With the OnePlus 5 now in many people’s hands, there is plenty to consider with what has been the company’s best effort to date. With a second camera that brings proper zoom, we have yet another dual camera in the Android space. While there is a lot to compare between our two phones today, I also wanted to ponder the notion of camera choice — is it more useful to have zoom or a wide angle secondary camera? For that question, we bring in LG’s latest device.
Although there’s a difference in some of the handsets’ other hardware specifications, and the LG G6 has a few extra frills to its name, we’re going to just focus on the camera hardware for now, and both companies are proposing different high-end camera philosophies.
For starters, both of the front facing cameras are decent performers, with the only real advantage going to the OnePlus 5 with its higher resolution at 13 versus 5 megapixels. But the quality isn’t too different from one to the other, you can simply crop selfies from the OnePlus 5 a little better.
If we're picky, the G6 tends to overexpose a little, while the OnePlus 5 might be a little oversaturation. But the bottom line is that both are fine shooters out of the box, so your choice might boil down to the secondary sensor.
As far as straight quality and processing go, on the rear camera, there is some give and take between these two. When using the main regular lenses, we found some photos were better on the G6 and other were better on the OnePlus 5. There’s little to suggest that one camera is leaps and bounds better than the other, but if we pixel peep we do see some processing differences.
The LG G6 tends to overexpose a bit more than the OnePlus 5, whose software tends to make use of HDR as much as possible. The result is a slightly more contrasted and higher saturated photo from the OnePlus, which is sure to please a lot of general users and shooters. The G6 seems a bit muted in comparison, but that does more often lead to a more accurate capture of the scene. However, once you’ve thrown a filter on there’s little difference, and both are dab hands at shooting 4K video with both their lenses too.
While we can be picky if we really want to be, both cameras offer up great default performance out of the box that won’t be a night or day difference in most scenarios.
Zoom or wide?
Which brings us to the question — would we rather have an extra zoom or wide angle lens to augment the already great regular shooter?
It probably comes as no surprise to you that I’m going to suggest really knowing what you want out of your camera when making a decision. When I went to Comic Con, I found the zoom lens on the OnePlus 5 to be pretty useful for getting tighter shots when I was in the back of a crowd, like in the following shot where I got a picture of former Smallville star Tom Welling. Or when I was part of a large group of photographers taking pictures of these incredible Overwatch Mercy cosplayers. When the subject is far away, zoom definitely helps, even if the quality can dip when going beyond the 2x threshold.
There is another reason why the zoom is helpful, as well: combined, the two lenses work great as a portrait mode, much like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. By using a tighter focal length and software processing, a bokeh effect can be added to a photo of anyone or anything that is within a certain range. While this might be one of the more used features of the camera, it isn’t perfect — the subjects have to be clearly defined so that the software can draw the line accurately.
Some breaks in the general subject line meant that unwanted parts of the photo were in focus. When it works, it’s a crowd pleasing feature. When it doesn’t work, photos just look a bit weird. And forget about using this feature in low light – it won’t even activate unless there is enough light for the software to differentiate the subject from the background.
Speaking of low light, that is where the OnePlus 5 definitely falls behind the LG G6. In these shots of some Walking Dead cosplayers, there was more detail in the G6 photos than in the OnePlus, which smudged up the finer points due to its noise reduction.
While optical zoom is useful, wide angle lenses are more fun and can make even the most boring shots look more interesting.
Which brings us to the wide angle lens of the LG G6. Clearly, there are times when zoom makes perfect sense, but I would argue that having a super wide angle lens is actually more fun. Users never have to worry about getting everyone in the frame if the frame is as wide as possible, and the results usually add a lot of drama to the shot. Not to mention how cool it looks when using the wide angle for stuff like video and vlogging.
Even the most mundane of photos can be made more appealing when there is plenty more to share outside of just the subject. And, as it stands right now, the wide angle lens is pretty much LG’s signature and we haven’t seen it recreated in any other phones yet.
Ultimately, it matters what is more practical to you. The zoom lens is probably going to be more useful for anyone that is typically far away from the subjects they want to capture, but remember that a wide angle lens can be better at sharing one’s overall experience. Maybe you want to focus, quite literally, on one subject at a time or try to get everything you possibly can into view. Come to think of it, that’s probably the best way of describing both respective phones in this comparison, the former being the OnePlus 5 and the latter being the LG G6.
Which one is more important to you? Let us know in the comment sections below which type of camera you would prefer.