Optical vs Digital Zoom

Hi everyone.

I am looking for a new camera out there, but could somebody tell me a bit more about the difference between optical and digital zoom? I was told that Digital zoom is not really needed?

Digital zoom is mostly a marketing term and should IMO be completely ignored. It’s the same as cropping the picture and then resizing it, and you can do this later in a photo editor. Digital zoom reduces the effective pixel resolution of the camera.

Optical zoom is the real thing.

[QUOTE=Marleen;2293780]Hi everyone.

I am looking for a new camera out there, but could somebody tell me a bit more about the difference between optical and digital zoom? I was told that Digital zoom is not really needed?[/QUOTE]

Yeap, it only makes things worst, try to find one camera that has a good optical zoom.

There are two other zoom figures to watch out for that manufacturers like to use also:

[B]Total Zoom : [/B]Ever seen a 12x zoom rating on a new camera advertised for under $/€99? :stuck_out_tongue: This stands out even better than the digital zoom rating and is a marketing trick I see being used more often than digital zoom to make entry level cameras appear to have the zoom power of the higher end cameras that have real 10+x optical zoom. The total zoom rating is basically the digital zoom multiplied by the optical zoom. For example, my brother’s Polaroid digital camera has “12x Zoom” written on it, but its specifications say “3x Optical Zoom, 4x Digital Zoom…”

[B]Smart Zoom : [/B]This is also known as “Safe Zoom” or “Extra Optical Zoom”. This is like “Total Zoom”, but the camera does not enlarge the cropped photo, unlike digital zoom. However, you get no more detail than taking a photo at full resolution and making the same crop with photo editing software. So if you see an unusually high zoom figure on a more expensive camera, check the specifications closely to see whether this advertised zoom is really the lens’ optical zoom and not some form of smart zoom. On the other hand, it is useful when shooting video, since video can only be shot using a fraction of the sensor’s native resolution anyway.

Optical zooms are much better than digital zooms, which merely magnify the center of the frame without actually increasing picture detail.

Optical zoom uses the optics (lens) of the camera to bring the subject closer. Digital zoom is an invention of digital video cameras.

Is digital zoom therefore all bad? No, not at all. It’s a feature that you might want in your digital camera (in fact, all digital cameras include some digital zoom, so you can’t really avoid it), especially if you don’t care about using (or don’t know how to use) an image editing software. So, as far as digital zoom is concerned, you can do it in camera or you can do it afterwards in an image editing software. Any cropping and enlarging can be done in an image editing software, such as Photoshop.

Rule of thumb, when it comes to using zoom, always use optical zoom. When buying a camera, choose one that warns you that you are about to use digital zoom or that allows you to disable digital zoom (most do). If you do use digital zoom, use it only if it does not appreciably impact your image quality. If you rarely print past 4x6 in. photos, digital zoom may not adversely affect you.

When buying a camera always compare optical zoom with optical zoom.

Source of picture below

Link: http://cameras.about.com/od/cameratips/l/blopticaldigitl.htm

:cool::cool:


Thanks all !

What would be the amount of Optical zoom I should be looking for?

If you want your camera to be lightweight and to easily fit into any pocket, go for up to 5x optical zoom, which will cover everything from landscape to getting reasonably close in on a subject. Most consumers are happy with 3x optical zoom, especially those who were used to compact film cameras which typically did not have any zoom at all!

If you are interested in taking pictures of animals, birds and other distant objects, go for 10x or higher zoom. Generally, the longer the zoom range the heavier the camera and the smaller the image sensor size, so don’t try going for a super long zoom if you don’t plan using the extended zoom range. For example, a heavy bulky prosumer 18x optical zoom camera may not any better picture than a lightweight ultracompact 3x optical zoom camera in the same zoom range both cover, but the 18x has the huge advantage of being able to get in several times closer to a subject if you’re interested in photographing distant subjects.

And if you’re going for those large zooms make sure it has optical image stabilisation as well.

Image stabilisation is there to prevent the effects of camera shake at extreme zoom.

Some cameras have electronic image stabilisation but optical image stabilisation is vastly superior though.

[B]Wombler[/B]

Some cameras have electronic image stabilisation but optical image stabilisation is vastly superior though.

True enough mostly because the electronic stabilizers usually digitally zoom the picture to provide the ‘cushion’ needed to cover the shake.

[QUOTE=olyteddy;2295044]True enough mostly because the electronic stabilizers usually digitally zoom the picture to provide the ‘cushion’ needed to cover the shake.[/QUOTE]

That’s correct. :iagree:

Which means that when electronic stabilisation is used you’re effectively lowering the resolution as well.

As well as image resolution, optical image stabilisation is inherently more effective at reducing camera shake in practice.

[B]Wombler[/B]

[QUOTE=Wombler;2295676]That’s correct. :iagree:

Which means that when electronic stabilisation is used you’re effectively lowering the resolution as well.

As well as image resolution, optical image stabilisation is inherently more effective at reducing camera shake in practice.

[B]Wombler[/B][/QUOTE]

And not all electronic image stabilisation is equal. In fact, most “digital image stabilisation” systems in still cameras are merely an ISO sensitivity boost that’s applied automatically when the camera’s sensor detects probable camera shake. This preserves the apparent sharpness of the image but significantly increases the noise level in the image.

Newer electronic image stabilisation circuits (as used in many consumer video camcorders) actually use more pixels on the camera’s sensor than are needed for the actual image, and then use the extra pixels as a buffer. This does not degrade the image as much as earlier electronic image stabilisation systems, making these systems practically the equivalent of a sensor-shift mechanical image stabilisation system (but still not quite as effective as a good optical image stabilisation system). Sony’s “Super SteadyShot”, as used in many of its lower-end camcorders, is that company’s trademark of this newer type of electronic image stabilisation system (the same company’s “Optical SteadyShot”, as used in its higher-end camcorders, uses both optical and electronic image stabilisation systems; Sony’s still cameras which use “Optical SteadyShot” use only the optical image stabilisation system).