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Old Jun 20, 2002, 7:32 PM   #1
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Default Usefulness of 3X Optical vs 2X Optical?

I am currently stuck between two Digicams ... the Canon S200 and S330.

Basically I am trying to balance the advantage of having the smaller and cheaper S200 with a 2X optical against the benefit of having the S330 with a 3X optical zoom.

I like smallness in a camera.
I also like optical zoom.

So tell me, how much more useful is a 3X optical in comparison to a 2x optical zoom? If it is not much more useful, then I will get the S200 and spend the extra cash on a bigger CF card.

I was talking to a camera store salesman yesterday and he told me that digicam zooms are useless (digital or optical) because on a digicam the problem is always that the shot is not wide enough, so why would you want to be zooming?

Is the above advice bunk? I have a hard time believing it.
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Old Jun 20, 2002, 11:13 PM   #2
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Jucious, that's a question only you can answer. It all depends on what your needs and style of photography are.

There is a grain of truth to the salesman's words but I don't totally agree that zooms are useless. You can fake the effect of a zoom to a small extent by stretching and cropping (that's exactly what digital zooms do) but only if you're willing to give up image size and/or quality.

The bigger choice is if 3x vs 2x is worth the extra money. For me it is. I use my P&S camera at the 105mm equivalent a lot.

Wide angle is a different matter, it can't be faked in post production aside from stitching images together into panoramas. It has its uses and Canon's panorama assistr and software are terrific but it's not useful for action shots.

35mm equivalent isn't particularly wide but you can add an auxiliary lens to some cameras but not the S series. The A series has an adapter for 52mm accessories and Canon makes a 0.7x converter to give 24mm equivalent. The only downside is the A series isn't as svelelte as the elph S series.
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Old Jun 24, 2002, 10:35 AM   #3
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Default optical all the way

Optical zoom is far superior to digital zoom if you want clarity.

Say you have a 2X optical compared to a 2X digital. Now imagine you've got 2 megapixel ccd - 1760x1168.

Both give you a 1760 x 1168 image when finished, but digital zoom does it by taking the middle half of the frame, which is only 880 x 584, then interpolating it til it is 1760 x 1168. Very grainy.

Optical is the 2x image mapped across all pixels!

Sorry if this is confusing as I'm struggling with words today.
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Old Jun 24, 2002, 3:30 PM   #4
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I may just be overly cynical, but it sounds to me like that camera store guy must have orders to try and shift some of those 2x zoom Canon S200 cameras!

Not knowin what the price difference is, it is hard to say whether it is worth getting the extra zoom instead of more CF space.

But I find that I am forever wishing I have more zoom available to me. I use telephoto way more often than wideangle zoom. My Kodak DC4800 has a 3x optical, 2x digital built in, and I have 2x telephoto and 0.6x wideangle add-on lenses for it. The telephoto gets pulled out of the bag considerably more often (partially because the DC4800 has some slight wideangle abiltility - 28mm - built in).

In the end depends what you think you will be doing more of: taking lots of shots per session away from PC, or trying to take detailed close-up shots.
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Old Jun 24, 2002, 8:36 PM   #5
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If you can afford both buy the S330. You will probably regret the 2optic zoom, wanting that little extra reach later. I don't agree with the salesman's thoughts on zoom, width doesn't always play into the photo. Some times you can't get close enough and to zoom out one more X just might do it.

On second thought if you are just getting into digital, and don't know if you will like it, maybe cheaper is better. But be ready to buy a better camera later, its addicting.

Digital zoom= don't worry about, most computers and programs do a better job.

[Edited on 6-25-2002 by Brooks]
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Old Jul 6, 2002, 8:44 AM   #6
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With a moderately priced digital camera, every pixel is important. A longer zoom means that you can fill the frame with subjects that are somewhat more distant.
This means that when you print or view the photo it will have more detail and less chance of seeing individual pixels than if you had shot with a lesser zoom and then cropped and enlarged to get the subject to the same apparent size.
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