Great Portrait Mode performance
Outstanding Food Mode
Quality video (4K 10-bit HDR)
Plethora of fun features
Blows out sky often
Over-softens most images
Wide-angle lens distortion is too apparent
Roughly 15 miles south of the San Diego-Tijuana border lies small town Rosarito, known among Southern Californians for its resorts, bars, food, and beaches. It’s a perfect place to unwind, let loose, relax, and take some interesting photos. Since the LG G7 ThinQ is due for one of my camera reviews, I thought it would be the best companion for this short motorcycle trip across the border.
The new LG G7 ThinQ has an improved front-facing camera, smart features, high-end specs, and a $750 price tag. With plenty of features to throw around, LG’s smarter, tougher camera phone is out to compete against the big guys. It seems to have it all — at least on paper. We all know theory doesn’t always translate to practice, so let’s find out just how good the LG G7 really is.
The LG G7 ThinQ seems to have it all — at least on paper.
LG G7 camera specs
- Main camera
- 16MP sensor
- ƒ/1.6 aperture
- Glass camera lens
- 1/3.1-inch image sensor
- 10-bit HDR
- 71 degree field of view
- 1.0µm pixel size
- Secondary camera
- 16MP sensor
- ƒ/1.9 aperture
- Crystal Clear Lens
- 1/3.1-inch image sensor
- 107 degree field of view
- 1.0µm pixel size
- LED flash
- Laser autofocus
- Up to 8x zoom
- Video recording: 4K at 60fps, 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, 720p at 30fps.
- Shooting modes and features: AI Cam, Google Lens, Super Bright Camera, Live Photo, Portrait Mode, Manual Mode, Manual Video, Cine Video, Food, Slo-mo, Panorama, Flash Jump-Cut, Camera Stickers, Film Effect, Quick Sharing, and HDR.
- 8MP sensor
- ƒ/1.9 aperture
- 80 degree field of view
- Video recording: 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps.
- Shooting modes and features: Auto Shot, Gesture Shot, Gesture Interval Shot, Gesture View, Selfie Light, and Beauty Shot.
LG G7 camera app
The LG G7 ThinQ’s camera has tons of features, modes, and settings to throw around, which means LG needed to nail organizing the camera app in order to not make it look like a total mess. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite nail this.
The LG G7 ThinQ's camera app looks messy and things are a little confusing at first.
The camera app looks messy and things are a little confusing at first. Portrait Mode has a direct shortcut next to the viewfinder, between Google Lens and AI Cam, features that should be in a whole other department. I feel Portrait Mode should have been under the Mode button, along with similar features.
LG also provides you with two ways to change between rear-facing cameras and the selfie shooter: you can tap a dedicated button to the left, or swipe up or down in the shutter area. The extra options are nice, but they could further confuse newcomers.
The Hitting Mode button brings up a plethora of shooting modes: Auto, Manual, Manual Video, Cine Video, Food, Slo-mo, Panorama, Flash Jump-Cut, and AR Stickers. The gear icon will display other settings like Super Bright Camera Mode, HDR, Live Photo, Voice Shutter, Grid, and more.
You will also see resolution, FullVision, and timer options all the way at the end, with separate icons. This makes things a bit confusing for me. At first I instinctively kept looking in the listed options for resolution settings. After fumbling around the app for a few minutes I realized where it was and felt pretty dumb, but these settings are just in downright odd places. Not too intuitive on LG’s part.
The filter button is in the main screen, along with the Settings, Mode, Flash, and Camera Switch icons. It seems LG placed the filters here because it thinks people will use them a lot.
Talking about fun effects, if you go into the Mode button and select AR Stickers, you can play around with AR figures and other elements. The app will analyze objects in the camera’s view and find flat surfaces, letting you then place fun stickers on a desk, money on a table, flowers on the bed, and more. The app does a great job remembering where things are and working with perspective. You can move around these objects and look at them from any angle, and the app never really got things wrong for me.
All things considered, this is a nice camera app with all the features you could need, and then some.
You should also take a look at the camera’s AI Cam and Google Lens functionalities. One thing I like about these features is they are not turned on automatically. Users have to know what they are looking for to use them, so they don’t get in the way of your natural shooting sessions. This is especially an issue with phones like the Huawei P20 Pro, which have AI improvements turned on by default. These enhancements can be nice, but users may not always want them on, and turning them off requires digging into the settings.
AI Cam is much like Huawei’s Master AI. It analyzes what the camera is looking at and adds preset enhancements to the shot. Google Lens analyzes photos for important information within the frame. These could be text, labels, products, and more.
Another cool thing is LG’s quick sharing button, located right around the shutter button area. Expand it and you will see a plethora of social networks and online services where you can easily share your images.
All things considered, this is a nice camera app with all the features you could need, and then some. The UI just happens to be a bit scrambled.
- Ease of use: 7
- Intuitiveness: 7.5
- Features: 10
- Advanced Settings: 8
Broad daylight is the perfect setting for getting the best out of a good camera, and Rosarito Beach sure has the weather to get the most light possible. A harsh sun also makes for contrasting exposure, though, as we can mostly see in the two lower images.
The fourth photo was way underexposed, even though I set the focus point on the Rosarito sign. It seems the camera was metering for exposure on the buildings behind. The third image has strong shadows, but plenty of detail.
Another issue we noticed is the LG G7’s tendency to blow out sun-filled skies, as shown in the first two pictures. There was not much to see in the heavens, but we would have liked more detail in the sky, in case there was a cloud or two up there.
We weren’t too satisfied with the test shots we walked away with. They all had plenty of detail, and the subject was usually spot on, but it seems the phone struggled with handling dynamic range, under-exposing the shadows or over-exposing the highlights in the subject’s surroundings. That’s not a good situation to be in when shooting in broad daylight.
Take the LG G7 ThinQ to more leveled light and you can start seeing its true colors — literally. The first couple photos were taken at Rosarito’s FoodFest Plaza, where a variety of vendors offered gourmet dishes. It was colorful (and tasty), so we thought a shot of the patio and the bar were due. We also passed by a store with traditional Mexican skeleton decor, which tend to be full of color and life.
Take the LG G7 ThinQ to more leveled light and you can start seeing its true colors — literally.
All photos displayed vibrant and saturated hues that popped without looking artificial. However, these photos continue to suffer from the nuisances we discussed above. Shadows are strong, something we can mostly see in the first image, where detail is essentially lost inside vendor stands. Now look at the octopus wall painting in the second image; a section of the wall is completely blown out by the light.
The LG G7 is good at capturing colors, but it seems the environment has to be right to make a generally good image with nice hues. We are focusing on color here, so other elements won’t take too much away from the score.
Plaza Pueblo is a hidden gem. You could easily miss it looking at the bright lights of Boulevard Benito Juarez, Rosarito’s main street. It is a calm, hidden spot to escape from the tourists and enjoy a good meal at one of its nice restaurants, have a drink at the bar, grab a cup of coffee at La Villa Cafe, purchase traditional clothing, or simply marvel over the ornate decorations. We mostly came here for the latter, as there are plenty of elements made of stone, wood, and other detail-filled material.
This was the LG G7 ThinQ’s place to shine, and though it didn’t disappoint, we also didn’t walk out too impressed. Overall, we believe the LG G7 ThinQ is just above average at capturing detail. Wood in the wheel showed enough texture and detail zoomed, but there was also good amount of softening, especially in the wooden barrels.
This was the LG G7 ThinQ's place to shine, and though it didn't disappoint, we also didn't walk out too impressed.
The adobe bar also loses a bit of its texture due to over-softening, which is a shame, as those broken bricks offered plenty of detail. Meanwhile, the LG G7 ThinQ did a bit better capturing stone and water. Zooming into the fountain, you can see plenty of the material’s characteristics, including crevices, flowing water, and even mold.
The LG G7 ThinQ may have found a good balance, softening for noise, but not too much in order to keep the detail. These shots weren’t taken in very dark environments, though, which makes us believe the camera softened the images for no good reason.
The LG G7 camera seems to do better evenly exposing a frame once you step back a little. In this set we see very little sky blown out —the first image is the only one affected by this phenomena. That was also the direction of the sun, which makes it an understandable element in the image.
Aside from that, the camera didn’t fare badly at all. There is plenty of detail in all four shots, despite me not having the steadiest hand. Colors in people’s clothing are vibrant, and all photos look well exposed.
The skies are not bright blue, an effect that has become rather common in recent smartphone cameras, but colors look natural. Save for the first photo, in which the LG G7 missed the white balance.
So far I haven't seen a phone meet my standards in portrait mode, but some get close — the LG G7 is one of them.
Portrait mode simulates bokeh, the “blurry background” often seen in DSLR cameras using lenses with a shallow depth of field. Phones can’t do this naturally, often relying on hardware and software to recreate the effect. The LG G7, like most other phones with portrait mode, accomplishes this using a secondary lens to figure out what is in the foreground and background, in relation to the subject. The phone will then artificially add blur to objects far behind or closer than the subject.
So far I haven’t seen a phone meet my standards in portrait mode, but some get close — the LG G7 is one of them. The phone made a mistake here and there, though. Look between the arms and the torso of the woman in the fourth photo. Parts of the background are crisp and clear, when they shouldn’t be. There is also a spot that should have been blurred right above my left shoulder in the third image. The same happens next to my left arm in the first shot.
Those issues can be easily overlooked. The LG G7 does better outlining the subject than most other phones, and other elements make the LG G7 portrait images stand out too.
I like that objects within the same distance as the subject stay in focus perfectly. In image two and three, the table stays crisp. Even the chair’s backrest is blurred out correctly, keeping only the further end of it blurred out. There are actually no noticeable errors in image two. Notice in the fourth image the trunk is completely in focus. This is something many devices out there would have gotten wrong.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is used to evenly expose a frame with multiple levels of light. Traditionally it’s done by mixing multiple photos taken at different exposure levels. The end result is an image with reduced highlights, increased shadows, and more even lighting.
In this phone HDR can be left in auto, turned off, or forced on. For this set of images we forced HDR on, just to make sure we got the best end result.
The phone lost quite a bit of detail in the first two photos, but that is because the camera is fighting against the sun, a rather powerful source of light. I was impressed you could still see parts of the motorcycle. Not to mention the first image still looks awesome with that silhouette effect.
Instagram foodies will be happy to hear the LG G7 ThinQ's dedicated Food mode can take some tasty shots.
Instagram foodies will be happy to hear this camera has a dedicated Food mode and it can take some tasty shots. This dedicated mode seems to boost colors and sharpen photos for more detail.
Take a look at the meat in the fourth image and you can see quite a bit of texture in there. Detail is also abundant in the third photo, when looking at the sides of the cheesecake. As for colors, their vibrant nature is visible in images three and four, in the fruit.
All four shots leave us satisfied. Exposure is spot on, white balance is great, detail is abundant, and colors sure seem to pop. Not much to complain about here.
This phone really seems to have an issue with skies. It blows them out even at night, as we can see in images one and three. Let’s move on, though.
Rosarito has some fun bars, calm spaces, and plenty of coffee shops to enjoy at night. A quick walk around town brought multiple photo opportunities to our attention.
The first image shows a bar located right on the beach’s sand. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy a sunset — the tequila kind or the solar one. This is a beautiful image at first sight, but we can’t give LG too much credit for lowlight photography. Much detail is lost in the shadows, the whole photo is over-softened to kill noise, and the sky is still partly blown out, even though only the remnants of a set sun were left.
The pictures will look nice as long as you don't zoom in or expect much detail.
In fact, all four images are over-softened, which is always a negative sign when reviewing low light photography. At least all the hoop jumping accomplishes a proper exposure where it matters. The pictures will look nice as long as you don’t zoom in or expect much detail.
Having an improved 8 MP sensor is nice, but megapixels are not everything. I would consider these images more on the average side. They are well exposed and colors are nice, but look closer and you will find issues.
For starters, these are all a bit too soft and some show signs of motion blur. We can always blame my shaky hands, but I know many of you don’t have the steadiest extremities either!
While image stabilization is not the best, it is pretty darn good.
The LG G7 ThinQ can record in 4K 10-bit HDR, and you can definitely see that in the crisp definition and smooth color transitions in the sky. Hues are vibrant and lively, but not unreal looking.
While image stabilization is not the best, it is pretty darn good. My girlfriend and I were on a moving motorcycle, which can get quite shaky. I also used it walking and it did pretty well, but you could still see the moves and jerks that natural walking causes.
We also noticed the camera went out of focus here and there, mostly when moving faster on the bike. Overall, though, the LG G7 ThinQ will be a good video shooter under regular recording conditions.
You know, when not on a rumbling motorcycle.
Overall score: 7.9/10
The LG G7 comes from a lineage of devices competing with the best of the best. This phone has it all; performance, battery, a unique UI, and features to throw around.
The LG G7 ThinQ does well where it matters. It exposes images very well, gets the right white balance, and captures nice lowlight shots. Food Mode is impressive, and Portrait Mode performance is one of the best I have seen. Nitpickers will find issues easily, but there are other options if they really want the best in smartphone camera tech.