LG V30 Cine Video Mode Review

We find out if the V30’s video mode makes you a movie auteur, or Micheal Bay

Outside of going to film school, how can we quickly and easily elevate the production value of videos shot on our smartphones? After all, whether it’s a special moment with the family, or a document of a fun weekend; our videos deserve to be treated with care and attention. We want to watch them again, not delete them without a second thought. The new LG V30 is a videographer’s dream phone. The camera is optimized for video use, with a collection of tools influenced by modern filmmaking that turn a very ordinary video into something more visually exciting, helping tell your story.

Do they work, and are they really simple enough for everyone to use? What’s more, has LG used a light touch, or gone all-out with heavy-handed effects that may do more harm than good. We found out after filming the morning of the V30’s announcement on an LG V30.

Has LG used a light touch, or gone all-out with heavy-handed effects?

The first thing you need to know is that no matter how good the V30 is — and it’s very good — if you don’t put thought and effort into creating a visual story, the end result will still be ordinary. But the V30’s tools are compelling, making you want to experiment, practice, and crucially, learn how to improve. The few hours we had to shoot video with the V30 wasn’t enough. We could have carried on doing so throughout the day, such was the creative drive to have fun with the camera.

LG’s triumph is the Cine Video mode. At first it looks and sounds like a collection of filters, which we’ve seen many times before. However, LG’s Cine Effects go way beyond slapping a Juno filter over a 10-second clip in Instagram, then hoping for the best. The difference is Cine Effects maintain color accuracy, have a wider dynamic range for a smooth transition between light and dark scenes, and more vivid colors. All this adds up to a vastly improved image quality. Any fears of LG’s Cine Video mode being heavy handed are dispelled. It’s easy to dial-down the effect. Used with care, the V30 will make you a Christopher Nolan-like auteur, and not a bombastic Michael Bay. This, by the way, is very good news indeed.

LG V30 Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s not just the Cine Effects that make the V30’s camera so good. The 16-megapixel main camera is a strong performer, with an industry-first f/1.6 aperture and a glass lens. This has 4-percent more light transmittance than plastic lenses, which doesn’t sound a lot, but makes a large difference. LG says the dynamic range is 11 stops, rather than 9.5 ISO stops with a plastic lens. More light means better low-light photos and video.

Let’s get filming. There are 15 Cine Effects, all of which are based on styles popular in movie-making. For example, Thriller gives a moody deep blue, nighttime look, and Romantic Comedy adds a dreamy “golden hour” style. Each theme can be adjusted for strength, and a vignette effect added, again with varying strength. To get the right cinematic look for its Cine Effects, LG worked with post-production film experts and colorists, who were able to make the final, crucial  adjustments to the palette. The themes are based on mood, situation, and feeling; not a simple style choice, and the final product is often startling.

The morning sun was blazing in Berlin as we approached the V30’s launch event, and passing along a tree-lined street with the canal off to one side, gave the perfect opportunity to try Romantic Comedy. The look is almost autumnal, with golden brown skies, a haze in the air, and some beautiful lens flare from the sun. The thing is, the V30 and Cine Effect completely changed the atmosphere and feel of the scene. It didn’t look like that in real life. It was a regular street in a bustling city. Thriller mode added another dimension to Berlin’s subway, at once making already dimly lit, graffitied passages more foreboding; but when faced with some bright street art, the colors popped off the screen. A subway station suddenly became an almost hyper-real environment, where anything could happen next.

We recorded without an external microphone, which is likely how most people will use the V30, and the audio has some great moments — the quad microphone setup separates audio into stereo channels very well; but isn’t so good at focusing on its subject. In a noisy room, it recorded everyone speaking around us at the same volume, making the primary voices much less clear. It’s also worth mentioning how much the DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal added to the pro-look of our videos. There’s a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it can elevate the look of your videos to the next level.

LG V30 dual camera
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Point Zoom is another video feature that has some interesting uses. Activate it, tap an area on the screen, and the phone will track that spot when zooming in and out. An easy to use slide bar is used for zooming, and the speed can be varied. This, along with the auto tracking, gives a really professional look. However, zoom in really close and quality drops drastically.

Anyone with time and talent could really exploit the V30’s ability.

Shooting our short movie was fun. Swapping Cine Effect themes to see how it altered a scene’s look was addictive and genuinely enjoyable, because it really did change the mood of the scene, and as it dynamically adjusts as you move around, you’re rarely left feeling you choose the wrong setting. The V30’s 6-inch,18:9 aspect ratio screen helps here too; because the live video view isn’t covered in distracting settings, theme adjustments, or other buttons. They’re off to the side, so you can see what’s going on, without the need to dig into menus or hide buttons away.

It’s good news on the battery side too. The 3,300mAh battery, combined with the power efficient Snapdragon 835 processor and OLED screen, didn’t drain away in moments. We shot 44 short videos over a few hours, often leaving the camera paused while changing locations, and there was still 76 percent battery life remaining.

While our own video efforts here won’t be eligible for any Oscars, it’s clear that anyone with time and talent could really exploit the V30’s ability, and produce some amazing movies. Not just “home movies” for showing to friends, but pro-quality, engaging, exciting, and enjoyable movies of which they can be proud. The best thing is, the V30 makes the filming process just as enjoyable as watching and re-watching the end result.

Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Mobile

The most expensive Galaxy S10 could be the priciest Galaxy phone we've seen

Not long now; with 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Computing

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Mobile

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.
Android

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…
Mobile

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Mobile

Biometric phone unlocks can’t be forced by feds, says U.S. judge

Fingerprint and face unlocks used to not be protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that may soon change. A judge in California has ruled biometric unlocking methods of all kinds are protected in the same way as passcodes.
Mobile

The Note 8 and S8 range now have access to the Android Pie beta

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

The Motorola Razr may return as a foldable phone — for $1,500

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?
Mobile

The iPhone XS Battery Case's battery has a smaller capacity than previous cases

Apple has been rumored to be working on a new iPhone battery case for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now, those new cases are finally here, offering seven hours of extra use for each iPhone and are available for $129.