The zoom power…

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My friend has just bought a new digital camera and was unsure about the zoom because there was 2 mentioned – digital zoom and optical zoom.
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I checked my photo “database” to show him the difference between a digital zoom and an optical zoom. I did not realise how my digital camera optical zoom came in handy when I took this picture of my sibling way down at the beach in Port Dickson couple months ago.

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This shot was taken from the condominium that we stayed. My dad is holding a fishing rod with one of my sisters whilst my brother is holding fishing net. One of my sisters is “marching” towards them to check out whether they caught anything. The reflection from the sea was great.

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After several minutes, when the sun was blazing of them and the fishes shying away from the coast, they head back to the condominium.

Now, what is the difference you may ask – between a digital zoom and an optical zoom?

An optical zoom actually changes the focal length of your lens. As a result, the image is magnified by the lens (sometimes called the optics, hence “optical” zoom). With greater magnification, the light is spread across the entire CCD (“charged couple device”) sensor and all of the pixels can be used. You can think of an optical zoom as a true zoom that will improve the quality of your pictures.

A digital zoom is a computer trick that magnifies a portion of the information that hits the sensor. Let’s say you are shooting a picture with a 2X digital zoom. The camera will use half of the pixels at the center of the CCD sensor and ignore all the other pixels. Then it will use interpolation techniques to add detail to the photo. Although it may look like you are shooting a picture with twice the magnification, you can get the same results by shooting the photo without a zoom and blowing up the picture using your computer software.

(see: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/digital-camera26.htm)

So, the next time, you are buying a digital camera, remember to check on whether the zoom mentioned is an optical zoom or not. Don’t be confused between optical zoom and digital zoom.