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Review

Asus Zenfone 5Z AI Dual Camera Review: A pleasant surprise

The AI on the Zenfone 5Z can detect between 16 scene types to enhance your photos. But is it really that good?

asus zenfone 5z review dual cameras

Photo Credit - Rehan Hooda


Highlights

  • Asus Zenfone 5Z comes with a 12-megapixel primary sensor.

  • The second sensor is of 8-megapixel resolution, with a wide-angle lens.

  • Up front, you get an 8-megapixel camera for selfies and video calling.

After announcing the flagship smartphone at MWC 2018, Asus has finally launched the Zenfone 5Z in India. And while not many were expecting, the Taiwanese smartphone maker took everyone by surprise with the highly aggressive price tag, undercutting the likes of OnePlus 6 and Honor 10. The base variant is priced at Rs 29,999, whereas the top-end variant will set you back by Rs 36,999. There is also a cashback offer from ICICI bank, giving a flat Rs 3,000 discount, and it really sweetens the deal.

At the launch event, Asus talked in-depth about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC, the ZenUI, and all the optimizations it has made to ensure the best performance. Asus also talked about the dual-rear cameras and the AI implementations that offer the best results in any lighting conditions. So, before we deep dive into the full review, I thought of taking the AI dual camera on a spin. During one of my recent trips, I extensively used the Asus Zenfone 5Z as my primary device for clicking photos, and like me, I’m sure you’ll be impressed too.

Watch: Asus Zenfone 5Z First Look

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera specifications

There are different types of camera setups used by manufacturers. Most smartphone makers use the primary camera for clicking photos, and the secondary camera only as a depth sensor to add DSLR-like bokeh effects. Some use a telephoto lens on the second camera for 2X lossless zoom, but in case of Asus, it is taking an approach similar to LG.

The primary camera is of 12-megapixel resolution (Sony IMX363 sensor) with f/1.8 aperture and 83-degree field of view. It also has optical image stabilization (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS) to compensate the shaky hands. The second camera is of 8-megapixel resolution, with a wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view. So, besides adding depth-of-field effects to your portrait photos, the second camera also lets you capture wide-angle photos. It does lose out on 2X lossless zoom, but the digital zoom isn’t bad either, and the zoomed photos look acceptable.

Now, coming to the part where most smartphone makers like to brag about their cameras. Yes, the Asus Zenfone 5Z does come with AI (artificial intelligence) to make your photos look better. It can detect between 16 scenes – such as people, pets, flowers, sky, food, greenery, text, ocean and more. Now, based on the scene detected, it will tune the settings to help you capture better photos. For instance, if you are clicking a photo of blue sky, it will add a little bit deep blue effects, something that you would otherwise do on photo editing apps.

It is similar to what Huawei does on Honor 10 and Huawei P20 Pro among others. However, while Huawei adds too much color saturation, Asus has the levels a bit toned down to make your photos look natural, and it is a good thing.

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera UI

The camera app is pretty neat and easy to use. On the top, you have Settings quick shortcut, followed by toggles for HDR, aspect ratio, portrait mode, timer and flash. At the bottom left, you have a shortcut for pro mode, followed by the video recorder button, a camera shutter, switch camera button, and a shortcut to the gallery app. Just above the camera shutter button, you also have the toggle to switch between standard and wide-angle modes.

Photo Credit – Rehan Hooda

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera samples: Daylight 

Asus has worked hard to ensure that the camera on the Zenfone 5Z delivers results to stay ahead of the competition. Now, does it perform better than the OnePlus 6 and Honor 10 is something we will only know when we compare the camera samples on all three smartphones. But if we leave the competition out for a moment, and focus on the photos captured on the Zenfone 5Z, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality.

First off, the below photo was taken from a train when it was traveling at speed of about 70kmph. I looked out of the window, and it was all greenery. The camera app is fast, and quickly locks the focus, and as you can see, even when captured in a moving train, the photo is in focus. And the AI and color sensors seem to do their job well, giving a well-balanced output.

The next photo was shot in the afternoon around 12:30, when it was partly cloudy and a bit sunny. The camera has captured a good photo, with the subject in focus, and colors looking good too. However, the quality does deteriorate a bit as you zoom in, especially the sharpness.

Close-ups look good. I noticed that the focusing is quick and it adds good depth-of-field without looking too artificial. In the first photo, the focus is on the flower, and the leaves in the background are defocused, yet the colors are retained.

In the second photo, again the flower is in focus, the whites look bright and the greens aren’t oversaturated. If you notice closely, the water drops from rain are also visible, and the overall composition looks good.

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera samples: Low-light

Smartphones usually struggle in low-light scenarios, and a lot of graininess is often visible. But the Zenfone 5Z’s low-light performance is surprisingly good. I didn’t expect this for two reasons. One, because of the price point in which the smartphone is placed. Secondly, Honor 10 has a monochrome sensor which helps to minimize the graininess and make photos look sharp. Here. The Zenfone 5Z is doing a good job as you can see in the below photos, and a lot of credit could be given to the IMX363 sensor that Asus has used, the Spectra ISP of Snapdragon 845 SoC and software optimizations. 

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera samples: Selfie and portrait

 The portrait mode on the Zenfone 5Z works well in making your photos really pop out. The camera is able to detect the edges well, and blur the background. It is not as good as the Google Pixel or DSLR’s, but considering the price point of the smartphone, I have nothing to complain.

Photo Credit – Rehan Hooda

Up front, the smartphone is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera of f/2.0 aperture with beautification and face detection features. It also uses AI for portrait mode to add those depth-of-field effects to your selfies. As you can see in the below samples, the front camera is able to detect the face, retain details and skin tones, while also adding good bokeh effects.

Asus Zenfone 5Z camera: Standard and wide-angle

The second camera has a wide-angle lens and it lets you capture more from the scene, but don’t expect too much. It can come handy when capturing landscapes or landmarks, without you having to go far away from it. Below are a couple of camera samples showing the standard and wide-angle photos.

In day-light, the secondary camera performs well, but in low-light, image quality takes a hit. The photo appears a bit blurry, loses details, colors look washed out. You have to click 3-4 photos with wide-angle mode, in low-light, just to get the scene right. But I believe it is a software issue, something that can be fixed with the next OTA update.

The Zenfone 5Z is also capable of recording 4K and full HD videos at 60fps, and the footage looks good. But during my usage, I noticed the stabilization isn’t too good. In fact, while walking and recording a video, the footage looked too jerky. However, switching to 30fps, the recording was pretty smooth. So, if you want to record videos, I’d recommend opting for 30fps.

Verdict

Asus has used its resources well in ensuring that it just doesn’t offer a flagship smartphone at an aggressive price, but the one that delivers. Camera has always mediocre on smartphones that are priced under Rs 35,000, but Asus has proved that you don’t need a premium smartphone to enjoy good camera experience.

Sure, the Zenfone 5Z camera is not perfect, and it needs improvements. But considering the photo quality it delivers at an aggressive price point, you will be pleasantly surprised with the capabilities.

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  • Published Date: July 6, 2018 11:37 AM IST