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Chapter 2. Buy Your Camera Gear > Optical vs. Digital Zoom

Optical vs. Digital Zoom

The zoom on a camera allows you to make the subject appear closer to the camera without actually moving closer. When this is accomplished by adjusting the lens (focal length in photographic lingo) it is known as optical zoom. When it is done by the camera's electronic circuitry, it's known as digital zoom. In simple terms, optical zoom is good; digital zoom, not so good.

Optical zoom is better because it records the image at full resolution, so you get a sharp image at any level of zoom. Digital zoom, on the other hand, creates the effect of zooming by enlarging a portion of the image, just like you could do on your computer. But this results in a lower-resolution image (Figure 2.2).


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