Alright, let’s talk about the camera here. The ASUS ZenFone 5 comes with a vertically-stacked dual-camera design, like any other smartphones released this year. According to Apple, vertically stacking the cameras allow the phone to “see” better, thus resulting in better depth of field (a.k.a. bokeh) effect. Logically speaking, it makes sense since I take pictures in landscape mode. And in landscape mode, the cameras align horizontally.
The ASUS ZenFone 5 is using a hybrid dual-camera system with a wide-angle lens, following its predecessor’s footsteps. Again, it’s up to your personal preference on whether you like a wide-angle lens or a telephoto lens. Learn more about dual-camera systems here.
As for the specs of the ASUS ZenFone 5’s cameras:
- Sony IMX363 12MP sensor; f/1.8 24mm with PDAF, 4-axis OIS and EIS
- OmniVision 8856 8MP sensor; f/2.0 12mm fixed focus with 120° wide-angle
- Selfie camera
- OmniVision 8856 8MP sensor; f/2.0 24mm fixed focus
It’s quite unfortunate that ASUS has decided to ditch their very own TriTech autofocus technology that combined continuous autofocus, phase-detection autofocus, and laser autofocus. The new ZenFone 5 just couldn’t focus as fast as the ZenFone 3 Zoom.
What about that AI camera?
It has a total of 16 different scene modes to detect – including one for cat and another for dog. There are also common scenes like sky, sunset, food, night view, and surprisingly, tripod scene. The night view is pretty much just detecting that it’s in low-light condition. We’ve seen this on older ZenFones as well.
ASUS promises that none of your data are sent to ASUS themselves. The photos used to improve their AI camera program is by using third party stock photos or contributed by ASUS ambassador photographers. Once the AI camera program is improved and refined, an update will be sent to us users through a firmware upgrade.
There are AI Photo Learning where it automatically recommends you effects to apply to pictures that you’ve taken, AI Gallery where it automatically sorts all photos you’ve taken according to people and/or scenes, and AI Scene Detection where it automatically tunes the image captured to better suite the scene.
To view the images below in full size and to look at the EXIF data, click here to go to our Flickr album here.
It’s worth mentioning that the ZenFone 5 scored a DxOMark photo score of 93, and through our very own test, the ZenFone 5’s camera does perform really well. It surely is better than the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) that we reviewed here.
First of all, the white balance. It’s surprisingly good and the pictures are always true to its colors. Secondly comes the color reproduction. Colors of pictures taken by the ZenFone 5 really does pop. It has enough contrast and saturation to help bring the picture to life. The picture with all the old and new shop signages really shows the ZenFone 5’s color reproduction.
Lastly, the exposure. For some reason, the ZenFone 5 tends to be a little underexposed when it comes to indoor shots. Outdoor shots – no matter day or night – is automatically adjusted to have a good exposure.
Then comes the AI part of things. I honestly don’t know what the AI does since there’s no way to turn the AI on or off to do a comparison. However, from what I can see, the picture taken outside of McDonald’s does look fantastic with the clear blue sky.
The ZenFone 5’s HDR mode really does make a huge difference to the picture too. I took three outdoor shots to compare with and without HDR – and they can all be seen in our Flickr album. To be honest, the HDR mode is aggressive enough to bring up the contrast and the details of the subject – especially tree leaves – and equalizes the brightness but not to the extreme.
In manual mode, the ZenFone 5 can go down to ISO 25 with a shutter speed ranging from 1/10000 second to 32 seconds. With this humongous range to play around with, light painting photography can be more flexible.
ASUS’s very own ambassador photographer, Peter M Tan, schooled me by showing me the picture he took with the ZenFone 5 at the heart of KL. I have to admit, this shot really accentuated the colors and brought the picture to life.
For more amazing pictures which I have no idea on how he took it, follow Peter’s Instagram account here.
Secondary 120° wide-angle lens camera
As mentioned, the ASUS ZenFone 5 employs a hybrid dual-camera system. The secondary camera here is used to take wide-angle pictures. 120° to be exact. I personally prefer to have a telephoto lens like the ZenFone 3 Zoom, though.
The wide-angle lens has fixed focus, but not to worry as you’ll probably be taking image of subjects from a far distance. The wide-angle camera on the ZenFone 5 does have manual mode, just like its predecessor.
It can take some decent indoor wide-angle pictures too. If you have a tripod, then you can also take wide-angle shots with manual mode.
I’m not much of a selfie person – but throughout my test, the selfie 8MP selfie camera is okay. The picture was taken indoors and while it’s not the best, it’s surely better than the ZenFone Max Pro (M1). Still no autofocus.
Camera UI & Other Features
In terms of the camera UI, there isn’t much change from the ZenFone 4. There are some additional features like slow motion recording. The ZenFone 5 can record 240FPS at 720p or 120FPS at 1080p.
Additionally, ASUS added some icons at the top left corner to signify what scene is detected by the AI. Once again, I have no idea why my keyboard is detected as food.
For pictures that have been taken and the AI Scene Detection actually worked, the photos will be categorized in folders. Since the AI Scene Detection isn’t exactly flushed out now and it detected my keyboard picture as food, it categorized that picture into the food album as well…
Other camera-related feature like ZeniMoji was also added in ZenUI 5.0, but it’s stashed under the Selfie Master app. Features found in the Selfie Master app isn’t exactly selfie-exclusive too. I mean, the app can make collage and slideshows with screenshots and other pictures too.
Back to ZeniMoji. If ASUS wants to do it right, then there is quite a lot of work to be done here.
There are only 3 emojis to choose from – ASUS’s very own Zenny the owl, a fox, and a blue bear. It’s really slow and has lots of delays as of the time of this review.
[UPDATE]: A day after the review was published, ASUS pushed a new firmware update for the ZenFone 5. The new update brings more ZeniMojis to the roster. With human faces and more cartoons – including horses – and a croissant monster too. Yeah, a croissant monster.
I think it’s a feature that ASUS just added to get on the hype train since iPhone announced their own AR Emoji gimmick. While it’s a nice feature to have, how many of you actually went back in there and actually make use of this feature? Except for Kizuna Ai, of course.