Is the Hasselblad True Zoom a model for a new compact m43 camera body?

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Turtle, by Hasselblad,  1/250 s, ISO100, f/6.5  45mm (equivalent FF of 250mm)

Three years ago I was extolling the virtues of the onboard camera on a relatively new Huawei smart phone I had just acquired. It was a very good phone and camera and I likely would have kept using it for several more years since I’m the kind of guy who hangs on to competent technology long after most people. I still use the largest and smallest Mac laptops from 2014 on a daily basis.

But, the world changes faster than tech does. As I write, China has prosecuted one of two Canadians held in prison for over 800 days (in solitary confinement) for spying. After a perfunctory two hour trial barred from the public and even Canadian diplomatic officials (contrary to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations) there was no verdict rendered. However, in China the verdict is always guilty. Always. China is applying additional pressure on the United States to drop its charges of bank fraud against the Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in order to allow Canada to release her from extradition detainment. Since Canada and the US are countries governed by the rule of law.

I can’t do much to stop China from engaging in repugnant hostage diplomacy. I can however stop owning a Huawei phone.

So I began to look for a new phone.  Preferably not made in China and with a monochrome camera.   The current Nokia 9 comes to mind but the software controlling the camera is very clunky and slow to use.  I then came across the Moto Z2 Force from 2016.   Impressively thin and with dual color and monochrome cameras, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Z series family also offered magnetic snap on accessories that attached to the back of their phones.  Like a real Hasselblad branded camera!

HasselbladTrueZoom
The Hasselblad True Zoom belongs to a family of accessories referred to as Moto Mods by Motorola. Certainly this is a branding exercise similar to those conducted by Leica, but the renowned maker of high end medium format cameras did not skimp on authenticity. This camera belongs to their 4116 Edition of cameras which celebrates their 75th anniversary from 1941 to 2016 and features iconic touches like an orange shutter release button. The camera is actually manufactured by Altek (Kunshan) a subsidiary of Altek, a Taiwan based imaging company but with manufacturing in China. Altek (Kunshan) also manufactures several of the Nikon DSLR models.

Although both can still be purchased new, I was able to purchase lightly used copies of the phone for $100 USD and the camera  for only $60 USD, far below MSRP.    The combination is so thin and lightweight that it can easily be pocketed in a breast pocket or inside suit jacket pocket with ease and comfort.  Better than even the Lumix CM-1 (https://jimchungblog.com/2018/03/31/looking-for-the-perfect-smartphone-camera/).  And certainly better than the smallest m43 camera body, the Lumix GM1.

Camerascompared
The Hasselblad has an impressive 10x optical zoom lens, from 4.5 – 45mm (f/3.5-6.5) focal length or full frame equivalent of 25 to 250mm. I paired it with the Lumix GM1 and the Panasonic 35-100mm (f/4.0-5.6) but I would have to carry yet another lens in order to match the wide focal length range. As you can see, the Hasselblad does not have a tripod screw hole so requires one of those universal cell phone sprung clamp holders to use on a tripod.

BUT, is the Hasselblad any good?   Can it replace the GM1 or the Pen F as a travel camera?

HB4116
The impressive focal length range of the Hasselblad on display. In good light with static subjects the camera can produce acceptable images. BUT, it is hindered by a tiny 1/2.3″ BSI 12 megapixel sensor which produces a lot of noise above ISO 100. The software also does not allow you to adjust aperture and does not display shutter speed, not a good sign of a real photographer’s camera.

You can click this link to see 100% version of the above image.

(https://www.dropbox.com/s/t142q3fvdajn0l5/motomodfocallengthrange.jpg?dl=0)

HB4116
Trumpeter Swan taken with Hasselblad (left) and GM1 (right) at maximum focal length.
HB4116
Same image but 100% crop to show detail. The Hasselblad clearly showing much more noise and less detail than the GM1 with an inexpensive zoom lens. The Hasselblad images tended to be slightly overexposed but that can be controlled manually with exposure compensation (EV).

Click below to view at 100%.

(https://www.dropbox.com/s/wquzfpixfuubmor/goosecomparo.jpg?dl=0)

 

MFTphonevsGM1
MTF10 (red) and MTF30 (green) curves of both cameras with an ISO 12233 Test Chart. The GM1 (right) is clearly superior. Clearly, curves should not exceed a value of 1 and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but it’s the relative difference between the two that is the important observation.

The lack of a shutter speed readout is really crippling and for that reason I would advise shooting only in automatic mode to get the best images.  I discovered when shooting birds that often the subjects would come out blurred because I was lowering the ISO to combat noise but not realizing the shutter speed was also dropping to the point that live subjects could not be captured without their motion (I supposed you could shoot in Sport Mode to prevent this).  The body design has good ergonomics with a built in hand grip and hard controls for power and lens zoom.  The lens is stabilized allowing for the ability to take slow shutter speed images on static subjects. 

StabilityMFT
Testing the efficacy of the lens stabilization mechanism. I took hand held shots of the ISO 12233 chart and dropped the ISO with each subsequent shot to lengthen the shutter speed with any significant change in MTF curve generation indicative of camera shake. From top to bottom: 1/200s, 1/150s, 1/100s, 1/50s, 1/13s showing about 4 stops of stabilization effectiveness.

The Hasselblad does allow images to be saved in RAW (.dng) + JPG files so one would presume that greater dynamic range could be pulled from the images if desired.  However, there is significant pin cushion distortion by the lens at the low focal length end which is corrected by in body JPGs and uncorrected in the RAW files.

widefielddistoratio
Pin cushion distortion evident at 4.5mm focal length in the RAW (left) and corrected in JPG (right).
Telephotodistortion
Little distortion present at the 45mm focal length in RAW (left) or JPG (right) files.

In conclusion, I have to say that under sufficient outdoor light the Hasselblad True Zoom can produce acceptable images, but none that surpass those produced by a m43 body with even a pedestrian lens.  It’s real advantage is that it is easily carried and easily deployed with Motorola’s novel two wrist twist gesture, and that it has a stabilized optical zoom which gives unheard of reach to a cell phone camera.    I would actually conclude that the True Zoom is more versatile than the CM1 because I can actually shoot wildlife with it and despite being as thick if not thicker than the CM1, the weight is more balanced and it feels less clunky to carry.   And of course I can always detach it from the phone if needed.

HB4116
Chipmunk, Spring is finally here.

 

First encounter with the Great Blue Heron this year. It may not have the best IQ but on balance it is likely the best cell phone camera around.

Unfortunately, it also looks like the end of the line for the Z series phones in 2021 and the end of Moto Mods development.   It is still possible to purchase a Moto Mods Development Kit to make your own Moto Mods prototype and many interesting applications debuted at electronics shows throughout the years but it appears that market demand simply wasn’t there.

Screen Shot 2021-03-21 at 12.25.34 PM
Moto Mods Development Kit. Somebody could hard wire an Olympus AIR A01 camera stripped of its battery, memory card and Bluetooth transmitter to reduce the bulk protruding out of Moto Mod case and produce a real m43 cell phone camera. Maybe OM Digital Solutions could do this.
Screen Shot 2021-03-21 at 12.42.11 PM
Moto Mods with promising Zeiss Vario Sonnar (zoom) Lens with 1″ sensor in 2018.

 

And this breaking news!

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