A review of photography- and iPhoneography-related products, apps, and more.

Product Review: Oowa Lenses

Mobile photography has become so popular within the last few years thanks to the advances in the technology mobile devices use. With iPhones spitting out billboard-worthy photos, there seems to be an ever-growing trend to see which mobile device can capture the best image. Using just the device, however, may have its limitations—and that’s where the accessory industry comes into play. With so many options to choose from though, how are we to know which one is worthy of your money?

Oowa, started as a Kickstarter campaign, and with their lenses created by DynaOptics Ltd., claims they are “revolutionizing mobile photography with free-form optics.” Free-form optics? Here’s what they say about this, taken directly from their website:

“Our patent-pending, free-form technology is uniquely optimized for translating the image circle onto the iPhone’s rectangular sensor. This results in superior edge-to-edge image quality with no dark corners and no color bleeding. Mobile photography will never be the same again.”

Oowa free-form optics technology

In short, their lenses are optimized to the device’s rectangular sensor by way of optimizing a rectangular portion of the image area of their lenses. This sounds fancy and all, so I was excited when I received an email from them to test out their set of iPhone lenses. Are they really revolutionary though? Let’s find out!

Oowa Pro Kit contents

Note: This review isn’t intended to be technical in any way—there will be no studying graphs or charts here. My on-the-field photos are taken and observed as is, giving you real-world examples. While test charts and graphs may prove one set of lenses to be sharper/better than another, seeing things out on the field is how I like to determine the lenses to use for my purposes.

Oowa telephoto lens with lens hood

All sample photos are taken with an iPhone 6s Plus. All sample images have been resized for the web. Other than that, they are unedited images as seen from the iPhone camera.

Oowa wide angle lens out in the field on an iPhone 6s Plus

The Oowa set of lenses that were sent to me have a close competitor to them, called Moment—which also started as a Kickstarter campaign. Where I can, I have compared the photos created with Oowa lenses with those made with the Moment set of equivalent lenses. If you’re interested in seeing my review on the Moment set of lenses and cases for my iPhone, you can read the Moment lens and case review here.

The Pro Kit

The Pro Kit consists of a case for your phone that acts as the adaptor to their lenses: the 15mm wide angle lens, and the 75mm telephoto lens. The telephoto lens also comes with a flare hood, and both lenses come with a lens cap to protect the front glass, and a lens pouch to carry each lens in.

Oowa Pro kit contents

The Case

The Oowa case is simple, minimal, and to my surprise, quite comfortable to hold. It’s sleek and smooth design adds minimal bulk to your iPhone, which is always great. The button openings on the case are big enough for you to access the buttons, but I find that the buttons are inset too much to actually be able to switch and/or press the buttons with ease. Perhaps this is just my bulky fingers, but I find the need to use the tips of my fingers to actually make use of the buttons. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but is just a little inconvenient at times.

Oowa case with button holes

The case is made of plastic, but seems sturdy enough to withstand low-impact moments. The flat back is actually quite slippery to the touch, so I have had instances where it has easily slipped out of my hands. The purpose of the case is to be able to attach their set of lenses on to the iPhone. This is done through the threaded opening surrounding the camera area. There are no markings or anything, which can be problematic to some as I’ll explain further below.

Oowa lens attachment thread on the case

The Lens

15mm

As a photographer who loves taking landscape photos, I love wide angle lenses. The photos that come out of them pull you into the scene and surround you with beauty. At 15mm, this is much wider than the 18mm wide angle lens I was using with my iPhone. How does this compare with the regular iPhone lens? Let’s see!

iPhone 6s Plus Lens vs. Oowa 15mm

You can slide the slider left or right to see the image taken with the iPhone’s native lens (slide right), and compare that with the image taken with the Oowa 15mm lens (slide left).


You’ll likely notice quite a big difference in terms of field of view. The 15mm is significantly wider than the iPhone’s native lens on the iPhone 6s Plus, as can be seen by the extra trees you see. If we take a look at the corner areas, you’ll see that while the iPhone photo has a relatively decent image quality, the Oowa lens tends to suffer a bit. The finer edges of the branches get blurred—especially at all four corners of the image.

Oowa 15mm vs. Moment 18mm

Now, let’s compare this same image taken with the Oowa 15mm wide angle lens (slide right) with the Moment 18mm (first generation) lens (slide left)!


From day 1 I’ve always noticed vignetting and distortion with this lens, as you can see in the photo above. I should mention that Moment just recently came out with a newer version of their wide angle lens, so that may have solved some of the issues that were plaguing this initial version.

Here’s another example where you can see the Oowa 15mm (slide right) has slightly better image quality edge-to-edge, compared with the Moment 18mm (slide left).


If you look closely, you’ll notice how the image quality from the Moment wide angle lens suffers at all four corners, with some light fall-off. Comparing that with the Oowa 15mm wide angle, I would say the Oowa lens has a slightly better image quality, and next to no vignetting, which is thanks to their free-form optics. Way to go Oowa!

iPhone 6s Plus Lens vs. Oowa 75mm

This Oowa telephoto lens zooms, which is 2.5x closer than the standard iPhone lens, can get a bit closer to the subject than my Moment 60mm lens. This is great for when you want to capture the moment but aren’t able to get physically closer. Slide right for the iPhone version and slide left for the Oowa telephoto version.


Similarly to the initial comparison from above, the image quality of the Oowa 75mm is slightly lower than that of the iPhone 6s Plus native lens. This can be seen primarily around the corners where the branches are all blurred together.

Oowa 75mm vs. Moment 60mm

Comparing the same image with the Moment 60mm lens (slide left), I would again agree that the Oowa 75mm (slide right) has a slight advantage with overall better image quality and next to no visible vignetting.


Something Strange

When using the Oowa 75mm lens attachment, I noticed something strange that doesn’t happen with the iPhone nor Moment 60mm lens. Depending on the angle at which I take my photo, the four corners of my image will be significantly blurry. If you look at the image below, it can be seen that a large part of each corner is blurred.

And here too…blurred and coloured corners.

In most cases, I angled the iPhone slightly up from the level position, to see the corner area of my image discoloured and/or blurred. This would likely have to do with the internal lens configuration of the Oowa 75mm but it’s something I would say needs to be fixed in a future version. Given this, I would only be able to use the Oowa 75mm when taking photos level to the horizon.

Here is another example of where this happened, although it may be a little more difficult to tell with all the details. Fortunately this did not happen with the Oowa 15mm wide angle attachment.

Connecting the lenses to the case

This may not sound as important as the quality of the images taken with these lenses, but it’s a functionality issue that in my opinion affects the overall use of the system. I mentioned earlier that there are no markings on the lenses or the case, which makes you wonder, how do you connect the two?

Looking at the other side of the Oowa lens there are no obvious markers

The team at Oowa has created a video on this, which explains that you need to align the vertical tabs seen on the back of each lens, with the top and bottom of the opening on the case. You then simply twist clockwise to attach the lens. In theory this works great. But when you’re out in the field, you may be pressed for time, or completely forget about those two small tabs (which I ended up doing when I first went out with the lenses). When you’re in a rush, the last thing you want to do is to stop, look at the lens and carefully align the tabs to the opening. I would love to be able to just swap and go. Traditional SLR lenses—and even other mobile device lens attachments—have markings on both the body and lens (or case and lens), which act as a simple and quick way to properly attach the lens to the body/case. With these Oowa lenses, I can’t do this without having to look carefully and align.

While this doesn’t affect the quality of the image, I find this to be a little cumbersome and hope they fix this in a future version.

Align the top of the case (shown here) to just right of the logo on each lens, and twist clockwise until it attaches

As an alternative, I’ve devised my own way of quickly attaching the lens, as shown above. Align just past the Oowa logo and keep twisting clockwise until the lens locks into place. I’ve had about a 90 percent success rate with this method, and it works more or less with both the wide and telephoto lenses.

Conclusion

I love using lens attachments to expand the photographic ability of my iPhone, but especially appreciate it when these attachments do a fantastic job at retaining image quality. My experience with my first set of lens attachments proved a little disappointing as it suffered from blurred corners and a lot of vignetting. These Oowa set of lenses, however, are a marked improvement over my Moment set of lenses, and thanks to their free-form optics, I am really happy to see that they have done away with vignetting around the corners. The image quality at the corners still do suffer a little, but again, not as much as my Moment lenses.

This strange reflection I got with the 75mm lens, however, is problematic, and I really do wish they fix this in a future version, since this limits the angle in which I can use this lens.

The method of attaching these lenses to the case can also use some improvements so that I don’t have to think about how to go about doing it while out in the field. Every second counts when you’re trying to take photos of sunrises, and I don’t want to miss a moment trying to attach a lens to my camera.

The build quality of these lenses are solid, and I can see them withstanding some heavy use. I’m happy with the image quality coming out of them, but still yearn for the time when we can get very sharp picture quality edge-to-edge.


Disclaimer: These Oowa lenses were sent to me by Oowa for review purposes. Opinions are strictly my own.


Do you have any experience with Oowa lenses, or any other mobile phone lens attachments? Let me know how your experience is in the comments below!

Bonus

Here’s another set of photos comparing the iPhone lens to the Oowa lenses and the Moment lenses.

iPhone Regular Lens

Oowa Wide vs. Moment Wide

Slide right for the Oowa wide angle version and slide left for the Moment wide angle version.


Oowa Tele vs. Moment Tele

Slide right for the Oowa telephoto version and slide right for the Moment telephoto version.


Product Review: Sleeklens Workflow

One of the best things about post-processing may also be the worst thing about it. We have so many choices these days—which is great—but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can easily get overwhelmed by the plethora of choices you have in front of you.

Read more

The LG 360 Cam

The LG 360 Camera comes at a time when 360 photos and videos are becoming fairly popular within social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all support these new formats and photographers are just finding out the potential for them. So when I was given the LG 360 Cam from LG Canada, I knew I had to take it for a spin during one of my many outings.

LG 360 Cam

This post will cover 360 photos taken with the LG 360 Cam. I’ll write another post when I have done a few more 360 videos with the LG 360 Cam.

The LG 360 Cam is essentially a self enclosed camera in a bubble gum-sized package with a 180 lens built on either side. There’s one single button that allows you to take a photo with a single click, or start a video with a slightly longer press of the button. It connects to your LG G5 phone, or iOS device via Blootooth and local wifi. Alternatively, you can control the camera via the 360 Cam app.

The LG 360 Cam and its cover detached.

The LG 360 Cam and its cover detached.

It’s worth noting that to use the LG 360 Cam, you’ll need a micro SD card, which isn’t included in the package. Without one inside the camera, you won’t be able to use it. The camera also requires a wifi and bluetooth connection to your LG G5 or iOS device. One finicky part about the wifi that’s required by the phone and 360 Cam is that if your 360 Cam is on, you won’t be able to automatically connect to any other wifi on your phone. It’s an odd setup but as soon as you turn off the 360 Cam, you’ll be able to automatically reconnect to your usual wifi hotspots again.

The cover of the 360 Cam acts as a holder by inverting and connecting to the base of the camera itself. It’s handy and eliminates the need to carry the cover separately, but on my first outing with the camera, I had completely forgotten about this, hence seeing my hand so close in the 360 image.

LG 360 Cam with the cover acting as a holder.

LG 360 Cam with the cover acting as a holder.

Here’s a 360 photo taken on the streets surrounding Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. I was holding the 360 Cam with my hands when I took this shot, so my hands are quite visible if you pan down in the photo. I’ve since discovered that even better than using the cover, a selfie stick does a great job of removing my hands from that position and makes the photo much cleaner.

The camera itself is relatively simple. It does its job taking 180 photos and shines in particular during the day. Chroma noise does start to enter when the light falls so while it’s still possible to enjoy 360 degrees in low-light, I would recommend using it during the day.

LG 360 Cam on my selfie stick makes for a great partner.

LG 360 Cam on my selfie stick makes for a great partner.

Here’s a 360 photo taken shortly after sunset. While it wasn’t completely dark yet, you can see there’s quite a bit of noise present in the shadow areas of the photo. The low light ability of this camera is unfortunately not as good as I’ve seen from other competing cameras, like the Ricoh Theta S.

The stitching of the two 180 degree photos isn’t perfect, with some stitching signs visible throughout—particularly through solid colours like the sky. It’s not too much of a distraction, however, so I don’t mind this imperfection.

Camera Roll

To view the 360 photos and videos that you’ve taken with your camera, the 360 Cam needs to be connected to your phone. When connected, you can go to the Gallery to view all of your media on the 360 Cam. From here, you have the choice of deleting, sharing, or downloading the photo or video to your LG G5 or iOS device.

All the 360 photos and videos on the LG 360 Camera.

All the 360 photos and videos on the LG 360 Camera.

Once you’ve downloaded your 360 photos and videos to your device, selecting the My device option will show you all the media you have on your LG G5 or iOS device. You can then share on any of your social media outlets.

All the 360 photos and videos on your device.

All the 360 photos and videos on your device.

360 Photos Viewed in Camera Roll

When you’re viewing 360 photos in Android’s Camera Roll, you can pan the phone around to view all around the image. It’s a great way to create different angles and perspectives from the shot. In the photo below, tilting my phone while viewing the 360 phone gave this effect. You can see my finger is right by the lens since this is before I discovered the selfie stick method.

Viewing a 360 photo on the LG G5.

Viewing a 360 photo on the LG G5.

And here’s one where I tilted the phone, giving a great angle to a landscape. This almost seems like it was taken with a fisheye lens! This photo was taken with the selfie stick so you can see my finger is nowhere to be found in the image. In fact, you can’t even tell that I’m holding anything at all.

Viewing a 360 photo on the LG G5.

Viewing a 360 photo on the LG G5.

If you choose to view the photo regularly, then you’ll just get this plain view that has a lot of distortion.

A 360 photo viewed normally.

A 360 photo viewed normally.

Or if you really stretch things out, you can be on top of the world.

On top of the world...or farmer's market!

On top of the world…or farmer’s market!

Here’s the 360 view of the farmer’s market, where all of these screen captures were taken from.

Time Lapse on the LG 360 Cam

If you’ve updated the firmware on the 360 Cam after July 2016, LG added the ability to capture time lapse photos. You should have a new icon in the Mode menu when you’re in the camera mode.

The time lapse feature is new since the latest firmware update.

The time lapse feature is new since the latest firmware update.

Select the new icon and you’ll get the current interval setting. To change it, simply select the option and choose a different interval for your time lapse.

Setting the interval for the time lapse feature.

Setting the interval for the time lapse feature.

It’s a great feature that I’m super happy about. The camera will continuously take photos at the interval that you specify until you tell it to stop. You then take all the sequenced images that are in your Gallery, and import them into a third party program that will create your time-lapse movie for you. I have yet to use this, but I look forward to using this feature soon. Perhaps that will be another post as well!

Overall I’d say the LG 360 Cam offers a lot of fun in such a compact camera body. The photos that come out of it may not be high quality images similar to what you get from a dSLR, but it serves its purpose for a 360 image and it can be lots of fun to view them afterwards. The addition of a time lapse feature only makes this camera even better.


Have you played with the LG 360 Cam yet? Do you have another 360 camera with similar features? Do tell in the comments below!

A Quick Look at Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights

Back in May of 2016 I read that Instagram was testing out analytics features for Instagram business users. At the time I didn’t think anything of it since my account is not recognized as a business. The feature was to give marketers a more accurate view of their followers’ behaviour, so that their brands can accommodate accordingly.

Instagram Insights for Regular Users

This was great for businesses, but what about the regular users? I believe it was a month or so ago that I believe I passed by an article somewhere on the Internet stating that Insights was slowly rolling out to all users. I have no idea where I read this but I figure if I didn’t see any changes on my Instagram account, then I was not affected by this.

I completely forgot about all of that, until today. Today I finally got my notice saying I was able to get more insight into my followers by clicking on a new icon that is now on the top right corner of my profile page. If you don’t have that icon yet, I’m sure in due time the rollout will come to your account too. Just be patient. Alternatively you could convert your account to a business account, in which you’ll automatically get this feature added in as well.

The new icon is located right beside the Settings icon on the top right.

The new icon is located right beside the Settings icon on the top right.

Having a quick look into Instagram Insights, it’s a relatively straightforward feature that even has explanations as to what each graph means. The layout is clean and easy to read, and gives you the data upfront.

Front page of Instagram Insights.

Front page of Instagram Insights.

My data currently only shows insights for the last three photos that I uploaded. But as time progresses and I upload more, this data should be updated to reflect this.

60 percent of my followers are males!

60 percent of my followers are males!

I can readily see that of my 132k followers, 60 percent are males. The majority of my followers lay in the 18-24 age range, and come from the United States.

Instagram Insights

Why I don’t have followers on Tuesday or Wednesday has yet to be found. I do know for certain that I’ve had engagement on those days. Perhaps the data only pulls for the last 5 days and that blank on Tuesday and Wednesday refers to last week? Today is a Tuesday after all. And the top city that my followers are from…are from Riyadh? Where is that?

Instagram Insights

It also looks like I should be posting pictures right around 1pm, where the majority of my followers are active on Instagram.

I should be posting right around 1pm to get the attention of most of my followers.

I should be posting right around 1pm to get the attention of most of my followers.

What marketers may be most interested in is your Impressions, Reach, and Engagement. As stated right on Insights, Impressions is the total number of times your post has been seen, while Reach refers to the total number of times your post has been seen by unique visitors. Your Engagement level combines your Likes and Comments (you can see separate statistics for Likes and Comments as well).

Instagram Insights

Filter your results by Impressions, Reach, and more!

It’s no secret the engagement level on my Instagram account isn’t very high, but I knew that this wasn’t reflective of how many people actually saw my photos. The Impressions and Reach stats prove this and I’m happy to see this kind of information on each of my photos.

Impressions and Reach are available for each photo!

Impressions and Reach are available for each photo!

These stats are available through the Insights button, or there’s a convenient Insights link under each of my photos when you view your photo. At the time of this posting, I can only see Insights for the last three photos I’ve uploaded.

Instagram Insights

View Insights for each of your photos!

You can see the Insights without having to leave the page, which is pretty convenient. I can see this being useful if a marketer wants to view their insight for a particular photo that has been uploaded during a campaign.

Instagram Insights

Your Insights are populated without leaving the screen. Convenient!

All of these insights will give me a good idea of what type of photos people generally like, are more prone to engaging with, and will tell me when I should be posting if I care for any of these statistics.


Do you have Instagram Insights on your account? Do they reflect what you thought about your Instagram photos? Do you even care about Instagram Insights? Let me know in the comments below!

A closer look at the LG G5

LG’s newest flagship smartphone is the G5, with its modular accessories—otherwise known as friends—that replace one another by removing the bottom portion of the phone. It’s been a few weeks now since I received the LG G5 so I thought this would be a good time for some comparisons of the smartphone with my iPhone.

A closer look at the LG G5

A closer look at the LG G5

Disclaimer: This LG G5 was generously provided by LG Canada for me to test out their phone and wide angle lens on my landscapes—this blog review was not a requirement for me to receive the phone.

The G5 is LG’s latest flagship model, which comes in a modular format, where the bottom portion of the phone can be removed, and replaced with various accessories. It’s a great concept and I’m looking forward to testing this part out in the coming months.

LG G5 and its home screen.

LG G5 and its home screen.

As this is my very first Android device, I needed some time to get familiar with the operating system. I found it quite easy to learn, and even started using one of LG’s own stock apps, their Health app, which keeps track of how many steps I’ve taken each day. There’s just something fulfilling about learning each day that you’ve surpassed your step goal. As a side note, this just goes to show that presentation makes all the difference—my iPhone has captured my step count since day 1, however, I just never used the Health app on it because it didn’t present the data in any way that was easy to understand in a glance.

The LG G5 (left) is a little narrower than the iPhone 6s Plus (right).

The LG G5 (left) is a little narrower than the iPhone 6s Plus (right).

Likely the most noticeable feature about the LG G5 is its dual lenses on the back of the phone. This is what I’l be concentrating on the most for this blog post. The main lens provides a typical high-end smartphone field of view of about  78 degrees with an aperture of f/1.8, producing 16mp images. The second lens—which is most desirable for me as a landscape photographer— provides a field of view of about 135 degrees at f/2.4, producing 8mp images. The front-facing camera has an aperture of f/2.0 yielding an 8mp image.

The primary rear lens offer optical image stabilization. There’s a dual LED flash located between the rear lenses, and there’s also a laser sensor for auto-focus.

The LG G5 is a little narrower and shorter than the iPhone 6s Plus, making it just about the right size for my hands. It feels comfortable holding it in my hands whereas I have to admit the iPhone 6s Plus can be a bit too large at times to handle with just one hand.

The LG G5 (right) is a little shorter than the iPhone 6s Plus (left).

The LG G5 (right) is a little shorter than the iPhone 6s Plus (left).

The LG G5 with the iPhone 6s Plus in the background.

The LG G5 with the iPhone 6s Plus in the background.

Camera App

The stock camera app that comes installed on the LG G5 has three different modes, allowing beginners and advanced users to fully take advantage of its features. This is a good thing since unless other camera apps allow you to select which lens you want to use on your camera, you’re bound to using this stock app from LG.

These modes are accessed by the three horizontal dots on the top right corner of the (portrait-oriented) screen.

LG G5 camera mode selection.

LG G5 camera mode selection.

The “Simple” mode has just two functional buttons to choose from on the screen—and neither of them are the shutter button: Regular or Wide Angle lens. In this mode, you can press anywhere on the screen for the camera to take the photo.

LG G5 Simple camera UI.

LG G5 Simple camera UI.

The Auto mode, which most users may find useful, gives additional buttons on the screen, allowing users to change from photo to video mode, and has an additional four icons added to the screen. The Gear icon changes many of the settings from on-screen display, activating stabilization, enabling voice-activated shutter release, timer, filters, and crop. The HDR mode is useful, but keep in mind that it is only available in Auto Mode.

LG G5 Auto camera UI.

LG G5 Auto camera UI.

The Mode icon is where you can take advantage of all the lenses at once, with modes like Multi-view and Popout. Your advanced features like Slo-mo, Time-lapse, and Panorama modes are also located in this menu.

LG G5 Mode selections.

LG G5 Mode selections.

The Multi shot view takes a photo from all three cameras, and arranges them in a collage, like below. It’s a neat feature but I don’t know when I would actually use it myself.

LG G5, multi shot mode using all three lenses

LG G5, multi shot mode using all three lenses

The popout effect takes a photo from the regular camera, and puts it against a photo taken from the wide angle camera. You can have the background blurred, vignetted, or in monochrome.

LG G5, popout effect with blurred background

LG G5, popout effect with blurred background

The Flash icon is grayed out in this mode as it will turn on when needed.

The Manual mode, which I find the most useful, is where all of these settings and more, are manually set by yourself. So if you don’t know your aperture from shutter speed and ISO, then it’s best to stick to the Auto mode, unless you love to experiment.

LG G5 Manual camera UI.

LG G5 Manual camera UI.

This mode adds a whole set of new icons on the left side of the screen in portrait mode, and bottom edge in landscape mode. What’s peculiar about this mode is that these new icons (and the status bar that appears on the right side of the screen in portrait mode, and top edge in landscape mode) don’t change orientation when you switch from landscape to portrait mode. They are fixed in their landscape orientation while all other icons on the screen change. One would only assume that LG thinks you will be using the phone in Landscape mode if you’re an Advanced user.

Taking a look at the status bar, there’s a live display of the histogram, which can come in handy. It’s small, but this gives you a great idea of how much shadow and highlight areas there are in your photo at any given point. The exposure meter gives you an idea of an ideal exposure, and all the pertinent exposure details are right there at a glance.

When in landscape mode, the bottom row of icons provide the manual settings for you to change the exposure. When each one is tapped, a dial overlays the screen on the right hand side, as seen above.

Native LG G5 camera app in Manual Mode with thumbnail of photo just taken.

Native LG G5 camera app in Manual Mode with thumbnail of photo just taken.

An interesting addition to this camera (compared to that of my iPhone) is the floating thumbnail of the photo you just took. Tapping that puts you directly inside the Google Photos app, allowing you to edit the photo immediately after.

Normal vs. Wide Angle

The dual lens of this phone is what truly excites me. In the camera app, there are two icons that dictate which lens you would like to use. Switching is as easy as tapping the appropriate icon. The transition between the two is somewhat seamless, as the image on the screen blurs, zooms in, and pops into the image of what you see with the new lens.

While the normal lens offers a typical field of view from most other smartphone cameras, it’s the wide angle that does a great job of differentiating itself from the pack. This lens is so wide that I often get my fingers in the frame! You really have to hold the phone carefully so that your knuckles or fingertips don’t get caught on the edges of your images. There have been many times when this happened testing the wide angle lens out.

My hands in the frame while using the wide angle lens.

My hands in the frame while using the wide angle lens.

And here…

Thumb makes its way into this photo too.

My finger makes its way into this photo too.

And this one too!

My finger makes its way in the picture here too.

My finger makes its way in the picture here too.

To get a better idea of how the two lenses differ, here are some images to compare the two lenses, followed by the same picture taken with my iPhone 6s Plus.

LG G5 Normal Lens, HDR Mode

LG G5 Normal Lens, HDR Mode, 16:9 crop

The unedited JPG image, above, is taken with the normal LG G5 lens. The HDR mode was automatically implemented to brighten up the shadow areas on the bottom right of the frame. The image below shows the picture taken standing in the exact same spot, using the wide angle lens of the LG G5.

LG G5 Wide Lens

LG G5 Wide Lens, 16:9 crop

You can see in the image above that the wide angle brings in much more of the image on the top and bottom. The CN Tower that was visible in the centre of the frame in the initial image is now so far away in the image above. The HDR mode was not used in this image, which can be seen in the foreground shrubs that seem to hide in the shadows.

The same view taken with my iPhone 6s Plus is seen below.

iPhone 6s Plus Camera

iPhone 6s Plus Camera

If you look at the CN Tower in the iPhone 5s Plus camera image, above, and compare that with the LG G5 regular lens photo, then you’ll notice they are the same size. You just see less in the iPhone image since the crop is 4:5. HDR mode was not used in this case either, as the foreground shrubs are quite dark.

Here’s another set of images to compare the LG G5 regular lens, wide angle lens, iPhone regular lens, and with the Moment wide angle lens attachment on the iPhone 6s Plus.

LG G5 Regular Lens

LG G5 Regular lens.

LG G5 Regular lens.

LG G5 Wide Angle Lens

LG G5 wide angle lens.

LG G5 wide angle lens.

iPhone 6s Plus Regular Lens

iPhone Regular lens.

iPhone Regular lens.

iPhone 6s Plus with Moment Wide angle lens.

iPhone 6s Plus with Moment Wide angle lens.

The 16:9 Crop

While my iPhone uses a 4:5 ratio for its image dimensions, the LG G5 has an option of setting which ratio I use for each image. The default is set to 16:9, which is the same ratio as a movie theatre screen. Although I can switch it to a 4:5 ratio, which is what I’m more comfortable with, I leave it at 16:9 because it makes for some sweeping epic landscapes, especially when I use it with the wide angle lens!

LG G5 Wide Angle Lens, 16:9 crop

LG G5 Wide Angle Lens, 16:9 crop

The image above really gives you a sweeping view of the marina. Compare that image with the one on my iPhone 6s Plus, below.

iPhone 6s Plus Camera

iPhone 6s Plus Camera

The difference is quite noticeable, don’t you think? That wide angle lens in a 16:9 crop makes a significant difference in how we take in the image. To further compare, the image below is taken from the same place, but with the regular lens on the LG G5, using a crop of 16:9.

LG G5 Regular Camera, 16:9 crop

LG G5 Regular Camera, 16:9 crop

Even this image manages to engulf the viewer since it contains a lot more of the marina compared to that of the iPhone. The sailboats actually seem a little smaller here than in the iPhone photo, which means the regular lens on the LG G5 is actually slightly wider than the lens on the iPhone 6s Plus.

RAW vs. JPG

The LG G5 has the option of shooting photos in DNG RAW format. This is great for advanced users who wish to edit their images to their own liking, rather than allowing the camera to edit the image. When in RAW mode, the camera will automatically take both a RAW and JPG image and save it to your camera roll. You then later have the ability to edit the RAW image in any app. If you want to transfer this RAW image to your desktop, though, you’ll have to use the File Manager to select the DNG file and upload it to your computer or to the cloud.

The LG File Manager utility.

The LG File Manager utility.

If you enjoy editing photos on your phone, there are a limited number of apps that currently allow editing of RAW files. My go-to app right now is Google’s Snapseed. Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile also allows for RAW editing.

In low light, I find that noise creeps in quite a bit, even in the DNG files. Applying a certain amount of noise degradation will get rid of it, but also lessen the detail in other areas. At the very least, we get this option with the RAW file. To better illustrate the difference, here’s a photo I took during a sunrise. The sun hadn’t risen above the horizon at this point, so you can see chroma noise in the shadow areas, particularly in the rocks in the foreground. This first image is the unedited DNG image.

LG G5 DNG unedited image

LG G5 DNG unedited image

You can see the chroma noise in the rocky beach area. The next image is of the same picture in JPG. The LG G5 automatically takes a JPG and DNG image at the same time, when you use the RAW mode.

LG G5 JPG image

LG G5 JPG image

The rocky beach area has no chroma noise, is much lighter, and the bright yellow in the sky is significantly diminished. To see how much I can get away with, I edited the DNG image using Adobe Camera RAW and came out with the following image.

LG G5 DNG edited image

LG G5 DNG edited image

The above image isn’t a significantly edited image, but I balanced the colours in the sky, and diminished the chroma noise in the shadow areas.

I should also mention that the images coming out of both lenses on the LG G5 tend to be on the sharper side compared to those from my iPhone 6s Plus. This was immediately noticeable—at first, I thought it was a little too aggressively sharpened, but I have since gotten used to the characteristic of the images coming out of the LG G5, and sometimes makes me feel that my iPhone 6s Plus images are not sharp enough.

Conclusion

The LG G5 with its dual lens system provides an excellent way for avid mobile photographers to get the most out of their phones. The added wide angle lens does a great job in capturing the environment, setting itself apart from other high-end mobile phones. The ability to shoot in DNG mode is also a great addition for advanced users who enjoy post-processing. The native camera app on the LG G5 has plenty of features suited for beginners to the more advanced. With its manual capabilities, even allowing for long exposures, it may be the only camera app I need right now. As far as I’m concerned, as of this writing, there are no other camera apps that allow you to change which rear lens you are shooting from, therefore, it’s a good thing the LG stock camera app is fully featured.


Do you have any experience using the LG G5? Let me know in the comments below!

Gallery

Here are some additional photos taken with the LG G5 camera.

LG G5

The wide angle in portrait mode gives the horizon a little curvature.

LG G5

The wide expanse of this wheat field is a perfect place for the wide angle of the LG G5.

LG G5

When you tilt the camera up or down a little, the horizon will curve accordingly.

LG G5

The wide angle gives more focus to the sky than the sailboats.

LG G5

The wide angle right above the water makes the marina look quite large.

LG G5

An evening photo with the wide angle lens of the LG G5. It is a little noisy in the sky.

LG G5

The wide angle works well with many landscapes.

LG G5

The wide angle encompasses an almost 180 degrees here. HDR mode captures a little more detail in the shadows, and doesn’t blow out the highlights.