Asus Zenfone 5: Versatile camera in a phone body

14th July 2014
Asus Zenfone 5: Versatile camera in a phone body
The Asus Zenfone5 -- and ( inset) its menu of camera options

By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, July 14 2014: Older readers might remember the classic Tata Steel advertisement catchphrase  of the 1980s:  'We also make steel!' If I were a copywriter for Asus, I'd  do an ad  for their latest India launch, the ZenFone5 which said: 'It also makes calls."  This is a  device  whose ticking heart is one of the most user-friendly  cameras I've encountered  within the body of a phone.
The bundle of  photo-friendly features is called PixelMaster and it works with an 8 megapixel rear camera that comes with autofocus and flash ( the front camera is a standard 2 MP with an  f2.4 aperture). It helps that the phone itself has a 5 inch full HD  IPS screen, because once you enter the camera mode, you have  to touch-select the use mode ( or a combo  of modes) from among the 10 options displayed. Here are some of  the options:
An owl symbol pops up when the light is low.  Touch it and you invoke a proprietary technology  that  adjusts the pixels  so that they are about 400 times more sensitive to light. Suddenly  features leap out of the shadows.
Choose the Panorama mode and  it shoots a burst of frames, stopping automatically when you have swung the camera 360 degrees. Another burst mode is  the one called  Rewind. Your click sets of a sequence of 31 quick shots, so that you can select  the best shot and eliminate the one where dadimaa just happened to wink.
We know autofocus cameras can go wrong -- and tend to  focus on a bright background, blurring the  person standing in front . With PixelMaster you have a feature  where you  tell the camera which object you want in focus -- by tapping it on the view screen.
Those who regularly take group photos know the  feeling: You may say 'smile'  three times but in each shot there is always one person fidgeting or looking elsewhere.  With the "AllSmiles" mode,  your single click sets off a sequence of five shots.  You then select the nicest  expression of each person and the software   does an mix-n-match to create  the best combo.
Likewise for selfies, the ZenFone5  ensures no one is missing! You key in the number of people who need to be in the shot and the camera  starts a countdown beep and clicks only after every one is in the frame.
This is  feature I liked most:  You are taking a picture of your friends or family in a crowded mall or park -- and invariably  a passerby   walks into the frame.  With ZenFone 5 you invoke the SmartRemove option -- and  the intruder is just wiped away!

Professional photographers may scoff at most of these features, but for the rest of us dummies, this  Asus phone seems to have listened to the secret wish list of every frustrated amateur  photographer  with this phone and responded : I'm the answer to your prayers.
And yes, phone wise,  ZenFone 5 is   a   5 inch, 3G, dual micro-SIM, Android Jellybean( upgradeable)  phone with 2 GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and  a dual core Atom processor. So obviously it also makes and takes calls.  The best price online is  Rs 9,999.  The  6 -inch  ZenFone 6 with double the onboard storage and a 13 MP camera will cost you  Rs 7000 extra.
Asus Zenfone 5 site