Phone copes easily with demands of heavy camera use
Optical image stabilisation seems to be 'off' by default
Wide-angle second camera is great, but perhaps of niche appeal only
From flexible screens to buttons in unusual places, LG has been quietly introducing innovations to smartphones for some time now. And in the shape of the well reviewed LG G5, it has continued that tradition with the first-ever mainstream 'modular' phone.
'Modular' in this case means the G5 is compatible with a range of LG Friends accessories, which include the LG 360 Cam camera and the LG 360 VR headset. We'll leave the details of those to a dedicated review of the phone's accessories that we'll be running soon.
Here we focus solely on the capabilities of LG G5's on board camera, after taking it for a stroll around London's South Bank on a sunny spring afternoon.
No set pieces or staged shots. We wanted the kind of photos that people like you want to share with friends and family on Facebook.
I'm no pro-photographer, but I am aware of the three most basic things you should do before you take a picture with a smartphone:
Make sure light sources (especially the sun) are behind you
Keep your hand still
Give the camera a second or two to focus
If you follow at least two of these rules you have a chance of ending up with half-decent snaps. And with that at the forefront of my mind, off I went...
Outdoor and wide-angle shots
It was a beautiful sunny day in London and we started with a few shots of the river from the South Bank. It was a good opportunity to test the wide-angle lens.
Some "fish-eye" effect is inevitable, but the results were very impressive.
The G5 uses a separate lens for wide-angle shots which is half the resolution of the standard lens, so if you plan to capture your city skyline you may be better off using the traditional auto-stitched panorama feature. I found it worked excellently. You can see the results in the 'camera modes' section.
The photos you see below in this section are all captured with the special wide-angle lens.
Mixed lighting outdoor pictures
We were impressed by the colours and definition of the outdoor pictures taken by the G5.
In many cases we forgot to use the guide-focus and just snapped straight away. But the camera still managed to excel, while the auto HDR kicked in without a fuss and with virtually no delay between shots.
Our pictures of everyday London street life were vibrant and very forgiving of moving subjects and challenging lighting conditions, such as sharp contrast between sun and shade.
A stroll through the Tate Modern followed by an ice cream was a great opportunity to put the G5 camera to the test in lower-light conditions.
It did not disappoint. I went from pocket-to-picture with no fumbling with focus or modes. And these are the results: natural-looking colours with minimum artificially enhanced contrast and beautifully detailed shots.
Close-ups and food pictures
Say what you want about people's propensity for taking photographs when they really ought to be eating their dinner. But if that's your thing, you could pick a worse phone for a quick snap of your gelato.
Group selfies look especially great. And the 'beauty mode' that irons out blotches and folds in your skin was a god-send.
Camera modes and technical specs
LG didn't go crazy with camera modes, opting for only a few options that may seem gimmicky at first but have their creative uses in the right situations. See what we made of them in the sub-sections below.
We did in some cases apply filters and auto-enhancement. And, if we're honest, found them handy for turning transforming the kind of poorly lit shots you'd would normally throw away into arty Instagram masterpieces.
1. Collage (Multi-view)
Combine shots from the two rear cameras and front camera for a scrapbook-style effect.
This is a very common shooting mode that you should give a try if you haven't yet.
You spin around taking a number of pictures in sequence that the phone then stitches together into a very wide panorama view.
Of course that means moving subjects may appear multiple times, which can lend your wraparound images a mind-bending 'glitch in The Matrix' effect.
Take advantage of the second lens by superimposing a standard high-definition window on top of the wide-angle view.
4. Slow motion video
Choose from three speeds. But for the best effect, go with the super-slow x1/8 option.
5. Time lapse
This lets you record changes that happen over a long time and present them happening much faster. Think: those nature documentary clips that show a flower growing from bulb to bloom in a matter of moments.
The LG G5's wide-angle lens and dual cameras make it fantastic for everything from group selfies and tall buildings to those glorious river panoramas you see in this review. Once you start capturing scenes in cinemascope-style widescreen, it's very hard to stop.
The extra fast autofocus and supremely easy-to-use manual mode and photo effects mean even less experienced photographers to get great results. And the fun camera modes, such as collage and panorama, are great if you want to get a bit creative. All of which means that the G5 really is a cameraphone for everyone.