Asus ZenFone Zoom: The 3x Zoom Advantage

 
Asus ZenFone Zoom

Asus ZenFone Zoom

Supriya Joshi tests out the potential photo advantages of the Asus ZenFone Zoom, a cameraphone packed with a 3x zoom lens.

Launched in India in January this year, the Asus ZenFone Zoom is the latest flagship cameraphone from the company. While the phone is packed with features, the most unique of them all is a 3x optical zoom lens. This effectively makes the ZenFone Zoom the slimmest cameraphone to feature optical zoom. As the phone launched, the company touted it to offer a DSLR-like experience. I tested the phone to see if the performance could back up the comapany’s claims.

Is it a Camera? Is it a Phone?
The 3x optical zoom lens is made with a 10-element Hoya lens arrangement. Also, it has been fitted at a 90 degree angle, so while zooming, the lens elements are moving sideways and not forward, like the one in Samsung Galaxy K Zoom would. The phone has two dedicated buttons, one to shoot stills and one for video, both of which are designed differently, so that one does not get confused. However, while the phone is admirably slim with a design reminiscent of the Lumia 1020, the position of the lens is such that while shooting verticals, your finger may inadvertently come in the way—something that you need to get used to. The photography features are exhaustive, with control over shutterspeed, ISO, WB, AE/AF lock and manual focusing.

In bright light, the LCD display is very poor and it is quite difficult to comprehend what you are shooting. I had to really peer into the screen in order to capture this frame. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

In bright light, the LCD display is very poor and it is quite difficult to comprehend what you are shooting. I had to really peer into the screen in order to capture this frame. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

The Fault in the Display
While it works fine indoors, the phone’s display in bright light is no good. Even pushing the brightness all the way to the maximum did not help, as most of the times I would be looking through an extremely dark screen and hoping I capture my desired frame.

The Boon of Zoom, But What Else?
The 3x optical zoom is a huge advantage, and a much needed upgrade of the terrible digital zoom in cellphone photography, but some issues still remain bothersome. There is a lot of noise reduction that happens even in photos made in bright light, which results in smearing of details and a loss of sharpness. The lens sharpness is average, but control over flare is very good. The lack of 4k shooting is where it falls behind the competition.

Shot at 3x zoom, the AF locked quickly in this photo, but when the light levels dip, the speed is a little slower, when using zoom. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Shot at 3x zoom, the AF locked quickly in this photo, but when the light levels dip, the speed is a little slower, when using zoom. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Ultimately, the company’s tall claims are left just at that, and the camera experience is far from what you’d get from a DSLR. That said, though the image quality is a little disappointing, for the phone’s price of Rs. 37,999, the presence of optical zoom makes the phone a serious utility.

 

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 13MP rear 1/3.06 inch sensor, 5MP front camera, 128GB built-in memory, Quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 4GB RAM, Rs. 37,999
WHAT WE LIKE 3x optical zoom, good UI and button placement, quick charging
WHAT WE DISLIKE Excessive noise reduction, poor display in bright light
WHY BUY IT There are better cameraphones if image quality is your prime concern, but the inclusion of zoom makes this a good buy if that’s what you need.
FINAL RATINGS 85%
CAMERA FEATURES 3x optical zoom, 13MP, dual LED flash, 5MP front camera  23/25 
IMAGE QUALITY  Average image quality, loss of detail due to excessive NR  24/30
VIDEO QUALITY Full HD 1080p, no 4k shooting  13/15
HANDLING  Heats up quickly, good button placement, not ideal for verticals  12/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Decent AF, but not as fast as competition, no lag  13/15

Full Disclosure
The device we tested for this review was provided to us on a permanent basis by the manufacturer. This, however, has no influence on our review or ratings.

Tags: 3x zoom, Asus cellphone, Asus Zenfone Zoom, March 2016, Supriya Joshi