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Old Dec 17, 2002, 7:36 AM   #1
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Default How much zoom do I need?

I've been looking at 3mp cameras <$400. Most of these come with a 3x optical zoom, with a few higher and at least one that is 2.8x.

I know that the optical zoom is really the only one that matters, however 3x, 5x, etc. basically mean nothing to me. So how far away from my subject can I be with a 3x optical zoom and still get a well-framed shot? With a 6x (FinePix 3800)?
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 7:39 AM   #2
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I own the 3800 and at about 210mm it gets tough to get a sharp shot using your hand (not a tripod). Hence, anything past a 6x zoom is useless unless you're keen on a tropod.

Everyone who owns the Oly C-730 @ 8x zoom complains about the same thing.

The 200mm is a LOT of fun though, highly recommend it.
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 12:53 PM   #3
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Default Thanks Alfisti

But I'm truly a newbie, so 210mm or 200mm doesn't mean much to me either...

So for the idiot, I need it explained in feet. How many feet from my subject (such as a person) could I be with a 3x optical and still get a well-framed shot?
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 1:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: Thanks Alfisti

Quote:
Originally Posted by amcdan
But I'm truly a newbie, so 210mm or 200mm doesn't mean much to me either...

So for the idiot, I need it explained in feet. How many feet from my subject (such as a person) could I be with a 3x optical and still get a well-framed shot?
See now you're being lazy .... have a quick read on camera terms then get back to us
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 1:27 PM   #5
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The way to work it out is this. E.g. the Oly 730 has 38-380 zoom i.e. 10x (not 8x). Divide the zoom setting by 45 ( 45mm = about 1:1) e.g. 380/45 = about 8x magnification about the same as binoculars.

From this you can see that my 730 magnifies 8x but my Oly 3020 with 32-96 3x zoom only actually magnifies about 2x.
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 5:10 PM   #6
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The easiest and quickest way to get a sense of what the different zooms are is to go into a store that has several on display. CompUSA and BuyRite, allow you to pick up the camwera and view through the viewfinder. You can then see what the lens does on the tele setting, the wide setting, and everything inbetween.

Reading all the books and articles about cameras won't educate you as much as trying a few and seeing what you like.

One warning: Ignore what the ads for each camera say about Digital Zoom. That is simply cropping the center of your image and enlarging it, which results in a loss of sharpness and no new detail. The only important zoom info is the Optical Zoom.

Also don't be intimidated by people on this or other forums. Cameras should be fun and exciting, and the only reason to get one should be that you are interested in making pictures.
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Old Dec 17, 2002, 5:17 PM   #7
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Don't be put off by people saying using an 8x zoom handheld it's impossible to get a sharp photograph. Not true, all depends on light levels and shutter speed. I have had superb, sharp results handholding my Olympus C-720 at full zoom (8x or roughly equivalent to 320mm in 35mm speak) with outdoor shots at shutter speeds greater than around 1/500th second.
Having a builtin long zoom capability is a great asset although it sometimes means trading some wideangle capability.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 6:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Having a builtin long zoom capability is a great asset although it sometimes means trading some wideangle capability.
I'm all for Richard... Don't neglect the wide angle either. Unlike a long zoom a wide angle will allow one to capture more of a picture not less, ie for scenery or in the tight quarter of a room!

Usually the longer the zoom is on a camera, the less of a wide angle it is...
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 7:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHL
Quote:
Having a builtin long zoom capability is a great asset although it sometimes means trading some wideangle capability.
I'm all for Richard... Don't neglect the wide angle either. Unlike a long zoom a wide angle will allow one to capture more of a picture not less, ie for scenery or in the tight quarter of a room!

Usually the longer the zoom is on a camera, the less of a wide angle it is...
Yeah but 99% of digicams have a 38mm wide angle, it's infuriating. Really drove me batty.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 8:49 AM   #10
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Excellent advice and discussion guys. Appreciate the insight.
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