Smartphone Photography is on the rise and very rightly so given that most smartphones, even the more affordable ones, come with a decent clicker at the back. With better sensors, higher megapixels and better screens it is easy to see why they have all but replaced the point and shoot camera category, once a favourite with family and beginner photography enthusiasts. It is too early for smartphone cameras to replace the DSLR’s but with the current trend it is not an impossible feat in the near future. Every year a few notable launches catch attention with new features which becomes the benchmark for future phone cameras. We were looking forward to the ASUS Zenphone Zoom and were quite delighted when they asked us to review it.
On paper this is the ideal phone for travel bloggers like us, ever on the lookout for good clickers which double up as our phones. The phone itself has been reviewed extensively by reviewers who know what they’re talking about so we’ll skip that part and focus only on the camera. However it is important to note that ASUS Zenphone Zoom is a beast in specs and was as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S6 that we own. The leather back provides a good grip, and together with the metallic chassis looks elegant and quite stylish in our opinion.
As the name suggests, the zoom of this camera is its biggest USP and rightly so. The 3X optical zoom is not a new feature but with no extra protrusions of any kind to impede your smartphone experience, it is a definite win in our books. The other camera specs read
- World thinnest 3X optical Zoom, total 12X Zoom
- 4GB RAM, Intel PC level performance
- 13MP Laser Auto focus camera
- 4 Stops Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
- 10P HOYA Lens
If 2015’s best camera smartphone was a three way tie between Samsung S6, LG G4 & Nexus 6P, 2016 has had a great start with the ASUS Zoom offering. With smartphone photography on the rise due to easy accessibility, it is only right that smartphones come with better camera functionality as well to support the trend.
ASUS ZENPHONE ZOOM SUMMARY:
We had the phone for about 2 weeks in which we used it as our primary phone. We indulged in a bit of street photography, clicked some indoors, in low light and even in natural light in a forest. We found the phone to perform as well as or perhaps better than the best camera smartphone of 2015 in its manual mode while it failed to wow us in auto mode. The photos do come with more realistic colours compared to the highly saturated ones of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and while this might not be enough to win over the Samsung bashers, it does help score some brownie points. The dedicated camera button is also a big plus and we would’ve loved an option for 4k video as well.
We’ll talk briefly about the 3 main ways of using the camera.
This is the default mode once you open the camera app on the phone and is probably the mode most users will make use of for their basic smartphone photography requirements. While the user interface is top notch, the software behind it is a bit of a let-down. It is however by no means a slouch and delivers crisp photos with great detail capture in good lighting but when you are fighting for the crown, there is little leeway. Future updates fixing exposure issues and problems with low light performance could make this a great option for Instagram lovers.
This mode is where the camera really shines. For someone who knows what he’s doing, it is easy to get the perfect shot producing photos equal to or sometimes better than other flagships. The exposure issues in the auto mode are easily offset and you have better control of the ISO and aperture settings which takes full advantage of the excellent hardware. The options provided can rival a DSLR and are quite admirable in a smartphone – much better than the limited pro mode options on the Samsung Galaxy S6. It is however a fact that most people including us will seldom tweak these settings except in the rare case of a specific requirement.
SUPER RESOLUTION MODE
The camera takes 4 photos and combines them via some post processing giving a 52MP output with a lot of details. This would not matter normally except that it does where we have used the Zoom feature. Using the zoom feature as with any other camera also results in losing details in the photos which this feature helps offset. The image when blown up on the computer screen does show much higher detail with great sharpness. Unless you are constrained by space this should be the mode you will be clicking your pictures in.
The biggest feature, the Zoom is something we were quite happy with despite us having high expectation of it to begin with. The clarity is great and the image does not crack up as in the case of a digital zoom however the system is a bit slower than expected. It takes a couple of seconds to zoom in and a second more to focus which works for an urban snapper but not so much for someone wanting to click a buzzing insect or bird on the sill. We would love to see ASUS ironing out the issues through its updates (we believe most of them can be fixed) because we loved the phone and would want to see it live upto its potential.
If you liked the phone and would like to know more about it, you can check it out here
Some of our clicks with the phone:
None of the photos are edited but have been compressed for faster viewing on the web.