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Shootouts

This is the best smartphone camera of 2017

By Alvin Soon - 4 Feb 2018

Shooting moving images

Shooting moving images

Shooting video has become as important as shooting images on our smartphones. In 2017, it’s not enough to just grab good-looking video, but to also provide stable image stabilization and clear sound capture.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

The Apple iPhone X takes the best-looking videos. It has good AF and the auto-exposure smartly adjusts itself when lighting conditions change. Colors look good and there’s hardly any rolling shutter.

The iPhone X also has the richest range of frame rates to choose from; from 4K at 24/30/60p. Plus, it has the fastest slow motion capture at the highest resolution with a frame rate of 1080/240p (the Sony Xperia XZ Premium can shoot at an astonishing 960fps, but at 720p). With iOS 11, the iPhone X records videos in the new HEVC format, which cuts your file sizes by as much as half — very welcome when you’re shooting a lot of 4K videos.

Here’s a look at the difference between 4K at 60p and 4K at 24p (a cinematic frame rate that produces a more ‘film-like’ look). The videos were shot with the iPhone 8 Plus’ wide-angle camera, which is identical to the iPhone X’s wide-angle camera.

However, while the iPhone X’s video optical image stabilization (OIS) is good for mostly still shots, it does produce an odd jelly-like effect if the videographer moves around too much — although the jelly effect is not as pronounced as on the Samsung Note8. I’ve also noticed that camera shake on the iPhone X is more pronounced at 60p, scale back to 30 or 24p and shakiness is reduced. It could be that 4K at 60p is still too much for the electronic part of the image stabilization to process, or simply that shakiness is more noticeable because the higher frame rate is capturing more motion detail.

The Google Pixel 2 XL has the best image stabilization — its OIS combined with electronic image stabilization (EIS) is very, very, very good. But the images are full of noise, and sound capture is muffled. There’s even a bug where high-pitched sounds produce a whiny background noise, Google says this will be fixed in an update.

The LG V30+ deserves a special mention for its rich video recording options. There are 16 cinematic color grading presets, and an innovative Point Zoom feature that lets you zoom into any selected area in the frame, not just the middle.

If you’re a manual shooter, you can shoot in full manual, and even adjust audio capture using a graphical audio monitor. The V30+ even records to LG-Cine Log, which is like raw for video. But these manual features will really appeal only to a niche audience, while this shootout focuses on everyday use. And unfortunately, the V30+’s Auto video quality is not as good as the iPhone X’s, rolling shutter is clearly evident on the main camera, colors look hyper-saturated, and while the iPhone X has OIS on both cameras, the LG V30+ only has OIS on the wide-angle.

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