digital camera zoom

optical zoom digital camera


Digital Camera Zoom

Understanding Digital Camera Zoom Lenses

Executive Summary about Digital Camera Zoom By Michael Huddleston Vincent G


optical zoom digital camera

optical zoom digital camera

There are two types of zooms used with digital cameras: optical and digital.


Optical Zoom

An optical zoom changes magnification by moving glass in the lens, changing the image falling on the sensor. Using an optical zoom maintains picture quality.

Zoom Ranges and 35mm Equivalents

Optical zoom lenses usually have a specification called  ‘equivalent in 35mm.’  This tells you the zoom range of the digital camera compared to a 35mm film camera. Typical 35mm equivalent zoom ranges you will see listed are 35mm-70mm or 35mm-105mm.

A 35mm-105mm equivalent zoom is adequate for most users. If you plan on doing landscapes or picture taking in small, confined areas, consider a camera that can zoom to a 28mm equivalent.

Optical Zoom as 2x, 3x, 5x

Taking the 35mm-105mm example above, we divide 105 by 35 to get a 3x zoom. A 28mm-105mm would be approximately a 4x zoom, and a 35mm-350mm would be a 10x zoom.

Digital Zoom

A digital zoom does not change, magnification.. This decreases picture quality. When comparing cameras, always use the optical number as this is much more important. You can get the same effect as a digital zoom by using software to crop the photos.

Note About Digital Zoom

As digital cameras become more sophisticated and powerful they are becoming capable of delivering optical tricks  that render pictures that are remarkably stable and good looking. Only recently, cameras digital zooms  are getting much better.

Optical Zoom VS Digital Zoom

Before digital cameras hit the market many years ago, older generation cameras using films only have optical zoom which is limited by the lens you have on the body of a SLR camera.

Now in the digital age, you will find digital cameras which are a common sight everywhere. And on these cameras, you will at many times find the term digital zoom and optical zoom being used in their marketing materials. And digital zoom are always many times higher than optical zoom.

Optical zoom uses the lens on your camera to bring the object nearer in your view finder or LCD screen. Digital zoom is used when you have outranged your optical zoom and the camera’s software act up to enlarge image of your object.

So which is better?

Definitely optical zoom! While using optical zoom will still have your picture being taken clearly, digital zoom will make your picture appear fuzzy.

So, if you need to enlarge an image further, I would advise you to take your shot with the highest pixel count of your camera and enlarge your object using photo software and crop it and save it separately.

Check out our other guide on Digital Cameras Online & Canon Powershot Camera