LG G4 Raw DNG vs JPEG image Shooting Mode

May 7, 2015

LG G4 raw DNG  image format

The LG G4 comes with an option to shoot Raw images. A Raw image is the ‘negative’ of digital cameras, also referred to as ‘Digital Negative. The ones used in the LG G4 is DNG, an open lossless raw image format. The DNG file contains Raw image data from the sensor (not interpolated), metadata and can contain JPEG image for preview.

Raw File

Bayer pattern filter array

Bayer pattern filter array

The LG G4 DNG file can’t be viewed regularly like a JPEG file, it has to be processed first. The reason for that is that the file contains unprocessed color data from the Bayer sensor. The Bayer sensor of the LG G4 main camera, like all mobile phone cameras, have a unique color filter array.

Each pixel on the sensor is represented with a color filter, either a Red, Green or Blue filter.   So if each pixel color data is only of one color, how can do we get a full image color?

This is how the Raw file data looks without interpolation.

Bayer image output color-coded using Bayer filter colors

Bayer image output color-coded

In order to get a full color image, the Raw file has to pass through a process called ‘Demosaicing‘. There are many different algorithms used, but the end results would be a fully color image. The lG G3 DNG Raw file is uncompressed 10 bit, around 20 megabytes for a 16MP full resolution capture. The G4 camera allows you to also shoot in RAW + JPEG. In this mode, once you click the shutter button, the camera captures both a DGN Raw file and a Jpeg (compressed/processed) files.

LG G4 Raw Advantages

So why do you ever want to shoot in Raw file format? The file is much larger and it needs to be processed before you able to do anything with it. There are several reasons why this is the format of choice by many professionals and enthusiast photographers, here are a few:

  • Better Color Depth – Raw on the LG G4 gives you a 10-bit color data instead of 8-bit (JPEG) per channel. This allow more freedom in editing the image before maxing out the color values and getting either a completely black pixel (RGB: 0,0,0) or a completely white pixel (RGB: 255,255,255) on certain areas in the image. When processed, it will result in better gradation, richer colors (as it covers a larger gamut, but also depends on the monitor you use to view the images). This color information allows image interpolation algorithms to make better decisions when rendering each pixel.
  • Make Non-destructive Edits – When you capture a raw image, all the image settings applied during the shot (e.g. saturation, sharpness, white balance, exposure compensation) are saved in the metadata and are not applied to the image pixel data directly. This mean that once you bring the DNG file to a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop LightRoom 6 (available for PC/Mac), you can view the image as it would look if processed with those settings. However, you can use different settings of your choice, with the option to revert those changes. Camera settings applied in JPEG by the LG G4 camera are not reversible.  Any extra post processing can lead to reduction in image quality.
  • Better Recovery of Blown highlights and Shadow Data (higher color information per pixel) – make it easy to correct over and under exposed images
  • Easy White Balance Adjustment in post processing
  • Raw data can be processed using more sophisticated and advanced interpolation algorithms when done on your home computer, compared to on the phone. This also included better noise reduction (NR) algorithms. The result should be a cleaner and more detailed image.
  • The ability to select your color space in the photo editing software

So to keep things simple, shoot Raw if you want the highest quality image and/or you enjoy editing and tweaking your photos in photo editing software – Quality and Flexibility. By the way, when you capture an image on your LG G4, it is captured in RAW but it’s immediately processed and converted to JPEG image file on your phone and the raw data in memory is discarded.

Why Shoot in JPEG if I can shoot Raw? —You want to shoot in Jpeg where you want the image to be quickly available and small in size for easy sharing, printing and backup in the cloud. Raw files have much larger file size, and therefore can quickly fill up your memory card or phone’s storage space. They also need to be processed to make any good used of them.

DNG file icon in Windows Explorer window

dng-file-icon-windows-explorer (no DNG codec installed)

Can I view LG G4 .DNG file on my computer? —Not initially, until the file is processed to another known image format that the operating system can understand. You can download a RAW image viewer application like DNG Viewer for Windows OS or download Adobe DNG Codec from adobe.com, which then allows you to see  a preview thumbnail and image data in Windows Explorer. This coded allows the operating system (Windows in this case) to preview data of any .dng file on your harddrive. This helps quite a lot, because you don’t need to open it in a dedicated viewer app or pre-process it.

Any of those application doesn’t change the LG G4 .DNG file data, they do fast processing behind the scenes just to get you a preview image, so you’ll know which subject appears in the image.


RAW is not for everyone. The LG G4 does offer that option but it doesn’t meant that you have to use it. It’s there for those of you if you want to take advantage of its benefits. If you enjoy editing photos on your home computer in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6, you want the best flexibility and image quality, you want to tweak the image in post processing to get the best results and make your image looks exactly the way you imagine it to look – shoot RAW!

The fact that you have RAW+JPEG shouldn’t limit you. You can give it a try and do some editing at home and see if you like the image processing streamline. Who knows, you might find it’s so much find and rewarding that you won’t get back shooting in JPEG ever again.  This is a great option in the LG G4, and I think that you should at least give it a try. *The result of the interpolated raw file may very based on the Raw  converted being used.

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