Smartphone Camera Shootout: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs LG G4

Samsung_Galaxy_S6_LG_G4_Cameras_01_TA

Reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge have been pretty positive with the camera being a standout feature. However, last week LG announced their newest flagship, the G4, and they feel they might have one-upped Samsung. The Galaxy S6 and Edge sport an industry first f/1.9 aperture, giving them tremendous results in low light. It hasn’t even been a month and now LG has trumped Samsung by giving the G4’s camera an aperture of f/1.8. It might not sound like much of a difference to you, but LG believes it is. On top of that, they threw in auto laser focus, and OIS 2.0, which gives you a 3rd axis for even better image stabilization.

Android users have been craving for smartphones that sport cameras that can get the job done, so it’s nice to see both LG and Samsung pushing the envelope here. Is there a clear winner? Did LG trump Samsung?

I have spent a decent amount of time with both the G4 and the Galaxy S6 Edge this past weekend capturing photos to see how each one fairs. I am not only looking for great photos, but I wanted to see how each device did with detail, so you will find cropped examples as well.

Before we begin, I should note that all photos were taken in Auto mode, so I did not tweak any controls whatsoever. This is how most people will capture photos. All photos came in at 5312 x 2988 or 16 MP

Let’s start with this baseball on my garage floor. I took both of these photos from about waist high. Below are the originals, followed by cropped versions of both photos (1350 x 759)

Original (5312 x 2988) Click on images for full resolution version

                              Galaxy S6 Edge                                                            LG G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_G4

Cropped (1350 x 759) Click on images for full resolution version

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_GS6_CropGalaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_G4_crop

As you can see, the LG images are brighter, but the Galaxy S6 Edge’s images are more color accurate. I also think the Galaxy S6 Edge captured more detail on the garage floor in the cropped image. On the other hand, the writing on the ball is clearer on the cropped picture from the G4.

Next up is an image of a creek at dusk, and again, followed by cropped mages

Original (5312 x 2988) Click on images for full resolution version

                              Galaxy S6 Edge                                                            LG G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_02_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_02_G4

Cropped (1350 x 759) Click on images for full resolution version

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_02_GS6_CropGalaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_02_G4_crop

Again, the G4’s image is a little brighter, but if you take a look at the cropped images, the Galaxy S6 Edge has more detail on the rocks.

Now we have a picture of a “No Outlet” sign after sunset when it’s just about dark.

Original (5312 x 2988) Click on images for full resolution version

                              Galaxy S6 Edge                                                            LG G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_03_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_03_G4

Cropped (1350 x 759) Click on images for full resolution version

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_03_GS6_cropGalaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_03_G4_crop

Once again, the G4’s image is brighter. The sign, which is the focal point, isn’t all that much better though. Cropping an image like this seems futile at best, but it does give us some information. The G4 has a lot more noise, and the lights on the light posts are a little cleaner on the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Here are some more photos in which I didn’t do any crop tests. The ones with the clouds, especially the sunset, are hard to compare since they moved slightly from image to image. Note: The G4 used HDR to capture the first picture with the clouds. The last two images are closeups, not crops.

Original (5312 x 2988) Click on images for full resolution version

                              Galaxy S6 Edge                                                            LG G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_04_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_04_G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_05_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_05_HDR_G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_06_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_06_G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_07_Closeup_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_07_Closeup_G4

Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_08_Closeup_GS6Galaxy_S6_Edge_vs_LG_G4_Photos_Shootout_08_Closeup_G4

Conclusion

You can clearly see the f/1.8 aperture of the G4 captures more light than the f/1.9 aperture, but the Galaxy S6 seems to capture more detail. I’m not sure you can pick a clear winner because all photos are remarkable, but if you’re a photography enthusiast, the G4 might be the better pick since it offers the ability to capture Raw (DNG) images and there are more controls in Manual mode vs Samsung’s Pro mode, For example, you can adjust the shutter speed on the G4, but you can’t on the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge. Even the ISO setting is limited to 800 on the Galaxy S6 and Edge, whereas the G4 allows you to dial it up to 2700. So if you know what you’re doing, you can definitely capture better photos on the G4, but t the average person will more than likely be ecstatic with the performance of either phone.

What do you think of the photos? Let me know in the comments.


About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.


  • Robert Jensen

    Would have liked to see you use a photo app where you had manual exposure because f-stops don’t tell you as much about the brightness of the lens as do t-stops, or the actual light transmission characteristics of the optical system.

    Taking the same shot at the same ISO/aperture/shutter speed (and the phone securely attached to a solid tripod and using a timer) can better show differences between phones/cameras/lenses than the method you use here.

  • hhmmm

    The photo quality is similar only if you don’t use the DNG mode on the G4. If you do, the amount of detail and dynamic range you retain on the G4 will be superior, you will just need those large capacity SD cards…

    • RobertNazarian

      True, but your average user won’t both with Raw photos. They won’t even bother with the Manual controls. And it looks like Raw is coming to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge via the Android 5.1.1 update.

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  • Daniel Högberg

    Well, I happen to own both. The raw files from the LG G4 is in a another class, period! The raw files from the S6 on iso 80 is like the raw-files from the LG G4 on iso 300 – thats 2 stops difference. The new S8 is not quite there yet either, really crazy that so many years later the LG G4 still gives the best image quality on the market, Samsung and Apple should be ashamed! (i do not count the Nokias 1080, 808 etc)