At IFA in Berlin, Lenovo has revealed its latest Moto Mod detachable smartphone accessory module: The Hasselblad True Zoom. It's a camera module with a 10x zoom lens, physical shutter button, zoom lever and a Xenon flash. Like previous Moto Mods it attaches directly to a compatible phone – currently the Moto Z, Moto Z Force and also brand new Moto Z Play will work – magnetically and via a series of contacts on the back of the device. It offers the following specifications:
- 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
- Available globally in September for $299/€299
We have had the chance to test a pre-production unit, attached to a Lenovo Moto Z Force, as well as with the new Z Play, for a few days. Read on to find out how we got on.
Operations and ergonomics
The docking process is extremely simple and quick. The Hasselblad True Zoom is literally 'sucked' in place on the back on the smartphone by magnetic force and usable instantly, without the need to restart the device. The process is much quicker and easier than, for example, attaching the LG G5 camera grip, which requires removal of the battery and a restart. It's also easier than pairing the Sony QX or Kodak Wi-Fi camera modules.
|Both smartphone and camera module come with electronic connection pins.||Once the two devices get close the camera clips into place by magnetic force.|
The module body is made from a solid-feeling plastic material and the rubberized grip makes it comfortable to hold. In terms of overall dimensions, weight and ergonomics the Moto Z Force with the attached True Zoom module feels not too dissimilar to the Samsung Galaxy Camera models, but gives you the option to remove the module when it's not needed. The physical shutter button supports half-pressing for locking exposure and AF and, like the zoom rocker, works just like on a compact camera. There is no noticeable lag, and overall operation is very responsive.
|With its rubberized grip the True Zoom feels comfortable and secure to hold.||With an attached smartphone the combo feels similar to the Samsung Galaxy Camera series.|
By default the True Zoom works with the standard Moto camera app, which makes things nice and easy for the user, as no adaption to a new user interface is required. More advanced users will appreciate the full manual control over shooting parameters in Manual Mode and the ability to save Raw files with the JPEG images. The final version of the app will come with a range of True Zoom-specific Hasselblad image modes, but those had not been implemented yet on our pre-production test device.
|In the settings you select DNG Raw format.||The final version of the True Zoom will come with a range of Hasselblad image modes.|
You can also use the True Zoom module for capturing images straight from Instagram and similar apps but it appears that at this point manual control and Raw capture are not available in third-party camera apps that focus on photographic control, such as Manual camera or Camera FV-5.
The 10x optical zoom is one of the True Zoom’s most obvious advantages over a smartphone camera and covers pretty much all focal lengths needed on a typical vacation or trip. The optical image stabilization works very efficiently and keeps things steady at longer focal lengths. On our pre-production unit sharpness does vary a bit across the zoom range though – at some settings there is noticeable softness around the edges.
|Wide angle, 25mm equivalent, ISO 100, 1/2000 sec|
Tele, 250mm equivalent, ISO 100, 1/320 sec
In good light the True Zoom produces good exposure and consumer-friendly vibrant colors but in terms of pixel-level detail it does not offer any noticeable advantage over most built-in smartphone cameras. Images show the same smearing of finer low-contrast detail, highlight clipping and luminance noise levels at base ISO that you would expect from a smartphone camera.
|ISO 100, 1/800 sec|
|ISO 100, 1/500 sec|
In lower light the True Zoom images are again on a similar level to built-in smartphone cameras. Image detail starts suffering as you go up the ISO scale and both luminance and chroma noise are becoming more noticeable. Partly this is caused by the comparatively slower apertures of the lens, especially at the longer end of the zoom range. Thanks to the efficient OIS camera shake is hardly an issue, even at longer focal lengths, but in Auto mode slow shutter speeds in low light can lead to motion blur on moving subjects. Thankfully shutter speeds can be manually increased, as long as you're happy to shoot at higher ISOs.
|ISO 560, 1/30 sec|
|ISO 2500, 1/100 sec, manual exposure mode|
The Xenon flash is another big advantage of the True Zoom module. It’s much more powerful than the LED flashes of smartphone cameras and allows for the illumination of subjects farther away from the lens, such as groups of people, and even some of the background. In our testing, exposure was good and we did not see any red-eye effect. In flash mode the camera also keeps the ISO low which makes for decent detail.
|ISO 200, 1/30 sec, flash|
The True Zoom also shoots 1080p video at 30 frames per second. Image quality is again on smartphone level but the module's big bonus is the zoom which, thanks to the very efficient OIS, allows for getting closer to your subject, even when recording handheld. The low light video below shot with the zoom set to approximately 150mm equivalent.
Studio test scene comparison
Below you can see how the Hasselblad True Zoom performs capturing our standard studio test scene, next to the Moto Z Play's built-in camera for comparison.
The Hasselblad True Zoom is the best smartphone camera add-on I have used so far. Attaching it to the phone is super-easy and quick. When it's not needed, it is swiftly removed and stored away. It feels nice in the hand and the controls work well. The zoom range is very useful and offers a big advantage over the fixed wide-angle lenses in smartphone cameras. The Xenon flash is much more powerful than a smartphone LED and helps keep the ISO down.
Those looking for premium-compact or even DSLR-like image quality will be disappointed, though. Looking at the True Zoom's sensor specification, it is no surprise that pixel-level detail and dynamic range are on very similar levels to built-in smartphone cameras. In terms of image quality, the optical zoom, robust image stabilization and Xenon flash are the module's real advantages.
Currently, the most obvious disadvantage is the fact that you can only use the Hasselblad True Zoom with a compatible smartphone. That said, the Lenovo Moto Z models are attractive devices in their own right and make a nice package with the module. I enjoyed using the True Zoom on a recent short vacation and, as a photographer, I really hope the module will be an economic success for Lenovo and its subdivision Motorola. This would mean that we'd be likely to see more models in this series. A 'Pro' version with shorter zoom range but larger sensor, and maybe a physical control dial, sounds like music to our ears.
|New Forest pony by Dutch Newchurch|
from Equines in 2018
|Leader of the pack by Wu Jiaqiu|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Czech Crown by Tobik|
from Coins - Macro only
The APO-Makro-Plasmat 105mm F2.7 is Meyer Optik's latest Kickstarter lens revival, and it promises "natural sharpness, unbelievable color reproduction, and a glowing bokeh united at every step of the aperture" ... whatever that means.
The update also comes with "post-scan cloud processing," which allows you to render 3D models with 4K resolution textures for better detail and realism.
Chinese accessories brand Meike has announced it will introduce an 85mm F1.8 lens for Canon and Nikon full frame DSLRs that will feature autofocus. This will be the company’s first AF lens.
The World Photo Organization has finally revealed the overall winners for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, including the coveted Photographer of the Year, Open Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, and Student Photographer of the Year winners.
Venus Optics has unveiled four new lenses that will ship later this year: a wide-angle zoom for Sony FE, a circular fisheye for Micro Four Thirds, a wide-angle lens for the medium format Fujifilm GFX, and a 2x Ultra Macro for multiple full-frame mounts.
The One Backpack is a 5-in-1 modular backpack that can be used as a camera bag, work & gym pack, suit carry backpack, travel pack or tech-backpack.
This highly-specialized lens is perfect for sports, action and wildlife photography. Check out these first sample images for a taste of what it's capable of.
For KFC Hong Kong’s latest ad campaign, New York City-based advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather used Photoshop to magically morph pieces of flaky fried chicken into fire and smoke in various scenes.
The Android and iOS app from Surpuba AR lets you place animated 3D models in real-world environment using augmented reality technology. You can alter poses and location, insert lighting equipment, and more... right from your phone or tablet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop Oppo's smartphone camera roadmap, covering optical zoom, depth mapping and other innovative imaging features that dual cameras allow.
Canon is jumping into the portable printing game with the new IVY Mini Photo Printer: a rechargeable battery-powered printer for creating 2x3 prints and stickers of your smartphone snaps on-the-go.
The program first launched last year, but only as a temporary promotion limited to previous-generation GoPro cameras exchanged for discounts on current-generation models. This time around, GoPro is accepting nearly any digital camera in any condition.
One of the most usable 360° cameras on the market is getting even better. With its latest update, Rylo adds a 180° mode, bluetooth remote capture, and a cinematic motion blur effect for your timelapse shots.
Phase One has released the first major update to its Capture One Pro 11 photo editing program. The update adds support for 8 new cameras and 16 new lenses, and includes several new features and functional improvements that speed up workflow.
We recently got our hands on Samsung's latest and greatest smartphone, the dual camera, variable aperture Galaxy S9+, and took it to mostly sunny Southern California for a long weekend.
It's spring, and that means wedding season is upon us! If you're one of the many photographers planning wedding shoots this year, this is a great time to think about including aerial photography in your plans.
The first firmware update for the Sony a7 III addresses an issue in video mode wherein "blinking pixels" would show up along the base of footage recorded with certain settings.
Researchers with Switzerland's EPFL have developed a soft exoskeleton that enables its wearer to control a drone using their upper body. The human-robot interface is said to offer "natural and intuitive control of drones."
Photokina has released an official list of confirmed exhibitors for the 2018 expo, quieting rumors that major brands like Canon and Profoto might follow in Elinchrom's lead and skip this year's show.
For owners of Sony's a7R III, a9 and the new a7 III, there's now an easy fix for the rare but dreaded 'striping' in backlit shots with lots of flare. Click through to learn more.
The team behind the ubiquitous JPEG format has unveiled an all new image format designed to quickly and efficiently stream content across wired and wireless networks alike. Surprisingly, it actually uses less compression than traditional JPEG.
Canon USA has released a promotional video showcasing its latest CMOS sensor technology. Albeit over daraticized, it’s an interesting overlook at the work it’s continually putting into its camera systems.
The large-format digital LargeSense LS911 is the "world's first 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale." The camera features a 12-megapixel 9x11-inch monochrome CMOS sensor, which translates into massive 75 micron pixels.
Pricing and availability have been announced for Tokina's high-end Fírin 20mm F2 FE AF autofocus lens for Sony E-Mount. If you're curious about this lens, you'll be able to pick up your own starting in June for $950 USD.
It's the copyright lawsuit that refuses to die. In September 2017, PETA finally settled its monkey selfie lawsuit with photographer David Slater, but the request to dismiss the case has since been rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
As part of his ongoing ‘Good Light’ YouTube series, London-based photographer Sean Tucker has created a simple tutorial on how to find good natural light for portraits.
The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, with the photography awards going to photojournalist Ryan Kelly for image of a car plowing into protesters in Virginia, and the entire Reuters photo staff for a series on Rohinga refugees fleeing persecution.
When it was announced in 2016, the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 FE was among the first full-frame autofocus lenses for Sony's a7-series mirrorless cameras. We wanted to see how this affordable wideangle prime performs on Sony's latest a7R III.
ARQ files shot using the Pixel Shift mode in the Sony a7R lll—and processed using Sony's own Imaging Edge software—can now be opened and edited in Lightroom Classic CC after the latest update.
Lensrentals put together a very useful overview of all the memory card options out there for photographers and videographers. It covers speed ratings, card formats, and explains everything you need to know to pick the right card for the job at hand.