Camera Shootouts

OnePlus 3T vs ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom: Camera Shootout

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Here’s a matchup you probably weren’t expecting, but both have something to prove in terms of camera quality.

In the orange corner, the OnePlus 3T is our bang-for-buck choice when it comes to well-rounded phones, owning a premium build to house its high-end specs and competitive cameras.

In the blue corner, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is ASUS’ most camera-centric smartphone to date, with a pair of lenses at the back offering optical zoom and advanced autofocusing.

The two phones also happen to be similarly priced at little over or under $450, which brings us to the question: Which of these two upper-midrangers takes better photos of your cocktails and face? Let’s find out.

Like in our past shootouts, everything it taken with Auto settings turned on in each phone’s default camera app to simulate a typical point-and-shoot scenario. No edits or filters were added, including HDR or flash unless otherwise specified.

We’re starting things off with plain architecture surrounded by bright colors. At first glance, you can barely tell the difference here; upon closer inspection, the ZenFone 3 Zoom has more saturated greens while the OnePlus 3T has stronger reds, and they render the blue sky in the same way. Both did a great job maintaining the range from highlights to shadows.

How I wish I could be this guy right now. The OnePlus 3T clearly has a warmer tone to it, while the ZenFone 3 Zoom goes for a more color-accurate look at the expense of losing some sharpness in the grass. Close call, but I’d give this round to ASUS.

In this situation, the flowers were moving because of the wind, making this a test of both autofocusing and macro abilities. The OnePlus 3T’s photo came out a little more detailed, but the ZenFone entry did the colors and exposure more justice. I do have to emphasize, however, that the ASUS phone had a tougher time locking on to the erratic subject.

This is another case where the ZenFone 3 Zoom produced brighter colors in its output, and we like it. The OnePlus 3T’s presentation of Michael Josh came out too bland, and lost the pretty colors we were hoping to get with the artwork behind him.

Here’s a tough situation wherein both detail rendering and dynamic range are tested. Upon closer inspection, you can see the OnePlus 3T did a better overall job, making sure every single line of the structure is visible and the sky doesn’t get blown out.

Before we get into nighttime scenes, it’s important to take a selfie while the sun is still at its best. We have a strong case where taste is a deciding factor: The OnePlus 3T is much better at blurring out the background and placing all focus on the subject, while the ZenFone 3 Zoom once again does skin tone better but doesn’t add any depth to the portrait.

Here comes the cocktail I mentioned earlier! The ASUS contender begins showing signs of weakness by having a tough time rendering details on the glass while also keeping the room well lit. The OnePlus 3T didn’t do much better, although you can at least see the elements in the drink better thanks to greater exposure.

Our ZenFone 3 Zoom relied on a slower shutter speed to let as much light in as possible, but the spinning disco ball and white balance suffered in the process. Everything looks much more accurate in the other entry, from the colors of the ceiling to the details on the wall art.

Although the white balance is a lot more pleasant with the OnePlus 3T, there’s too much noticeable noise in the background to call this a runaway win. The ZenFone 3 Zoom has more aggressive noise control, but makes lots of elements look mushy at the same time.

We admittedly looked for a really challenging spot to take these nighttime selfies. Like the self portraits earlier, the OnePlus 3T does a fantastic job blurring out the background and placing the highlight on the face. On default settings, our ASUS photo attempted to recreate a more flattering shot but lost the focus we were after.

Finally, we check out how each phone handles a complicated scene with minimal light. Looking at the tree in the foreground and building in the background, this round goes to the OnePlus 3T for better detail retention and light control. However, we have to commend the ZenFone 3 Zoom for making the artsy drawing look good with so little light.

And there you have it! Though it seemed like we were in for a tight race at first, each phone’s specialties became clearer as we compared each photo.

If you’re into vivid colors and a strong daytime game, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is for you. In addition, this ASUS handset has the ability to optically zoom up to 2.3x without noticeable quality loss, which would help in instances wherein walking closer to a target isn’t an option.

Otherwise, the OnePlus 3T has a distinct advantage when it comes to locking on to moving subjects and handling areas with difficult lighting. We’d also prefer taking selfies with this phone, since it makes us look better no matter where or what time of the day we pose.

Agree or disagree with our evaluation? Drop us a comment below and let your opinions be heard (or read, in this case).

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: Camera Shootout

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei Mate 50 Pro vs HONOR Magic4 Pro: Camera Shootout

Camera battle between two companies that used to be together

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Huawei HONOR

In case you didn’t know, HONOR used to be Huawei’s sub-brand — until they decided to part ways. While still using Huawei’s EMUI software (but calling it Magic UI), HONOR is now operating as a separate entity.

But what actually makes the HONOR Magic4 Pro different from Huawei’s reborn flagship, the Mate 50 Pro?

Well, aside from the obvious Magic vs Mate branding, Huawei has its own “Ultra Aperture” camera. Coined from the term itself, it features a dual-variable aperture versus the Magic4 Pro’s fixed f/1.8 lens opening.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro HONOR Magic4 Pro
Wide 50MP f/1.4-4.0
PDAF + Laser AF + OIS
50MP f/1.8
Multi-Directional PDAF + Laser AF
Ultra-Wide 13MP f/2.2 120º 50MP f/2.2 122º
Telephoto 64MP f/3.5
3.5x optical zoom
100x digital zoom
OIS
64MP f/3.5
3.5x optical zoom
100x digital zoom
OIS
Selfie 13MP f/2.4 + ToF 3D Depth 12MP f/2.4 + ToF 3D Depth

It also looks like the megapixel count is smaller on the ultra-wide unit of the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. Aside from that, the periscope telephoto lens and selfie cameras of the two phones are very much alike.

Now that you get a clear picture between the similarities and differences of each phone’s camera system, let’s get on to our camera shootout!

Wide

As previously mentioned, the Mate 50 Pro features a dual-variable aperture while the Magic4 Pro is consistent with its aperture offering. But can you really tell which is which considering they both feature a 50MP sensor?

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5 (Portrait)

Huawei HONOR

#6

Huawei HONOR

#7

#8

Ultra-Wide

For shots that require a wider Field of View (FoV), which do you think wins this round considering that the Magic4 Pro features a 50MP ultra-wide shooter while the Mate 50 Pro has a measly 12MP UWA shooter? (Despite the same f/2.2 aperture)

#9

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#10

#11

Huawei HONOR

Periscope Telephoto: Optical Zoom

Both the Mate and the Magic have a similar 64MP f/3.5 lens that has an optical zoom range of 3.5x. But of course, there would still be a difference in post-processing AI algorithm.

#12

#13

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#14

 #15

#16

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

Periscope Telephoto: Lossless to Digital Zoom

With a similar periscope lens, both phones can both achieve a 10x lossless zoom and up to 100x digital zoom. But in this specific section, I chose to just zoom up digitally to just 60x.

#17 (10x)

#18 (10x)

#19 (30x)

#20 (60x)

Night Mode

This is what makes or breaks a smartphone camera. With the obvious differences in Night Mode processing magic, one phone definitely stands out. That’s either a matter of personal preference or just fans’ favorites.

#21 (Ultra-wide)

Huawei HONOR

#22

Huawei HONOR

#23

Huawei HONOR

#24

Huawei HONOR

#25

Huawei HONOR

#26 (3.5x zoom)

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#27

#28

Huawei HONOR

#29

Huawei HONOR

#3o

Huawei HONOR

BONUS: Super Macro

Just like other flagship smartphones nowadays, Super Macro is a feature that uses the ultra-wide lenses instead of the regular wide one in order to take close-up macro shots of objects. Doing so requires you to go closer to the subject you are shooting.

Huawei HONOR

Results

You may already have a hint considering the results are consistent throughout the board:

Photo A — HONOR Magic4 Pro

Photo B — Huawei Mate 50 Pro

Conclusion

What should set both phones apart are the way they process each shot — but Huawei and HONOR’s similar AI camera processing techniques are what actually makes it hard to differentiate one phone from another.

Huawei HONOR

For the most part, you can barely tell which is which. Shots taken during the broad daylight looked barely different regardless if its the regular wide, ultra-wide, or even the periscope telephoto lens.

Huawei HONOR

But in some instances, the HONOR Magic4 Pro boosts saturation while the Huawei Mate 50 Pro samples focuses on brightening up the shots. However, its dual-variable aperture camera did not really make drastic differences in daylight shots for it to be considered a “groundbreaking” camera feature in today’s flagship smartphones.

HONOR Magic4 Pro

Now when it comes to Night Mode “Magic”, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is the clearer winner — especially with its very wide f/1.4 aperture. As I told in my past camera shootouts, the “better” Night Mode shot isn’t just about being the brightest nor the most vibrant of the bunch.

In the case of the Mate, it displayed the right amount of shadows, highlights, contrast and even the dynamic range. Most of all, its saturation what you can actually see irl.

Honestly speaking, I thought the HONOR Magic4 Pro is one among the best flagship smartphones for night photography. But after seeing how there’s a clear distinction between it and the Huawei Mate 50 Pro, I have reconsidered my opinion.

Huawei HONOR

The less-saturated look of the night shots taken with the HONOR Magic4 Pro is preferential though. Some may still like it because it gives you that flat, RAW-like image. Thus, giving you more creative freedom in post-processing the shot afterwards.

Honestly, you can never go wrong between choosing these smartphones. But the dealbreaker is: can you compromise 5G and proper GMS support over a set of cameras that perform better at night?

SEE ALSO:

 

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Camera Shootouts

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone XS Max: Camera Shootout

Do you really need to upgrade now?

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iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone XS Max was announced way back in 2018. It was the first “Max” model introduced alongside its smaller sibling, the iPhone XS.

Four years later, we now have the iPhone 14 series. Aside from the two base models, there are also the “Pro” variants. Thus, making the iPhone 14 Pro Max as XS Max’s direct successor.

Obviously, the newer iPhone has better cameras across the board — especially with its evident trio set of eye-boggling cameras.

iPhone 14 Pro Max iPhone XS Max
Wide 48MP f/1.8
Sensor-Shift OIS + Dual-Pixel PDAF
12MP f/1.8
OIS + Dual-Pixel PDAF
Ultra-Wide 12MP f/2.2 120º N/A
Telephoto 12MP f/2.8
3x optical zoom
12MP f/2.4
2x optical zoom
Others Dual-LED Dual-Tone Flash
LiDAR Scanner
Up to 4K/60fps
Cinematic Mode 4K
Quad-LED Dual-Tone Flash

Up to 4K/60fps

But is it really time for iPhone XS Max users to upgrade? Or should you wait a little longer for the next best camera(s) in an iPhone?

For fairness’ sake

iPhone 14 Pro Max

I only compared the two iPhones using their respective wide (main) sensor — together with some 2x shots:

  • The gigantic 48MP main sensor on the 14 Pro Max wasn’t maximized; shots were taken via Auto Mode instead of ProRAW
  • 2x digital zoom was used on the 14 Pro Max instead of its dedicated telephoto zoom lens that optically zooms in to 3x
  • Ultra-wide was not used because the XS Max doesn’t have one
  • Night Mode was also turned off as the iPhone XS Max lacks Night Mode capabilities

And unlike our other camera shootouts, the order of these photos are not time-dependent.

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

#14

#15

#16

#17

#18

#19

#20

#21

iPhone 14 Pro Max

#22

#23

iPhone 14 Pro Max

#24

iPhone 14 Pro Max

#25

iPhone 14 Pro Max

#26

#27

iPhone 14 Pro Max

#28

#29

#30

BONUS: Macro Control

Macro mode was introduced in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro series. Instead of using the regular wide lens for taking macro closeups, it utilizes the ultra-wide lens. While most may not notice the split-second camera behavior, your iPhone detects and automatically switches the camera to the ultra-wide lens.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

The same case happens in the iPhone 14 Pro Max. If you don’t toggle the ‘Macro Control’ feature via Settings, you would barely notice that you’re already taking a photo using the ultra-wide lens instead of the regular wide (main) sensor.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

It may not matter to most but the photo sample above just shows how there’s a major difference in focus and depth-of-field. Can you tell which is which?

Results

As obvious as the photos look, here are the results:

A – iPhone 14 Pro Max

B – iPhone XS Max

Conclusion

Even if you’re not leaning towards photography, the iPhone 14 Pro Max displayed better photos. And if I were to be specific, its post-processing techniques have improved over the last four years — be that its contrast, dynamic range, AWB (Auto White Balance), and most of all, sharpness.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

But in some instances like in Photos #2 #4 #11 #16 #18 and #26, the iPhone XS Max doesn’t really lag too far behind. If it weren’t for the obvious (over)sharpening, you wouldn’t totally guess that the iPhone XS Max is the contender.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

For the most part, the iPhone XS Max can still keep up — especially in daylight photos. The iPhone 14 Pro Max barely showed real improvements especially in the last three daylight photos in the set. And as I already mentioned the Macro Control feature earlier, it’s also worth pointing out that unlike past iPhones, the iPhone 14 Pro Max cannot go closer to a subject (for reference, see Photo #9) or else it will force you to switch to Macro Mode / ultra-wide lens usage.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

But for all the obvious reasons, upgrading from the iPhone XS Max to the all-new iPhone 14 Pro Max won’t be a disappointment.

You’ll get an ultra-wide lens and on top of its 2x crop zoom, there’s an extra 3x optical zoom lens if you like taking zoomed shots more. Lastly, even if Night Mode was turned off (and both phones have an identical f/1.8 aperture), low-light samples on the iPhone 14 Pro Max are just ahead of the game compared to its predecessor. Its brighter, has shallower bokeh, and most of all, has plenty of detail thanks to the new chipset, larger image sensor, and better lens optics.

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Camera Shootouts

vivo V25 vs V23 5G: Camera Shootout

Are there even significant improvements?

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vivo V25

It hasn’t even been a year but vivo has already revealed the successor to the V23 5G that was launched earlier this 2022. But is it actually worth upgrading to the new vivo V25? Or should you save yourself some money and buy the older V23 5G instead?

vivo V25

Don’t let that new camera bump with bigger circular cutouts on the vivo V25 fool you. On paper, the cameras are close to one another but the V25 has the advantage of having a slightly wider aperture and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) that the V23 5G doesn’t have.

vivo V25 vivo V23 5G
Wide 64MP f/1.79
PDAF, OIS + EIS
64MP f/1.89
PDAF, EIS
Ultra-WIde 8MP 120º f/2.2
Macro 2MP f/2.4
Selfie 50MP f/2.0 wide

 

50MP f/2.0 wide
8MP f/2.28 ultra-wide
+ Dual-tone Spotlight

The sad news though is that, vivo has decided to remove the extra ultra-wide selfie camera and dual flash system on the new V25.

vivo V23 with the Dual-tone Spotlight Flash feature

But how do these phones perform side-by-side knowing the new V25 also has a slightly less-powerful MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset over V23 5G’s Dimensity 920? Are there enough convincing differences or is the older model actually better? Feed yourself some photo sample comparisons below.

Daylight

In any given circumstance, a valuable Android midranger should take at least a decent photo with natural light around — thus me taking lesser photos to compare.
Still, your judgment matters.

#1A (Ultra-wide)

vivo V25

#1B (Wide)

vivo V25

#2

#3A (Wide)

#3B (Zoom)

Food

Taking food shots (mostly with indoor lighting) is a better way to test which phone camera is capable of producing the better image output with the right amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, temperature, as well as Dynamic Range.

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

*Left photo was taken multiple times with the focus tapped on the baked roll. Lens coating was also cleaned several times but still resulted to the same output.

#12

Night Mode

Low-light photos can either make or break the capabilities of a smartphone’s camera.
While it’s a mixed bag of outputs, it still depends on the user if Night Mode photos are important in a midranger or not.

#13A (Wide)

#13B (Ultra-wide)

#14

#15

#16

#17

#18

vivo V25

#19

vivo V25

#20

vivo V25

BONUS: Low-Light Selfie

For users who love taking selfies even in the dark, both phones can take fill-in flash (using the display) to brighten up your faces.

Without Flash

vivo V25

However, the ultra-wide selfie and Dual-tone Spotlight feature were removed completely from the vivo V25. You just have to guess and pick which is which.

With Flash (Aura Fill, Dual-Tone Dual Spotlight Flash)

vivo V25

Results

No more confusions, the results are consistent all throughout the board:

Photo A — vivo V23 5G

Photo B — vivo V25

Conclusion

vivo V25

While it’s barely a big camera quality improvement, the vivo V25 has rendered some of the scenes quite well such as in Photos 1A, 11, and 12 which the V23 5G failed to display at least an acceptable output. Other times, the vivo V23 5G delivered better results like in Photos 1B, 2, 3A, 4, and 13A. Those images delivered overall better photos with a sufficient amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and AWB (Auto White Balance).

Overall, the V25 produced better images with decent amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness. The newer model also has some slight edge on focusing and making shots brighter and more stable at night.

vivo V25

While only two selfies were provided, the V23 5G obviously has the edge — especially with its extra selfie lens and dual-flash feature.

vivo V25

If you’re coming from the V23 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the vivo V25. Period. But, if you’re looking for a phone to replace your old vivo smartphone (or pretty much any old budget phone or midranger for that matter), buying the V25 won’t hurt.

vivo V25

Unless you’re looking for a used unit, a brand new vivo V23 5G is being sold at PhP 27,999. Whereas, a brand new V25 retails at a cheaper PhP 23,999 price tag.

vivo V25

Imho, choosing the V23 5G over the V25 is advantageous for some reasons: a more premium-looking design with metallic sides, slightly faster chipset, and the extra selfie camera.

vivo V25

But realizing how more capable the cameras of the V25 are, you can also choose it for its bigger battery and brighter display. Also, the OIS feature is very handy if you love taking photos in action or at night or just record stable-free videos without worrying about warping and jitters. At the end of the day, you should know what you value the most in buying a new smartphone.

SEE ALSO:

vivo V25 is a Night Portrait Master

Taking photos to the next level with the vivo V23 5G

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