Has ASUS's PixelMaster technology mastered low-light photography? You be the judge
ASUS is introducing a new take on low-light photography in its ZenFone smartphones. It's the so-called PixelMaster technology, and Malaysian website SoyaCincau sampled it for the rest of the world to see (ZenFones are only selling in Taiwan for the time being).
Instead of bigger pixels like HTC's controversial UltraPixel technology, ASUS opted to use nearby pixels to capture more light. Now, we don't exclude the possibility of the company arranging the room in which the sample was taken as to present the PixelMaster camera at its peak abilities. But the result we're seeing is downright impressive, both on paper and on screen. There's a whopping 400% increase in brightness reported by ASUS, which is pretty hard to judge, but from what we're seeing, there's very little noise, and the objects in the photo look like they are lit up by a light source.
So far, so good, but ASUS's shoot-in-the-dark camera leaves us with mixed feelings, and here's why. The extra light comes at the price of an extreme reduction in resolution. If you are shooting with the ZenFone 6's 13MP camera in PixelMaster mode, you will obtain a puny 3MP image, while the ZenFone 5's 8MP camera churns out 2MP photos. Remember the last time you took a native 2MP photo? Ours was in 2005, when the Sony Ericsson K750's 2MP auto-focus camera was all the rage. We still remember it fondly, by the way.
Then again, having a smaller, but well-lit photo in dark occasions is more preferable to having a messy, noisy 13MP photo with terrible colors. In addition, the ZenFone's camera software appears to be very feature-rich, with high-end cameraphone staples such as Time Rewind, DoF, Miniature, Smart Remove, and the immortal GIF animation. Mind you, the ZenFone is ASUS's newest budget series, with the ZenFone 6 priced a mere $230, and the ZenFone 5 costing $166 off-contract in Taiwan.
1. fireblade (Posts: 661; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)
ZenFone 5 is only $199. Good cheap phone.
6. Finalflash (Posts: 1588; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)
Damn, Asus us getting pretty serious now, I like the camera on my infinity very much and good to see they're putting emphasis on it.
28. buccob (Posts: 1366; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)
in contrast, the PadFone Infinity can go up to $1000 and over... :(
2. Doakie (Posts: 1185; Member since: 06 May 2009)
Freaking awesome! It pulls off what the HTC One is shooting for without reducing the megapixel count for daytime shots! I'm totally buying a Zenfone 6 if it's released in the USA to replace my Moto G.
21. hurrycanger (Posts: 984; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)
Hope it does not come here with a higher price tag. In Vietnam it's $300. :-/
I am very interested in the zen6, too, especially after seeing this article.
3. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
Asus followed the footsteps of Nokia/Apple by implementing pixel binning. Their implementation seems to be much better though. I didn't like camera flashes anyway.
4. fireblade (Posts: 661; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)
Too bad this kind of good phone is made in a few quantity. The demand is bigger than the production. For example Lenovo P780, it's out of stock here. The stores only leave us with junks like Samsung Galaxy series
5. Anshulonweb (Posts: 303; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)
wow.....this feature should be on every mobile..... sometimes it is better to have low resolution pictures than noisy and dark one...
7. jibraihimi (Posts: 677; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)
So Luis, you never used iphone first generation in 2007 or 2008 with its 2Mp camera....????
9. luis.d (Posts: 135; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)
Nope. My country completely missed out on the first iPhone, I think. Is it better than the SE? I fondly remember applying sketchy camera mods to it that ruined the auto-focus, but made for awesome daylight photos.
8. GreekGeek (Posts: 679; Member since: 22 Mar 2014)
nooooo! the ULTRAPIXEL is still the cream of the crap :-)
10. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1121; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)
this is even better than having your smartphone force you to capture all images at 4megapixels forever!
11. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1121; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)
ASUS is always raising the bar. they are the most innovative laptop (but now electronics) brand i know who suddenly pops up into the market successfully.
12. fatedcircle14 (Posts: 23; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)
is the zenphone series officially available elsewhere aside from its homeland of taiwan??
14. luis.d (Posts: 135; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)
Only in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam for now.
15. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 693; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
I'm from Singapore, but I don't see any of them for sale
18. luis.d (Posts: 135; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)
Sorry, I was misinformed. "Taiwan tech giant Asus unveiled its plans to launch its new range of mass-market ZenFones in Singapore and other South-east Asian countries next month (May). The 5-inch ZenFone 5 will retail at $249 but fans who pre-order between April 23 and 30 will stand a chance to get it just $199, without contract." -http://www.straitstimes.com/di
19. Doakie (Posts: 1185; Member since: 06 May 2009)
:-/ Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. If the Zenfone 5 is launching at $249 that will mean the Zenfone 6 will be upwards of $299+. Now the deal isn't so good, especially if those prices are the ones I'll be dealing with in the USA if it ever comes here. That starts putting it very close to the $349 Nexus 5 16GB and well over the price of the $199 Moto G 16GB. The highest I can see are reasonable prices for the Zenfone 5 would be $199 and $249 for the Zenfone 6. Otherwise they'll be DOA. That's just my opinion when comparing it to what you get in the Moto G.
29. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 693; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
It's in Singapore dollars, so the price should be lower in US dollars
20. Doakie (Posts: 1185; Member since: 06 May 2009)
Ugh. Too late to edit something into my last post.
I'm kind of pissed off at Asus. They announced such aggressive pricing then they wait a few months to release the phone and the first thing they do is raise the price after they used that as such a key selling point in their presentation. Talk about bait and switch. I'm all for companies working for a profit. I don't want any company going out of business because they didn't make enough. However once you announce aggressive pricing like that just like Motorola did with their Moto G you have to stick to your MSRP. I'd hate to see all Mobile companies announcing at a low price yet raising them arbitrarily once it hits market. If the price is so fluid don't use it in your announcement........
13. RandomUsername (Posts: 428; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)
Amazing. Now try that with 20MP or more :)
17. xche78x (Posts: 101; Member since: 11 Mar 2014)
lower resolution (smaller file size) + better photo quality = perfect combo for me
im now excited for the release of the zenphone 6, i hope the $230 price tag is the same when it launches here ^_^
23. user996 (Posts: 181; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)
will it come with update on padfone 2? it has 13mp camera i think it is enough for that
24. gigantos (Posts: 49; Member since: 25 Jul 2013)
Actually here in Taiwan there will be 2 versions of Zenfone 5, A501C (2GHz Atom Z2580) priced $166 and A500C $149 but having slower CPU (1.6GHz Z2560). These are great deals, but it's quite big (bigger than One M8) for me. These days manufacturers don't care about 4.5-4.7'' range anymore, except Motorola phones which are restricted to few markets :(
25. gigantos (Posts: 49; Member since: 25 Jul 2013)
Just checked ASUS website and actually there is a 2GB RAM version too.