Quick Food Shoot Out – ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML vs Samsung Galaxy S6


I borrowed a friend’s Samsung Galaxy S6 and, alternating it with my ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, took quick shots of the main course and dessert. Indoor medium to low lighting that’s predominantly yellow pervaded the scene. The S6’s F1.9 aperture rear camera is known to be good, what with its gargantuan P36k price, it should be. Let’s see how the P14k 4GB RAM ZenFone 2 compares.

The Samsung Galaxy S6‘s camera adjusts to surrounding white balance, diffusing the yellow for a more natural look, one that’s closer to natural lighting. But then, most people expect food to be vibrantly colored, like the shot below.

The ZenFone 2’s camera, as of the firmware installed as of this writing, is not calibrated to diffuse overly yellow light. Instead, it just wants an evenly exposed image and to salvage as much detail as possible. Still, I suspect that if casual users only saw the ZenFone 2’s shot, they’d think it’s good. After all, the surrounding parts of the image above is not as yellow as the food, so there’s reason to think the shot was “faithful” to the scene. Given how ASUS has released firmware updates that sharpened the rear camera’s images, we hope succeeding updates offer automatic white balance correction.

You can, however, already take action via manual mode. Image above: Focal length 3.78mm. Aperture f/2.0. Exposure time 1/20. White balance manually adjusted to tone down yellow ambient light. Thank goodness the ZenFone’s manual white balance adjustment is in Kelvin. Mine is not the best manual adjustment, I know. Experienced photographers can do better. This is just to show you that the ZenFone 2’s manual settings can get the job done.

Now let’s have some dessert.

As said in our full review of the ZenFone 2, its shots, at least in auto mode, are not as detailed compared to those by flagships. It’s more obvious in a close up shot at a medium to low lighting scene. So while the ZenFone 2 can do great in most lighting scenarios (see ASUS ZenFone 2 sample shots), you can do a great deal more if you spend a little time in manual mode. Let’s browse the specs of each phone before the closing.

ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML Specs - Click to View
64-bit Intel Atom 2.3GHz Z3580 quad-core processor | 4GB of RAM
5.5-inch full HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3, 1920 x 1080 resolution
32 internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
13 MP rear camera, f/2.0-aperture, 5-element, auto-focus lens with dual-color Real Tone flash
5 MP front camera, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 85-degree lens with Selfie Panorama
Dual SIM | 3G, LTE
WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI
3000mAh battery
SRP 13,995.00
Samsung Galaxy S6 Specs - Click to View
5.1-inch Super AMOLED quad-HD display @ 2560 x 1440, 577ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (front and back)
Samsung Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core CPU
3GB RAM | 32GB, 64GB, 128GB internal memory
Dual-SIM, 4G/LTE Cat. 6
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1 |NFC
16 megapixel rear camera, OIS, dual-LED flash, f1.9
5 megapixel front-facing camera, f1.9
Qi Wireless Charging
2,550mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery
Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz
SRP Php 35,990 (32GB) | Php41,990 (64GB)

Special thanks to Bam Amor of Adobotech.net for lending me his Samsung Galaxy S6 for this post.

Parting Words

For a phone that can do a lot for the price it offers, the ZenFone 2 is currently unbeatable. Of course, if you want a rear camera that beats the Samsung Galaxy S6, one that has a better aperture (F1.8), more extensive manual features (more so than the ZenFone 2’s), and which even has an ambient light sensor (which neither the ZenFone 2 nor the S6 has), go for the P30-ish LG G4.

Still, the ZenFone 2’s rear camera is more than good enough for its price point, a feat that is slightly frightening because of what ASUS can offer for the price.

As proof, the ZenFone selfie just went the distance and offers 13MP cameras back and front with the rear camera having a laser autofocus, like the LG G3 and G4.

If ASUS offers a ZenFone next year (or by the end of this one) that has an F1.9 aperture along with 4GB of RAM, Samsung and LG may have to rethink what “premium” means – because all the leather and celebrity endorsers money can buy may not be able to save them.

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Irwin Allen Rivera loves his wife's cooking so much he's now twice the man he used to be. His English essay won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2012. His philosophical-horror story appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 (2013). He was managing editor and lead writer of Sites and Symbols 2 (2005), a coffee-table book about buildings in UP Diliman - his alma mater (BA Philosophy; MA Creative Writing continuing). He worked at the UP Diliman Information Office before shifting to web content writing. His sudden fiction, "Notwithstanding Pigs," initially a Friendster testimonial, appeared in Philippines Graphic (2006) and in Very Short Stories for Harried Readers (2007). He used to write for www.technoodling.net.