While I love taking photos while traveling, soaking up the experience will always be my top priority.
I’m fine with quick snapshots knowing I can always go back and post-process my photos later. When you’re traveling, you don’t have the time to fiddle with manual controls, so when it comes down to it, shooting on auto is a compromise worth making.
For me a good smartphone is one that can quickly churn out photos that barely need any tweaking. This especially rings true when you’re on a holiday in one of the most fast-paced cities in the world: Hong Kong.
Morning walk in Tsim Sha Tsui
There are several hotel options for any budget in Tsim Sha Tsui, making it the perfect place to stay. If shopping is your thing, you will want to set aside plenty of time for perusing the numerous shops and malls the area has on offer.
Right from the start of the trip, it was clear that the Zenfone 3 produced more balanced highlights and shadows compared to the Max; see how bright the light hits the top of the bus on the right. The sky is almost washed out on the photo taken with the Max, although the clouds are barely visible in the Zenfone 3 photo, as well.
Avenue of Stars is one of Hong Kong’s must visits. It was under renovation during our visit, so we had to settle for this view a few meters away from the usual photo spot. The Max’s photo seems to have undergone VSCO editing with its natural greenish tint, but really it has #nofilter.
Zenfone 3 photos are generally brighter and much more balanced overall, but the way the Max processes the greens and blues is probably how I would want my photos to look like on Instagram. I like how rich the blues are, and the deeper contrast makes for a little dramatic effect.
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Ferry ride to Causeway Bay
By lunch time, we were hungry. For a change of scenery (or more scenery), we opted to take a quick (and cheap) ferry ride to Causeway Bay instead of the MTR. The Zenfone 3’s dynamic range is the star in this photo; you can even see the skyline!
While the Zenfone 3’s colors are more accurate, it needs to be pointed out that the letters HKT on the ferris wheel are legible in the Max photo, while it’s barely there in the photo shot with the Zenfone 3.
Macau street art
We took another ferry ride, although a much longer one to the autonomous region of Macau. While the city is famous for casinos, Portugese egg tarts, and to a certain extent, replicas of European landmarks, there’s a lot more to the discover in the place.
We took an afternoon stroll along the busy streets of San Malo, going from shop to shop to try every possible food sample. One turn and we found this esquina of Instagram-worthy street art.
The yellow-green tint produced by the Zenfone 3 Max is visible in these comparison photos from Macau.
Focusing was also difficult for the Max, even if these were taken in broad daylight.
The Zenfone 3 also captured more detail compared to the Zenfone 3 Max. You can clearly see the depth of the dents on the concrete in this mural.
What’s a trip to Macau without a visit to the Ruins of St. Paul’s? Fair warning: No matter how long you wait, your Instagram will have to settle for a shot with the thick crowd, or you can get creative and frame it another way.
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Celebrity sightings at Victoria Peak
After sunset, we decided to head back to Hong Kong and take the tram up to the famed Victoria Peak. I tried to take photos of the view from 500 meters up using the two Zenfones, but it was too cold and windy. Wax museum Madame Tussauds was just a few floors below though, so I didn’t let this chance pass to get closer to famous people and characters.
Check out how on fleek those eyebrows are on the left! The Zenfone 3 did a great job capturing the details, while the Max seemingly gave Holly Golightly unwanted jaundice.
Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit-slash-wax-figure was actually closed to the public, but I managed to sneak a photo of the renowned artist from the exit. The difference in the photos is negligible, but this is where I had the hardest time focusing on the Max. All photos except this one had Yayoi’s face blurred out. The Zenfone 3, meanwhile, gave me a lot of good options with minimum effort on my part.
Lady Gaga’s poker face aside, I like the way the colors turned out more on the Zenfone 3. While I tend to up the contrast when editing my Instagram photos, I’m not a fan of how pink my face looks on the Max selfie. I was NOT born that way.
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Last stop: Mongkok
With its neon signs that light the streets, the smell of street food cooking from three feet away, the bustling crowd of tourists and locals alike, endless shopping options, Mongkok is probably the best place to go to for that authentic Hong Kong experience when you’re pressed for time.
The Zenfone 3 captures the red tiles of Mongkok station nicely while the Max’s yellowish greenish tint is quite prominent.
What’s a Mongkok experience when you can’t capture those neon Chinese signs the way they appear in real life? The Zenfone 3’s dynamic range makes a world of difference in these photos. In the Max’s case, the crowd is already too dark, and the signs don’t look very sharp because the lights are a bit washed out.
The Zenfone 3 has a clear advantage over the Max. It’s faster, consistent, more reliable, has better dynamic range, and takes good photos you wouldn’t mind showing off online, even if it’s on auto mode. The photos that came out of the Zenfone 3 Max had a yellowish greenish tint making colors evidently inaccurate.
Although I wasn’t able to show it here, it took more tries for the Zenfone 3 Max to focus properly even when there was ample light on my subject. Its camera also launches much slower, so I actually missed a lot of great photo opportunities for the comparison.
While for its price it takes good photos — and in certain scenarios, even better than the Zenfone 3 — the Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 is built for people with a lot of patience and not a lot of cash to burn.
In several instances, it felt like the Max took forever to launch and took too long to focus, just to get decent shots worth comparing to the Zenfone 3. Although that shouldn’t really be a problem if you’re not in a hurry, I personally wouldn’t choose to use it on my next trip even if I had two weeks to explore a city.
24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
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24 Hours in Paris with the Huawei P30 Pro
Go wide or go home
I’ve had my fair share of Euro trips in the past. Unusually, I have never set foot in Paris, France, considering it’s the most visited city in the world apparently.
Well, I finally got my chance recently. I have lots of tips to share to make your own 24 hours in Paris special. Considering how pricey this city is, it’s best to carefully plan with a budget in mind.
Tip 1: Check out Airbnb options around the outskirts of the central district. Here, you can find more affordable lodging in quiet neighborhoods such as this:
Paris is Airbnb-friendly unlike other cities in Europe. You and your host won’t get into any trouble with the law. Compared to a traditional hotel, an Airbnb has an advantageous home-style setup including a kitchen and dining area.
If you’re lucky, you could find a host who offers breakfast and travel advice around the area. Since these are private deals, you can learn more from the home’s owner after a successful booking.
Tip 2: Airbnb’s filters for specific lodging needs are more varied than ever. They assured my personal essentials like Wi-Fi, a private toilet, and an English-speaking host, in my case.
Paris’ train and bus systems are relatively straightforward. With the exception of a few confusing station names (since I can’t speak a single sentence of French), getting from point A to B is as easy as any other country with a decent system.
Tip 3: If you’re staying for a few days, purchase your all-day tickets the moment you arrive. At first, they seem pricey — around EUR 53 per person for three days, for example — but it lessens daily walks by miles.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Paris tour without seeing the Eiffel Tower up close. There are numerous angles to view it from. In my opinion, the above photo is the best; it’s a favorite of mine. It’s beside Palais de Chaillot.
Tip 4: France’s weather (and Europe’s, in general) is bipolar in spring. Bring a jacket and/or scarf even if it’s sunny when heading out.
The next big attraction to visit in Paris is the Musee du Louvre. It’s another short ride within the city center. It’s tough to miss. There are plenty of photo opportunities beside its pyramid. The pyramid also lights up during certain nights.
A regular adult ticket costs EUR 15. The museum includes the Mona Lisa and every other available artwork in the museum. It takes about 1.5 hours if you rush through everything. If you take your time, it might take a couple more hours.
Tip 5: While it’s generally crowded in front of the museum’s entrance, a sweet spot to take photos is to the side. Not much can get in the way between you and the pyramid. Plus, the lighting is better here around noon.
After going through multiple floors of artwork, you’ll eventually reach the Mona Lisa near the end. Needless to say, loads of people will always crowd around the painting. There’s no known off-peak hour, as far as I know.
Tip 6: The number of people — like the painting — is an illusion in itself. You may walk to the side (in my case, to the left) to get closer to Leonardo da Vinci’s work and take a clear shot of it.
If you’re a fan of The Da Vinci Code, you’d know why the spot above is special. No spoilers here, but do pass by this upside-down pyramid before exiting the underground level of the museum.
Continuing the artsy tour, there are fancy bookstores scattered around Paris, such as Shakespeare and Company, which is found in close proximity to what’s left of the Notre-Dame cathedral. Unfortunately, photo taking isn’t allowed inside.
What makes this bookstore special is the cafe found right beside it — a bit pricey, yes, but it makes for great IG-worthy photos like this:
Paris never lacks in photogenic locations. It’s best to be prepared to take out whatever camera you have. The P30 Pro’s zoom was useful in this case. Walking any closer was impossible because of the windowsill.
Tip 7: Paris’ dine-in restaurants are quite pricey. However, more affordable pastry shops are available in every major tourist location. Load up on local bread and coffee/tea while here.
Before the day ends, I highly recommend visiting the Eiffel Tower after sunset for its nighttime lighting. If you can wait till 10pm, a special light show from the monument lights up the Parisian skies.
Tip 8: Paris being such a tourist hotspot, an abundance of thieves normally lurk in crowded areas such as trains and landmark entrances at night. Don’t carry all your cash at once. Keep your valuables secured to your body or bag at all times.
Another notable nighttime shooting location is the Arc de Triomphe. While you could go here when there’s sunlight, the opportunity to take long exposure and HDR photos can’t be missed. The P30 Pro’s cameras also shine in this situation.
As always, there’s lots more to see around Paris that would need another 24 hours to cover. For myself, coming back is a must. Paris is as dynamic as the people who reside in it.
24 Hours in El Nido with the LG V40 ThinQ
No photos can do justice to its beauty
El Nido is a tropical paradise I’ve always wanted to visit in Palawan, Philippines. Known for its unspoiled islands and limestone cliffs, it was always a top priority in my must-see list.
Getting to El Nido
From Manila, you need to hop on a plane bound to Puerto Princesa. I flew with AirAsia, a low-cost airline that offers discounts all year round. Upon arrival, you have to ride a van or bus (whichever you prefer) for a six-hour road trip to El Nido. If you’re crazy rich, you can fly with AirSwift which offers direct flights from Manila.
Seeing El Nido from above
Because of the erratic weather from a tropical depression, the coast guard believed it was best to halt all island-hopping tours. With that, we took the chance to hike the popular Taraw Cliff. We chose a safer alternative called Canopy Walk which included a harness to ensure safety.
We were huffing and puffing as we climbed through a steep rock formation — even more so when we started climbing a steel ladder and treetop walkway. When we reached the top, it was breathtaking. In spite of the thick clouds, El Nido was still beautiful.
Seizing the day
Being on a tropical island means you can’t figure out what the weather will be like on a particular day. For us, it went from rain to clear skies within a couple of hours. Once clear enough, we rode a boat which held our buffet lunch, courtesy of our organizer.
While the sun was on our side, we headed to Las Cabanas beach resort in Maramegmeg Beach, a popular sunset spot.
Off to find paradise…
Finally, the storm had passed and the sun was out. We went to the port and rode our boat, ready for another adventure!
Our first stop was Paradise Beach in Cadlao Island. By its name, you already know what’s waiting: pristine white sand and crystal-clear water with varying hues of blue. It’s truly a paradise.
Seven Commando Beach
Coconuts, cottages, and towering palm trees — Seven Commando Beach is ideal for those who want to spend summer on a tropical island. Since we found shade, we decided to take our buffet lunch here.
Shimitzu Island and Secret Lagoon
Onto water activities, we snorkeled around Shimitzu Island. After that, we entered Secret Lagoon through a small gap in between limestone cliffs. Being the clumsy type, I had to keep my phone inside my waterproof bag and give up on taking photos, lest I let my phone end up at sea.
The day was about to end and we capped off our tour in Big Lagoon, where tourists are encouraged to ride a kayak for PhP 300 (US$ 5) just so they can visit the attraction. The kayak is good for two people, but I had no one to share it with. 👀
Home to beautiful sunsets
We arrived back at the town proper during sunset. Since El Nido is situated on the northwestern tip of Palawan facing Bacuit Bay, it’s always a good place to watch fiery sunsets.
An adventure worth every penny
I’ve always taken pride in planning my own itinerary. Given that I only had a short time to explore El Nido, I booked an accredited travel organizer instead to handle everything — from van transfers, to finding accommodations, and preparing permits and island tours.
All I had to do was make the most of my trip and capture memories with the LG V40 ThinQ. I definitely had fun playing with its ultra-wide-angle camera and taking photos of the most beautiful islands in the world.
And yet, no photos could do justice to El Nido’s beauty.
24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
24 Hours in Koh Samui with the GoPro Hero 7
Thailand’s second-largest island is to die for!
Having been to Thailand on multiple occasions, I always thought I knew everything that the country had to offer — but that was until I met Koh Samui.
As Thailand’s second-largest island (right after the popular Phuket), it’s home to gorgeous beaches, lovely temples, and some of the most attractive resorts and spas this side of the coast.
My stay didn’t last long enough to cover all there is to see in Koh Samui, but I did get to take part in the more adventurous aspect of island — making the choice of using a GoPro Hero 7 to document the trip all the more fitting!
A selfie right in front of the beach is in order! My group’s very first activity was snorkeling south of Koh Samui. Boats are easy enough to rent from here, the size of which depends on how large your group is.
If you’re in a rush to enter the ocean, you’re better off going for a speed boat like this. At a speed of about 50 knots (or 92kph!), you’re sure to soak up lots of sea breeze — which I wholeheartedly appreciated. 👌
Near the coast of Tean Island, we snorkeled through reefs which weren’t that deep or had dangerous corals. I’d say it’s very beginner-friendly, especially for those who can’t swim that well or fear the deep blue sea, but want to see colorful fish in their natural habitat.
Since the sun was still high and we didn’t want to turn into fried seafood ourselves, we took shelter in a nearby island called Koh Mat Sum. It’s tiny in comparison to neighboring islands, and it’s inhabited by…
… these adorable pigs! Yes, the island is filled with them, and I saw more piggies than I did other animals. Not that I mind, but I wonder what their purpose is. 🐖👀
Koh Mat Sum is also home to well-formed sand bars with some of clearest, bluest water I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see such pristine beaches even in tourist hotspots — I can’t say the same for some islands I’ve been to in other countries. Please pick up your trash, folks!
I had to prove my existence on this splendid island, so I took a photo using the Hero 7’s ten-second timer. Not-so-fun fact: This is the brand’s first action camera to have the feature! Why did this take so long, GoPro?!
All good things to come to an end, but they also lead to more fun activities, like this off-road ATV adventure I was about to go on after riding these pickup trucks. Back in Koh Samui, the dense forests are home to not only unspoiled wildlife and lots of fruit, but tracks perfect for driving through, as well.
Out ATVs were provided by the fine people of Samui Quad Motor, which provides vehicles of all colors and sizes, depending on what you need most. I obviously went for the larger model, and I’m glad I did, because the river parts needed more ground clearance to get through.
Because we had a lot of beginners in the group — myself included — we took a lot of breaks in between to let everyone catch up and brace ourselves for each leg of the trail. Having completed the most difficult part (check out that river behind me), I had to take another selfie because reasons. 🤳
The entire day was admittedly tiring and not what I’m used to — I’m just a work-at-home editor, after all — so getting back to our resort was a godsend. The Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa is a spectacular place to stay in, albeit a little pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for.
I had this little balcony outside of my room with space for two. Since I was alone, I used this outdoor spot to air-dry my clothes from the day’s escapades. But I still wish I had someone to share this with. 💔
Blue Leaf is one of the restaurants found within the resort. It’s the place to be in when you want a quick order of Pad Thai, spring rolls, fresh fruit, or Pad Thai — it’s so good it has to be mentioned twice!
Walking past the restaurant, you’ll find this vast pool facing the ocean. There are rarely any people here, because the beach right in front of it is what everyone actually wants to experience. Wait for it…
Here they are! This area is certainly the most Instagrammable part of the whole resort. This alone is worth the price of admission! So what exactly were these two models seeing in the background? Check this…
One of Koh Samui’s famous sunsets! I’ve seen tons of memorable sunsets all my life, but this definitely ranks high on my personal list. The way the light bounces off the rocks and glistens on the ocean is like no other. Makes me wish there were more than one sunset per day. 🤷♂️
It gets better, though. Find a good spot before night falls on the island, because the sky’s twilight is equally Instagram-worthy.
And here it is! I love how the water is shallow enough to walk on for long distances; gives the picture an even more surreal look. Blue on blue is something you rarely see unless you find a spot as serene as this.
But the night had just begun, and we found our way to a nearby night market. Like Bangkok and other cities in Thailand, Koh Samui hosts several of these with food and drinks at every corner. The one we went to was along Bophut Beach, which is on the northern tip of the island.
Dinner is… about to be served! We ate at Krua Bophut, which is — you guessed it — a Thai restaurant. I certainly didn’t mind since I have my fair share of Thai cuisine even when I’m not in their country. Actually, I’m craving some right now…
Like any trip, leaving is the hardest part. Fortunately, Koh Samui makes it a little less painful. This is the island’s sole airport, and it’s designed like an outdoor mall! Not once did I feel like I was at an actual airport. But alas, it was time to go home.
Koh Samui, despite its relatively small size, needs at least a week to truly appreciate. There are temples to be visited, more beaches to swim in, and lots more food to taste. This may be only the second-biggest island of Thailand, but it’s definitely number one in quality for me.
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