PixelMaster is a technology developed by ASUS that combines hardware, software and optical design to deliver better quality images in most scenarios. It was first introduced in the new PadFone Infinity late last year.
Now, an improved version of PixelMaster is a key selling feature of the just launched ZenFone series. While HardwareZone was at the launch event, we noted that the PixelMaster term was heavily used during the product's technical seminars. So what's new and how has PixelMaster evolved on the ZenFones? Here are five key aspects of the new PixelMaster:-
Only available on the ZenFone 5 and 6, Low Light Mode helps you take clearer, brighter images in low light conditions by combining multiple pixels and using image processing algorithms. A lot of work is carried out behind the scenes; four adjacent pixels are combined into one and image processing algorithms are applied to increase the light sensitivity by up to 400% and boost color contrast by up to 200%.
If this sounds familiar, ASUS's Low Light Mode works somewhat similar to the oversampling technique used in the Nokia's PureView image sensor although the latter is more sophisticated. The end result is brighter images with reduced noise, but at a lower resolution.
When low light mode is enabled, the 8-megapixel rear camera on the ZenFone takes 2-megapixel photos while the 13-megapixel rear camera of the ZenFone 6 takes 3-megapixel photos (similar to PadFone Infinity).
It is noteworthy to mention that low light mode is also available for video recording. Electronic image stabilization (digital, not optical) also helps to improve low light photography by reducing minor hand shakes that often occur in free-hand usage. Here's a video demo of the Low Light Mode in action:-
Despite the entry to midrange positioning of the ZenFone 5 and 6 smartphones, the imaging hardware of the smartphones are not run-of-the-mill. The ZenFone 5 utilizes a Sony BSI CMOS sensor while the ZenFone 6 uses a Panasonic BSI CMOS sensor.
Both sensors have a pixel size of 1.12µm which is impressive for its product category considering that flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 has similar pixel size. To know more about the relationship between megapixel and pixel size, do check out our detailed articles explaining the HTC's UltraPixel and Nokia's PureView technology.
Largan lens, which are used by the Apple iPhones, are also deployed in the ZenFone 5 and 6. The 5-piece lens will deliver cleaner, sharper photos while the IR cut filter aids in color accuracy and uniformity. The lens also has an aperture of f/2.0, which improves low-light sensitivity.
As its name suggests, the Depth of Field Mode allows you to capture photos with sharp, isolated subjects set against a blurred background. Its implementation is similar to the LG G Pro 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 where you need to hold the phone still for the camera to take multiple shots. In the case of the ZenFone, it will take two images after you press the shutter button. Its functionality is limited though, as you only get to choose to focus on the foreground or the background. This feature is available on the ZenFone 4, 5 and 6.
Since the time Ellen snapped the famous albeit blurry selfie during the Oscars, the ability to take good selfies has become one of the most talked about imaging features for some brands and ASUS is no different.
The rear camera on the ZenFone (4, 5 and 6) will automatically detect when the selected number of people are in the frame and begins a countdown before taking three photos. You can then select the best shot to save and share with your friends.
Similar to Time Shift on BlackBerry 10 OS, Time Rewind takes multiple pictures before and after you press the shutter button so that the chances of you getting the perfect shot/moment is higher.
To be exact, Time Rewind records two seconds before and one second after the shutter button is pressed. During this three-second period, a total of 31 photos are taken for you to select. Below is a video showing the Time Rewind, Depth of Field and Miniature Mode in action: