Optical or Digital Zoom; Know the Difference

12th Blog Post, First Published on June 26, 2016, as a Newspaper Column.

(Photos and possibly an extended text will be added soon).

Hi, and welcome to my “HighLight & Shadow” photo Blog.

I begin a discussion between optical and digital zoom here. This is a short post because the newspaper article was short but the following post extends the discussion.

When shopping for a point-n-shoot camera, you’ll hear the terms optical zoom and digital “zoom,” and it’s VERY important to know the difference between these two, before you buy

To zoom in to a scene is to enlarge that scene without moving your position. Using optical zoom means the scene is enlarged using the camera’s lens (or optics), while using digital “zoom” to “enlarge” the scene simply means cropping the image in the camera, more and more, to “enlarge” the scene in the camera more and more.

For simplicity sake, lets look at two 12-megapixel cameras (cameras that shoot photos of approximately 12 million pixels). One camera has optical zoom and the other, digital “zoom.” We’ll shoot a scene with both cameras, starting at the normal lens setting, and then shoot more photos that enlarge the scene to varying degrees. All of the photos shot with the camera with the optical zoom will be 12-million pixel photos. But the camera with digital zoom enlarges the scene simply by cropping out parts of the normal-lens’ photo, there-by reducing the 12-megapixel photo more and more as the camera enlarges the scene more and more, giving you fewer and fewer pixels as you “zoom” in, enlarging the scene.

You can test this with your own camera that has digital zoom (most cell phones with digital “zoom.”) Take a photo in the camera’s normal zoom position and then a photo after you zoom into the same scene quite a bit. Download these photos and compare the photos’ clarity or resolution.

The first photo ought to be quite good, while the zoomed-in photo; not so much.

My next post on July 3 will expand this discussion and show some comparisons.

Hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend and I’ll return on the 3rd!


Visit www. facebook.com/haywardphoto to view my most recent photos, and leave a comment below or message me via Facebook with any questions, suggestions or comments .

So till next time, keep your eyes open, your camera handy and your imagination flowing.



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