Tuesday, July 26, 2011

LG Optimus 2X (P990) - camera and sample photos

Based on the incoming search keywords that bring people to my blog, it appears that people searching for phone reviews are most interested to know about a phone’s camera performance and picture quality. Only a handful search for comments/reviews about the web browser and other aspects of a phone. 

Therefore, in this entry, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the LG Optimus 2X’s camera and photo quality. It’s the first dual-core smartphone to hit the Malaysian market and is still fairly new (at time of writing).

I’ll post sample photos but I won’t be uploading the orginal files as my line’s just too slow for that!

LG Optimus 2X P990 and Sony Xperia X10 Mini Pro
The LG Optimus 2X (aka LG-P990) next to my Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro

Today’s smartphones are more than just tools to make calls. They’re powerful mini computers that also function as go-everywhere pocket cameras. Everything in a smartphone works well together, allowing you to take photos, geotag them, upload to the internet or send to friends etc. You can also tap out quick blog entries or emails anytime, anywhere as long as you have a working data connection.

While it’s great to be able to take photos and share them almost instantly with friends, not all camera phones take photos worth sharing! Some fail completely, producing images that are extremely blurry or are out of focus. Send such photos to your friends and they’d probably just delete them. Seriously, don’t send your friends a photo and ask them to “check out my new car!” when your car is just a dark blur and the only thing in-focus is the house gate behind it!

So, has the LG’s camera managed to impress me? Yes and no. Mostly no.

Please take a look at the professional reviews posted online if you’d like to know in detail about the controls available in camera mode (try engadget.com or techradar.com).

First, let’s take a look at what I consider to be a serious design flaw. For camera specifications, please check LG’s site, the specs are also available from various phone sites such as gsmarena.com.

The 2X sports two cameras, the front one is a 1.3 megapixel camera mainly used for video calls while the main shooter on the rear takes 8 megapixel photos.

LG Optimus 2X P990 camera
The rear camera on LG 2X. Note that it is slightly raised, a design flaw IMO.

Look at the photo above. As you can see, the lens and LED flash are located on a raised rectangle. What do you think the phone rests on when it is placed on a table, face up? That’s right, the camera! Not only does this increase the likelihood of the lens protective glass being damaged or scratched, your fingers are also likely to rest over the lens each time you pick up your phone. Worst part is, you probably won’t realize you’ve gotten greasy fingerprints all over the protective glass till you’ve taken some shots and viewed them on your computer.

This was exactly what happened when I took the LG to the night market last week. I snapped lots of photos only to be disappointed when I got home and they all turned out like this:


And here’s more (click on each thumbnail to view larger picture):

Night shots

Keep in mind that the night shots above were all taken under poor lighting conditions. The last photo of that Bulbophyllum orchid was taken with the LED flash on. Blur in the photos is caused by slow shutter speeds and bad lighting, something I had expected. It’s not that that I’m disappointed about, it’s how easy it is to smudge the lens because of the raised design and not realize it until it’s too late! If one decides to buy this phone and take quick snaps with it, be sure to ALWAYS check that the lens area is free of fingerprints before you start snapping.

The fact that the LG 2X produces very soft photos straight out of camera only makes the photos worse.

In very bright conditions, the camera performs better but still, when compared to other shooters in its price range (or even to my now out-dated SE X10 Mini Pro), the photos are only “just okay.” Take a look at this set of photos shot in bright daylight:


Day shots

The camera handles high contrast scenes decently compared to my little SE X10 Mini Pro but as one can see from the photos above, they do tend to come out on the soft side. The photos were taken using the “Fine” setting and uploaded using the “Automatic” setting on Picasa (which supposedly preserves the original file quality).

Here’s another set of samples taken during the day, this time at the beach, conditions slightly overcast but still very bright:


Food photos
What do you guys use your camera phones for besides making phone calls and sending messages? If you’re like me, you probably like to take food photos, right? Whenever I’m at the kopitiam with friends, or at a restaurant or at a dinner party, I like to whip out my camphone and take quick snaps of the things we eat to share with friends who weren’t able to make the party. So any cameraphone I buy must be able to take decent close-ups of food. Here are some samples taken with the LG:


Rather poor, wouldn’t you say? Fine if the phone costs only RM300 but this is an RM1800 flagship smartphone from LG we’re talking about.

Just for fun, here’s a pair of photos of the same subject, one taken with the LG and another with my “out-dated” Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro (only thing I really hate about my little SE is the long name!) for comparison. Can you guess which one’s taken with the Sony?


And here’s another pair:


Made your guess?

In the first pair, the first photo’s taken with the LG 2X. LED flash is utilized in both photos. In the second pair, the first is also taken with the LG, both shot around the same time, only different angles.

Indoor shots
So what about indoor shots? I haven’t taken many indoor shots to be honest, but here’s a few:


Now, I wrote this earlier: “So, has the LG’s camera managed to impress me? Yes and no. Mostly no.”

So, what impresses me? Take a look at the pair of photos below. One is shot with the LG 2X and the other with the Sony X10 Mini:

The LG wins this one. The photo on the left is both sharper and more detailed with better colour reproduction compared to the Sony photo on the right. This is about the only thing that I like about the LG’s camera.

Do keep in mind, these photos are simple quick snaps using default settings. Other factors such as hand shake etc. also affect the outcome. I take them as I would with any other camera phone, take out of pocket, switch on, frame and focus, snap. No over-thinking or fretting over settings. I do not know of anyone who uses a camera phone like an SLR. Camera phones are used to take quick snaps but the days of crappy photo quality should be well behind us. These expensive do-it-all phones boasting top-of-the-range specs really need to produce very good results on the go and I’m afraid the LG’s failed in this area.

Well, that’s it for this entry. I’ve got some shots taken at the Kuching Aquarium (with both the LG and the Sony) which I’d like to share but perhaps in a separate entry. When I’ve the time, I’ll upload those.

See also:
My Sony-Ericsson X10 Mini Pro review:


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks for the samples and the knowledge today!!

sarawaklens said...

Sarawakiana, you're welcome!

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