Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod Review - Camera and performance & verdict Review

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Hasselblad True Zoom – Camera and performance

The headline feature, literally, of the True Zoom is its optical zoom. This lets you get closer to the action with optical zoom being a far superior option compared to digital zoom. The latter merely crops into an image and enlarges it to emulate the effect of zooming.

The True Zoom has an equivalent focal length of 25-250mm due to its small 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor. While 25mm on the wide end won’t necessarily be able to capture massive vistas for your landscape shots, the 250mm on the telephoto zoom end will be able to get you close to your subject.

Hasselblad True Zoom
The zoom lens fully extended

As a reference, the Panasonic CM1 managed to cram in a full 1-inch sensor, which did wonders for its light gathering capabilities.

The minimum focus distance on the True Zoom is 5cm at the wide end, increasing to 1.5m when zoomed in to 250mm. One disappointing aspect is the lens’ maximum aperture, both on the wide and telephoto end. At the 25mm wide end it’s F/3.5, decreasing to just F/6.5 when zoomed to 250mm.

The aperture controls the lens’ diaphragm and thereby the amount of light that can reach the sensor. A nice big aperture like F/1.8 lets lots of light reach the sensor increasing low-light performance and allowing faster shutter speeds for less shaky shots.

The aperture also impacts the background blur (or bokeh) effect of your photographs, and it’s difficult to get pleasing subject separation even at F/3.5. Ideally, you want to take portraits zoomed in for more flattering perspectives and less distortion of facial features, so F/6.5 performs even worse for isolating your subject.

Hasselblad True Zoom
Subject isolation is tricky with the apertures allowed

As the zoom also magnifies any camera movement, it means faster shutter speeds are necessary for steady shots, which makes the small aperture even more difficult to deal with. There is optical image stabilisation but this can still only do so much. It meant taking sharp photos zoomed in under low-light conditions was very tricky. There’s a Xenon flash you can use, but as with most flashes it has a tendency to give a visually displeasing, whited-out image.

Wide-angle performance is better, but it’s worth noting that the Hasselblad True Zoom doesn’t support HDR, where the standard camera on the Moto Z does. It’s a strange omission, and I found HDR photos I took using the Moto Z’s camera looked more punchy than those taken on the True Zoom.

Hasselblad True Zoom
Shot on the 25mm end

Hasselblad True Zoom
Shot at 250mm from the same position – that’s some serious zoom for a smartphone but the image sharpness is noticeably softer

Hasselblad True Zoom
The same wide shot using the Moto Z’s standard camera but with HDR  – colours are far punchier than what the True Zoom served up

Autofocus speed also leaves a lot to be desired. Any subjects that don’t have a lot of contrast results in hunting for a focus point and there aren’t any fancy multi-point focus options like you find on even basic compact cameras. There’s just the one AF point and there’s also no burst shooting options.

The True Zoom is able to capture images in RAW format, which means what the sensor sees is what you get. It also means you’ll capture far more light data. This appeals to photographers who prefer to make their own adjustments afterwards.

Unfortunately, there’s vignetting (darkening of the corners) when shooting on the wide end in RAW format, which is something that gets cropped out when shooting in standard JPEG by the camera. You can of course just crop this yourself when it comes time to post-process your shots.

Disappointingly, the True Zoom can only record video at 1080p/30fps, whereas the Moto Z’s sensor can manage 4K video. Again, if you want to shoot video with an optical zoom, it might be a worthwhile compromise.

A few more example shots under different light conditions are below. There are plenty more in this review’s gallery.

True Zoom

True Zoom

Hasselblad True Zoom

Should I buy the Hasselblad True Zoom?

True Zoom

If you’re aware of the slightly limited shooting scenarios supported by the True Zoom, it’s a useful accessory to have in your shooting arsenal. The 10x zoom has some serious reach and provided the sensor is served up with a healthy amount of light it performs well enough. Attaching a True Zoom to your Moto Z also provides you with a far larger display for composing your shot than you’ll ever find on a compact camera.

However, the True Zoom is slightly less functional on the wide end, losing out on HDR and introducing the vignetting seen when shooting RAW. Video resolution also takes a hit and low-light performance could be improved with a wider aperture. I wouldn’t even mind if some of the zoom range was sacrificed for less of an aperture difference between the wide and telephoto ends. I also found autofocus speed underwhelming.

Related: Best cameras round-up

While the Hasselblad True Zoom as a concept is great, the execution isn’t quite there. As you likely won’t keep the Hasselblad True Zoom permanently attached to your Moto Z, it’s not going to be vastly more inconvenient to carry a superior-performing compact camera around with you and you won’t also be sacrificing battery life of your phone.

Verdict

The Hasselblad True Zoom delivers on its promise of serious zoom but its not quite a replacement for a dedicated camera

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