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Before we hit the super long weekend, we flew to Batanes to check out the camera muscles of the Asus Zenfone 3. This "Incredible Tour" was the most lauded event of the week gathering top lifestyle, travel and tech bloggers of the country. We were very privileged to be included in this getaway which gave us a chance to do our Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Camera Review in the best sites of the Philippine’s northern-most province, Batanes.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Camera Review in Batanes


Asus Zenfone 3 ZE551KL Camera Review: Batanes Edition

After the success of the Zenfone 2 series, Asus scores another pot of gold with the Zenfone 3 especially in terms of camera capability. To start, please allow me to point out that I’m using the 5.5-inch version of the handset, the ZE552KL. There’s a smaller 5-inch Zenfone 3 with almost similar specs except the screen size and the battery rating. Knowing the Zenfone 3 variant that I’m rocking, it goes to show that I have access to the power of 16MP Sony IMX 298 sensor, f/2.0 lens and 4GB RAM. Join us as we make an intensive look at the Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL’s camera.

Camera Software

The camera is very easy to use. The time it takes to press the shutter to the time it actually gets the photo is quite negligible. That means it’s super fast, thanks to the Largan lens and TriTech Autofocus technology which basically uses the best of laser autofocus, phase detection autofocus and continuous autofocus.

Asus Zenfone 3 Camera Review

The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with a bucket-full of software that enhances camera outputs in necessary situations. The Auto Mode is the most popular feature which is definitely the basic point-and-shoot software most of us use. Night, Depth of Field, and Panorama are regular features which are also found in older version of the ZenUI. Camera modes are properly laid out and can be accessed by tapping the four-square icon at the bottom left corner of the camera interface.

Read: Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Unboxing, Initial Set-up Video

Other camera modes included in the tray are HDR Pro which automatically expands the dynamic range and enhances the detail of the picture; and Super Resolution which combines multiple shots to create a detailed output. Likewise, Children mode instantly captures photos of kids when they stop moving.

A Zenny icon also found in the lower left corner of the camera software is used to shift to Low Light mode. Other useful camera essentials are GIF Animation, Time Lapse, Time Rewind, Miniature and Smart Remove.

Photo Quality

The plain Auto mode produces very competitive outputs with decent great dynamic range. Take the Zenfone 3 camera outdoors and you’ll be surprised on how capable the camera is. Colors are very accurate in terms detail and clarity. Plus, the Optical Image Stabilization and the Electronic Image Stabilization work pretty fine in producing clear vivid pictures even when I have shaky hands.

Asus Zenfone 3 Camera Review
Waiting for the Sunset in Vayang Rolling Hills, Unedited Photo

Basco Boulder Beach, Unedited Photo

Zooming objects surprisingly does not lose considerable details. In low-light conditions, the camera may not be at par with the caliber of the Galaxy S7 edge, as the noise in the edges of the photo can’t be denied. However, it’s still a good contender considering its midrange price.

Fundacion Pacita (Most Expensive Hotel in Batanes), Unedited Photo


Manual Mode: Astrophotography

I could never imagine that I could do more with my smartphone camera. I tested the Asus Zenfone 3’s manual mode in getting a good grip of Astrophotography. It's a kind of photography which features astronomical objects, especially at night. 

Basco's Naidi Lighthouse, Photo processed in Snapseed
Basco's Naidi Lighthouse in different perspective, Photo processed in Snapseed

With the Asus Zenfone 3 Manual setting, shots are incredible. It comes with DSLR-like appeal. If you happen to be in a dark place at night, try to shoot in manual mode with 32-second shutter speed, 4000 White Balance and 3200 ISO (maximum setting) to get more light from stars.

The Milky Way Galaxy is also one of the best subjects in Astrophotography.

Selfie

The Selfie function is even better when coupled with the Beautification function. The latter invokes the 8MP front-facing camera + Beautification enhancement. Selfies are great. The fact that the front shooter also comes with wide-angle lens makes it even more appealing in social media.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Camera Review in Batanes
My "At Awe" face in Chamtad-Tinyan in Sabtang Island, Batanes, Photo processed in Snapseed
Selfie in Vayang Rolling Hills in Basco, Batanes, Photo processed in Snapseed

The 8MP camera outputs are sharp and clean. It also gives a good amount of detail especially in a well-lighted environment. There’s also no denying the fact that the camera can also record 1080p Full HD videos.

Main Camera Sample Shots:

Asus Zenfone 3 Camera Review in Sabtang, Batanes
Savidug Stone Houses are made of Lime Stone Walls and Cogon Roofs , Photo processed in Snapseed
The Landscape of Rakuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country), Photo Unedited
Port en route to Sabtang Island, Photo processed in Snapseed

HDR Pro, Panorama and Macro

These features are getting a bit of popularity in the camera department. It’s so easy to shift to HDR Pro mode. Using this feature brings great details in lighting shadow areas. The Asus Zenfone 3 also stitches good composition even with shifting light exposures. Details in macro shots are also in high bars.

Rock Formation near Savidug Village, Photo Unedited

4K Video Recording, Time Lapse, Slow Motion

The 4K video recording is arguably one of the best features of the Zenfone 3 camera. I’m not sure if a moderate user might actually need it in a day to day basis, but it’s there. The 4K video also drops to 1080 FHD resolution once we activate the Optical Image Stabilization in videos. Time Lapse and Slow Motion are still on point as ever.

Check out our Sample Video originally shot with FHD and Optical Image Stabilization below. Please also note that it was trimmed down to HD resolution after it was uploaded in YouTube.


The Wrap

The Asus Zenfone 3 definitely aces its peers in the camera department. It has a great camera. Asus has done its homework in shifting to a new sensor and great chipset to process camera outputs. 

The Zenfone 3’s shooter is simply not just about the powerful hardware. It’s about the great camera features that were improved along the way; and the new ones that were made to improve user’s smartphone camera experience.

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