LG is known to experiment with their smartphones, but one thing they’ve kept fairly consistent is the dual camera setup for the last few generations. Introduced first with the LG G5, the company has stuck to retaining the dual camera setup in a ultra-wide angle and wide angle configuration despite the popular trend shifting towards portraiture, which requires a telephoto lens. The LG V20 whose primary cameras had a field of view of 83 degrees and 120 degrees fared decently in our review, solely due to the novelty of the ultra-wide angle lens. Now that LG has introduced the G6 with a revamped imaging system, we had to absolutely compare it to the current industry leader when it comes to photography; the Google Pixel XL. Below are a number of samples from both cameras. Below each sample, we are also adding links to a high resolution version of the file so you can examine the images in greater detail. Drag the cursor to the right to reveal the Google Pixel XL image and drag it to the left to see the LG G6 sample.
The image above was shot to test the cameras in two areas; autofocus and their bias. It took the LG G6 four tries to lock focus on the backlit flower, while the Google Pixel XL locked onto the flower almost instantaneously. Both the cameras were set to meter for the flower and it would seem that the Google Pixel XL has a bias towards retaining highlights (as visible from bluer skies), the LG G6 has a tendency to retain more detail in the shadows. Thankfully, both these attributes can be controlled with exposure compensation, so this one is not a deal breaker. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
The above images see the LG G6 and the Google Pixel take on the green, red and orange colour tones. While both have a comparable reproduction of reds and oranges, we see a stark difference in how light green is handled. The Google Pixel XL image has a far more true-to-life rendering of the green in the leaves of the money plant while the LG’s just looks washed out. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
For the above image, the area of focus (and consequently metering) was set to me the sky just top left of the setting sun. We again see the shadow/highlight bias over here, with the LG retaining better shadow detail than the Pixel XL. The image from the Google Pixel XL just doesn’t look very vibrant either. The LG G6 clearly has taken the better shot in this case. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
In the above images, the point of focus and metering was the Salcon logo on the building to the left. Interestingly, the Google Pixel XL took the better photo here, retaining enough detail in the highlights (you can see the clouds) while also capturing enough information in the shadow areas (as visible in the glass reflection). The photo from the LG G6 does have better white balance though. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
The above samples were shot in dim light, with the Google Pixel XL image registering an ISO of 1200. Interestingly, the LG G6 does not record the ISO value for the image, but we doubt it would be much different, given that the two images were shot one after the other. Once again, the LG G6 sample seems to have better white balance in comparison to the Google Pixel XL, rendering better colours for the LG G6. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
The puppy is sick and tired of being used as a model for sample photos. His disapproval aside, the two images look at par in terms of their colour, contrast and dynamic range. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
Low light photos from both the phones tell a very different story from what we’ve been seeing in good light. The Google Pixel XL’s image is not only sharper, and with lower amounts of noise, but also shows a significantly lower amount of flaring due to stray light. High-resolution version: Google Pixel XL | LG G6
Some strong considerations
It should be noted that although the LG G6 seems to be taking visibly better photos, there are a number of notable hiccups we experienced while shooting. For starters, focusing was consistently an issue, with the LG G6 hunting quite a bit even when the subject was well lit. Second, if you look at the full resolution images, you notice that LG is applying significant JPG compression to the images, followed by a sharpening algorithm. While this works for many kinds of shots (such as landscape and architecture), it wrecks havoc on anything with fibres or hair. A closer look at the photo of our resident model (the dog) and you’ll notice the fur around his eyes looks over-sharpened. Similarly, a closer examination of all the same shots shown above shows over-sharpening, which tends to distort the finer details in the subject.
While we could also get into a comparison of RAW images shot from both the phones, the truth of the matter is, hardly anyone shoots in RAW using a smartphone. Most people will end up shooting in auto mode and for that, while the LG G6 aces in the colour and dynamic range department, it seriously falters in comparison to the Google Pixel when it comes to the detail retention and low light performance.