Camera: Photo Quality Comparison
In this section, we are comparing the G3’s photo quality to that of the other smartphones shown in the camera spec chart. Unfortunately, we do not have sample images from the iPhone 6 Plus, so I'm substituted those from the iPhone 5s. Its 8MP camera produces comparable output to the iPhone 6 Plus’ in good lighting, although the 6 Plus does produce better images in low light.
Both the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 capture images natively in a 16:9 aspect ratio, so for the purpose of this comparison, their samples are cropped horizontally to 4:3 (this has no effect on image quality). Also, while the Z3’s sensor is 20.7MP, its “Superior Auto” mode takes 8MP pictures by downsampling the larger image when post-processing it.
Indoor Performance: Low Light
In this low-light test, both the G3 and Galaxy Note 4’s auto modes apply some post-processing to the image that results in no shutter speed or ISO information being recorded. Out the five phones tested, they are the only ones with OIS, so presumably are able to take pictures at a slower shutter speed and lower ISO and still have a sharp image. The G3’s image has the least amount of noise, but is a bit underexposed and dark.
Out of the remaining three phones, the Z3’s image is the best because it was captured at a comparatively low ISO of 1600. While it doesn’t benefit from OIS, having a f/2.0 lens certainly helps when shooting in lower light. The other phones produce noisy, yet usable images in these lighting conditions.
Indoor Performance: Low Light with Flash
With the flash turned on, all of the phones naturally produce much better pictures. The G3’s flash is one of the brightest, but its lens is also the slowest of the phones being compared. The f/2.4 lens could only let in enough light for the image to have a two-digit ISO. The flashes of both the OnePlus One and Z3 aren’t that powerful and don’t provide enough light to shoot at a low ISO.
While the G3 does have a dual LED flash with two different colored LEDs similar to the iPhone’s True Tone flash, LG’s implementation doesn’t match Apple’s. The flash-lit colors of the iPhone 5s’ image are more accurate.
Indoor Performance: Very Low Light
In very low light, all of the phones struggle except the Xperia Z3. The Z3 in auto mode can take pictures at up to ISO-12,800, and this one was taken at 6400, which explains why it is so much brighter.
The iPhone 5s and G3 also do fairly well. The iPhone has good color balance, but encounters more noise, while the G3 image has an orange tint, but much less noise. The Galaxy S5 performs the worst with an overly dark image.
Outdoor Performance: Daytime
While the sample pictures here were, unfortunately, not all captured under the same conditions, they are all taken on an overcast day, so the lighting is similar enough that we can still compare them. The G3’s auto mode set the ISO to 50, yielding a noise-free image. But the shutter speed is quite low, which it gets away with thanks to OIS. Looking at the inset 100% crop, the G3 captures a good amount of detail and the colors are accurately represented. The dynamic range of the photo is good too.
In comparison, the results from the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5 are similar to the G3’s, but a little more detailed due to the higher 16MP resolution. They are both able to capture at faster shutter speeds due to the wider aperture of their lenses. As for the other phones, the iPhone 5s performs well, again showing accurate colors, but capturing less detail due to its smaller 8MP sensor. The OnePlus One captures good detail, but its white balance is noticeably off. The Xperia Z3’s 8MP image also lacks detail and its white balance is a little cool.
Outdoor Performance: Low Light
Like the daylight pictures above, not all of these comparison pictures were taken at the same time. Again, though, we do think that they are similar enough that we can draw worthwhile conclusions as to which camera performs best.
In lower light, the G3 is able to keep the ISO low at 100, and while the shutter speed is quite slow, the OIS prevents any camera shake from ruining the shot. The Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s and Note 4 are also able to take photos with low ISO. Only the OnePlus One and Z3 resort to much noisier higher ISOs. The Z3’s image, while the brightest, is brighter than the conditions were in reality.
The Note 4 does really well, considering it has less light to work with. The image quality of the iPhone 5s and G3 is pretty similar. Both images have accurate color and similar amounts of noise. The G3 does capture the finer detail of the power lines and street signs better though.
Outdoor Performance: Night
At night, the performance of all six phones is similar to the low-light results above. Both the Z3 and OnePlus One resort to high ISO settings that obscure detail with noise, and the lower MP sensor of the iPhone 5s also results in less detail. The G3 performs well, shooting a clear image even with the shutter at 1/20 seconds, but at ISO-400, the picture is a little grainy when you look at it closely.