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Thread: Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod: Our Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod: Our Review

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    I just checked out Motorola’s 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:

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    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.

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    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. I’m told inside is a 1/2.33” imaging sensor - the same size as the sensor you’d find in a HTC 10/Nexus 6P/Sony Xperia Z2, 3, 4, 5 and Google Pixel.

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

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    There’s a focus light to the left and a relatively large Xenon flash to the right.

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    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 don’t indicate optical image stabilization but sometimes it feels like it actually has this feature.

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

    The accessory itself is very thin so you can’t rest the camera like you would a regular one. It’s sloped at the bottom so there’s no easy way to put it down unless you leave it face down. This is one of the worst things about it.

    It’s missing a slot for a lanyard so you can’t 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.

    There’s no built-in battery and relies on the phone that’s attached to it for power. What this means is you’ll 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 won’t be able to retract.

    It doesn’t seem to use any more power than the Z’s built-in camera. That said all bets are off if you use the built-in flash constantly.

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

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


    The software isn’t all that different from the regular Motorola software. In the past I wasn’t a fan of Motorola’s 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, it’s simple and intuitive to use.

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    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 Hasselblad’s 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 it’s 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 doesn’t so you’ll have to pop it off if you want to take 4K video though you’ll lose the optical zoom.

    Behind the Lens:

    Let’s talk image quality; the sensor measures 1/2.33”. You’ll find this sized sensor on a lot of entry level point and shoot type digital cameras. You’ll 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 it’s the Sony IMX377 sensor you’ll find on the Nexus and HTC 10 or the IMX378 in the Google Pixel or if it’s something else entirely.

    Anyways, a ˝.33” sensor has 1.55um sized photosites which are substantially larger than the 1.14um ones you’ll 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 don’t know how to do the F Stop math but at the widest setting, the f/3.5 aperture negates some of the large-ish sensor’s light capturing performance. At full telephoto, f/6.5 means you’ll need plenty of light if you plan on using it indoors.


    Please note that I’m leaving the camera in default mode and viewing JPEG’s. While the camera has a manual mode and RAW capabilities, I’m guessing most people aren’t 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 Z’s 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 it’s 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 wouldn’t go as far as to say it slow but sometimes I’m used to something faster. Shot-to-shot times are respectable.

    It turns on quickly and that’s 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 you’ll find in other flagships

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    zoomed out

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

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    zoomed in

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

    Since it’s 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 it’s located a bit further away from the lens than most phones. This means it won’t flatten out your subject as much so it’s usable in a pinch. It’s been awhile since I’ve used one, but the flash recycle speed feels about the same as you’d 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 Motorola’s credit they released 3 compatible phones in a very short amount of time. Consumers are also comfortable with 5.5” phones so it’s 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?

    There’s also the matter of how you’re 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 it’s not something you really want to slip in your back pocket.

    So you’ll 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 isn’t going to have a 5.5” display with a Snapdragon 820SoC, 4GB of RAM and LTE.

    Then there’s the price; at $349 CAN it’s not cheap and here’s 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, you’re not getting a camera that takes better looking photos that other flagships.


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    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 you’d also buy it if you need a flash which you can actually use.

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    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. There’s also the fact that it’s an accessory that only works on a small selection of phones which may or may not be around for a long time.

    It’s also going to require some thought as to how you’re 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
    • “Real” Xenon flash


    • Middling image quality
    • No 4K video mode
    • Pricey
    • Inconvenient to carry around

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Huawei GR5
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    Wow, Hasselblad made a huge mistake putting their name on this trinket.

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