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New ZenFone 5Z Camera Update Makes An Already Good Camera Great

by John Nieves  September 30, 2018

It’s like the new phone has a brand new sensor!

We rarely do revisits for phones that we’ve reviewed already, and we almost never do it for a sake of a software update. While a phone’s functionality improves thanks to continuous software updates, camera performance is usually capped by hardware which can’t be fixed by software.

Despite this, ASUS assured us that their latest software update for the ZenFone 5Z would surprise the heck out of us, especially when compared to a fresh device out of the box that has sat un-modified since its launch a few months ago. Intrigued, we took it along with us in Bangkok, Thailand and what we saw really surprised us.

Test notes:

We’re testing out two similarly configured ZenFone 5Z devices in this test, with the only difference being the software update.

ASUS rolled out a big, big update back in August that gave the phone several improvements in camera performance, which included improved sharpness, improved autofocus functionality, improved auto exposure, improved HDR, improved slow motion quality and file size in 720p, and improved video. In addition, it gave users the ability to capture in RAW, finally brings Panorama mode as well as lets users capture 4K video in 60FPS. That is quite a list of changes to the camera, which should reflect in the side by side photos that we took in BKK.

All photos were taken in auto mode with no edits applied.

The photos:

Pre-update
Post update

This photo of Victory Square is probably the most dramatic example of how much the software update has changed the performance of the ZenFone 5Z for the better. Believe it or not, both photos were taken moments from each other yet are light years away when it comes to the amount of light gathered, exposure and how much detail is shown in the shot.

The photo taken post-update manages to grab better details, more light and is generally better exposed than the pre-update one.

Pre-update
Post update

Even photos taken under the noonday sun looks way better, as evidenced by this shot of the temple in Wat Saket. In the pre-update shot, colors look distinctly muted, while the post update image looks leagues better.

Pre-update
Post update

It’s the same story for this shot taken at the top of the Golden Mountain Temple. Despite having an overcast sky, the shot by the post-update phone still looks vibrant while the pre-update image looks flat and dull.

Pre-update
Post update

Images also look incredibly vibrant after the update, and it’s very apparent how even the exposure is now.

Pre-update
Post update

The cameras also seem to have increased dynamic range after the update.

We also noticed that the camera app feels quicker and snappier when taking photos. One thing that not everyone might not like is the fact that the photos look a bit warmer now, though it’s something we’d gladly accept if it meant better camera performance all-around.

Pre-update
Post update
Pre-update
Post update
Pre-update
Post update

We’re very impressed with how much performance ASUS has managed to squeeze out from their cameras with their new software update. The ZenFone 5Z’s cameras were already pretty good when we reviewed the phone fresh from the box a few months ago. Post-update, it feels like a brand-new device as far as image quality goes. If you’re in the market for a top-tier flagship that won’t break the bank and has a great camera to boot, you might want to take a look at the ZenFone 5Z, again.

The ZenFone 5Z is priced at Php 29,995.

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