The LG V10: A photographer's dream or too much of a good thing?

LG's latest smartphone offers two front-facing cameras and a myriad of photographic modes and tweaks.

lg v10 smartphone
Credit: LG

Back in April, LG introduced an upgrade to its flagship phone line, the LG G4. One of the aspects that LG pushed in order to distinguish its phone from the other high-end devices now crowding the market was the ability to take top-notch photos.

In his review, JR Raphael took a close look at how well the LG G4 performed as a camera, and he found that while, on the whole, the LG produced some very good photographs, the results weren't as consistent as he would have liked.

LG has just doubled down on its push to be the company known for its photographic know-how; in a presentation today in New York it showed off its new V10 smartphone.

This is a very interesting device. The phone features a 5.7-in. 2560 x 1440 display along with a secondary 2.1-in. 150 x 1040 display at the top of the phone that offers notifications and messages. (Think the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ without the curve.)

It also comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage (with a micro SD slot for up to 2TB of increased space), three microphones for noise reduction and better audio, and a removable 3,000mAh battery (which means that the back of the phone doesn't feel quite as snazzy as most high-end phones, but hey! It's removable!).

But what LG spent the most time on during its presentation was the camera (which, apparently, was used in creating the video used in its introduction). This phone has two -- count 'em, two -- 5-megapixel front-facing cameras, one with an 80-degree field of view and the other with a wider 120-degree field. You can decide which you want to use, or use both simultaneously along with the 16-megapixel rear-facing camera to produce a three-in-one photo LG calls Multiview.

There were a number of other photography-related updates, including increased stabilization for video (which LG calls Steady Record), a plethora of manual controls, and the ability to adjust the color or the lighting while recording.

The question is: How much of a difference will this make to potential smartphone buyers? It's really great that we can now have cameras with us everywhere we go -- the constant presence of smartphone cameras have changed our social and political landscape, as people record events that might otherwise have gone unnoticed or disbelieved.

But this is more than a better way to record your kids, your co-workers, or that demonstration happening down the street. On the one hand, the V10 has those two front-facing cameras (something that is strictly for the selfie crowd); on the other, it has all those manual controls for, presumably, the person who is really well acquainted with the ins and outs of photography.

I can't speak for selfie enthusiasts -- who may indeed like choosing from two separate cameras -- but I am acquainted with several photographers (amateur and professional). And my impression is that they aren't particularly looking for phone cameras with software that offers the same complexity as their "real" cameras. In fact, they all tend to carry larger cameras for serious work and smaller, pocketable cameras for quick snaps.

It's possible that, given a high-enough quality, a photographer would switch to using a smartphone for the latter use -- in fact, I suspect many already have -- but I'd be interested to know whether they really want, or need, the fine controls that LG is adding. (After all, isn't that what Photoshop is for?)

But who knows? LG hasn't yet offered either a ship date or a price for the U.S. version of the V10. Perhaps this multi-talented phone -- with its multiviews and other features -- will indeed strike a nerve with the market.

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