Huawei P9 vs. LG G5 Camera Shootout: Which dual-camera implementation is better?

Huawei P9 vs LG G5

Smartphone cameras are getting better and better every year. With the launch of the new iPhone 7 Plus, it is now becoming clearer that dual-camera phones are going to be trending for some time to come now, thanks to some definitive advantages they offer over single primary camera phones. Manufacturers are being innovative in their use of dual rear-facing cameras, achieving some impressive results.

We wanted to figure out for ourselves if the hype around the new Huawei P9 was justified, and pit it against the winner of our mobile phone camera shootout from last month – the LG G5. We not only compared the cameras on the two phones with regards to image quality, but also compared several different parameters like ease of use (default camera app), focusing speed, video capabilities, and more.

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There are a few ways to compare cameras. A commonly used approach is to use the cameras being compared with exactly the same settings and then to compare the resulting images. Although both these phones feature dual rear cameras, the two have somewhat different fortes.

A difficulty I faced in comparing picture quality was dealing with the different aspect ratio that the two cameras are designed to shoot at, when shooting at the maximum available resolution. The LG G5 allows for a 16:9 aspect ratio, while the Huawei P9 allows for a 4:3 when using the cameras at the best picture quality settings.

Specifications and features

Huawei P9 vs LG G5
Huawei P9 vs LG G5

The LG G5 features a dual camera setup at its rear. While its primary rear camera sports a 16-megapixel sensor and an F1.8 lens with a 78-degree angle of view, the secondary rear camera features an 8-megapixel sensor with an F2.4 lens and an angle of view of 135 degrees. The default camera app allows you to switch between the lenses with the press of a button. Notable among its features are 3-axis optical image stabilisation, the option to record DNG RAW files while shooting stills, the ability to shoot 4K video at 30fps, and slow motion 720p video at 120fps.

In comparison, the P9 uses dual cameras at its rear that are identical in their resolution (12-megapixels) and the field of view they offer. What differs, however, is that the P9 uses an RGB sensor and a black and white sensor on the two cameras respectively. When they work in tandem, Huawei claims they yield results much more superior to what a single camera setup would. Switching the monochrome mode on uses just the camera with the black and white sensor. The lenses on the two rear cameras have an aperture of F2.2. The sensors on the Huawei P9’s rear cameras have a greater pixel size – 1.25μm ,compared to the LG G5’s sensor, which has 1.12μm sized pixels.

Default camera app/UI

LG G5 Camera UI
LG G5 Camera User Interface

Both cameras are fairly quick to start up, and let you take a picture in just about 3-4 seconds. The camera apps can be accessed from the lock or home screens. The auto modes were very easy to use and intuitive on both cameras. The G5 has a Simple mode, an Auto mode, and a Manual mode. Navigating through the menu, and accessing the various settings were pretty easy on both phones. As most of the settings on the G5 are hidden behind buttons on the top, the G5’s camera may require a little more getting used to, than the P9’s interface, which lets you access settings by simply sliding your finger on the screen. Personally, I was more at ease using the P9.

Huawei P9 Camera UI
Huawei P9 Camera User Interface

Especially worthy of note is the ability it gives you to adjust exposure right while touching the screen to focus in the auto mode. This makes metering for specific parts of your frame very easy, also allowing for deliberate underexposures or overexposures. This is something the G5 won’t let you do in its Simple or Auto modes.

I found it difficult to know what settings were switched on and what weren’t, while using the LG G5. I ended up shooting quite a few HDR images without actually intending to do so, for example. I also dislike the fact that the G5 starts recording video the moment you hit the video camera icon.

Focus

Both the LG G5 and the Huawei P9 lack the fast dual-pixel AF seen on the Samsung Galaxy S7. The cameras were a little sluggish in low light, achieving focus only after struggling a bit. I tried this in different lighting conditions as well, and both cameras performed very similarly, making it difficult to choose one over the other.

Image quality

Shooting outdoors when it’s sunny is often a good test for image quality, since most mobile phone cameras shine in such lighting conditions irrespective of how they do in the more challenging scenarios. I shot with both the cameras in rather overcast conditions, to be honest. It has been raining ever since I got to lay my hands on both these phones, and hasn’t really been sunny for a while now, here in Hyderabad.

Outdoors (Daylight/cloudy)

LG G5 (Outdoors, daylight)
LG G5 (Outdoors, daylight)

Click here for a full-resolution image.

I liked colour reproduction on the P9 more thanks to the three colour modes that the P9 makes available. In the standard mode, the Huawei P9 recreates more true-to-the-scene colours. In comparison, the LG G5 yields punchy, slightly oversaturated colours. Both cameras yield amazing detail and sharpness. When viewed at their actual sizes, however, results from the G5 exhibit some heavy-handed, slightly unnatural sharpening. Having said that, since the G5 sports a higher-resolution primary camera, when resized to match the results of the P9, the LG G5’s results may just be marginally more favourable.

Huawei P9 (Outdoors, daylight)
Huawei P9 (Outdoors, daylight)

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Outdoors (Low-light)

Without optical image stabilisation on the P9, it is a little more difficult getting desirable results in low light. That said, when you do manage to keep the camera still enough and shoot in auto mode, the results are honestly impressive. While there may be greater shadow detail in the results the G5 yields, the pictures appear a little flat because of the way the LG G5 processes the image. In comparison, the P9 yields more accurate contrasts. The G5 failed to accurately meter a few of the low-light scenes, blowing up highlights. That said, the G5 still offers great dynamic range.

LG G5 (Outdoors, low-light)
LG G5 (Outdoors, low-light)

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The effects of sharpening are also all too visible, with extremely smoothed edges that look a little unnatural. This is visible even when the images are fit to screen. In order to get the most out of the G5’s low-light performance, I’d advice you shoot RAW files, so that sharpening is a little more manageable.

Huawei P9 (Outdoors, low-light)
Huawei P9 (Outdoors, low-light)

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The P9, although noisier, yields a more balanced look, without significantly compromising on valuable detail and sharpness.

Indoors (with flash)

Huawei P9 (With flash)
Huawei P9 (With flash)

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LG G5 (With flash)
LG G5 (With flash)

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At a pixel level, the LG G5 has more smearing of fine detail than the Huawei P9. That said, it still yields a more balanced result in terms of colour reproduction, and a more pleasing image, overall.

Selfie camera

LG G5 Selfie
LG G5 Selfie

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Although both front-facing cameras sport 8-megapixel sensors, the Huawei P9 clearly yields more desirable results among the two. Not only does the P9 yield greater sharpness and detail, it also reproduces images with a greater dynamic range than the LG G5’s selfie camera does.

Huawei P9 Selfie
Huawei P9 Selfie

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Video

Take a look at the sample videos below. Although a little erratic with focus in the video mode, the LG G5 undoubtedly yields better quality video, both in daylight and low light. The P9 lacks the ability to shoot 4K video and OIS, making it lose out to the G5 in this regard.

 

 

Conclusion

The Huawei P9 has an excellent black and white mode, with one camera dedicated to capturing details in black and white. Black and white photos shot with the LG G5 don’t compare with the Huawei P9. The P9 also has some brilliant colour profiles that might remind you of a Leica camera’s output, if you’re familiar with the brand and have seen pictures clicked with a Leica camera. The Huawei P9 yields natural results, with adequate sharpness and detail. The aperture priority simulation mode is gimmicky at times, and doesn’t always work as you may hope for it to. When it works, though, you’ll be pleased with the results.

Huawei P9 Gallery

Straight out of the phone, even the results from the LG G5 are pretty impressive, although not as natural looking. Given that both cameras are capable of shooting RAW files, it should be possible to mellow the effects of the slightly excessive sharpening seen on the LG G5’s JPEG images, besides being able to adjust colour saturation. The G5 also has a very useful secondary wide-angle camera.

LG G5 Gallery

I haven’t seen very many people use a mobile phone in the manual mode, let alone shooting RAW files. If you’re not going to be bothered with RAW files, and wouldn’t mind the slightly warmer and punchier colours that the G5 reproduces, the G5 might be a good buy for you. The P9 might just be marginally better at yielding greater pixel level detail in your images.

Both cameras don’t give you much control with video, although the G5 does a better job at it. If you’re likely to be shooting more stills than recording video, and like a more natural looking image, the P9’s dual rear camera setup most definitely ought to impress you!

 

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