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Old Sep 6, 2003, 4:32 AM   #1
eriseman's Avatar
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Default Digital Zoom vs. Optical Zoom

Hi All,
This has always bothered me -
What is the difference between a Digital Zoom and an Optical Zoom?
Is one better than the other when using photoshop?
Is one better than the other when taking certain types of photos?


PS: On my digital Video (Sony), the digital zoom always seems to get too blury to use when fully zoomed out -- why??
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Old Sep 6, 2003, 6:54 AM   #2
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Digital zoom is a bit of a misnomer. All it is is cropping. You can get the same effect by cropping in photoshop.

Optical zoom, however, is the real thing. What is sent to the CCD has been altered optically before it was captured. Why is that better? Because you get the full frame of what you see in the viewfinder at the full resolution at which you are shooting. By contrast, with digital "zoom" if you want the same sized base image that you would have with optical zoom, you lose resolution (which is just what happens when you crop and resize the cropped image up to the original size -- absent interpolation)...

I hope this helps!

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Old Sep 7, 2003, 10:41 AM   #3
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Optical zoom is always better. If you have a high pixel camera you can get away with more digital zoom. If you shoot 5mp & digizoom to an effective 2mp, it may still look OK for web use. The other answer would be to shoot the wider shot & simply crop to the size you wanted.
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Old Sep 7, 2003, 11:25 AM   #4
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Never buy a camera based on it's digital zoom capability. Image Editing Packages let you accomplish the same thing (with the same degradation of the photo) as using a camera's digital zoom. Many of these software packages are totally free.

Also, by using software (versus digital zoom), you have much more control (since you'll be working with the full resolution image, versus a partial image from using digital zoom in a camera.

Here is a good article on how both optical and digital zoom work. My advise, only select your camera based on the optical zoom specifications - ignoring any specifications for digital zoom.

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