Most smartphone users today rely on such devices to take and share photos or video, especially in an era where point-and-shoot cameras and digital camcorders are an afterthought. By and large, the LG Optimus G Pro's camera features do not disappoint.
Ready to tackle images with a resolution of up to 4160 x 3120 as well as full 1080p HD video at 30fps, the G Pro features a 13MP rear-facing camera with autofocus. While it struggles a bit with grain and noise on indoor photos taken without LED flash, outdoor images rivaled those of our current mobile favorite, Apple's iPhone 5.
The G Pro creates photos with accurate color saturation and sharp detail. Unlike many AMOLED-based Android smartphones we've tested, rich colors don't bleed when viewed on the beautiful display, and look virtually identical after importing the JPEG files to our MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
LG also brings the G Pro's penchant for customization to the Camera app menus, where often-used features can be added for quick access, while the large display features big, finger-friendly buttons. The device also quickly switches between camera and camcorder modes.
Should you choose to configure QuickButton to launch the Camera app, this same button can then be used to trigger the shutter – a nice touch we'd be happy to see other manufacturers adopt. Sadly, the button is only a single-stage affair, so you'll want to wait for the software to lock onto focus, exposure and white balance before snapping.
LG has come up with a number of clever tricks here – some work quite ingeniously, while others fall short of perfection. Intelligent Auto is supposed to use the characteristics of a scene to get the best aperture and shutter speed, but its use seems to override autofocus, resulting in images that were nowhere near as smart as advertised.
The corny-sounding "Cheese Shutter" uses voice commands like "Cheese" or "Smile" to snap a photo without ever touching the display or QuickButton. (Other possibilities include "Whisky," "Kimchi" or "LG.") It worked great in our tests, but we'd also like the option to record our own trigger word.
In addition to usual HDR and Panorama shot modes, the G Pro includes Burst (for taking up to 20 shots at once), Beauty (for smoothing skin imperfections) and a number of scene or color modes. Time Catch grabs a few pictures before you actually press the shutter button to aid in selecting the best pose.
While LG includes a few live effects while in camcorder mode (gimmicky Silly Faces and Backgrounds), those who prefer artistic expression added to their still images before sharing will want to keep Instagram or other third-party options around.
The G Pro camcorder also includes Dual Recording, which composites video from the 2.1MP front-facing camera (also touted as "Full HD") into a square on the rear-facing camera that can be positioned anywhere you'd like. It's not quite as customizable as Samsung's implementation on the Galaxy S4, but handy for putting yourself in the same space as your subject.