Digital and Optical Camera Zoom – What’s the Difference?

If you are new to photography, figuring out what zoom power you need and differentiating between the different types of zoom can be quite overwhelming. A number of new terms referring to zooming have been introduced lately in the marketing language of camera manufacturers, which only increases confusion. This article is aimed to bring a little more light into the problem and help you take a good decision when making the purchase.

Most mid-priced digital cameras have an incorporated 3x/4x lens. These numbers refer to optical and digital zoom. Most cameras have both optical and digital zoom, with the exception of a few low-priced ones, which tend to make dull and fuzzy photos. A digital camera’s zoom function is quite similar to the one of a film camera and does the same thing, namely bringing the subject closer. Anyway, in digital cameras here are two types of zoom, an optical and a digital one. Optical zoom is the one similar to the zoom of a traditional camera.

Digital zoom, on the other hand, simulates zooming by blowing up a selected part of the picture. It shouldn’t be mistaken with photo editing, which refers to applications used to modify the image after it’s been produced. Another common misconception about this type of zoom is that it is particularly useful for long distance photos. This cannot be farther from the truth. Optical zoom is much more important in a digital camera and it should be the one used as a criterion when comparing different models instead of digital or total zoom. Continue reading “Digital and Optical Camera Zoom – What’s the Difference?”

High Resolution Cameras – Facts & Myths

Anyone who intends to purchase a digital camera may fall for the myth of high resolution. The resolution is the number of mega pixels the camera can produce and it is said that the higher the resolution, the better your photos will turn out like. This is indeed true for certain situations, such as when pictures are printed out on larger size paper. The truth is that for plenty of camera users the advantages of a high resolution camera are close to zero.

Let’s start by understanding what a mega pixel means. Literally, it means one million pixels. A pixel is the tiniest part of a digital picture. If you have an application that you can use to zoom into an image you can really see those pixels – they look like the ‘pixellated’ effect you’ve seen on TV which hides people’s faces. Each digital image, including your PC screen, is a rectangular made of pixels: the larger it is, the more pixels it has. You can find out how many pixels your monitor has in the display settings. For example, a 1024 (horizontal) x 768 (vertical) screen has 1024×768 pixels, meaning 786,432. This means a little less than 0.8 mega pixels. So if you look at an image with a higher resolution, the rest of the pixels just don’t fit your screen and they are lost. You have to remember that you can never see more pixels than the screen can display. A 10 mega pixel image would be much resized to fit the computer screen and the remaining pixels would be lost. If your computer didn’t do that, you could only see a small section of the picture and would have to scroll up and down to see the rest. When an image is zoomed out, the number of pixels is decreased. Viewed on the computer screen, an image which only has 0.8MP and needs no zooming out has the exact same level of detail with one of 12MP which has been zoomed out. To see for yourself, open two images of small and high resolution on your computer screen and see how they look like. Continue reading “High Resolution Cameras – Facts & Myths”