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Preview: Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5

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We'll start off by saying "Wow". Motorola showed us 16 x 20 enlargements made from images taken with the ZN5. The pictures looked frickin' amazing. The color was excellent, the light balance and exposure were top notch, and focus was crystal clear.


The camera is positioned on the back of the phone and has a lens cover. Sliding open the cover (or holding down the camera button) starts the camera, which must be held horizontally for picture taking. The camera launches in about 2.5 seconds, which is reasonably fast for a cameraphone. It isn't the fastest, but it certainly isn't the slowest, either.

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With the camera open, some secondary buttons appear on the keypad. They are camera-specific, and include a trash can for deleting pictures instantly, as well as a dedicated sharing button. These buttons are illuminated purple, and match the purple camera menus and camera button on the side of the phone.

The menu system for the camera is contained in a little circular button on the screen that corresponds to the D-pad. Hitting up or down on the D-pad cycles through the vast selection of menu items. Pressing left or right on the D-pad cycles through the options in each of the menus as you cycle through them. Now, not all of the ZN5's camera functions are available in this little menu. Only the most important ones: Flash, resolution, shooting mode, and one or two others. The bulk of the phone's configurable options are found in a more standard options menu. What's important here is that the options you use the most are only one or two clicks away, and can be changed almost instantly. You don't have to dig through menu after menu and screen after screen to find them.

Motorola developed this software with Kodak, which happens to know a thing or two about cameras. That means there is some powerful image-processing going on in the background as you frame and take your pictures. For example, Kodak's Perfect Touch software is on board. If you take an image that happens to have less than perfect exposure, using Perfect Touch automatically brightens the image, highlights details in the shadows and drastically improves balance and color. There are also advanced editing features built into the phone that allow you to make any number of adjustments to your images before you send them to friends or family, or a photo sharing service via the Easy Share software.

The camera itself is 5 megapixels. It has a full flash, which results in much better pictures taken in low-light settings. On top of that, the camera has been optimized for taking pictures in low-light settings to begin with. Kodak said that 70% of all pictures are taken indoors, so it made sure to include this low-light sensitivity. Pressing the shutter button halfway will focus the image in less than 1 second. Compared to many other camera phones that have auto-focus, this is pretty fast. You can, however, override the auto-focus and just press down all the way on the shutter button to capture an image faster. What this does is set aside the auto-focus and sets the camera to a standard 6 feet to infinity focus mode.

Another exciting feature is a completely fool-proof panorama mode. Using the panorama feature, the ZN5 lets you paste together three images to give you a super wide-angle shot. Based on the unscientific experiment we conducted, it can show an scene that is approximately 270 degrees wide. The software on the camera then auto-stitches the images together to produce one final image. It works great and is super easy.

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