Digital vs. Optical Zoom - Which one?

Quadophile

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Many digital cameras have zoom lens capability or digital zoom capability, and some have both.

So, what is the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom? Optical zoom - zooming in using a longer lens setting - provides the best image quality, because the picture is being enlarged optically, by the lens. Digital zooming is actually an enlargement of the center part of the image (similar to cropping), which means that less pixels are used to record the scene, and therefore the image will be of lower quality.

Digital zoom is a marketing trick that is used by camera manufacturers to make it look as if you get something extra. All digital zoom does is to crop your picture, and then resizing it to fit the frame, without adding any extra detail. So basically it just inserts the pixels it thinks would be best for the ones missing. You can do EXACTLY the same to any extent (6x, 10x, 100x) with ANY digital camera by downloading your picture from camera to a computer and cropping/resizing it with your favorite picture editor (Photoshop, PaintShop, and even Microsoft paint). You don't want digital zoom for taking photos, you want optical.

Optical zoom is a mechanical adjustment of the camera's lens. Optical zoom is true zoom in that the telephoto image and the wide-angle image have the same number of pixels in an image the same size.

Example:

Optical zoom (3x): Start zoom range at wide angle gives you a 3mp image for say a (4x5) picture end the zoom range at telephoto end and you have a 3mp image for the same (4x5) but a telephoto picture instead of wide angle.

Digital zoom (3x): starting at wide end of zoom range gives 3mp picture (4x5) at telephoto end gives telephoto picture but only 1mp (4x5).

Turn off that digital zoom permanently, (hopefully your camera can do that) and use your PC to crop out/resize. In some cameras digital zoom is engaged once optical zoom reachs its mechanical limits. The point I am making here is - avoid using the digital zoom. With the right software (which you obviously have) you'll be much better off.

Digital zoom may be a little convenience, so that you don't have to resize on your computer...Optical zoom is really the way to go.
 
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Thank you Quad.

My present camera does not have any zoom buit-in, now three years old, but I now know what to ask for when Mucks gets me a new one. :brow:
 

Quadophile

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Originally posted by Ladymuck
Thank you Quad.

My present camera does not have any zoom buit-in, now three years old, but I now know what to ask for when Mucks gets me a new one. :brow:

You are always welcome:) I will be happy to assist you in your next purchase, rather a gift from Mucks:D :D :D
 
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Digital zoom is horrible, IMHO. They're selling video cameras with like 700x digital zoom now, and it just looks plain bad.
 

Quadophile

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Originally posted by Eric Portelance
Digital zoom is horrible, IMHO. They're selling video cameras with like 700x digital zoom now, and it just looks plain bad.

As long as the consumers keep buying those digital zooms, the makers are going to continue improving the figure. Who knows in a couple of years we may see figure going up to 7000x. One does not need a calculater to figure out how may pixels that would be -we will probably be able to count them on our fingers:D:D:D
 

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