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