How to use the camera in the LG G5 to take awesome photos

LG G5 Review
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

The LG G4 boasted one of the best cameras of any smartphone in 2015. Its successor, the G5, retains the best camera features of the previous model and adds a few others that help make the phone one of the top shooters of 2016.

For the most part, the G5 sports the same components of its predecessor, down to the same lens and 16-megapixel image sensor. It boasts the same f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization (OIS 2.0), and a color spectrum sensor. Even the software interface has hardly been touched, save for a few additional features. Whereas the G4 camera really showed its mettle in Manual mode, the G5 follows suit in every way. Only this time, there is more options for creativity — and a second ultra wide-angle lens — for you to work with. Here’s how you can take your mobile photography skills to the next level using the G5’s camera and he features.

Two lenses and manual mode

Two lenses are better than one

The G5 sports two rear lenses — one is a regular 75-degree angle lens, and the other boasts an ultra-wide 135-degree angle lens. The latter is the widest-angle lens on any smartphone to date. These two lenses are interchangeable throughout the interface, and they’re denoted by two icons located at the top of the screen. Switching between them is as simple as selecting the regular (left) or wide-angle (right).

Other smartphone makers have offered dual-lens cameras before, but they served singular purposes related to depth of field, meaning one lens focused closer on the subject you were shooting, while the other honed in on an object that was further away. LG is doing something totally different with the G5, because each lens can shoot independently, and both are free to use with any of the camera features available on the G5.

One thing to note: The wide-angle lens shoots at a reduced 8-megapixels, which doesn’t really affect quality much, but it does limit how much you can crop or how big you can blow up the image afterward.

Despite that limitation, the advantage of having such a wide-angle lens is that vistas and landscapes are much easier to capture in one shot. Indeed, almost anything is easier to squeeze in the frame when you use the wide-angle lens. Large group photos, like at a wedding, for instance, or tall buildings that are otherwise difficult to capture without moving further away are good examples of when you’ll want to use it.

Shooting with the wide-angle lens is a lot of fun, especially since you can capture images that other smartphones simply can’t.

Going Manual

Manual mode screenshot

LG didn’t alter much in the G5’s Manual mode, opting to stick with what was an unheralded success in its predecessor. Simply put, if you want to shoot photos that don’t look they came from a smartphone, it’s worth getting to know this mode.

If you’re not familiar with manual photography, the layout and settings might look complicated, but LG designed its manual mode to be fairly easy to learn and master. Controls are lined up along a row at the bottom. From left to right, you’ll see white balance, manual focus, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and auto-exposure lock. Tap any one of them, and a vertical slider pops up, so you can adjust on the fly and see what the resulting image would look like in real time.

White balance adjusts the overall tone and color to look more natural. Manual focus lets you control focus for anything you’re shooting, especially objects that are closer. Exposure adjusts brightness and contrast. ISO determines how sensitive the camera is to available light. Shutter speed controls how fast or how long the sensor is exposed to light. The auto-exposure lock blocks manual exposure and tries to automate it for you.

Manual mode in manual focus

You don’t have to adjust all of the settings for every photo you take. The shutter speed and ISO are usually the most common ones you’ll want to tinker with, though you may also need to give white balance a look. For example, when shooting a sunset in Auto mode, where the camera software handles everything, the image might look too bright and lack contrast. Shooting in manual, where you can adjust the shutter, ISO, and white balance; the resulting image looks far more picturesque and natural.

Low-light photos are another big one. While Auto does an admirable job, Manual outclasses it almost every time. Being able to control so much of the output in advance can produce a far more natural shot. Play with the shutter, ISO, exposure, and white balance to see what kind of shot you can manage. And remember, always try to keep a really steady hand when shooting in low-light or at night. You can also get a small tripod.

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