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Hasselblad reveals a MotoMod that replaces your Moto Z's camera

Written by Chris Velazco

Remember the days before the Moto Z launched, when a mysterious camera MotoMod was leaked along with a handful of other snap-on accessories? Remember when the Z and Z Force launched, and that camera was nowhere in sight? Well, the wait is (almost) over. Motorola just revealed the fruit of its close collaboration with Hasselblad today — the $250/GBP200 True Zoom — and it’s set to launch on September 15th.

Like, say, Sony’s peculiar lens cameras, the True Zoom replaces the 13/16/23-megapixel on the back of whichever Moto Z you happen to own. Instead, you’ll start working with a 1/2.3-inch 12-megapixel with big (think 1.55 micron) pixels and a 10x optical zoom. You’ll probably notice a few things right off the bat. First off, everything’s really well constructed. The mod itself is light, and when it’s strapped to a Moto Z the textured grip is easy to hold on to and the zoom rocker around the shutter button works like a charm. With a big lens housing, a xenon flash and dark trim, the whole thing looks exactly like a pricey point-and-shoot from a distance. More importantly, the True Zoom behaves like one, too.

Gallery: First Look: Hasselblad’s True Zoom Moto Mod | 11 Photos


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Early test JPEG and RAW shots came out remarkably crisp in both bright and low-light conditions, just as you’d expect from a sensor with pixels that big. (Friendly reminder: Fretting about megapixels is almost completely pointless these days.) That crispness persists even when you’re zoomed in all the way, which is frankly incredible. Think about it: The more you zoom, the more the minute motions of your hands get magnified. Lackluster stabilization would make for a Monet-like soft image at best and a hot blurry mess at worst, but the True Zoom does an incredible job of keeping things tight and focused.

You can even reach beyond the limits of lens thanks to an additional 4X digital zoom, but really, you’re better off steering clear. That’s nothing against Hasselblad — digital zoom is just by nature a lousy compromise. (Alas, a pre-release software update basically bricked our True Zoom demo unit so we’ll update this story with sample photos once we get another to play with.)

Frankly, it’s a little strange to see Hasselblad dabbling with smartphone accessories of all things. In case you’re not familiar, the storied Swedish company specializes in expensive medium format cameras — at time of writing, the cheapest new Hasselblad camera on the market will set you back more than $6,000. To hear company spokespeople tell the tale, Hasselblad has been exploring more consumer-friendly options for a while, and Motorola’s high-speed MotoMod connector was intriguing because of how seamlessly it allows third-party hardware to meld with the host device. Speaking of seamless, the True Zoom also plays nice with third-party camera apps, though whether you need them is another story. The stock Moto Camera app has been tricked out with extra scene modes and presets for sports and night photography.

What we have here isn’t Hasselblad at its most ambitious, but Hasselblad at its weirdest, its most experimental. The jury’s still out on whether anyone actually wants (or needs) to carry something like this around, but hey — there’s still something to be said for ambitious, elegant weirdness. Stay tuned for more as we continue our testing.

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About the author

Chris Velazco

13 Comments

  • I agree. This is already quite tempting, but with a 1″ sensor… Anyway, the sensor is still larger than what you’d find on most smartphones. Typically they are 1/4″ or 1/3″, with only a chosen few having 1/2.3″ sensors. Also, the bigger sensors are reserved for ultra high MP counts, so in the end the pixels are still minuscule.

    This camera doesn’t need ultra high resolutions, because you can always use the optical lens to zoom in, instead of using a digital zoom.
    1″ sensors aren’t just bigger, they also require bigger optics. The Nikon 1 system also uses 1″ sensors, and their 10-100mm lens is 2.38 in. (60.5 mm) x 2.77 in. (70.5 mm), with a weight of nearly 300g. Clearly you wouldn’t want to have this thing sticking out of a smartphone. It’d be rather unbalanced and hard to fit in the pocket. I’d be happy with a 3x optical zoom (especially if it starts at a 24mm (equivalent) wide angle, however I guess even that will lead to a huge module.
    Finally you have to keep in mind that in order to keep the lenses compact, you’d sacrificing optical performance and/or light. This module says f3.5-6.5, so even at the widest angle you’d be letting in 2 stops less of light than the better smartphone cameras (and even not so good ones). All the advantage of having a larger sensor may be gone. It’s a problem the Panasonic CM1 also suffered from. Which, incidentally had a 1″ sensor without optical zoom (though the lens would come out of the camera, and it already stuck out quite a bit).
    Still, I like this idea a lot, just wish it was possible to find a decent compromise. Maybe a 1/1.7″ sensor with 12 MP and no optical zoom, or perhaps 2-3x at best.
  • It would have been a great option if it had an 1″ sensor. With 1/2.3″, low light performance will be subpar and the biggest gain from the module is just the optical zoom. Sale for regular 1/2.3″ sensor based cameras has fallen so much, I don’t understand why Hasselblad still went with this sensor size.

  • I can’t help but go ‘meh’
    I think the issue is that the stock moto camera is ‘pretty good’ and this add on looks like “Hasselblad jumping onto the Leica/Zeiss licensing bandwagon”
    Of course this camera is better – and it’s a tempting option – but could frankly have had any brand name stamped on it (or none, and saved a chunk of change).

  • “…you’ll start working with a 1/2.3-inch 18.9-megapixel with big (think 1.55 micron) pixels”

    A 1/2.3-inch sensor with 1.55um pixels has a 12.4MP maximum resolution, not 18.9MP. Where did that 18.9 number come from?
  • And battery. And processors. And everything that isn’t the actual camera itself. Modern phones are obviously very powerful and thus are capable of many processing tricks that DSLRs are not because they lack the raw power of a modern flagship. This article here, however, does not mention if anything like that is done here.

  • If she has a big Canon, yes. Those things are too big and heavy to carry along all the time. If she has a Panasonic, Olympus, or perhaps Pentax, then no, don’t bother. They are compact and light enough as an everyday camera.

    I’m joking of course… a bit. But seriously. If she wants a decent camera she always has with her, and she does not always carry her big camera, then yup, this is worth considering. Along with a number of dedicated cameras which can’t make phone calls, but are even better as a camera (but she would have to carry 2 devices).
  • I’m a photographer and kinda want it. But I think it should really appeal to the people who don’t take a lot of pics and their phone is the best camera they own.

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