Camera Shootout: Lumia 950 vs LG V10

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Smartphone cameras have been getting more and more powerful over the past few years, and the 2015 flagships are largely similar in terms of camera quality. Of course, what makes a great photo isn’t just about the megapixels, but also the sensor size, the aperture, processing algorithms and many other factors. The Lumia 950 and G V10 are two of this years smartphones that I had the pleasure of testing out during a slightly overlapping period, so I decided to try and put their cameras against each other to see who would come out on top.

Lumias are known for their great cameras thanks to Nokia’s imaging prowess and longtime partnership with ZEISS that stems all the way back to the days of the Nokia N90. The company blew our minds with the Lumia 1020 (and the 808 Pureview before it) and its 41MP camera. The Lumia 950 may not have as boastful a resolution, but it’s no slouch with its 20MP camera. It also has a larger sensor size and aperture, the latest OIS technology, and is accompanied by a much needed update to the camera software. LG has also stepped it up with their cameras, as you can see with the G4. It’s big brother, the LG V10 features the same camera module, with 16MP, OIS, and an f/1.8 aperture. It also has laser focus, which is meant to help the camera focus faster and better. Which camera faired better? Let’s see how they did.

 

Outdoor/daytime

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The V10 (top) seemed to do a better job than the 950 with color accuracy in this photo, as the latter produced a slight yellow tint. On the other hand, the Lumia’s photo seems a bit sharper and detailed.

 

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Similarly, the V10’s result in the top photo appears more true to life, and also wins out in sharpness (though not by much). The Lumia’s photo comes out more saturated, which makes everything pop. It’s really up to preference at this point, and in many instances I personally prefer the more saturated look, though that’s not always the case.

 

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This time the V10 produced a softer photo, which makes the photo appear almost washed out when compared to the deeper blacks produced by the 950. Interestingly, I prefer the V10’s effect in this photo, as it’s much less harsh and produces a welcome glow.

 

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This one’s a little hard for me because I like both photos for their respective strong points. The V10 captures the cool softness of the morning light, while the Lumia captures more warmth and detail. The Lumia also seemed much better at getting rid of that pesky lens flare.

In terms of daylight capture, the Lumia has proven its own and often produces much sharper more saturated images with darker blacks. But the V10 seems to want to stick to more true-to-life images, which are often cooler and softer. As I said, it’s really up to preference, but I feel like I prefer the V10’s photos in this category.

 

Indoor/medium light

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This time the tides seemed to have turned, as the V10 produces a much more saturated photo, with super deep blacks, making the Galaxy S6 edge appear really glossy. The Lumia holds its own, but the result is a little too soft for my liking.

 

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While the V10 once again produces darker shadows, the 950 bumps up the exposure while keeping much more of the pen in focus, opting for a much clearer photo and winning my vote.

 

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Once more, the V10 opts for a cooler photo but at the expense of exposure and detail. The Lumia gives us some saturation and exposure, so we’re able to make out much more of the statue.

 

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Both produce similar photos here, but the Lumia gives us deeper blacks as well as more detail.

Both phones fair well in indoor/medium lit settings. The V10, despite the laser focus and slightly larger aperture, seemed to produce less exposed and slightly unfocused shots, whereas the 950 was able to not only offer higher exposures but more detail as well. Lumia wins this round.

 

Low light/nighttime

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The V10 had some trouble focusing, resulting in a less detailed and washed out photo. The Lumia on the other hand performed wonderfully, giving us detail and saturation while sufficiently illuminating the photo.

 

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The Lumia practically kicked the LG’s butt in this low-light photo. The lower half nearly fades into the dark sky, whereas the Lumia clearly exposes the brick portion tower. The V10 also produces a whiter almost angelic glow while the Lumia warms up the photo nicely, with closer accuracy to the scene.

 

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The V10 nicely illuminates my front porch while managing to produce as little noise as possible and keeping everything nice and detailed. The Lumia didn’t seem to focus well enough resulting in much loss of detail, but still managing to produce a nicely lit scene.

In low light, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag, with both the 950 and V10 performing fairly well. Mostly the V10 tends to have more trouble exposing a dark scene with the 950 usually able to produce a clear bright photo, but it’s not without its faults either.

 

Conclusion

The camera on the V10 was not my favorite and it felt somewhat like a step down from the G4 in terms of quality. Despite the laser focus unit and f/1.8 aperture, photos generally came out inadequately detailed, dark, and washed out. The Lumia 950 has largely impressed me for the most part, with better saturation, brighter low-light, and darker blacks where it matters. I would say that the Lumia wins this shootout, but not by much. As stated before, it’s really up to your personal preference on what you prefer in a photo.

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