The Zenfone 3 Zoom is a photography oriented smartphone that brings innovative technologies that make the Zenfone 3 Zoom one of the most compelling smartphones as far as its camera capabilities go.
The ZenFone 3 Zoom feature 3 prime lenses onboard. At the back of the phone, you have a dual 12MP camera. The left camera features a 25mm equivalent focal length and the second camera feature a 59mm focal length and you can instantly switch between the dual lenses and choose the appropriate focal length that fits the current subjects that you want to capture. Use the 25mm wide-angle lens to capture more of the surrounding area, which is great for landscape, indoor and general photography, or switch to 59mm focal length for a narrower field of view that zoom in closer to the subject and it's great for taking portrait photos. The 59mm focal length lens also produces a shallower depth of field so your subject appears in focus, while the background is blurred, which help separate distracting objects from the main subject of the image.
This allows 2.3x optical zoom (59mm / 25mm), which means that the 59mm camera zoom in closer to the subject and results in a high-quality image without any reduction in image quality. The Zenfone 3 Zoom also support up to 12x total zoom, which a combination of hardware and software processing, which can still produce a good zoom image, but at some degree of losing in image quality.
The wide-angle camera uses the Sony IMX362, the same 1/2.55" 1.4-micron pixel size image sensor that used in the Vivo Xplay 6. 1.4-micron pixels means that the sensor has relatively large pixels, which alongside a fast f/1.7 aperture lens (for the wide-angle camera, from what I've read so far, the long lens appears to be f/2.8, slower than the wide-angle lens) the ZenFone Zoom can capture well exposed and high-quality image in low-light situations. Asus calls it SuperPixel Technology, that with the SuperPixel Engine image processing, further enhanced the low-light performance by controlling ISO levels while shooting and applies noise reduction in post-shot processing to make your shot look cleaner with the minimum possible amount of image noise.
Asus exclusive SuperPixel technology uses multi-stage, multi-frame noise reduction technology that further enhanced the camera's low-light capabilities. This processing is done super fast due to a dedicated engine that it's all purpose is to support this heavy computing image processing algorithms. Asus mentioned in the CES2017 and it also appears on their website, that the rear camera has 2.5x times better light sensitivity than the iPhone 7 Plus, which makes the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom more ideal for low light photography.
The pixel size and aperture size are equivalent to the Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 edge, which also boasts a f/1.7 aperture lens and 1.4µm pixels, but the S7 doesn't have dual camera setup, so there is not optical zoom available. It's great that Asus didn't go on the same path as Sony and stayed with a relatively low resolution. We've already seen that even as advanced as Sony sensors are, 1.0-micron sensors just can't match the performance of 1.4-micron sensors and suffer from noise even at base ISO sensitivity. I hope that more consumers understand that when it come to low resolution sensors, the pros outweigh the cons, and it's better to go with a phone with a 12MP camera than one with 20MP+ one.
Asus didn't stop there and also made sure that the ZenFone 3 Zoom excels when it comes to autofocus performance. The phone is equipped with Asus TriTech+ Auto-focus system, which utilizes three technologies: a 2nd generation Laser Autofocus system, Subject-tracking AF system and Dual Pixel Phase-detection autofocus technology. Asus measured the AF performance as little as 0.03 seconds, which is blazing fast!
In a traditional sensor that supports PDAF, only 5% are usually dedicated for the PDAF. The ZenFone 3 Zoom, however, has all of its pixel, 100% of them, dedicated to light detection and support the phase-detection AF functionality. This is equivalent to the same Dual Pixel CMOS AF technologies that Canon integrated into its DSLR cameras. Each pixel is constructed of two photodiodes, which is used to calculate the phase difference without loss of light. Some on-sensor PDAF technologies are using dedicated pixels for PDAF because a single photodiode can't do the job of both, so either the photodiode was dedicated for image data or for calculating phase difference from the light source. This Dual Pixel technology solved this issue, but there was a need to redesign the sensor completely to support this new technology. The results is a quicker and more accurate autofocus performance, and because the ZenFone 3 Zoom uses both laser AF and Dual Pixel AF, you can expect even better AF and subject tracking performance, even in low-light.
subject tracking is very important because it allows the camera to quickly and efficiently continue to autofocus on a moving subject as it moves across the frame. I also want to mention that the increase of light sensitivity also helps in improving the autofocus capabilities, because the focus system is more accurate in optimal lighting conditions and degrades in low-light. So the end results is an instantaneous focus, even in dark environment.
Other features include an RGB color correction sensor to ensure accurate white balance settings and natural looking colors in all lighting conditions and when shooting under artificial lighting. There is 4K video recording option, RAW shooting mode, manual control over the camera settings, manual autofocus, and 5000mAh battery which let you shoot longer.
The Asus ZenFone 3 zoom main camera also incorporates a 4-axis optical image stabilization, a 3-axis electronic image stabilization, and a dual-tone LED flash. The ZenFone 3 just have it all. I think that this is the first phone that really got me excited about mobile photography. It boasts a dream camera that really has all the needed ingredients to take gorgeous photos and poses fewer obstacles that can ruin a good photo.
The main camera is one of the best features of the ZenFone 3 zoom smartphone and as an enthusiast photographer, I am seriously thinking of getting this phone for all of its camera features, but I'll wait to see some sample images first before I lock on it and buy it on February 2017.