The G3 is equipped with a 13MP rear camera, which is the same resolution as last year’s G2. In fact, when you look at the specifications in more detail, the G3 uses the same sensor as its predecessor, the Sony IMX135 Exmor RS. While it certainly is a little older compared to the sensors found in other 2014 flagship phones, it is still quite capable of producing good photos, especially when combined with good optics and camera software.
The IMX135 is a stacked CMOS design that helps capture more light and supports HDR video (more information about this sensor is available on Sony’s website). Its 1.12µm pixel size is nearly ubiquitous for flagship phones—the iPhone 6 Plus, HTC One M8 and Xperia Z3 are notable exceptions. And while 13MP was common for flagships in 2013 and the first half of 2014, many of the competing models from Samsung and Sony moved on to higher-resolution sensors.
LG G3 Camera Specs
It’s disappointing to see that the optics in front of the G3’s rear sensor has only a f/2.4 lens, which lets in less light. However, the use of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) does help compensate by allowing the camera to leave the shutter open for a longer interval. The focal length for the G3’s camera is comparable to all the other phones in the chart above apart from the Xperia Z3, which does have one of the widest rear camera lenses of any current smartphone.
Other hardware includes a dual LED flash, similar to the True Tone flash in the iPhone 6 Plus, which should create more natural colors under illumination, and an adequate 2.1MP front-facing camera.
Laser Autofocus and OIS+
The G3’s defining camera feature is its Laser Autofocus system. It’s an infrared rangefinder that uses a tightly focused IR laser beam to help the camera focus. It measures the time from the beam’s emission to its reflection back to the phone to quickly and accurately gauge the G3’s distance from the subject so the lens can be focused to that range. If the laser detection fails, then the camera falls back to the much slower contrast detection autofocus method, which has been the standard in smartphone cameras until just recently.
With this system, LG claims that the G3 can focus on something faster than the blink of an eye, or about 276ms. While we weren’t able to measure the actual focus time to verify its claim, in practice we did find that the G3 focused on its subjects very quickly. Compared to the phase detection autofocus (PDAF) used by the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6, we found the G3’s laser system to be as fast or faster in low-light situations. In brighter light, the PDAF system in the iPhone 6 proved quicker.
The G3’s rear camera also uses OIS+ (Optical Image Stabilization Plus), which is an upgraded version of the OIS found on 2013's G2. OIS reduces the effects of camera shake to produce sharper images when shooting stills and video from your hands, which is 99 percent of the time when using a camera phone. It does this by mechanically moving the lens to compensate for motion. The G2’s system was able to stabilize the lens on the x- and y-axes, while the upgraded OIS+ system on the G3 stabilizes the z-axis too. Whether you’ve had too much caffeine or are shooting pictures in less than optimal lighting conditions, the G3’s OIS+ feature helps capture useable, in-focus images, even with slower shutter speeds.