There has long been talk of a Hasselblad Moto Mod camera module appearing for the Moto Z to transform it into a “proper” camera. And now it, under the True Zoom moniker, is finally here.
At Lenovo’s IFA press conference in Berlin we got to sample the new 10x optical zoom unit, as magnetically clipped onto the brand new Moto Z Play phone, to get a feel as to whether Motorola and Hasselblad have finally cracked the modular phone approach.
Co-designed by Hasselblad and Motorola, the True Zoom is engineered by Motorola rather than the prestigious Swedish camera maker. That can be felt when picking it up: it’s ultra-lightweight, which is great for the sake of portability, but doesn’t exactly ring true to Hasselblad’s typically metal make-up. It might look the part on the outside, but it’s something of a facade – a convincing one, though, with the Hasselblad logo and colour choices representing the company’s cameras well.
However, that weight issue doesn’t matter once the True Zoom is clipped onto a phone, which brings with it an inherent mass and makes the overall device easier to use. It’s super simple to magnetically clip on, open the default camera app and get shooting.
The True Zoom has a zoom toggle to its top, which is ideally positioned to zoom between the available focal ranges. There’s no battery inside, but a separate on/off switch can be used to deactivate the zoom lens – which physically protrudes from the device when in use.
The True Zoom’s lens begins at a 25mm equivalent, stretching through to a 250mm equivalent at its maximum. It travels well, but as the lens is quite dark – the aperture begins at a paltry f/3.5 and drops to f/6.5 at the 250mm equivalent – the autofocus isn’t especially proficient in low-light conditions. That’s an inevitable problem when dealing with little light entering the camera unit. We’re wondering why Hasselblad didn’t push for a wider aperture with less zoom, really, to deliver a more premium experience.
In terms of sensor, the 12-megapixel unit on board offers 1.5-micron pixel size, which ought to mean better overall image quality. On the front the scribed 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) means a crop factor of around 5.5x, which defines the sensor size as around 1/2.3in size – or the same as that you’ll find in many compact cameras.
As is stands the True Zoom transforms the Moto Z into a good-enough travel zoom equivalent, for the sake of £199. To our minds, though, we think Hasselblad has the opportunity to force its premium hand and opt for a larger sensor, wider aperture range and create something truly formidable.
As is stands we’ve seen few better easy-to-use camera add-ons – think DxO One for the iPhone, or the camera module for the LG G5 – so this first attempt is fun, and certainly ergonomically sound in use, but hopefully paves the way for a higher-spec follow-up.