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Camera Shootout: ASUS Zenfone 2 VS Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

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We pit Samsung’s latest flagship against ASUS’ Zenfone 2!

If you haven’t heard, we’re here in Indonesia currently to cover the regional launch of the Zenfone 2. One of the main draws of the newest flagship from ASUS is its PixelMaster camera, which can take better photos in both low-light and backlit situations without too much of a performance hit. We’ll be putting those photo claims to the test by pitting it against Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S6 Edge.

See also: A detailed look at the ZF2 and Galaxy S6 camera comparo

A small note: we did the tests (specifically low-light and HDR) in ASUS’ own test rigs, so treat the photos below as preliminary results until we get our hands on a review unit. Shot settings for the devices are as follows: Low light test was night mode on auto, HDR auto for the S6 Edge, while the ZF2 had its low-light mode on. For the HDR mode test, the S6 Edge had its HDR settings set to on (the Galaxy S6 has auto HDR but we manually turned it on), ASUS Zenfone 2 had its HDR turned on.ย For the macro shots, both were taken with manual mode on. Ambient light test had both phones on auto.

While we’re reducing the images on the site, you can click on the photos for the full resolution version.

LOW LIGHT TEST:

Galaxy S6 Low Light
Galaxy S6 Edge
Zenfone 2
Zenfone 2

HDR TEST:

Galaxy S6 Edge
Galaxy S6 Edge
Zenfone 2
Zenfone 2

MACRO TEST:

Galaxy S6 Edge
Galaxy S6 Edge
Jpeg
Zenfone 2

See also: A detailed look at the ZF2 and Galaxy S6 camera comparo

AMBIENT LIGHT SHOT:

Galaxy S6
Galaxy S6 Edge
Jpeg
Zenfone 2

 

SUPER HIGH RES TEST:

Jpeg

See also: A detailed look at the ZF2 and Galaxy S6 camera comparo

We’re very impressed with the camera performance of the Zenfone 2 so far. At more than half the price of the Galaxy S6 Edge, the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML managed to meet and exceed the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, at least in ASUS’ low-light and HDR test booths. In real life tests however, the ZF2 stumbles a bit, and there’s definitely a huge hit to sharpness and detail. We’ll be revisiting the camera performance of ย both phones again once we get our hands on our review unit.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

58 Comments

    1. Pati affordability, mas lamang ang zenfone. Kung mahilig magselfie ang user, ok na ang Zenfone dahil icocompress din naman ng facebook at instagram ang inuupload mong photos.

    1. HDR mode for the ASUS Zenfone 2, same for the S6 Edge (the S6 Edge has auto HDR but we turned it on manually).

      Low light test was night mode on auto, HDR auto for the S6 Edge, while the ZF2 had its low-light mode on.

      For the macro shots, both were taken with manual mode on.

      1. Kung sa color calibration, alin ang mas malapit sa real world color? Nasubukan ko na kasi ang S6 Edge camera at napansin ko na parang may built in photoshop software ang front camera. Puno ng pimple ang mukha ko pero para akong nagmake up at naging kahawig ko si Dingdong Dantes noong ginamit ko yun. Thanks.

        1. Ikaw na ang kamukha ni Ding Dong! Kung cherry mobile gamit mo baka mas pogi ka pa kay Ding Dong!

        2. You must be talking about Samsung’s Beauty Shot feature. It’s present in my Note 4 and in almost every smartphone Sammy released for the past couple of years.

          It can be turned off or adjusted according to your preference.

  1. With all due respect sir, Im a bit skeptical about the photo shoot-out. Especially that first photo of the butterfly. Im a photographer and I can tell what qualities does a photo have. Im into the camera phones too and I can tell exactly the quality of photos a handset can produce. Judging by the photo of the butterfly;

    BUTTERFLY Photo 1 (supposed Galaxy S6): In this photo, it produces a greenish tint and halo all around. The photo also produces A LOT of digital noise which due to a ISO boost (neglected that you are using HDR) but I doubt it. But Digital noise can be also found in photos that has a low aperture camera and a low shutter speed. Low shutter speed will also produce blurred image as what you can see in the picture. Aside from that the photo suffers heavily with the low-light having pronounced dynamic range and clarity over-all.

    BUTTERFLY PHOTO 2 (supposed ZenFone 2): In this photo we can CLEARLY differentiate this from the other. The photo is well-pronounced dynamic range and clarity over-all having that the “leaf” is seen compared to the first one. It also has a less digital noise all around.

    THE CATCH: The photos are switched more or less I suspected. Having the first photo is actually from a ZenFone and the second is from the Galaxy S6. Or the cameras in both devices are tweaked having the S6 tweak in a lower resolution shot and the ZenFone set its camera to the maximum photography level.

    BOTTOM LINE: I dont know what the author in this article try to conjure but he is trying to somehow market a biased review (on the camera side) in both devices. Having fully examined all the photos posted I can clearly surmised that the Galaxy S6 camera has been tweak to looked less desirable compared to the ZenFone. Really though, Im not trying to put someone down or even favor a company. I respect everyone’s point-of-views and opinions but let us be fair and be honest on the things we do. This camera shoot-out maybe just a simple article in the internet but you don’t know a consumer might check this out. We consumers value our hard-earned money. And we truly re-evaluate every decision that we make in order to make a satisfying life and appreciated the choices we make. This article matters to me though that affects what consumers believe.

    Im sorry for the long comment but Im just trying saying what’s in my mind.

    Peace!

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I can tell you right away that this isn’t a review of any device, just a simple photo match up from two devices.

      As far as saying the photos are switched, you are welcome to check out the full, uncompressed photos that we’ve uploaded into our drop box that’s linked to the photos when you click on it. The exif data for both phones are still on there, I’m sure.

      We’re not trying mislead anybody, and I can assure you that the photos were taken as is, with the settings I specified in an earlier comment above. Whether you believe that or not is up to you.

    2. You are not trying to favor any brand but you’re trying to favor yourself against the author. You are misleading the readers (specifically the comments readers) by your know-how’s. You might know photography, but please, PixelMaster is all around you, I bet, so try to check someone you know who has Zenfone5 or 6 and check it for yourself against any top of the line offerings from any brand you know. It’s not about the Samsung, it’s about the camera, actually. – Zenfone5 user here.

    3. I respect your expertise regarding photography, but clearly you haven’t experienced using a Zenfone device … Even a Zenfone 5 can get a better picture than the Galaxy S6 in that low light test.

    4. even zenfone 5 is capable of that “butterfly effect” *pun intended* at walang na switch diyan.

      btw @sir John, I heard there is an optimization feature on the Zenfone 2 which actually makes the outcome worse. can you please look into that? ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Dapat meron ding Myphone Rio 2 vs Samsung S6 camera comparison. Sony sensor na daw ang gamit ng Myphone sa Rio 2. Lalong madidisappoint ang samsung fanboys pag nagkapareho ang resulta niyan.

    5. Dude, Photographer kaba talaga? obviously mas maganda kuha ng S6. Exposures are spot on. less over-exposed and less under-exposed shots and staying sharp. Although a bit to vivid colors and warmer tones to entice the average consumer. Clearly only in the low light mode Asus wins in here. It’s their pixel master technology that has an advantage on low light conditions. Parang “Highlight/Shadows” effect you have in Photoshop, but this one is pre-processed.

    6. @John Nieves: Thanks for the tip sir. I didn’t know there was a raw file you can download. I’ll be checking on it. Appreciate the efforts! Kudos.

      @All: I actually I do have the unit of the S6 (not to be bragging). In androids, photos it takes is second to none.
      The closest of the photo capability it can produce though is the iPhone 6 but S6 has the advantage (OIS). And for the sake of argument I literally borrowed a ZenFone (ZenFone 5 for those who are dead serious about the PixelMaster Technology) from 1 of my friends. The photos speaks for themselves though. Try to view it on a 4K monitor and you’ll truly see the difference. Regular monitor having a 1080p resolution may or may not spot the difference but in a 4K its dead spot on. Again I don’t need explaining myself. Those are my points and I stand for it 100% I dont know, you are all the one who spends their money, spend it wisely though.

      I would like to share a review coming from one of my trusted tech reviewer. Just to back my sentiments.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mhvv2-iCKao

      Peace!

  2. I don’t get that super low light. Why would you even take photos in the dark? If you’re taking a person’s photo, you’ll definitely use the flash. The super low light is a quarter of pixel count anyway.

    1. There are things you might want to preserve, like memories, memories that are in low light with a great scene. Check PixelMaster Asus promotional video.

    2. “Why would you even take photos in the dark?” Aksidente sa kalye na kailangan ng ebidensiya, gimik nights, picture picture habang lasing, may nakitang sexy sa kalsada pero ayaw mahalatang kumukuha ng picture kaya naka off ang flash. Madaming situation para sa low light picture taking.

      1. “may nakitang sexy sa kalsada pero ayaw mahalatang kumukuha ng picture kaya naka off ang flash”

        That’s just being a pervert. Saw the video, not convinced. If I want to preserve memories, especially places that I went for the first time, I’d use my dslr (entry-level). Which captures a better image quality.

        1. Hindi lahat may dslr, bumaba ka naman hindi lahat dito kayang bumili ng dslr kahit entry level at hindi rin sa lahat ng pagkakataon dala mo camera mo.

  3. For sure paid ad to ng Asus. Based pa lang sa previous posts nila na ngbabaha ng puro Zenfone2 and lilipad pa sila to jakarta! Hahaha hindi fair yung article na to. So pathetic

  4. Like what silvernaut says… feels like a paid ad especially the S6 looks like a lazy photographer. The HDR picture is not focusing on the castle but somewhere else, the macroshot is on “Auto focus” mode so the software is focusing only on the middle of the Camera UI than on the subject at hand.

    I don’t like the S6 but i wouldn’t like a product that gets advertised to be “The best” by hindering it’s competitor.

    it’s just not right and feels shameful.

  5. For the lady in blue pictures, the S6 picture is superior. The lady’s face is much better focused; the letters behind her have much better resolution and have sharper outlines. For the macro test, the S6 is also better, albeit, not that significantly better. The rest, I will give the nod to the ZF2.

  6. dont let these conparison fool you. zenfone 2 might win in this camera shootout, but in real life I think the galaxy s6 is still better. Ok zenfone 2 might capture brighter images but that doesnt always mean better picture quality. daming factors na kailangan icheck para sabihing mas maganda ang kuha ng isang camera(dynamic range, overall sharpness,clarity, noise, and saturation) which i think nasa galaxy s6 lahat. you can notice that in the last pirtrait sample. mas sharper ang galaxy s6 and mas better ang colors. check niyo din image samples ng galaxy s6, sobrang linaw kahit sa daylight and lowlight. pero sa zenfone 2, lahat ng real life image samples at video samples sa internet sobrang pangit ng quality. Dynamic range on the zenfone camera is also not that good(youll always end up capturing overexposed images, if not underxposed. Tas yung sharpness niya, nonexistent , ang details when you zoom in or crop. Youll only see sharpening artifacts and watercolor brushed strokes details. Then in real life lowlight shts, totoo maliwanag nga sa zenfone. pero sobrang daming noise then washed out nadin minsan ang colors. view din kayo ng galaxy s6 camera comparison sa youtube ng mga reliable channels, galaxy s6 lahat panalo. Grabe din ang video quality niya. super fast autofocus(phase detection AF used by DSLR, and iphone 6 plus) and on of the best optical image stabilization. Zenfone 2 doesnt have that.
    dont get me wrong tho, im not a samsung fan or a samsung employee. Just wanted to stressed out that the camera on zenfone 2 is overhyped. Too much marketing which is kinda misleading based sa nakita kong samples sa internet. Yon lang. Buy wisely guys.

  7. Something about this really doesn’t feel right. The Zenfone 2 has been criticized as having a mediocre camera by many international reviewers. The S6 right now is arguably the best phone camera. Better do a real world test.

      1. Hello Carlo, di kasi nasagot yung tanong ko last time. Kung calibrated color, alin sa dalawang camera ang mas close sa actual colors ng mga kinunan? At di ako nagbibiro sa comment ko last time, talagang nung ginamit ko ang front camera ng s6, modified ng software ang itsura ko at nawala ang pimples ko sa picture. Nagtatanong lang po thanks.

        1. You must be talking about Samsung’s Beauty Shot feature. It’s present in my Note 4 and in almost every smartphone Sammy released for the past couple of years.

          It can be turned off or adjusted according to your preference.

  8. Sa mga defenders ng s6, don’t be too derisive, arrogant and dismissive sa asus. The point being, ang zf2 can somehow manage to keep up kahit na less than half lang ang presto nya compared sa mighty Samsung s6. It’s not a bad deal really for the asus.

    1. Baka di nila matanggap na ang camera ng hawak nilang 42k premium phone e kapantay lang ng baguhang mid ranger ang price. Iniintay ko ang review ng unbox sa Huawei p8 at p8 lite, naiintriga ako sa RGBW technology na sinasabi ng Huawei. Mas masakit sa samsung fanboys pag natalo ang camera nila ng 28k na premium phone.

    2. To the untrained eye, it is similar. But to those who know a thing about photography, we can see that the Zenfone 2 falls flat in a lot of ways compared to the S6. There is a reason why it’s more expensive.

  9. Obviously this is not paid ad. Makikita naman natin, mas maganda kuha ng S6 except sa low light mode. Specially sa AMBIENT LIGHT SHOT. And the author didn’t say anything that 2F2 is better than S6.

  10. I’ve seen a lot of picture archive sa Galaxy S6 at tsaka sa Zenfone 2 dito sa internet. And most of the reviews of the ZenFone camera is average to mediocre performance overall. I mean cmon, THE S6? You are pitting the ZenFone into the BEAST!

  11. I’m not a Samsung fan nor a photographer, but reviewing the above shots very well, it shows that the ZF2 shoots clearer in low lights conditions but the S6 still win in terms of other scenes. Hence, the S6 shoots sharper, more detailed and more natural output than the ZF2. totoo po ang sabi ng mga ibang nag-comment na kung titignan at a glance, mas maganda tignan ang shots ni ZF2, pero kung tititigan mabuti at iimbistigahan ng mabuti lalo na sa bigger screen makikita mas detalyado at natural ang kuha ni S6.

    May tanong lang ako sa mga marurunong at may review, how about sony xperia z3 vs samsung galaxy s6?

    peace!

  12. I’m an Asus fan and I know for a fact that Samsung produces mediocre cameras for their mobile phones.

    From the tests they did, it seems that the Zenfone 2 did a great job. But if you know your photography, you’ll clearly see that the S6 shots are superior to the Zenfone.

  13. Not so fast!

    Let’s say the sample are really from galaxy S6 edge but according to some website which is have much more reputation than this site, the latter had an excellent image quality according to their review.

    So either the samples are from a defective unit or just a biased review. Well what do we expect from a lack reputation ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ok here’s some their reviews from zenfone 2
    http://www.gsmarena.com/asus_zenfone_2_ze551ml-review-1240p8.php

    13MP camera delivers unsatisfactory output

    and here’s camera comparing tool
    Galaxy S6 Edge versus Galaxy S6 versus Zenfone 2
    http://www.gsmarena.com/piccmp.php3?idType=1&idPhone1=7079&idPhone2=6849&idPhone3=6917

    What I like from their review is that they don’t just run into conclusion but they also consider the condition of the model if defective, same unit, final firmware etc.

    Im not defending galaxy S6 edge or samsung but of course we want the truth right? ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Why do you have to post it in another topic rather than putting it (100% crop) in every comparison on this post?

        This in not a blind shootout right?

  14. To be honest Zenfone takes decent pics but it doesn’t appear at Samsung level (no i don’t own a Samsung..i own a Lumia 1520).
    If one looks at three pics in particular this appears evident.

    – In the pic of the church model, the Samsung makes them darker but the image is clear and sharp. Zenfone looks overexposed and the clouds are very very grainy.
    – Same issue in the Lego picture. Samsung is sharper (look at the small Lego label on the Samsung picture, they are all blurred in the Zenfone one)
    – Worst of all the girl in the pictures. Samsung shows a perfect picture, sharp, good colors, no grainy patterns. The picture from the Zenfone looks foggy, blurred.

    The Zenfone 2 is surely a nice phone but the photocamera looks something just average. Just my humble opinion.

  15. I don’t what settings used in the butterfly shot

    But anyway I found much better low light test for both

    Galaxy S6 (not edge but im sure they’re the same based on gsmarena’s camera comparing tool)
    http://i-cdn.phonearena.com/images/articles/178284-image/Galaxy-S6-first-vs-Asus-Zenfone-2-second-camera-samples.jpg

    Zenfone 2
    http://i-cdn.phonearena.com/images/articles/178291-image/Galaxy-S6-first-vs-Asus-Zenfone-2-second-camera-samples.jpg

    To check their exif data
    http://regex.info/exif.cgi just simply put the link

    This samples are used in real life scenario

  16. Asus is using the pixel merging technology as what other high-end compact cameras and other DSLRs would do to make the photos brighter. The photo resolution somehow is reduced (just like in the case of ASUS, it is ideal for web posting but not for large printing if you are pixel peeping). Based on the image samples on their actual resolution (unbox, cnet, techradar, trusted reviews), I would give the points to S6 for the overall picture quality. It has better noise reduction at higher ISO, better dynamic range, better exposure control, and handles chromatic aberrations very well at 100% zoom. Needless to say, it is a mid range vs. a high end phone.

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