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Playing around with the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser - first thoughts

Of late, I have noticed a trend: I lug out my dSLR only for professional shoots or for my travels. Far gone seem to be the days when on everyday basis I would take my handy Nikon E7900 point and shoot Camera and photograph random things at random points. That was ofcourse before smart phones became so popular and well before phone cameras gave decent picture quality. Let me rephrase that bit actually - well before phone cameras that gave decent picture quality became easily affordable.

In the past few years or so smartphones seem to have found their way into everyone's pocket and with ever improving optical technology, phone cameras have become the defacto option for all my non-professional photography requirements. Given that reality, when a phone brands itself based on a feature of its camera, I do wonder what the fuss is all about.

Before moving on to the actual images, a quick mention of what the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is called so. The 'laser' in the name comes from the phone's focussing method. Now conventionally, a camera focusses by trying to find a high contrast area in the frame ie a place where say a black object and a white object overlap. What this particular model of Asus phone does instead, is to fire an invisible laser beam towards the subject and auto-focus the camera based on the bounced laser beam that comes back to the camera. The software already knows the speed at which the laser is shot out, and by knowing the time it takes for the laser beam to be reflected back from the subject, it calculates the distance by a simple mathematical formula. The end result of all the beams and the maths is that the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser should, at least theoretically, be able to auto-focus more quickly than a conventional phone camera.

Exactly how quickly does it auto-focus is not the subject of this post (nor would I ever get into such technical rambling), but having used the camera a fair bit, I can say that it does focus rather correctly and rather soon most of the times. So far I have used it mostly in decent light conditions and here are some photos from the camera - completely unedited, except for reducing the size to enable the upload in this post.

First up, a shot from a car from a weekend trip. Would have loved for this to be a getaway, but sadly this was during one of my work visits. A halted truck along a country road, me quickly winding down the car window and the Asus's quick auto focus let me capture these green fields.

Correction, what appears to be green fields is actually a former water body now covered with algae and foliage. Still, it makes for a pretty sight, the almost withered away former-bridge not withstanding. While it was late afternoon when I clicked this, I will give the camera the benefit of doubt of having worked ever so slightly on the highlights in the sky to pull out some detail.

Those who follow me on my social media channels (@Studio.KunalBhatia on both Facebook and Instagram) would know that I have a thing for architecture and a thing for behind the scenes photos. That often translates to a #ihavethisthingforfloors post and here's one more from the series.

This is from an under construction site, where some good Indian marble was broken down for no rhyme or reason. Below is a 100% zoom-in detail around my shoe, and while the site indeed was dimly-lit, it was by no means dark. I am not particularly thrilled with the noise handling and the over-sharpening of edges that follows the noise handling of the camera. Still, till I compare this to photos taken from another phone, I would conclude that I am quite happy with the image quality, given its price point.

Moving forward, you may have noticed two jarring bits in the above photos. One was the timestamp on the bottom left. And the second was the elongated aspect ratio. My dSLR has its image ratio set to 2:3 and I guess I am just used to seeing the world through that frame. The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser has its image ratio set to 16:9 by default, though it can easily be changed in the camera settings.

The aspect ratio bit could be a different personal preference by some, so I wouldn't mind any default setting that Asus has picked. The timestamp though, is something that I cannot understand. Why would they choose to leave it on my default, when the phone in anycase saves photos with filenames in the yyyymmdd_hhmmss format. Also misleading is that when taking a picture, the timestamp doesn't get overlaid on the frame, but when one later previews it in the gallery, it's there in yellow Italicised numerals on the bottom right. Anyhoo, the default setting for said overlay can also be easily undone by heading into the camera settings. I changed this, along with the aspect ratio before spotting this painted tree in Juhu.

Many of Mumbai's trees are dying due to civic apathy, and Rastaa Chaap, a citizen's group, aims to raise awarness about the issue by giving the dead tree stumps a makeover. While definitely not a new lease of life, they do bring the trees to one's notice and hopefully spark a conversation about what we can do to make the situation better. The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser again did a good job of balancing the highlights in the sky with the relatively darker foreground of the frame.

This post first appeared on Mindless Mumbai, please read the originial post: here

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Playing around with the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser - first thoughts


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