Finally a Slim phone with Optical Zoom – Asus ZenFone Zoom

January 3, 2016

I have to say that I’ve been waiting for a long time for a camera such as the one in the ZenFone Zoom to come along. The ZenFone Zoom from Asus is the world’s thinnest 3x optical zoom smartphone. It features an innovative 10-element HOYA Dual-periscope mechanism and an optical image stabilization.

We’ve already heard about some innovative solution that will allow an optical zoom to live in slim mobile phone, we’ve heard about the Samsung patented modular smartphone camera, but the Asus ZenFone Zoom is the closest that we get to that. ┬áThe phone is less than 12mm thick and it features a 13MP Panasonic camera. This phone was first introduce in January 2015 at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and many people were excited to finally see a slim phone with an optical zoom.

Many companies tried to overcome the optical zoom limitations by utilizing lossless digital zoom at the cost of image resolution. Samsung brought us the S4 zoom with 10x optical zoom, but this phone was far from being slim. People obviously prefer to have an optical zoom, but they prefer having a thin phone that can easily fit in their pocket.

The ZenFone Zoom features a SmartFSI (front-illuminated) sensor, 0.03 sec laser Autofocus, 5cm macro focus distance. It’s great to see Asus going with a new sensor, and not the one used in previous Toshiba ones as in previous Zenfone phones. The phone also features a Dual-LED flash at the back. The phone is made with unibody aluminum frame with 4x diamond cut edges, 64bit super quad-core Intel Atom processor and 4GB RAM.

As you can see in this video by Ray Ma, the camera compartment is very slim and that’s due to the way the optical zoom works. the Camera lens isn’t aligned with the sensor, but uses several lenses to transmit the light from the lens, horizontally aligned to the sensor. By doing so, the camera can use more lenses and arrange them far separate apart from each other and therefore product the optical zoom effect. This means that there is no image quality loss and you can achieve a 3x optical zoom at full image resolution.

The ZenFone Zoom lens is equivalent to 28-84mm in 35mm focal length terms and f/2.7-4.8 maximum aperture. This is a great technology that will certainly help Samsung sell more of its ZenFone smartphones. the optical image stabilization compensates for 4-stops, which is mean that you can shoot at 4 stops slower than none OIS camera.

3x will probably be enough for most casual shooting, especially considering that most of us got used to shooting with a prime lens (1x zoom / no zoom).  The ZenFone Zoom is a breath of fresh air in the digital imaging industry.