirely. Had it not missed, however, the photo would have most likely outperformed the blown out image produced by the Moto X Pure Edition. There's really no winner here.
Specific focus detail shot
Detail when asked to focus on a specific place is something every phone should be able to do. The up close shot is doubly important, since it's one of the more common day to day photos you see posted on social networks.
Both LG and Motorola captured a similar amount of detail, but the artificially warm additions LG added to the photo in the G4. These two photos are similar enough that it's a matter of preference, though for technical accuracy's sake Motorola wins.
Poor light outdoors
This is another one of those situations where the photos look quite similar at a compressed glance, but if you zoom in on the full resolution image you see there's a big difference in quality.
The Moto X Pure Edition offers clarity that isn't found on the G4 photo, especially if you look in the bottom left and top right of the photos. The G4 could have easily handled this photo in manual mode, but in auto mode things are different.
Low light indoors
With the shades drawn and the lights turned down low, these figurines aren't easy to take a good photo of. These images are similar enough to require zooming in to see the differences, and when you do so LG's photo offers up some grainy structure instead of Motorola's blotchy mess.
There's no clear winner here.
The similarities between the LG G4 and Moto X Pure Edition in most of these photos is more than a little surprising. LG's auto modes struggle in a lot of the same places as Motorola's, and when you consider the $399 starting price tag on the Pure Edition compared to the $700 starting price tag on the G4 it's clear Motorola is doing the right things with their camera. Even now with LG's dramatically reduced price on the G4 in most places, the Moto X Pure Edition ends up being at least $100 cheaper.
Like we said in the beginning, this has been an amazing year for Android cameras.