Digital Zoom Versus Optical Zoom
Many digital cameras offer both digital and optical zoom. These two
often confuse the average camera buyer, until you know what you’re
Optical zoom works much like the zoom lens on a 35 mm film camera. It
changes the length of your camera’s lens and draws the subject close
r to you. The optical zoom keeps the quality of the picture. Digital
zoom works differently. It simply takes the picture and crops it the
n enlarges the part that is left. It causes the quality of the photo
to be reduced, sometimes greatly.
What this means in terms of output is you may have a larger view of an
object with the digital zoom, but chances are your image will become
unfocused. Details will become lost. It is actually best to turn off
the digital zoom feature of your camera if possible. This will preve
nt you automatically zooming in too close as the digital zoom is often
an extension of the optical.
There are a couple of things you can do if you want a closer view of a s
ubject but want the quality of your picture to still be good. Try movin
g in closer when you take the picture. Often only a foot or two will do
the trick. If this isn’t possible, you can set your camera to take a p
icture at its highest file size. This will result in a photo that can b
e cropped to include only your desired subject, yet allow for an image t
hat is still clear.
Digital zoom has its place. It can be used if the only destiny of you
r photo is the internet. Photos online can be a much lower quality in
the camera and still appear acceptable when sent through e-mail or po
sted on a web gallery. If your goal is printing, however, seek a came
ra that has a greater optical zoom and turn off the digital zoom. You
r pictures will be better in the end, even if they are not as close up.
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