Wednesday, August 27, 2014

LG G3- The Landscape Photographer's Phone

I recently upgraded my phone to the new LG G3 and wow is it a great tool for the landscape photographer!

Sure smartphones have been around for a few years, and they have improved every generation, now this phone takes it to a new level.

Background
I upgraded from an HTV Evo.  The 2010 Evo.  That was a great phone.  It had 4G two years before many other models did.  It had a 4.3" screen that was called "too big" by several reviewers.  It ran Android.  It had a decent, although slow, 8mp camera.

I loved the phone.  I even occasionally got some nice images from it.  I also owned a very good point and shoot camera-the Panasonic LX3.  Very small body, with a great 10mp sensor that shot RAW.  The Evo was ok, but the Panasonic was great as photographer.

The LX3 was so small it became my ultra portable camera, for times the DSLR (or 4x5) were just too much.  I liked it so much, I even did an article on it at Nature Photographer Network The Small Format Everyday Camera . The Evo was decent but there was no way I would ever have chosen it over the LX3.

The LG G3

That is all changed today.  The LG G3 has taken photography capability to a new level.  13mp image that is as good and often better than the LX3.  Laser auto-focus and image stabilization that gives a much faster shooting and image taking experience.  Add in apps like The Photographers Ephemeris, Snapseed and Pixlr Express and I now have a photography tool that makes me forget the LX3.  In fact it has been relegated to be the camera I keep in the glove box.


The LG G3 is always with me.  It has gotten me great images on bike rides, walking along the river, and even from the window of a plane.  It is great for snapping a quick picture of my dogs or a plate of tacos at Fuzzy's.

Images
The shooting experience has greatly improved on phones.  Advances in sensor technology have made the results far beyond what they were just two years ago.  The sensor size is still very small but the results they can produce really wow me.  I can see why sales of point and shoot cameras have declined.  Why buy them when you can get 99% of the quality in a device that gets you so much more?  

Taking speed has also really improved. Early digital cameras had an horrible lag between pressing the button and the image being taken.  They improved that, but phones really languished behind.  The G3 has just a bit of a lag, especially in low light but it way faster than my old Evo and pretty close to most cameras.

The end result of faster focus and a better sensor is the taking experience is just plain better.  A camera is still more ergonomic and easier to hold but a phone is always with you and combines so many features, it really can be a single device solution.

Image quality is also significantly better.  I am really impressed with the images right out of camera.  Decent detail.  Does it match what my Canon 5D Mark II can do?  No.  But it is not supposed to either.  Can it match my LX3?  Yes.  It often exceeds it.

The in camera HDR is good enough it almost makes me forget RAW.  Almost.  I can take an image with the in camera HDR, tweak it in Snapseed and be very happy with the results.  In my Google+ stream I have placed several shots comparing the results from the G3 against the 5D2, my Sony NEX6, the Panasonic LX3, and even my Nexus 7 and an iPad 2. 

I use the full 13mp mode.  That puts the image into a 3:4 format that I really like.  Fits closer to the standard print sizes (even though I may never print them) and reminds me of the 4x5 format.  I think that also lets you work more with the center of lens as the corners seem sharper than the 16:9 wide angle view at 10mp.

Say "smile" "cheese" or "whiskey" to take an image. Simple.

Want to do a selfie, it has a great way to get a timer by making a fist.  Easy.

The Total Package
The G3 really shines.  Great images.  Great in daylight.  Decent in low light.  Good color and detail.  An all round good performer.

A great taking experience and a camera that delivers great results.  Look at your images on the Quad HD screen-wow they look great.

Into video-record in 4K.

Add in LTE connectivity and you can share your images as fast as you take them.

Final Verdict
Awesome phone!  Everything I was hoping for and then some.  My new pocket and everywhere camera.  Great for the landscape images I like and do.  

All the images here are from the G3 and if any processing was done, was done on the phone.




3 comments:

sbelsky said...

Hi, Darren.

I think your post about the LG G3 is what I've been looking for since I am thinking about buying a smartphone to also serve as a decent small camera--hopefully better than my 10MP Canon PC1309 PowerShot A1000 IS. I like to photograph clouds (I live in NM), and with this subject matter, two limitations with the Canon are its limited zoom clarity and its poor ability to capture detail within very bright surfaces. Any comments on the G3's capacities in these areas?

Many thanks

Darren Huski said...

The LG G3 is a very good smart phone and it has a very good camera. I have done comparisons of the G3 against my Panasonic LX3, Sony NEX6, and Canon 5D Mark II. Now the LG actually does pretty well in comparison. It is good but is clearly not in the same league as the Canon or the Sony. It is not meant to be either.

However it does very well in in many cases beats the LX3 which was a very good point and shoot camera.

I find it does pretty good with clouds and bright details. It has a fantastic HDR mode for high contrast scenes. You can also download the excellent Snapseed and Pixlr Express Apps that give you great ability to edit images and add some effects.

Sensor technology has come a long way. Phones are at the level that a good point and shoot was 4 or 5 years ago.

They are so good that point and shoot sales have dramatically declined. The camera companies are now putting in much bigger sensors into a new batch of point and shoot cameras to give them back a quality advantage. Although the prices of them are often $500+

Phones do not have good zoom capability. Most have none. If you want zoom, look at a point and shoot or mirrorless system. I use the Sony NEX system as my carry around /point and shoot. With a APS-C sized sensor (about 330 sqmm) it has a huge sensor compared to a phone (about 25 sqmm). You can find good models in the $400-650 range and since you can change lenses they offer a good upgrade route.

But if sticking to a smart phone and you like Android, the LG G3 , Samsung note series, or Samsung s5, are all great choices.

If you look at my Google+ stream I have quite a few examples from the G3 posted there.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

sbelsky said...

Hi, Darren.

Sorry it took so long long to respond--I found your guidance posted on my gmail page, which I rarely check (duhhh). Anyway, thank you so much for your very specific comments and thoughtful advice--it will definitely help with my decisionmaking.

With sincere appreciation,

Starr