Many digital cameras offer both digital and optical zoom.
These two often confuse the average camera buyer, until you know what you’re looking at.
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 closer to you. The optical zoom keeps the quality of the picture.
Digital zoom works differently. It simply takes the picture and crops it then 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 prevent 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 subject but want the quality of your picture to still be good.
- Try moving 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 picture at its highest file size. This will result in a photo that can be cropped to include only your desired subject, yet allow for an image that is still clear.
Digital zoom has its place. It can be used if the only destiny of your 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 posted on a web gallery. If your goal is printing, however, seek a camera that has a greater optical zoom and turn off the digital zoom. Your pictures will be better in the end, even if they are not as close up.
Digital cameras come in so many shapes and sizes that your choice of camera can be pretty confusing. What you want to do is match the camera choice to your personal way of shooting photography. One of those variations is the digital zoom camera.
When composing your shots you may want to concentrate on a certain area or enlarge another area. This can be done in two ways, either by using your hands and physically moving closer to the object, or by using the camera features and changing the dimensions of the object electronically.
This gives rise to the two categories of zoom in the digital zoom cameras.
This is always a better option in the digital camera as compared to digital zoom. This allows us to move the lens of the camera closer to the object and hence works by changing the focal length of the camera mechanically. The result is that the picture quality is not distorted and can be printed in many different sizes. This quality is similar to those offered in the normal film cameras but should be insisted upon while purchasing the digital zoom camera as well.
This method of changing the attributes of a picture is done by defining the portion of interest in the picture and making changes on it using the software in the camera itself. It is done automatically by the camera and the chosen area is defined and enlarged to fit the frame. This method is known as extrapolation.
However, extrapolation comes at the cost of interpolation and is said to harm the picture quality. Digital zoom cameras that are equipped with this feature are usable by customers who are amateurs and not too keen on changing the dimensions of pictures. Since the changes in dimensions are often done by compromising on the other portions of the picture, the quality is reduced.
The Better Choice
It is pretty obvious that the better choice would be to go in for an optical zoom as opposed to a digital zoom since the image quality is not lost. However, sometimes the digital zoom produces better pictures than manual cropping. In these cases it can preserve the image quality and detail by performing interpolation before compression. It is advisable to check the type of zoom for the camera you’re considering. Often digital zoom is marketed off to the laymen as beneficial, thus knowledge in this field would be greatly helpful for someone intending to buy a digital zoom camera.