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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

SPONSORED: AT&T LGG4 – Photography Tips, Review and Sweepstakes

Disclosure: I received an LG G4 from AT&T, and was paid by AT&T for this review.

Photography tips for taking photos on your phone

When taking any type of photo, keep these tips in mind, and you'll end up with great shots.

1. Get more light.

If you are about to take a photo and you think it's too dark. It's too dark. Turn on the lights if you are inside. If it's daytime, stand by a window or go outside.

Are you a food photographer? Your photos will look a lot better if you bring your plate by a window. In a restaurant? Carry your plate over to a window, the photo will be improved by adding natural daylight.

Many times the bar will have hanging pendulum lights that are perfect for shining a light on a plate of food too.

Here are some recent examples of food photos taken with available light:


Image: Pastrami Sandwich from Teresa's in Danvers, MA


Image: Spaghetti and Chicken Parm from Theresa's in Danvers, MA

Have those around you use the lights on their phones to light up your subject.

Here I took a snapshot of a horse and a teddy bear. Looks fine.


Image: Before. With Room Light Only.

Then I shined a little extra light on the subjects, and it brought out some of the detail.


Image: After. With a little additional light provided by a smartphone light. Looks better.

Is it actually too dark?

Do you have no way of adding light? Use manual mode on your camera to add light that way. Increase the exposure by using a slower shutter speed and adjust the ISO setting to let more light in.

It was the middle of the night and way too dark to take this photo:


Image: Chimney at night.

So I used manual mode and set the shutter speed to 4 seconds and the ISO setting to 2,700. Here's what I got:


Image: Chimney at night. Manual Mode.

2. Get closer.

It's nice to get a wide shot to set the scene.



Get closer too.



Get really close. Find the details of a larger scene in the small things. If you think you are close enough, take one more step closer.



If there are interesting people around, ask if you can take their photo. It's a challenge to get close to someone you don't know.

3. Get a different angle.

Most people go to the same spot, hold up their camera, take a photo and leave. Think, Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation at the Grand Canyon.

Take a moment to take in your surroundings. Is there a different place you can take your photo from, where no one else is? Is there a fence or a window that you can shoot through?



4. Get low.

Lie down on the ground and shoot along the ground.



Shoot up towards a subject. If you are shooting pets or children, get on their level and take a photo from there.

5. Get high.

Is there a staircase, or hill nearby?



Get a different angle on your subject by shooting down. Get up on a sturdy chair. ;-)



LG G4 details and review

I used the LG G4 for a few days and loved it. It's very light in weight and the screen is a pleasure to use. If you are an iPhone user, all your standard apps are here, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and work just like the iPhone versions. The speaker is on the back of the LG G4, opposite from the screen. That doesn't matter if you are using headphones. When you are not, the sound is fine. You can cup your hand around the back to make it louder. The back of the LG G4 is curved, so if you place the LG G4 on the table and start typing, the phone wobbles. It's better to type on it when holding in your hand.

Let's look at some of the most interesting features of the LG G4:

Does it even need a case?
The G4 is available with a genuine leather body. Black or brown. That's unique. When my demo phone came in from AT&T, I opened the box and said, "Whoa!" The integrated leather body is very nice.

LG G4
Image: G4 with black leather

LG G4
Image: G4 with black leather. Close Up.

Does it have a replaceable battery?
Yes.

The leather cover easily pops off to allow you to replace the battery.

LG G4
Image: Cover off to allow access to battery

LG G4
Image: Battery - Li-ion BATTERY Typ 3,000 mAh

Is the battery going to die?
Depends on how much you use it. The LG G4 has "Battery management with fast charging capability and Super Power Saver mode." The G4 has a removable 3,000 mAh battery. You can also replace it with a spare. (Backup batteries sold separately)

Is it a phone with a camera, or a camera with a phone?
For me it's a camera first, then a phone.

Features of the LG G4 camera include an f/1.8 low-light lens, Manual Mode, Optical Image Stabilization, Laser Autofocus, and high-res image sensors.

LG G4 Camera and Video Specs:
16 MP rear-facing camera with dual LED flash, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS+) 2.0, Laser Auto Focus, 8x digital zoom, and f/1.8 lens
Camera Features: Burst Shot; Gesture Shot; Cheese Shutter; Panorama; Dual Camera/Video; HDR (High Dynamic Range); Timer Shot; Light Trail
Video Record: UHD (3840 x 2160) @30fps; 1080p (1920 x 1080) @30fps; 720p (1280 x 720) @30fps; Slow motion (1280 x 720p) @120fps; QVGA (320 x 240) @120fps
Video Playback: UHD (3840 x 2160) @30fps; 1080p (1920 x 1080) @30fps; 864 x 480 @30fps
8 MP front-facing camera with f/1.8 lens and 8x digital zoom

My first shots with the LG G4, in automatic mode, with HDR turned to AUTO mode, were crystal clear. (see above)

Shortcut key: If you press the volume down key twice, the camera app opens. If you want, you can also turn on Quick Shot to take a photo instantly when the app opens with the key.

Can you take a better selfie?
Short answer: Yes.



Here are the details:
LG has elevated the art of the selfie with the new G4. With an 8 MP front-facing camera good enough to be a rear-facing camera and a soft selfie light that brightens around the border of the photo preview window, it perfectly captures your most important subject: you.

If you enable Gesture shot, the LG G4 will take a Selfie photo of you when you make a fist. Repeat the gesture and the LG G4 will take 4 Selfies.

Gesture Shutter How To:
To start the photo timer, simply open your hand then make a fist. Want to capture photos in a sequence? Open and close your fist twice for four selfies in a row. Gesture View can even switch between image capture and picture review automatically when you bring the phone down then back up.

Yes. Selfies are now built into cameras. ;-)


Image: Making a gesture

Power to the selfie!

Bonus:
With Dual mode, you can take a selfie and a regular photo at the same time, and they get mashed up into one photo.



How is the screen resolution?
It's great!

Crazy specs talk starts here: With a 5.5" IPS Quantum display, the G4 has QUAD HD RESOLUTION at 2560 x 1440.

For reference:
- UHD TV is 3840 x 2160
- 1080p is 1,920 x 1,080
- 720p is 1,280 x 720
I watched House of Cards on Netflix and it's a great experience.

Can the LG G4 shoot Ultra High Definition 4K video?
Yes.

Wait!

What?

When in video camera mode, you can choose between on-screen settings shown on the display as: Slo-mo, HD, FHD, and UHD. The default setting is FHD or Full HD, 1080p. For this test video I chose UHD.

When in video mode, you can choose between on-screen settings shown the display as: Slo-mo, HD, FHD, and UHD. The default setting is FHD or Full HD, 1080p.


Video: Sample LG G4 UHD 3840 x 2160 @30fps Video. Hosted on YouTube.

Note: To view in 2160p 4K, you need to choose that setting on the YouTube video


Image: Choosing 2160p 4K setting on YouTube

Here's another 4K video.

Cheese:


In this example, auto focus was turned on. You can turn on manual focus to keep the camera from refocusing on everything that moves.

Could this phone save your life?
Yes, it could. If you use AT&T Drive mode.
Everyone knows texting and driving is dangerous, yet when a text message comes in, it's difficult not to respond. AT&T DriveMode is a free* app that silences incoming text message alerts so you can stay focused while driving.


Image: AT&T Drive mode "No te#xt is worth a life"

The LG G4 with AT&T Drive mode enabled uses GPS to detect when you are driving over 20 MPH. The AT&T Drive mode app then automatically replies to people who text you with a pre-written text message. I edited the standard copy to look like this:


Image: AT&T Drive mode Auto Reply

Note: AT&T Drive mode is available for both Android and iOS.


Additional Photos taken with the LG G4


Image: Fire engine in the middle if the night taken through a screen window. Auto Mode: Exposure 1/10.


Image: Fire engine in the middle if the night. Manual Mode: Exposure 1/10. ISA 2200.


Image: Jamaica Pond. B&W by Google Auto Awesome.

Check out this album of photos taken at an Antique Car Show.


Tweets from last night.

I had the LG G4 out at a restaurant and the server was really impressed with the resolution of the screen. Then she asked me how much the phone cost, so I looked it up for her.



The battery life is very good too.





The LG G4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes
The LGG4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes started on May 29th, and runs through June 20th. In order to celebrate the awesome 4K capture capability and 2TB of storage, AT&T is giving away one LGG4 every 4K seconds (66 minutes) for 23 days, totaling to an impressive 500 phones.

For a chance to win, participants need to:

1. Register at http://4kseconds.att.com/
2. Upload a picture they took from their phone. This can be done from a mobile device, tablet or computer. Images need to be .jpg or .png and less than 1 MB.

There is also a contest component to this program. All submitted photos (deemed eligible by the Official Rules) will also be housed on a gallery on the sweepstakes website. These will be open to public voting in order to determine a public appeal score. The photos will also be judged by a panel of judges.

The photo with the highest combination score from the judges and public appeal will be deemed the Grand Prize Winner and will receive a 55” Class Smart Curved 4K OLED 3D TV with webOS 2.0 and a 3D-Blu-Ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers. The second and third highest ranked photos will be deemed the First and Second Prize Winner. These winners will receive a 65” Class IPS 4K UHD Smart LED TV with webOS 2.0 and 3D-Capable Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers. The winners will be announced upon completion of the Judging Period, which ends July 9th.

Learn more at this AT&T Consumer Blog post and Mobile Minute video.



Conclusion
The LG G4 was easy to set up and fun to use. It has some very well thought out features that make using the phone a pleasure.

LOCK - Do you have a lock on your smartphone? The LG G4 has a Smart Lock feature knows when you are home and doesn't require locking every time. That's cool. You can also set up other trusted places where the LG G4 won't require a password every time.

APPS - I enjoyed using apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the LG G4. it's 5.5" screen made it easy to use those apps.

CAMERA - The camera is solid. Automatic mode works great the majority of the time, and when needed, manual mode gives you lots of flexibility.

Bottom line: The LG G4 is Easy to set up, Fun to use, and Solid for both creating and consuming photos and video.



Steve Garfield approaches life with alacrity; a brisk and cheerful readiness. He enjoys learning, teaching and helping fun people and companies grow. Steve is a Social Media Traveler. Companies, brands, and destinations send Steve and his wife on trips where they publicly share their experiences via social media. Recent examples include the opening festivities for the Hermitage Club and traveling with GMC to the Super Bowl.

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