08-01-2022 07:12 AM
01-11-2023 05:51 AM
This is a Feedback post focusing on the Asus Zenfone9 Main Shooter and the stock app.
I picked up the Z9 in order to replace a Samsung S10E that I had to give away. So far I have loved the phone, it sports great hardware and great ergonomics.
One of the biggest factors in my purchase was the camera system which received a huge endorsement from MKBHD's camera test with the Z9 receiving extremely flattering results.
However, the reality is in fact quite different.
Issue 1: Terrible Post-processing
The main shooter: Sony IMX766 is being throttled by the crunchy processing that it's images undergo. Given the potential the sensor paired with its stabilization has, it is a shame to see the pictures come out over-sharpened, and lose fine details as a result.
Stock Camera App
Overall, the stock app tends to oversaturate the pictures and throws natural colour science out the window. Looking at the finer details, like the tile textures on the floor, the sharpening algorithm crunches these lines and results in a noticeable loss in detail compared to GCam.
To avoid this rampant over sharpening, one has to turn the HDR completely off. To be fair, the sensor already has great stock dynamic range, so this results in a huge increase in photo quality due to much lighter processing. But it also means HDR is basically useless since it results in terrible pictures.
Below is an example of an image on the stock app without HDR:
Much better, although it still needs work to compete with the likes of Google.
However, in the next picture where HDR is actually needed due to the Range needed in the image, we can't make use of it due to its processing issues, resulting in a completely washed picture of the buildings outside the window and still we see some over sharpening.
Issue 2: Shutter Speed
The Stock app seems to have a serious issue with shutter speeds, defaulting to slower shutter speeds and neutering its point and shoot functionality due to any slight or slow movement, resulting in blurry photos. The difference after switching from my S10E to the Zenfone 9 made me change the way I approach photos completely because I'm aware that the Zenfone is nowhere near the reliability of the S10E as a quick point and shoot. I find this need for long exposure strange since I have tested other phones with the same sensor that don't seem to have this issue (Would be strange that a 50MP sensor would struggle to capture enough light for faster shutter speeds when compared to the 12MP sensor of the S10E)
Unless the camera hardware improvements are simply a marketing tactic to sell more of their phones, I expect ASUS to deliver a camera Software experience that is worthy of its FLAGSHIP specifications.
The phone's flawed camera software makes it pretty difficult to use as a reliable point and shoot, but lacks the functionality to use as anything else. No advanced options to tweak processing or colour science, No support for shooting in DNG or RAW. Love the fact that it does have Focus Peaking on pro mode, but it is going to need a lot more than this to make it the camera phone that it can be.
Software is the name of the game and ASUS needs to do better, with other phones already moving onto staggered HDR it is not acceptable that the Zenfone9 can't even use native HDR reliably or take good pictures reliably. This is a shame since the gimbal stabilization is great and the sensors themselves are good.
01-11-2023 01:51 PM
Totally agree with @TopSnek its a stunning phone – I really love it! But the camera performance is sub par. And the frustrating fact that this is not due to bad hardware but software makes it all the more enraging.
I would really love to see a major camera software update. And looking at the performance of other phones using the same main camera module makes me believe that Asus really could do better here. Especially in combination with the gimbal stabilization.
01-23-2023 10:45 AM
Ideal solution to the shutter speed issue would be ASUS adding a setting to define a "minimum shutter" value, a lot of cameras do this so you can effectively leave it on auto - then when you go outside it'll increase the shutter speed to expose correctly. But when you go indoors, it won't turn into a blurry mess as it tries to compensate, it'll open the shutter longer but not to the point of ruining the shots.
I know you can do manual shutter speed in pro mode, but it'd be great for casual use to have an overall minimum shutter in auto mode too.
01-22-2023 05:30 PM
prett amazing quality, being about 5-7 meters away, using GCAM 8.6 Vichaya