Camera Shootouts

LG G6 vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Camera Shootout

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We recently crowned the Samsung Galaxy S8 as the best single-lens camera phone today after beating the former champ, the Pixel. Wait, hold on a second: Aren’t dual-camera smartphones supposed to be all the rage these days? Yes, and that’s why we’ll compare two of the very best right now.

What’s great about dual-camera setups is how different they all are. Huawei uses a secondary image sensor for cool monochrome photos; LG favors using the second lens for super-wide-angle shots; and Apple has made living out of an additional lens for zoomed-in pictures without any noticeable quality loss.

The latter two are a little more similar in implementation, and seem like a better head-to-head comparison for a camera shootout. To be fair, we’re choosing their absolute best smartphones: LG’s recently launched G6 and Apple’s torch-bearing iPhone 7 Plus.

For full disclosure, all these photos were taken with Auto settings turned on and no filters applied. Resizing was done on Photoshop to keep file sizes down, but saved on the highest quality settings to prevent artifacting. In addition, everything was shot handheld in order to properly simulate real-world usage.

Here we go:

We’re starting things off with a night scene, specifically with a human subject in a dark park. Michael Josh is clearly more illuminated in the LG G6’s output, and he’s surrounded with better lighting in the background. The iPhone 7 Plus does fine too, but upon closer inspection, you can see some pixelation in the finer details of the photo.

Macro shots with flash enabled always pose a challenge for any camera, making this a perfect follow-up test. We felt that the iPhone overdid the flash here, to the point of blowing out the flowers. The G6’s shot, on the other hand, has much more controlled lighting and gave us balanced colors with lots of warmth.

The samples turned out very similar, with the only real difference being the exposure levels. You can see how the G6 overexposed the scene a bit, while the iPhone underexposed most of the elements. If we were to choose, the perfect photo would be somewhere in between these two, so there’s no clear winner here.

We’re beginning to see a pattern. The G6 once again ups the brightness in order to make everything stand out more, at the expense of losing details where there’s too much light. The iPhone’s picture is a lot more realistic, although not as exciting to look at or impressive enough to show to friends.

Nighttime selfies is a weakness we pointed out in our LG G6 review. We see the problem again in this comparison, wherein the G6’s selfie creates mush out of the subject’s face and looks too grainy. The iPhone’s front-facing camera is as tight as ever, but at least manages to retain all the details despite the mixture of light in the background.

This test challenges each camera’s color rendering, and the iPhone wins with the more accurate reproduction. The G6 oversaturates the redness of the HOPE sculpture and sacrifices the shadows in the process.

You can’t tell by looking at the still flowers, but this round is designed to test how well the cameras handle moving subjects up close. Both phones pull this off differently, with the G6 producing a noticeably brighter output and the iPhone opting for sharpness over balanced exposure.

When it comes to food photography, whichever camera phone makes the meal look more appetizing automatically wins for us. In this case, the G6 has the clear edge. White balance is more accurate, the colors of the tart pop, and the entire spread looks a lot sharper from top to bottom.

HDR test! Both cameras did a good enough job with this landscape architecture scene, with only a couple of minor drawbacks to each one. The G6 oversaturated the stop light and parts of the building to a fault; and the iPhone blew out the sky too much, losing a significant chunk of the building to the left of the background. HDR is really best left to the experts.

Finally, we have a fine portrait of Michael Josh in Central Park to analyze. The noontime sun was right above us, so the challenge here was to keep the harsh light in check. The G6 handled this by softening all the light and distributing it evenly for an overall flatter look, while the iPhone took in all the strong lighting for a sharper yet much warmer look.

And now we have to come up with a conclusion! It was quite the seesaw battle with no clear overall winner, so it’s best to judge them based on individual merits.

First, let’s take a look at the LG G6. It performed better in low-light situations with or without flash, except when the front camera was used. When faced with bright lights, the LG flagship had a tough time producing accurate colors, yet we still found all daylight shots satisfactory at the very least.

As for the aging iPhone 7 Plus, it kept up surprisingly well with the much newer G6. Apple’s smartphone was more consistent in color accuracy at night and during daytime, selfies turned out much better, and it wasn’t as hampered by overly strong lighting.

Lest we forget, each phone has a secondary camera for certain zooming functions. The G6 can zoom out from its regular focal length to capture more elements in a single shot, making it perfect for architectural photos and wide landscapes; the iPhone 7 Plus’ secondary lens is designed for closing in on a subject, so it’s better suited for portraits and faraway subjects.

Did you spot anything we didn’t notice? Did you draw your own conclusions from this shootout? Let us know in the comments section below.

SEE ALSO: $200 Phone vs $850 Phone: Camera Shootout

 

Camera Shootouts

OnePlus 5T vs OPPO R11s: Camera Shootout

Which phone has the better cameras?

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We are here, yet again. Months after the release of the OnePlus 5T and OPPO R11s, we are left scratching our heads at how much these two phones from supposedly different companies look so alike.

And now, the OnePlus 5T has a Lava Red version, too!

Of course, this isn’t the first time, this happened. These two phones’ predecessors, the OnePlus 5 and OPPO R11, also looked confusingly similar.

And so, I had to ask: Despite looking like absolute twinsies, how do the phones’ cameras perform against each other?

Quick specs

Both phones are equipped with dual-rear cameras: A 16- and 20-megapixel combo. Both phones have ditched using their secondary cameras for optical zoom capabilities and instead champion having two shooters with f/1.7 apertures — to shoot better in low-light situations, they claim.

It’s on the front-facing cameras where these two phones differ. The OnePlus 5T sports a 16-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0 while the OPPO R11s is fitted with a 20-megapixel camera with the same f/2.0 aperture.

Now, on to the shootout!

Rear cameras

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a big difference between the two phones in terms of rear camera performance. In great lighting conditions, the OnePlus 5T and the OPPO R11s deliver great color and detailed photos.

As I used the two phones more, however, I noticed a slight difference with the photos they produce.

In very bright or extreme lighting conditions, the OnePlus 5T’s photos had higher contrast while the R11s’ photos were usually brighter in terms of exposure.

With HDR on, the OnePlus 5T did slightly better. This handset was better at balancing the bright sky background and the shadowy flower foreground. The flowers on the R11s sample were visibly darker and less detailed.

Colors come out almost the same — bright and punchy, but not too saturated as other smartphone cameras have been known to do. But, notice that the R11s’ shot is a tad warmer than the 5T’s photo.

This warmth on the R11s photos is more apparent in the photo above. Again, OPPO’s photos are more exposed, though in this case, that led to a lack of detail on this particular photo.

That R11s brightness works for some instances, however. In the pictures above, the brightness on the OPPO R11s photo worked as it made for a more vivid photo of the flowers.

In low-light settings, both devices do good, though we’ve seen other handsets perform better. Colors are brighter and more solid on the OnePlus 5T; its contrast settings work better for scenarios like this.

Portrait mode

The OnePlus 5T and the OPPO R11s both have portrait modes on their rear cameras. For the unfamiliar, this shooting mode just allows for a bokeh effect and slight face-filtering that ensures optimum photos.

On this mode, both devices did well. Bokeh cutouts looked good and natural. As expected and as observed from the other photos, the R11s had a higher exposure which meant less shadows on the face. There was also more airbrushing on the R11s photo with Joshua’s (the photo subject) freckles almost disappearing completely.

There’s also an extra setting on the R11s’ rear camera portrait mode that allows for a tighter portrait shot — I call this the “bust” or “full body” button. Toggling this will either crop into the photo like above, or give you a wider shot like the photo before that.

The same observations are applicable to this next portrait photo. Notice how smooth my skin is on the R11s picture — even golden hour’s great lighting wouldn’t have been able to get my skin to look that great!

Front-facing cameras

Now on to selfies!

This first selfie batch was taken with the beauty mode turned off.

Look closer and you’ll notice subtle differences. The R11s’ photo exposure make it seem like my face is brighter, and even without beauty mode, there seems to be subtle airbrushing done on my face. On both photos, you see the detail on my skin, though I’d say that the OnePlus 5T photo is more true to life — not that I’m happy about that fact.

It should be noted, though, that there is no bokeh mode available on the OnePlus 5T’s front-facing cameras. Alas, you have to deal with crappy backgrounds when you’re on this phone as you can’t blur them out.

It’s really on the beauty mode that these two phones differ. The OnePlus 5T does have a beauty mode contolled by a bar that you can toggle for intensity. The OPPO R11s, on the other hand, has beauty mode settings with choices from intensities one to six, and artificial intelligence-powered beauty mode when set to “Auto.”

The OnePlus 5T’s beauty mode is noticeably mild compared to the R11s’. Even on the highest setting, OnePlus’ filters weren’t as strong as some of OPPO’s. Although OPPO’s filters run the risk of too much smoothing and plastic-y skin, the improved AI-beauty mode has me impressed with natural-looking selfie results.

Even in group selfies, the same results carry over. Again, there is no bokeh or portrait mode on the OnePlus 5T’s selfie camera, which is a shame especially for group photos like above.

Verdict

While these two devices look confusingly similar, they are designed for two different markets. Aside from camera treatment, there are notable differences between two phones in terms of user experience (OnePlus uses OxygenOS which is near stock Android, while OPPO is on ColorOS which mimic’s Apple’s iOS) and specs (the OnePlus 5T uses a high-end Snapdragon 835 while the OPPO R11s uses a midrange Snapdragon 660 processor).

The OnePlus 5T, slapped with a flagship processor, is aimed at power users who look at utility and value for money as primary priorities. Even this phone’s lack of portrait or bokeh mode on the front-facing camera, if it’s any indication, shows how selfies just aren’t a priority on this device.

The OPPO R11s, on the other hand, sticks to the brand’s selfie roots. It caters to an audience that puts importance on selfies and beauty modes, even going as far as installing artificial intelligence on said beauty mode.


To be completely honest, there isn’t much of a difference in terms of picture quality between these two handsets. It all boils down to preference. Unless you’re very particular about your beauty modes, either phone would work for you.

In this particular case, the cameras aren’t a tie-breaker.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 5 vs OPPO R11 shootout: Which has better cameras?

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Camera Shootouts

GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison

Which is the action camera for you?

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GoPro is one of the biggest names in sports videography and is a name that first comes to mind when the need for a portable, easy-to-set-up camera arises. Although, the past couple of years were a bit hard for the company as sales plummeted, and after introducing their first-ever drone, some literally fell from the sky.

Still working hard on making another hit, GoPro has returned with their latest action camera, the HERO 6 Black, and it boasts some pretty impressive features. Will it be the saving grace the company needs right now? How does it fare compared to its predecessor, the HERO 5? We answer those questions plus more in this comparison.

Design

On the outside, nothing has changed with the new action camera at all. It’s made of the same robust, rubbery material that’s designed to go underwater for as deep as 10 meters without needing an extra waterproof case. Button placements are carried over — one up top to start recording and another one on its side to switch between shooting modes.

Underneath, the same 1220mAh battery is stored while connectivity ports are on the other side. Even the protective lens is still removable and replaceable. There’s virtually no way of telling the two apart except for the small print on the side of the camera.

Features

The biggest upgrade of the HERO 6 has more to do with output. It can now shoot up to 4K resolution at 60fps, whereas the previous HERO 5 topped out at 4K 30fps. It might seem like a small detail but having the option to shoot smoother video is always a good thing.

Another difference is frame rate. The HERO 5 Black can capture videos at a speedy 240fps but resolution is limited to 720p. The newer HERO 6 Black, on the other hand, can shoot the same 240fps rate at a clearer 1080p resolution.

For more flexibility, the HERO 6 can also shoot at 2.7K at 120fps so you get nice slow-mo video with the ability to resize or re-scale your footage if the need arises. Other features that differentiate the new action camera from its predecessor include better low-light performance and dynamic range.

Video Sample

Of course, all this means nothing if we can’t see for ourselves. I brought both cameras during my travels and you may refer to the embedded video below (starting at 2:46) for some sample video comparisons.

You can easily see that the sky from the HERO 6’s shots is more vibrant than the pale blue color from the HERO 5. There’s also a noticeable difference in exposure. The HERO 5 has darker blacks which, in this case, worked well since it was able to bring out more details on the snowy mountain.

Although both are set to auto white balance, footage from the HERO 5 still turns out to be warmer as seen in the indoor shoot.

In terms of stabilization, the new HERO 6 really stepped up its game to remove unwanted jerks and jitters. The difference is day and night, and it’s impressive how the HERO 6 almost looks like it was mounted on a gimbal thanks to its electronic image stabilization.

Don’t get us wrong, the HERO 5 also has its own EIS, but just not as good as the new flagship’s.

One more thing to notice when the camera’s EIS is turned on is that the HERO 5 needs to crop the image by 10 percent to achieve a smoother shot, while the HERO 6 has improved this and only crops about 5 percent of the original image.

Additionally, stabilization on the HERO 5 can only be used until 2.7K resolution at 60fps, while the HERO 6 supports stabilization until 4K. The only limitation here is that EIS maxes out at 30fps with no support for the higher 60fps.

Onto low-light shooting: Footage taken with the older HERO 5 couldn’t achieve the same level of clarity shot on the HERO 6. Colors are also livelier and digital noise has been reduced significantly on the latter.

Although there were instances, like when we went ice skating, that we preferred the color and details shot by the HERO 5. It looked more natural and the ice on the floor is still visible, unlike the one shot by the HERO 6.

Photo Samples

We now look at some photo samples from both action cameras.

This photo was taken at Italy’s oldest shopping mall and shows a good balance between light and dark areas. We like how the HERO 5 has a higher contrast which added detail to the metal structure of the mall. 

While waiting for a train, we see the sun lighting the Swiss Alps from behind with a dark and shaded station in the foreground. Again, we see a more vibrant blue sky from the HERO 6 with good details.

But look closer on the warning sign in front of you and the HERO 5 was actually able to deliver a better, more legible image. Even when you crop them to 100 percent, the smallest details seem to appear better on the HERO 5.

At night, both proved to be capable shooters, but the HERO 6 showed more details by effectively capturing the cracks on the floor. One thing that I had been complaining about with my HERO 5 is that it easily overshoots light flares, creating an unwanted glow and losing details.

It’s very much distracting here since it washed out the person’s face. Meanwhile, we’re happy that it was addressed on the HERO 6 as it’s clearly the better photo.

Zooming in to 100 percent shows that the green motorcycle has a livelier color and less noise on the HERO 6 compared to its predecessor. Here are more sample photos:

Battery Life

As mentioned earlier in this video, the HERO 6 Black carries the same 1220mAh battery capacity as the HERO 5 Black. So it should technically last for the same amount of time right? Well, no.

We conducted a battery test on the two at full capacities, same video settings, and started recording until they both drained their batteries. After more than an hour and a half, the HERO 6 actually gave up first at 1 hour and 42 minutes while the HERO 5 continued on and reached 2 hours and 5 minutes. That’s 23 minutes of difference and could go a long way in real-world shooting.

Responsible for this result might be the HERO 6’s newer custom processor. Yes, it could produce better dynamic range, low light shots, and stabilize the camera really well — but at the cost of a more power-hungry chip. That’s definitely a trade-off to consider.

Conclusion

So the question here is this: Should you upgrade to a HERO 6 Black from a HERO 5 Black?

Well, you first have to ask yourself the question: Will you be using it to shoot serious action scenes with really fast movement? Are you after the best quality there is? Or are you more of a casual user who just uses a sports camera to document your out-of-town trips?  

 

Because if it’s not for professional work, the HERO 5 Black is more than capable to document all your trips. It’s also worth every penny since it just dropped its price to US$ 299, making it a really attractive offering — not to mention longer battery life.

Although if you plan to use your action videos for broadcast and want to have a lot of flexibility in shooting and editing, then you can’t go wrong with the HERO 6 Black at US$ 399.

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Camera Shootouts

GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison

Is the GoPro HERO 6 worth the upgrade?

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It’s been a while since GoPro introduced a new HERO camera, and Kevin from the GadgetMatch team took the company’s latest offering to his travels.

The HERO 6 Black has the same exterior design as its predecessor the HERO 5 Black, but brings some improvements on the inside, including stabilization and higher frame rates.

In this video, we try to answer questions you might have: Should you upgrade to the HERO 6? Or should you buy the now more affordable HERO 5 Black?

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