What is the different between Optical and Digital Zoom?

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Optical Zoom and Digital Zoom

When looking at digital cameras you will hear about optical and digital zoom. Cameras ads will say something like "4x optical and 3x digital for a total 12x zoom!"

  • Optical zoom is what the lens is actually capable of. This is an unmanipulated zoom, and the result of changing the focal length of the lens.
  • Digital zoom is an artifical zoom, where the size of the image is digitally enhanced to create the impression of a longer focal length.

While that might sound like a great idea it really isn't. Every digital zoom I have ever seen makes your photograph look like it has gone through a laundry cycle. Images are blurry, fuzzy and clearly display the pixels that make up the digital photo. Only the optical zoom will produce clear, crisp photographs.

Keep this in mind when you are evaluating cameras. A camera that has a 5x optical and 5x digital zoom is not the same as a camera with a 10x optical zoom. The camera with the 5x digital will produce blurry photos at 10x zoom whereas the 10x optical photos will be clean and clear. Therefore, a 10x optical zoom digital camera and much expensive than a 5x optical and 5x digital zoom digital camera.

It will much depend on your budget and usage when selecting the number of zoom radio. Nowadays, a 3x optical and 4x digital zoom camera cost less than USD 200.00.

Conclusion,  do not be fool by the ads on the total zoom radio. Always ask for the actual optical and digital zoom ratio before purchase your camera.

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