The ZenFone 5z has a dual camera system on the back that consists of a 12MP primary camera with 24mm equivalent lens and an 8MP secondary camera with 12mm equivalent wide-angle lens. On the front is an 8MP sensor with f2.0 aperture.
The camera app is generally well designed and easy to use, but some of the buttons can be a bit too small and fiddly. In terms of features, the Camera app is surprisingly on the more conservative side compared to some of the other phone camera apps out there, sticking to the important and useful stuff rather than the gimmicks.
The image quality from the 12MP primary camera is decent but also somewhat unremarkable. The colors are generally accurate but the white balance tends to be a touch cooler at times. The contrast also tends to be a bit flat. The level of detail in the images is also on the lower side, a byproduct of the aggressive noise reduction.
What is especially poor is the dynamic range, which really struggles in high contrast situations. It tends to preserve highlights at the cost of shadows, which are often darker than on competing devices. The HDR mode helps tremendously and is required more often on this phone than on others.
Low light performance is respectable, if not exemplary. The images are still a bit soft but the colors are good, and the images are well exposed.
Comparing the performance of the main 12MP camera to some of its rivals further illustrates ZenFone 5z's weakness in this department. Compared to the Poco F1, OnePlus 6 and the Huawei Nova 3, the ZenFone 5z images were the softest of the bunch, had the dullest contrast and the narrowest dynamic range. Even the cheaper Poco F1 often bested the 5z with better overall image quality. The OnePlus 6 was the best of the bunch here while the Nova 3 had the usual Huawei over-processed images that occasionally looked worse than the ZenFone 5z images.
But the ace in the pack for the ZenFone 5z is the secondary camera. Unlike all the other phones here, the ZenFone 5z has a wide-angle secondary camera, which offers a completely different perspective and is significantly more useful than the depth sensors on the Poco F1 and the OnePlus 6 or the monochrome camera on the Nova 3. Image quality, admittedly, is weak, with even softer images, more noise, and significantly worse dynamic range. However, it's still a great option to have and can result in some fantastic shots depending upon the situation.
In terms of video quality, the main 12MP sensor can capture video at up to 4K at 60fps without EIS or at 30fps with EIS. Both 30fps and 60fps videos looked quite good, with the 60fps offering a wider field of view at the cost of increased shakiness. The 60fps videos were a bit choppy, however, and we noticed some stuttering during playback.
The 8MP wide-angle camera can record videos in 1080p at 30fps. Unfortunately, the EIS crops the video significantly, at which point it doesn't look especially wide. The quality also isn't very good, and the videos look soft and noisy.