• Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod: Our Review

    I just checked out Motorolaís JBL Soundboost speaker, and Easy Share Projector Moto Mods for their Z series phones. Next up is their camera accessory; the Hasselblad True Zoom.

    Hasselblad is known for their professional grade medium format cameras. So what is their logo doing on this decided un-professional looking camera? Did they really help Motorola develop a camera accessory or did they just have a bunch of extra Hasselblad stickers laying around?
    The Camera:

    Like other Moto Mods, the camera mates to the Moto Z via pogo plugs located on the back. There are magnets that hold it in place which are strong enough to hold it very securely.

    In front is a 10x optical zoom lens with an aperture of f/3.5 at the widest setting and f/6.5 when fully zoomed in. Iím told inside is a 1/2.33Ē imaging sensor - the same size as the sensor youíd find in a HTC 10/Nexus 6P/Sony Xperia Z2, 3, 4, 5 and Google Pixel.

    It sticks out when you turn it out and when you operate the zoom.

    Thereís a focus light to the left and a relatively large Xenon flash to the right.

    On top is a zoom lever with a shutter button on top along with a power button. You can press the power button to quickly turn the camera on whether the phone is locked or not.

    Interestingly, the markings in front of the camera donít indicate optical image stabilization but sometimes it feels like it actually has this feature.

    Thereís a slight camera grip which makes it a little easier to hold, which is important when youíre using the zoom feature to get closer. The grip is covered with an interesting texture.

    The accessory itself is very thin so you canít rest the camera like you would a regular one. Itís sloped at the bottom so thereís no easy way to put it down unless you leave it face down. This is one of the worst things about it.

    Itís missing a slot for a lanyard so you canít use it with a wrist strap.

    Since the bottom is sloped it also lacks a tripod mount though I guess you could always use a selfie-style clamp if you needed to use it with a tripod.

    Thereís no built-in battery and relies on the phone thatís attached to it for power. What this means is youíll have to remember to turn it off before you remove it from the Z. If you take it off before turning it off the lens wonít be able to retract.

    It doesnít seem to use any more power than the Zís built-in camera. That said all bets are off if you use the built-in flash constantly.

    Included in the box is Hasselblad semi-hard case with a flap that closes magnetically. It has a built-in wrist strap.

    While the case is nice, the flatness of the Hassy makes it a little difficult to remove from the case.


    The software isnít all that different from the regular Motorola software. In the past I wasnít a fan of Motorolaís camera software but now that you can choose to have a dedicated camera button I rather like it. My only other complaint is the mode button you have to press to switch between still photo and video modes. It should have dedicated photo and video buttons on the same screen or be more apparent like on an iPhone.

    Otherwise, itís simple and intuitive to use.

    In terms of Hasselblad-ness, the camera software includes a Hasselblad logo which allows you to switch between JPEG, black and white and RAW+JPEG modes.

    It also has scene settings:

    • Sports
    • Night portrait
    • backlit portrait
    • night landscape
    • Landscape

    I wonder if Hasselbladís Medium format cameras also include these scene settings.

    Pressing the mode button can also activate the manual mode which allows you to make the following adjustments:

    • Focusing (including macro mode)
    • White balance settings
    • Shutter speed
    • ISO (100-3200)
    • Exposure

    In terms of software itís all pretty standard stuff for an Android flagship. The only feature that is missing is a 4K video mode. The Moto Z I have attached to it has this feature but the Hassy doesnít so youíll have to pop it off if you want to take 4K video though youíll lose the optical zoom.

    Behind the Lens:

    Letís talk image quality; the sensor measures 1/2.33Ē. Youíll find this sized sensor on a lot of entry level point and shoot type digital cameras. Youíll also find sensors of this size on a few Sony models as well as the Nexus 6P and HTC 10.

    The resolution is 12 megapixels which makes me wonder if itís the Sony IMX377 sensor youíll find on the Nexus and HTC 10 or the IMX378 in the Google Pixel or if itís something else entirely.

    Anyways, a Ĺ.33Ē sensor has 1.55um sized photosites which are substantially larger than the 1.14um ones youíll find on the Moto Z itself (and iPhone 7). If you do the math the 1.55um photosites have almost double the light capturing surface area!

    That said, the 10x optical zoom lens aperture starts at a pretty modest f/3.5 at the widest setting and goes down to a pretty dim f/6.5 at telephoto. Most flagships have aperture of around f/2.0 or wider. The smaller the f/ number the bigger the opening; Hence, a high f/ number means the opening is smaller which means less light is getting in.

    I donít know how to do the F Stop math but at the widest setting, the f/3.5 aperture negates some of the large-ish sensorís light capturing performance. At full telephoto, f/6.5 means youíll need plenty of light if you plan on using it indoors.


    Please note that Iím leaving the camera in default mode and viewing JPEGís. While the camera has a manual mode and RAW capabilities, Iím guessing most people arenít going to bother with the hassle of them.

    First off, I checked out the low light performance. It tends to underexpose slightly in low light but the colour is more accurate than the Zís camera. At a glance it looks like it has more noise but actually the Z has a more aggressive noise reduction.

    Despite the larger sensor it is hamstrung by its slower lens so the net effect is that itís not much better than Moto Z.

    Actually, the True Zoom trails phones like the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7 in the low-light department which was a mild surprise

    As far as outdoors goes the Hasselblad tends to expose more accurately than the Moto Z with slightly better dynamic range. It tends to oversaturate yellows a tiny bit with slightly warmer colour.

    The Galaxy S7 on default tends to capture the most detail (by far). That said it tends to have slightly obnoxious greens so grass tends to glow. It also tends to over sharpen so things can look a little distracting up close.

    The iPhone 7 Plus tends to have the most accurate colour of the 4.

    Focusing speeds feel a bit leisurely at times. I wouldnít go as far as to say it slow but sometimes Iím used to something faster. Shot-to-shot times are respectable.

    It turns on quickly and thatís taking into account the time it takes for the lens to pop out.

    Should you buy this?

    The Hasselblad only has marginally better image quality than the 13 megapixel camera built-into the Z and indeed, it lags behind some of the cameras youíll find in other flagships

    zoomed out

    Really, the reason to buy it is for the 10x optical zoom.

    zoomed in

    Iíve gradually all but stopped using my dedicated cameras over the past couple of years so Iíve learned to deal with the limitations of a fixed focal length. However, an optical zoom adds a bit of versatility that Iíve missed.

    Since itís a pretty long zoom you can get pretty close without having to physically get really close. However, the small aperture at telephoto limits when and where you can use it.

    The built-in flash is a quite powerful and itís located a bit further away from the lens than most phones. This means it wonít flatten out your subject as much so itís usable in a pinch. Itís been awhile since Iíve used one, but the flash recycle speed feels about the same as youíd expect from a point and shoot - so it can take a while.

    Of course you also have to take into consideration that the True Zoom only works with Motorola Moto Z series phones. To Motorolaís credit they released 3 compatible phones in a very short amount of time. Consumers are also comfortable with 5.5Ē phones so itís not like phone form factor are going to change drastically in the near future.

    Then again, what if bezelless phones become all the rage and Motorola is forced to start making smaller Z series phones which are not compatible. What if the Z series in general doesn't sell well and Motorola rethinks it?

    Thereís also the matter of how youíre going to carry it around. While I left the JBL Soundboost speaker attached to the Z when I tested it, the front of the True Zoom is not flat so itís not something you really want to slip in your back pocket.

    So youíll have to deal with the inconvenience of having to pop it on each time you want to use it and then take it off. I was at a park when I spotted an interesting looking bird. By the time I got the True Zoom out of its case and attached to the zoom the bird was gone.

    In that sense, a dedicated point and shoot camera might be less of a hassle. Then again chances are your point and shoot isnít going to have a 5.5Ē display with a Snapdragon 820SoC, 4GB of RAM and LTE.

    Then thereís the price; at $349 CAN itís not cheap and hereís the problem; the Hasselblad logo on it practically demands that Motorola charge a premium for it. I mean if it just had a Motorola logo on it how much would it cost? How much extra are you paying for the Hasselblad logo on it?

    Despite the Hasselblad logo, youíre not getting a camera that takes better looking photos that other flagships.


    While the Hasselblad logo on the front may distract you, the real reason to buy the True Zoom is if you want the versatility of an 10x optical zoom. Ironically, zoom lenses are not what Hasselblad is known for. To a lesser extent youíd also buy it if you need a flash which you can actually use.

    The downsides include image quality which is worse than some flagships and a price tag that is higher than a point and shoot digital camera with similar specs. Thereís also the fact that itís an accessory that only works on a small selection of phones which may or may not be around for a long time.

    Itís also going to require some thought as to how youíre going to carry it around as the shape of the front of the camera is more conducive to taking pictures than slipping into your pocket.

    To me, while the JBL Soundboost Speaker makes perfect sense for the Moto Z, the Hasselblad True Zoom is a harder sell.

    It's available at TBooth, TELUS, and WirelessWave in Canada.


    • 10x Optical Zoom
    • Dedicated zoom and shutter buttons
    • Grip makes the camera easier to hold
    • ďRealĒ Xenon flash


    • Middling image quality
    • No 4K video mode
    • Pricey
    • Inconvenient to carry around
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod: Our Review started by howard View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. makuribu's Avatar
      makuribu -
      Wow, Hasselblad made a huge mistake putting their name on this trinket.
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