I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this phone packs all the great features that one can find on the third generation of Zenfones bar none… well except maybe for the Snapdragon 800 series but still, the Zenfone 3 Zoom has perfect synergy with its 5000mAh battery, energy efficient Snapdragon 625, and its bevy of three prime lenses providing a flexible range of shooting options for practically any application, all in a very thin but very powerful unibody frame.
When I got my hands on the unit for this review, I decided to use it purely for its intended purpose of photography already being well acquainted with the capability of the Snapdragon within it as it is of similar spec to my own Zenfone 3. This review was made on a Zenfone 3 Zoom unit that remained on the Marshmallow platform, thus your experience may differ should yours be already in Nougat, which truly is quite fast and responsive compared.
Alright, so whats the deal with the dual cameras of the Zenfone 3 Zoom? – To put it bluntly, it offers two different perspectives on a particular scene practically instantly – one 25mm wide angle equivalent and another 59mm portrait oriented 2.3x view compared to the standard. There is also a digital 12x zoom which can be useful in a number of scenarios.
Within the period with which I had the Zenfone 3 Zoom on me, I had been able to bring it to a concert, a resort, to a site for work, and even to a museum for ingress, apart from all the general metropolitan experience.
Real World Sampling
When I first encountered the Zenfone 3 Zoom, it was an engineering unit and the EXIF was not coming out properly. You’d be glad to know that this is not the case with the retail package.
The primary lens (on the left of image above), a 12MP 25mm equivalent Sony IMX 362 provides the best shooting experience among all of the available modes. Its snappy to fire up, and the optical image stabilization feels just right and responsive without any feeling of aggressiveness. I actually tried to find a way to disable the stabilization but there isnt any… and that’s fine especially when you suddenly shift to the zoom lens, itself being 12MP but with a 59mm equivalent focal length – a Samsung 3M3.
Closer inspection of images from the two lenses reveal a semblance of artifacting with the Samsung sensor as well as a bluish tone while the Sony remains neutral and crisp even in high contrast areas. This comparison made in an overcast environment (relatively low light).
Hitting the zoom button cycles three zoom levels, none of which reach the 12x limit – from 1x, 2.3x, and then a middling 5x. Below is an example of all the pertinent zoom levels… this bird was roughly 10 meters away, I measured… twice.
With enough distance (a lot) natural bokeh can be achieved by both rear lenses, you can see it in action with the following shots. Note also that in very bright shooting scenarios, both sensors perform similarly and the user would get more detail up close when using the 2.3x zoom.
Along with the convenience of being able to pull it out of one’s pocket for instantaneous imaging, there is that single tap zoom-in taking it a notch higher than what we’re generally used to. And while you might think that you won’t be using this feature that much, you’ll eventually find yourself hitting it just because it is there, ready and available.
The Zenfone 3 Zoom provides the user with a flexibility in shooting otherwise missed with a single lens setup. Coupled with the optical image stabilization it allows for viability when shooting in low light and it is effective whether the front or the rear camera is used especially when the image objective is primarily a social media share.
This does not mean that photos captured from the Zenfone 3 Zoom cannot be printed out, on the contrary, setting up a scene in manual mode would provide quality enough even for an A0 print straight out of the camera (proof).
With an incredible design, powerful battery, and a trio of prime cameras with a bevy of shooting modes and zoom states, this Php 23,995 smartphone package is almost impossible to match. Gadgetshelf rating is near excellent.