Asus Zenfone Zoom – Mobile Phone Camera Review

zenfone zoom

Recently I got my hands on the Asus Zenfone Zoom, a mobile phone which has been in the news because of its camera. Being a photography enthusiast and blogger, I was really excited to test the camera of this mobile phone by Asus.

Nowadays, almost every mobile phone brand is trying to bring out new products featuring advanced camera sensor and optics. Asus has also come out with the Zenfone Zoom establishing it as the camera phone, which has attracted many photography enthusiasts to grab this handset.

Let’s first have a look at some of the key camera features of Asus Zenfone Zoom:

  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • 3X optical zoom (28-84mm focal length)
  • 12X digital zoom
  • Laser auto-focus
  • 4 stops optical image stabilization
  • Dual-LED real tone flash
  • Real camera buttons to shoot DSLR-style
  • 52 Megapixels Super Resolution mode
  • Low light mode with 4Xlight sensitivity
  • Manual mode which allows you to adjust shutter speed, exposure value, white balance and ISO manually

Camera placement and Handling

Starting with the physical features of the Zenfone Zoom, Asus has very well managed to maintain the size of the mobile phone to be the world’s slimmest 3x optical zoom smartphone. But I have a complaint about the positioning of the rear camera, as my index finger was touching the camera lens. So every time I used the camera, I first had to make sure the lens is free of any fingerprints.

One of the best things about the Zenfone Zoom as a camera phone was the physical shutter release button on the right side. Trust me you would feel like that you are holding a light weight DSLR in your hands. Half-pressing the shutter release button allows you to set the focus on the subject and you have to fully press the button in order to click the photo.

zenfone zoom

Focusing

Talking about the technical aspects, this camera phone features Laser Auto-focus. Unlike most of the mobile phone cameras, the Zenfone Zoom camera uses the infrared laser light to detect the subject distance and sets the focus accordingly. As claimed by Asus, it takes only 0.03 second to focus on the subject. As per my experience, the focus is not that quick, but yes, it does focus on closer subjects really fast as compared to other mobile cameras.

Though the camera struggled a bit while focusing on distant subjects and I did miss some shots because of this. Also, the auto-focusing system could have been better in low-light conditions, however, the performance was decent.

zenfone zoom

Sharpness and Dynamic Range

This mobile camera does produce sharp photos, no doubt about that. At no point was I disappointed about the image output, If you have set the focus correct, trust me you will get sharp results out of this 13-megapixel rear camera.

The 1/3.06 inch image sensor is a bit disappointing, was expecting a bigger sensor especially for a mobile phone which is focusing on its camera performance. Also, the 1.12μm pixel size could have been bigger, considering that the mobile phones such as Nexus 6P feature 1.55 µm pixel size and the iPhone 6s has got 1.22µm pixel size.

The dynamic range is something to praise about, as the Zenfone Zoom captures the contrast between the highlights and the shadows brilliantly. This helped me to click amazing photos, where I framed the scene in such a way that it had a building as well as the sky full of clouds. So if you love clicking landscapes using a mobile camera, Zenfone Zoom is a great option to consider.

zenfone zoom

Clicked in HDR mode

Low light performance

Loaded with 4-stops optical image stabilization, this mobile camera should allow the user to click sharp photos using 4 stops slower shutter speed compared to mobile phones without the OIS camera. While using the camera, I did experience that the photos were sharp even though I was clicking photos while walking. But as per my testing, it perfectly provides 2-stops stabilization, even in low light conditions.

As mentioned previously, the focusing is an issue in low light conditions and I had to manually set the focus (using the manual mode). If you want to click photos during evening time or night using automatic mode, you would get sharp images but the noise would be there. Wish the sensor size was bigger, resulting in less noise in low light conditions.

But, if you use the Zenfone Zoom camera for low light conditions in manual mode, it will produce simply amazing results. As you can see in the image below, I had clicked it on manual mode keeping the shutter speed of 10 seconds, ISO 50 (minimum) and f/2.7. Hardly any noise, thanks to ISO 50 and the colors were brilliantly captured by the camera. As I was talking about the dynamic range of this camera, I personally found it to be better than a couple of mobile cameras I have previously used.

zenfone zoom

Shutter Speed: 8 seconds | ISO 50 | f/2.7

Optical zoom performance

One of the most talked about feature of this mobile phone, the 3X optical zoom lets you set the focal anything from 28mm to 84mm. While using this mobile camera for almost 3 weeks, I was in love with the optical zoom feature. Compared to the digital zoom, the optical zoom helped me click distant subject without even moving near them and the image quality was not at all compromised.

Like our DSLR lenses, the optical zoom gets us closer to the subject without degrading the image quality. Though the image stabilization is a challenge while using 3X optical zoom, I had to make sure that there is minimum shake while clicking the photo. Using the 2-seconds timer can help here.

As you can see in the photos below, I have tried to compare the same frame clicked using 3X optical zoom as well as the zoomed-in version of a normal photo. The optical zoom is a clear winner and maintains the image sharpness and details.

zenfone zoom

Digital Zoom (left) VS Optical Zoom (right)

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Clicked using 3x optical zoom

Camera interface

This is by far the most user-friendly camera app I have ever used. While you are framing the scene, if the camera detects that it is a low light condition, it automatically gives a small pop-up asking you to enable the night scene mode. It also suggests to switch to HDR mode if it detects high-contrast scene.

The camera app also shows the live histogram as you frame the scene, as you move your mobile camera the histogram gets updated. This is a great way to know whether your frame is getting underexposed or overexposed, and frame your scene accordingly to get correctly exposed photo.

Manual Mode

The majority of my time was invested in clicking photos in the manual mode. The ability to click photos at ISO 50 ensures that you get noise-free images, which this mobile camera proved right. The best part about the manual mode is that the shutter speed can be set to as low as 32 seconds, whereas the latest Samsung S7 Edge goes only till 10 seconds.

That’s not it, you can also manually change the focus plane and makes sure that while clicking multiple photos the focus does not change. It also allows you to set the focusing mode to continuous, in case you want to shoot a flying bird or a moving car and do not want to miss the focus.

zenfone zoom

Shutter Speed: 20 seconds | ISO 50 | f/2.7

 

zenfone zoom

Shutter Speed: 8 seconds | ISO 50 | f/2.7

Conclusion

Coming at a price of Rs. 37,999, this is a great mobile camera to consider if you want to click photos on the manual mode. Though I was overall happy with the camera performance, but I also know that currently there are much better mobile phones available in the market which can offer similar or better results. One such example is the Nexus 6P, though it does not offer the manual mode.

If you like to click photos by zooming-in, the optical zoom technology is made for you. Modes such as GIF animation and Miniature are fun to shoot with and can produce some really amazing photos. So if you like to click photos for fun, this is a great deal.

If you click photos in automatic mode, you will find this camera app really helpful as it automatically suggests you appropriate modes to switch to in order to click perfectly exposed photos. Though I was not that happy with the ISO performance in low light conditions using the automatic mode.

If you want to know anything more about the camera performance, modes, etc, simply comment below and I will try to help you out with the answer.

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.

  • Mohammed Joujou

    At what ISO value does the pic starts to become grainy? and at what value does the image become unbearable?

    • Hello Mohammed, you would start noticing grains at ISO 400 when clicking in low light conditions and it becomes unbearable at ISO 800.

      • Mohammed Joujou

        I see, thanks for the details. Great photography-oriented review of the phone?

        • Glad you liked it. You can check out other mobile camera reviews as well. ☺