Camera Analysis

The 2X has a 1.3 MP front facing camera and 8 MP rear camera, unfortunately I haven’t been able to determine the camera source, but pixels on the rear camera are 1.4 µm square, and 1.75 µm on the front facing camera. That pixel size would make the 2X’s CMOS sensor most likely 1/3.2” in size.


The LG Optimus 2X's 8 MP rear facing camera

LG’s camera app is familiar territory coming from other LG Android phones. We’ve still got the LG Optimus One, which has almost the exact same layout and design camera application. Honestly, I think LG’s got the best menus I’ve seen yet for a smartphone. There are image size settings for 8 MP (3264x2488), 5 MP, 3 MP, 2 MP, 1 MP, VGA and QVGA, three compression settings (Super Fine, Fine, and Normal), some optional focus controls (Auto, Macro, Face Tracking, and Manual Focus), ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800), scene modes, effects, ability to disable the shutter sound, and the shot mode. There’s the option of recording images either on the “internal SD card” (which is really that eMMC) or an external SD card if you’ve got one inserted. I noticed that writing to internal storage enabled a bit faster cycling between images compared to my SD card. There's a full overview of all the camera and video capture settings in the gallery below.

Shot mode is interesting because under it is a setting called “continuous shot” which enables 6 photos to be captured in rapid succession, which you can see in action in our overview video. When switching to that mode, image size drops from 8 MP to a maximum of 2 MP, and a couple of other options grey out. Tapping the capture button immediately takes those 6 images in rapid-fire succession and saves them. It’s cool that you can take a bunch of images quickly, but what would be more useful is being able to mash the capture button in the normal shooting mode and capture as quickly as you would on a decent DSLR. That still isn’t possible, but we’re clearly getting there. NVIDIA advertises that its image signal processor (ISP) is capable of doing 12 MP at 11 FPS, and JPEG encoding at 80 MP/s, which would mean that (negating integration time on the camera sensor) 10 FPS shooting should be possible. That’s obviously a bit ambitious, and isn’t what we see here—maybe someday though.

The OSD LG has put together for the camera is again probably the best I’ve seen on any Android—heck smartphone in general—yet. Icons rotate between landscape and portrait orientation modes, up at the top are shots remaining, image size, and other iconography for modes that have been set elsewhere in settings. Tapping or waiting a few seconds eliminates everything save the live preview to give a less cluttered view for image composure. The 2X lacks tap to focus and expose, instead it’s always center-weighted. There’s also no dedicated capture button on the 2X, so the on-screen button is the only option.

Image quality from photos taken with the rear facing camera is actually pretty good. There’s a lot of spatial detail in our test images with surprisingly little noise. I’d say that the 2X actually takes some of the best 8 MP smartphone images I’ve seen to date. The problem, however, is saturation. Colors are almost universally under-saturated by default—compare almost any of the shots we took at our bench location to other devices, and it’s readily apparent. It’s still outclassed by phones like the Nokia N8, but not bad.

With the lights off, the 2X runs autofocus with the LED lit up, which is awesome. Unfortunately, the flash exposure over illuminates our test scene and creates a very overexposed image. Otherwise the LED flash is nice and powerful, yet more proof that having two isn’t necessarily better.

Interestingly enough the other strong suit of the 2X is that the preview image is one of the most fluid and high framerate we’ve come across. In situations with adequate light, the rear facing camera preview is easily higher framerate than the iPhone 4. Oddly enough, the front sensor preview framerate is quite low unless you’re imaging something extremely well-lit. The limitation on the front-facing camera framerate is one of integration time on the sensor rather than ISP bandwidth, however.

Tapping the top left button switches to the front facing camera. What’s odd however is that the front facing camera is actually rotated 90 degrees. That’s not to say that the image is rotated 90 degrees, but rather that the longer side of the sensor is parallel to the shorter axis of the phone. The result is that there are black bars on both sides of the preview. It’s as if the sensor was aligned with the intention of being used with the phone primarily in portrait—instead of orienting the sensor to match the aspect ratio of the phone. It’s just an odd choice considering all the other smartphones we’ve looked at thus far are the other way around.

The 1.3 MP front facing camera can capture at 1280x960, VGA, and QVGA resolution. Quality isn’t too good—there’s noticeable lack of detail and blurring in our test image. It’s likely more than enough quality for a video chat that’s going to crop and decimate image size to a much smaller size. The 2X also mirrors images horizontally on the front facing camera.

Display Quality Camera Analysis: Video Capture
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  • rpmrush - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Solid review, but please at least use spell check. I'm not a grammar or typo freak, but there were way too many simple typos that spell check wouldn't even let you get by with. At least have someone proof read it before you publish to the public. Reply
  • zowie - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    who can create a new type battery, who will be the richest man in the world Reply
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Yeah, and until then those who manage to come up with some decent power management will be the richest...

    Seriously, every improvement on the battery front almost always just leads to devices drawing more power. It's somewhat ironic that last year's iPhone still leads the pack when it comes to battery life. Power management (that is: don't draw more power than absolutely necessary by throttling or shutting down components that aren't needed or aren't fully needed in a given moment) is hard and boring design work nobody seems to care for. And with devices and software getting replaced with the next iteration every few months this is even understandable, it's just not worth the effort, especially when nobody seems to care and benchmarks are so much more important to the crowd.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    How is is typically played back: Cropped, or vertically resampled? Reply
  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Tegra 3 has 4 1.5GHz Cortex-A9's according to a leaked slide.

    That was a great article! A few minor corrections: The ARM11 VFP is fully pipelined (so it can beat the A8 on FP performance). Like the A8, Scorpion is 2-way in-order, not limited out-of-order. In-order cores issue instructions in-order but may complete them out-of-order. On the other hand, OoO cores use register renaming to issue instructions out-of-order but complete them in-order.

    Note none of the micro benchmarks used emits Neon instructions. JIT compilers don't have enough time to generate high quality code, let alone autovectorize! For proper benchmarking you will need to run native code compiled with a quality compiler (not GCC - it is still far behind the state of the art on ARM, especially Thumb-2).
    Reply
  • metafor - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    I would argue with that definition of OoO. A design does not need register renaming in order to issue any arbitrary instruction OoO. It's simply a trade-off of whether to centralize hazard tracking on register accesses or on retirement. Reply
  • PWRuser - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Excellent review. Please, in your future reviews don't stop including gems like this one:

    "Generally while browsing I can feel when Flash ads are really slowing a page down - the 2X almost never felt that way."

    That's what matters! Including hands on observations along with a full volley of synthetic benchmarks.

    This review comes as close as humanly possible to portraying a handset's ability to readers without the said readers trying it out.

    Your attention to detail puts other reviews to shame. Keep up the good work.
    Reply
  • sarge78 - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Don't forget about ST-Ericsson's U8500 A9. They could be a major player in 2011/2012 with potential design wins from Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Reply
  • warisz00r - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    What equipments do you use to test the phone's audio quality with? Reply
  • phut- - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    "NVIDIA tells us that the Tegra 2 SoC is fully capable of a faster capture rate for stills and that LG simply chose 2MP as its burst mode resolution. For comparison, other phones with burst modes capture at either 1 MP or VGA. That said, unfortunately for NVIDIA, a significant technological advantage is almost meaningless if no one takes advantage of it. It'll be interesting to see if the other Tegra 2 phones coming will enable full resolution burst capture.  unfortunately for NVIDIA, a significant technological advantage is almost meaningless if no one takes advantage of it. It'll be interesting to see if the other Tegra 2 phones coming will enable full resolution burst capture.  meaningless if no one takes advantage of it. It'll be interesting to see if the other Tegra 2 phones coming will enable full resolution burst capture."

    LG have probably made this decision based on the sensitivity of the invariably minuscule sensor they will have used. Having 6 frames of 12mp is pointless if they are 12 incomprehensible megapixels due to the lacklustre sensitivity of the pixels in their chosen part.

    The kind of sensor you find delivering a meaningful burst in something like a 5D mk2 is enormous and power hungry, in comparison to an operating environment such as a phone.
    Reply

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