Smartphone cameras especially on flagship models have been getting better each year. It has reached the point that many of us have ditched our point and shoot cameras. As good as they are Smartphone cameras aren’t perfect fo there have been attempts to creat attachments that try to deliver DSLR-like qualities to smartphone cameras – things like wide angle lens attachments, and those dedicated lens modules from Sony that connect via Wi-Fi Direct. The problem with many of these gadgets is that they don’t necessarily attach seamlessly.
Lenovo’s brilliantly executed Moto Mods seems to offer a better answer. So they have teamed up with Hasselblad to create the True Zoom Mod that adds a 10x optical zoom range for any of Lenovo’s Moto Z line of smartphones. The 145 gram Mod offers the following specs:
- 12MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor with 1.55 um pixel size
- 25-250mm equivalent 10x zoom lens
- F3.5-6.5 aperture
- ISO 100 to 3200
- 1080p video
- 2 built-in microphones
- Physical two-stage shutter button and zoom lever
- Xenon flash
The True Zoom easily snaps on to the back of the Moto Z or Moto Z Play and because like all Moto Mods it is hot-swappable and does not require rebooting the phone or fidling with settings. Once the True Zoom snaps into place, the phone beeps and shivers a bit signifying it is ready to go. Motorola’s camera app includes a few options specific to the True Zoom, such as special modes for sports, portraits, and landscape shots, but the camera will also work with third-party apps too just like the phone’s integrated camera.
Now Hasselblad is famous for its high-quality medium-format cameras. When NASA astronauts took cameras into space on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, they were Hasselblads. That was after John Glenn started it all with an Ansco Autoset that he bought at a local drugstore just before the launch of Friendship 7.
Once snapped on to the camera this Hasselblad looks and feels like a point and shoot. The soft rubberized grip feels nice and stable in the hand and the gold two stage exposure button is nicely placed as is the zoom switch which by the way is a bit touchy. A slightly slower and smoother zoom would be nice.
For starters the sensor isn’t really any better than the ones you will find in top of the line smnartphones. The big advantage over the Moto Z’s built-in camera is a 10x optical zoom design. The lens covers about a 25-250mm (full-frame equivalent) field of view, with a variable f/3.5-5.6 aperture. The real advantage here is the zoom, as the camera suffers in low light at its widest angle. The f/3.5 lens captures about a quarter of the light as the f/2 lens used by Moto Z phones at the equivalent wide-angle field of view. If you’re in dim light and need to shoot at ISO 400 with the Moto Z camera, the Hasselblad will need to be pushed to close to ISO 1600 to make the same exposure, given an identical shutter speed. However under decent lighting conditions you can get some pretty nice pictures not possible with a smartphone camera. Take a look at this video I shot handheld at full 10x zoom on a dreary, rainy day and a still from the same location.
The True Zoom has a dedicated flash, about as powerful as you get with a standard point-and-shoot camera—in other words, brighter and with longer reach than the LED flashes used by smartphones. Take a look at this picture shot from 5 meters away in a completely dark room. The orange focus assist LED really helped here.
Conclusion & Recommendations
Botttom line this is a niche camera…if you must have a 10x optical zoom that takes pretty good pictures under good lighting conditions or a flash that will allow for good pictures up to 10 meters away and you have $349 to spare then the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod is for you. I would like to see a faster lens and a much better sensor before I could be tempted to fork over that kind of money.
The Moto Mod Hasselblad True Zoom is available at TELUS.