There has never been a better time to be an aspiring mobile photographer, with smartphone manufacturers like Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Sony and ZTE all improving their camera game. Newer sensors, better optics, smarter camera algorithms, more powerful processors and greatly improved low light performance are now part of the smartphone buying equation. I’ve previously detailed my experience using the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8, and now we’re going to focus specifically on the camera hardware and performance of these two phones.
Since the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 were released, we’ve seen newer entries in the race, including HTC’s U11 and the OnePlus 5. However, the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 remain popular due to a number of factors—heavy promotions from the manufacturers and retailers, wide retail availability, attractive designs and features. As such, even in mid-2017, the LG G6 and Galaxy S8 are still important devices to benchmark other devices given these two phones’ strong popularity.
LG G6 wide angle mode.
There are some significant differences between the camera hardware on the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8. While Samsung chose to use a single 12-megapixel camera sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, LG implemented a dual lens system on the G6, adding a secondary wide angle lens to the main camera system.
The LG G6 has a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 aperture and a secondary 13-megapixel camera with a wide angle lens and an f/2.4 aperture.
Both the G6 and Galaxy S8 comes with optical image stabilization, fast autofocus and LED flash. The G6 has a dual LED flash while the Galaxy S8 has a single LED flash. Samsung also uses a slightly larger 1/2.5-inch sensor, compared to LG’s 1/3-inch sensor. This means that each pixel on the Galaxy S8’s sensor is slightly larger than the G6’s pixel size, allowing the sensor to capture more light for low-light photography.
Given the wider aperture and the slightly larger sensor size, the Galaxy S8 seems to have the advantage, but the results are closer than you’d expect. In general, I found that the Galaxy S8 does a better job with controlling highlights and shadows with Samsung’s excellent use of HDR, even in Auto mode. The LG G6 struggles with highlights in high contrast situations, and you’ll see the sky being blown out in a few of the sample shots.
And while it appears that Samsung has tone down its aggressive over-sharpening to make images look more pleasing at a cursory glance with the Galaxy S8 compared to last year’s Galaxy S7, I found the G6 actually captures more details in situations where there is more light. The Galaxy S8 does a fantastic job too, and both cameras captured vivid colors. In terms of capturing accurate color, LG’s G6 edges out the Galaxy S8’s cameras with more realistic color reproduction. In the photo with the carrots, the G6 nailed the white balance, with the Galaxy S8’s missed white balance throwing off the colors in this image.
When there is plenty of light to work with, you’ll be fine no matter which phone you choose. Neither the G6 nor the Galaxy S8 got everything right, but they each got enough right that you’ll be pleased. When it comes to low light photography, the Galaxy S8 edges ahead of the G6, taking clearer night shots with less noise.
Having one focal length for the lens is fine for most users, but LG’s G6 comes with a second wide angle lens, giving it far more flexibility. If you’re a tourist visiting a new city or are interested in landscape photography, the wide angle lens allows you to take in a wider perspective, capturing more of your environment.
I found the lens to be great for exploring architectural photography on tight San Francisco streets, and it’s a useful alternative to having to switch to a panoramic mode on the Galaxy S8. While not everyone will find having a wider focal length useful, it’s a nice option to have should you need it. The wide field of view gives images a fisheye effect, similar to unedited GoPro footage.
For my use, the LG G6 edges out ahead of the Galaxy S8 with its image capture capabilities. I appreciate LG’s more realistic and natural images, Additionally, if you’re a videographer, the G6 gives you more manual control when shooting videos, making it more flexible as a creative tool. However, given how close this race it, you’ll be wine with either option.
Low light photographers and those who like punchier pictures with HDR will appreciate Samsung’s photo renderings, while those who prefer more creative control and flexibility will likely gravitate towards LG’s G6.