LG G4 Camera Full Manual Mode Guide

May 8, 2015

LG G4 camera manual controls

The LG G4 camera offers photographer the option to shoot in ‘manual mode’. This mode was aimed for photographers who want full control over the camera settings like in a DSLR camera. Once you switched to Manual Mode, you are given full control over the shutter speed, white balance, ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation and focus. Let’s take a look what each setting offers.

LG G4 manual settings options and min/max values:

  • Manual Shutter speed – 30 – 1/6000 sec. inc. Light Trail Bulb Shutter (up to 10 seconds)
  • Manual White Balance – 2400K – 7400K
    1000 – 2000 K: Candle Flame
    2500 – 3000 K : Domestic Lighting
    3000 – 4000 K – Early AM / Late PM
    4000 – 5000 K – Fluorescent Light
    5000 – 5500 K – Sun: direct at Noon
    5500 – 6500 K – Average Daylight
    6000 – 7000 K – Noon Sunlight / Sky Overcast
    7000 – 8000 K – Cloudy Sky / Outdoor Shade areas
    8000 – 10000 K – Sky Partly Cloudy
  • Manual ISO – 50 – 2700
  • Exposure Compensation - +/- 2 stop
  • Manual Focus
  • Exposure Lock (AE-L)
  • Live Level Gauge and Histogram
  • Shoot in JPEG, RAW of JPEG + RAW
LG G4 camera manual mode UI

LG G4 camera manual mode UI

The LG G4 rear camera has a fixed-aperture of f/1.8. This means that the lens doesn’t have any moving parts and you can’t change the aperture.  This has several disadvantages, especially when shooting subjects at close distances (macro) where everything beyond and in front of the subject will appear out of focus. Foreground elements in landscape shots might also not appear too sharp. This problem exists because the Depth of field is fixed because the focal length of the lens and the aperture are fixed. You mostly see that shallow depth of field when shooting subjects at close distances. Sometimes this is exactly the effect you want to achieve, in others it might not be.

Here’s a handy video by booredatwork.com YouTube user which explains the LG G4 manual camera mode, worth watching!

It’s good to understand the LG G4 camera’s limitations in order to make the best out of it.

LG G4 Manual White Balance Settings – LG G4 allows you to set the White Balance manually from 2400 to 7400 degrees Kelvin. As you can see from the above Kelvin Temperature Chart and the examples I’ve written above, each Kelvin degree temperature is represented with an example of equivalent light source. The camera needs that information in order to remove unrealistic color casts.  In Auto mode, the White Balance, ISO and shutter are being est automatically for you. The WB is set based on the image data. Although the can do a very good job in applying the correct WB settings, it can sometimes miss or making inaccurate decision. This will result in a color cast and image which doesn’t look natural, at least not as accurate to what you’ve seen in your own eyes, or not like you want it to be.

Kelvin Temperature Chart

Some cameras offer scene modes which you can choose to help the camera make a better ‘guess. However, the best option is to manually change the WB in your LG G4. You can use the slider to choose between 2400K and 7400K and see if the results look natural to you. It doesn’t mean that you need to make the image look natural all the time, you can set the WB to make the image look ‘warmer’ (more yellowish) or ‘colder’ (more bluish) by adjusting the WB settings until you are pleased with the results.

Lily flower white balance natural vs warmer

Auto WB (left), "Warmer" Kelvin degree manual WB setting (right)

LG G4 Manual Shutter Speed Settings – the LG G4 allows you to set manually set the shutter speed starting from 30 seconds up to a maximum shutter speed of 1/6000 sec. More light will pass through the longer the shutter speed remains open.  In Auto mode, the camera will decide which shutter speed to use based on the scene.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]illuminated pavement at night Christmas

By psubhashish (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The image above was taken using the iPhone 4S. It was taken in auto mode. You can see that the camera used 1/15 sec shutter speed with a high ISO. Because the scene was quite dark, the camera made a “decision” to use a slow shutter speed to get an optimal exposure for that particular scene. Had is used a faster shutter speed, the image might look underexposed.

So why use manual shutter speed if the camera can do it for you? This is a good question. Choosing the shutter speed manually allows you to achieve different kind of results. For example, you might want to shoot a moving car at night. Had you shot that scene in auto mode, the camera would probably used a slow shutter speed, and the car would have appeared blurry in your image. Using Manual mode on your LG G4, you can tell the camera to use a faster shutter speed, like 1/80 for example. The problem is that the car would look sharper, but the image would look underexposed. This is where manual mode is really handy. You have the option to use a higher ISO to compensate for the faster shutter speed by change to ISO 2700 to get a well exposed image.

Sometimes you want to achieve exactly the opposite and tell the camera to use a much slower shutter speed to make the waterfall’s running water appear silky-smooth and blurry. For that, you probably should use a slow shutter speed around 1/8 sec or even slower.  You can then achieve some significantly more create results.

Waterfall silky water: slow shutter speed vs faster shutter speed

The LG G4 manual mode allows you to be more creative!

If you shoot that waterfall in auto mode, you would probably get it to look like the image on the left. If you change to manual mode and user slow shutter speed, you can make it look like the image on the right. The problem with a fixed-aperture lenses like the LG G4 is that the aperture is always in its widest opening. This means that you might get an overexposed image when trying to capture a photo like the one on the right, even if you use the lowest ISO. For this you might want to use a Neutral Density filter in-front of the lens to reduces the amount of light. I don’t know if there is an option to attach any type of Neutral Density Filter to the LG G4, you might do it manually using a regular lens filter. I know that the iPhone can have this filters using the 3RDi camera kit.

This is one reason why most of the long exposure shots you’ve seen for the LG G4 are taken in low-light, preferably at night. This way you can use a slow shutter speed without worrying of an overexposed shot. In fact, one of the official LG G4 sample images shows a photograph of a car light trailer shot with a slow shutter speed. According to its EXIF, it was shot using 8 seconds shutter speed (long exposure) and ISO 100. This was possible only because the image was shot at night, allowing the photographer to to use a long exposure without getting an overexposed image.

LG G4 Manual ISO Settings – the LG G4 allows you to manually set the sensor sensitivity starting from ISO 50 to ISO 2700. It always recommended to shoot images at the lowest ISO possible in order to achieve a higher dynamic range and have little image noise as possible. When you shoot in auto mode, the camera might use a higher ISO to compensate for the lack of light. The LG G4 already shoots each image with a f/1.8 aperture. The only other control you get over the exposure is either changing the shutter speed or the ISO sensitivity.

In auto mode, the LG G4 camera will likely to use a combination of a high ISO with a fast shutter speed in order for your subjects to appear sharp.  A higher ISO also means more noise and sometimes you want to avoid that. If you shoot in manual mode, you can tell the camera to use a relatively lower ISO, but instead, you can use a slower shutter speed to compensate for the lack of light. In other circumstances, you might want to deliberately use the maximum ISO with a very slow shutter speed just to be able to get a good exposure when shooting under very dim lighting conditions.

The LG G4 optical image stabilization can really come handy in this situation. It will help you get a sharp image when you shoot in slow shutter speeds. Having the ability to set the ISO manually, gives the photographer more control on how final image output. You’ll decide whether you want to use a higher ISO and make use of a faster shutter speed or use a lower ISO with a slower shutter speed. Auto mode might not give you the results you are looking for every time.

LG G4 Exposure Lock (AE-L) – the Exposure Lock feature allows you to lock the exposure so the camera won’t change it automatically for a particular setting.

In the above video (5:10 minute) you can see that the camera is set toe ISO 200 and 1/30s shutter speed. The AE-L is locked. So the camera won’t change the shutter speed or the ISO to optimize the image for the most appropriate exposure for that scene. But once the photographer presses the AE-L button to toggle it off, the camera recalculates the exposure and sets it to ISO 100 and 1/30s shutter speed.

So what happened here? – the camera detected that the image was slightly overexposed the has chosen to use a lower ISO to reduce the exposure. As you can see, it worked pretty well and the image look balanced in terms of exposure. So for maximum control, you should toggle the AE-L if you don’t want the camera to make further adjustment and correct the exposure for you. You can also adjust the Exposure Compensation  to make the image look brighter or darker, and the camera will make the appropriate changes to the shutter speed or ISO which are not locked by the AE-L button.

LG G4 Manual Focus – the LG G4 camera allows you to manual focus on the subject. This is a great feature for photographers who want to have a precise control over the exposure, instead of letting the AF system do that automatically for them. It is very useful i many situations when you want to fine tune the focus manually to focus on a specific object in the scene. Very useful in macro where you might won’t get precise results by touching the area of focus on the G4 touchscreen.


The LG G4 Manual mode brings you as close as it gets as shooting with a DSLR camera. Having full manual control over the exposure (except the aperture), allows you to be more creative and make the image look exactly as you want it to. You can achieve various unique effects by just changing all of these settings manually. You probably want to experiment with different settings just to get the hang of it and see how it works in practice.

Overall, I’m very please with the unique LG G4 camera features, I’m sure it will help you capture even more creative photos than ever before.

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