If there’s one area in which LG wanted to create some distance between its past phones and competitors, that would be the camera. Starting with hardware, we have LG’s always improving dual camera setup – something the company’s been doing since before it was really cool – with 16-megapixel regular and 13-megapixel wide-angle lenses packing f/1.6 and f/1.9 apertures, respectively. Wide angle, and the ease of switching between that and the regular lens were always features we liked, but the fish-eye like distortion was quite prominent. LG has cut down this distortion to almost none, doing so through hardware, and not software. Presumably, the slight step down in angle width from 135 degrees to 120 helps to produce such pleasing results. This encourages us to use the wide-angle lens much more freely, as the resultant photo compositions are great for a variety of situations – many of which would typically require a partial panoramic shot. Panoramas can be a pain, as they’re time consuming and, depending on the software, can be tough to capture. Wide angle requires only a simple tap; pretty darn cool, and useful.
All the shooting modes you know and love are here, including food, panorama, time lapse, and manual, as well as some more fun modes introduced in the G6. This includes such features as 360-panorama, Snapshot, which like the Nokia 8, creates a two-image photo from the front and rear-facing camera, and a similar mode called Grid Shot, which allows you to take four different photos (or 3-second videos) and have them saved as one stitched-together image. These can be fun, especially for social purposes, but the V30 introduces a couple exclusive features itself.
Unfortunately, one of the most enticing new camera features was not enabled on our preview unit. A shooting mode known as GRAPHY (at least at the time of this writing) will allow users to scroll through a gallery of photos – which includes those taken by professionals – and select an image from which the camera’s settings are extracted, and applied to your camera so that you too may shoot like a pro. Sounds pretty sweet, and we have confidence that LG will execute on a user-friendly interface for this function.
Details are sharp, and HDR shows strength on defining objects in shadows – blades of grass in a sunny meadow, for instance – though brighter areas can sometimes be over-sharpened and over-exposed. Although we prefer more detail to less, everyone prefers more life-like photos. And blades of grass in the shadows will deliver on this, but fluffy clouds in the sky, less so. Colors look pretty nice in most instances, but shots in bright/sunny lighting will often wash out the vibrancy of colors, though solid detail remains. Its strength in detail capture is especially appreciated in macro or low-light shots, as it never seems to miss a thing.
Speaking of low light, the V30 appears to be an excellent performer in this regard. The aforementioned proclivity in detail capture remains one of its best attributes even in low-light scenarios. Limiting noise, and pulling out vibrant and accurate colors from the shadows, the f/1.6 aperture regular lens proves, at least early on, to be a contender for best flagship low-light performer, and we’re excited to see how it stacks up in final comparisons
Significant additions to the camcorder are also in order, but only some of them were present on our preview unit. All of which fall under the banner of Cine Video, which is the broader suite of functions offered for video recording. This suite includes; Point and Zoom, which locks focus on a specific part of the screen and allows the user to zoom in on it smoothly; Cine Effect, which contains 15 different movie-genre-inspired filters to film with; Cine Log, which facilitates easy editing in programs like Adobe Premiere; and Video Studio, an on-board editing software which allows you to work with multiple photos and videos, as well as add after-effects to your mobile masterpiece.
Functions related to editing were unfortunately not present on our unit, so stay tuned for our full review on these, as LG undoubtedly put some work into them. Cine Effects are little more than camera filters, but perhaps with the proper editing software they may be of some use. Point and Zoom was a lot of fun to play with, though. The zoom is smooth no matter what speed you use, and it simply works. Just tap an area on the screen, and the zoom slider will bring your subject closer and closer until it’s in the center of the frame. This can certainly provide a fun accent to your quick snaps, or add another level of drama to your movies. Keep in mind, this is not a tracking autofocus function, but rather a function to zoom in on a specific part of the screen. Tracking autofocus is available, though only in FHD or HD – not 4K.
LG’s also added some audio treats in the form of a Hi-Fi Quad-DAC. While the speaker on the device is a bit anemic, plugging in a pair of good headphones will make you feel justified for spending on that extra money on your favorite pair. Sound quality without the Quad-DAC enabled is still quite good, even and balanced, albeit a bit quiet. Tapping the Hi-Fi toggle in quick settings immediately brings energy and virulence to all aspects of your music. Essentially, keep Hi-Fi off if you’re on a plane or want to listen quietly, but still enjoyably. If you’re ready to have a one-man dance party and lose yourself in the soundwaves, then flip the switch on the Quad-DAC. Some sound profiles and adjustment knobs do exist for EQ, but we found the stock settings for Hi-Fi to be the best configuration.
R.I.P LG’s G6. Seriously, what does anyone need it for at this point? The V30 is a more stylish device that improves on every aspect of the G6 and V20, and in doing so it has become a more mainstream hybrid of the two. Gone is the secondary display of the V20, replaced with a functional software version, and improved is the wide-angle camera, which now captures very little distortion. Throw in a Snapdragon 835 with 4 gigs of RAM, LG’s potent and smooth UI, a gorgeous infinity display, and sprinkle some extra camera and video goodies on top, and you have the makings for a flagship device, which stands on its own. Now all LG needs to do is get the V series on the G series’ release schedule so that it may valiantly compete with its rightful competition instead of awkwardly fighting for the dominance that Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has already earned. Still, it looks like the V30 may have a good seven to eight months to turn some heads, and steal some fans. If the camera’s issues with bright scenes get ironed out, it may even be worthy of attention from some staunch iPhone loyalists. But alas, this is only a preview unit, and October is coming.