The Asus Zenfone Zoom might be a smartphone with a 3 times optical zoom but it also a decent smartphone in its own right. Unlike previous attempts by other companies like Samsung with the S4 Zoom and K Zoom, both of which I have owned and reviewed (see the index, reviews to read these) which had mid range processors and minimal storage, the Zenfone Zoom has a decent 64 bit processor, 4gb ram and as standard 64gb storage plus support for a micro SD card. It also packs tons of smartphone features, so lets crack on and go through them all (hopefully). In terms of my thoughts on the image quality, I will cover this off in my main review which will be live in about a week.
The Main Settings and Other Phone Options
Further down I have created a gallery of screen shots of a number of different settings options. Tap on one photo to open the gallery.
The first aspect of the phone I like is the double tap to turn on or off. Other useful aspects are the inclusion of NFC, One Handed Mode (double tap home key to turn on), Power Saving options, Easy Mode and also a kids mode. Are you brave enough to allow your kid to use the phone! Wi-Fi also includes support for Wi-Fi Direct. Bluetooth includes APT-X. Data usage is split between Mobile Data and WiFi as well as details of data usage per app. The display has options for adjusting the colour balance and also activating a blue filter for night time viewing. I have never used a blue filter at night until I got this phone, but it really helped reduce my eyestrain. ZenMotion is a range of motion gestures used as shortcuts for various actions. Double tapping the home key when one handed operation is active, reduces the size of the screen. You can move the screen around too. You can also write on the screen to launch different apps. What is neat is there are options to launch the front camera by scribbling a “S” and a “C” for the rear camera. A decent do not disturb option is available. The lock screen has the option for quick access apps and whether or not to allow the physical keys to turn the camera on. See the screen shots to show all the details. Theming is everywhere with loads of customisations galore for every aspect including resizing the icons on the fly. I see no need to install a third party launcher with the Asus Zenfone Zoom.
The Camera App Interface
Ok, so this is a camera centric phone. So what are the options.
Front Selfie Settings
The front camera has lots of options from a timer that can be made to go off from 1 – 5 secs. To control the length, you just slide the shutter icon into the screen centre. The more you slide, the longer the delay becomes. Beautification is all the rage and the options include cheeks thinning, eyes enhancement, skin softening, blush effect, face/smile tracking. I had a lot of fun with the front selfie camera and was pleased with the shots even in lower light. I lost at least 10 years off my age with the beautification options 🙂
Rear Camera Settings
The rear camera has a feast of options. Or you can just use the auto mode. The operation of the camera is aided by a 2 stage physical shutter button and a physical button for launching video recording. The video button is next to the 2 stage shutter button. The volume keys then act as zoom controls. By default the settings are left to use the 3x optical zoom only and in my tests it bests to avoid using the digital zoom that goes all the way to 12 x zoom. It is better to crop into the 3 x optical zoom shots as the quality will be superior.
When in Auto mode, if a better mode will produce a superior result, the mode icon appears bottom right. Tap on the icon to switch to this mode, or turn off. Typically this appears for HDR or Low Light mode. To give you an idea of the setting ranges in manual mode.
– White Balance – 2500K to 6500K
– EV – -2 to + 2 in intervals 0.3, 0.6 1.0 etc
– ISO 50 to 3200
– Shutter speed – 1/16000 (thats right, its super fast) to 32 seconds for long exposures
– Manual Focus – slider control
– Horizontal Level
– Histogram – on or off when taking photo
In Auto Mode you get the following options which alter if you are using another mode.
– White Balance – Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent, Incandescent
– ISO 50 – 3200
– Photo Optimisations – Auto, Off, Manual – Manual gives fine tuning for saturation, contrast, sharpness, noise reduction, backlight, detail enhancement
– Camera Resolution – 13MP 4:3, 10M 16:9, 8MP 4:3, 6MP 16:9, 5MP 4:3, 4MP 16:9
– Anti Shake enhancement – Auto or Off
– Digital Zoom – on or off
– Image Quality – Fine, Standard
– Timestamp – On or off
– Shooting Mode – Touch Shutter, Self Timer, Burst (off, normal, turbo)
– Focus & Exposure – Smart AF, Infinity
– Metering Mode – Centre, Average
– Touch Auto Exposure – on or off
– Face Detection – On or Off
For Video you get the same options with regards to white balance controls and EV adjustments as stills!
– Video Quality – Full HD, HD and TV (640 x480)
– Video Stabilisation – on or off
– Video Preference – Performance or Quality
– Video Touch Auto Exposure – on or off
Generic settings include smart brightness, guidelines, info screen, review duration, shutter animation, shutter sound on or off, launch by physical buttons options, location, correct photo orientation on or off, anti flickr 50 or 60Hz, Power Saving Mode, Set Volume keys for shutter or zoom, save to internal or SD card and a tutorial.
So what do the different photo modes do?
– Auto – automatically determines the cameras best settings based on the environment
– Manual – You decide
– HDR – Expands the dynamic range
– Beautification -makes you look beautiful
– Super Resolution – Combines multiples shots to create incredible detailed photos
– Low Light – boosts up light sensitivity for a clear and bright low light shot without using the flash. Images are 3mp 16:9.
– Night – Allows a slower shutter speed to capture more light in dark scenes
– Depth of Field – Captures photos of close-up subjects with a soft background
– Effect – applies a range of filters
– Selfie – use the rear camera for a high res shot
– GIF Animation – converts a series of images into a moving image or GIF
– Panorama – Horizontal or Vertical
– Miniature – Creates a photo of life size object and turns it into a small scale model
– Time Rewind – Records images before and after the shutter and allows you to select the best ones
– Smart Remove – removes unwanted moving objects from the background
– All Smiles – Combines each persons best expression from multiple shots into a single perfect group photo
– Slow Motion – records fast moving objects with very high frame rate and plays back in slow speed
– Time Lapse – Time lapse recording.
Each of the above modes often have a few extra options too.
Photo Editing Options
After taking a photo, you can easily check the information of the photo, from the time and date, weather at the time, width, height, file size, device, flash, focal length, white balance, exposure time, storage location, and geo location displayed on a map with the coordinates.
Post processing allows for all the beautification options as mentioned previously, applying over 17 filters, adding frames, cropping, straightening, rotating, mirroring or drawing, or fine tuning the photo (auto, exposure, vignette, grads, contrast, shadows, highlights, vibrancy, sharpness, curves, hue, saturation, BW filter, negative, edges, posterise, blur, feather or relief).
All in all, a comprehensive camera app with a wealth of options. As I mentioned, earlier, my main review will include a range of camera samples plus my opinion on its photo and video quality plus other aspects not revealed today.
Tomorrow I will look at low light shots and next week I will conclude with my main review.