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Zoom

The ability to zoom is one of the handiest features on a camera. Rather than having to move yourself closer or farther from a subject, you can use the zoom to change the apparent distance. So you can make your subject appear to be closer to the camera by zooming in, or you can widen the field to get more in a shot by zooming out (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12. Three different views of the same scene, taken in the same spot, using the zoom to change the framing.


Digital cameras (depending on your model) use optical and/or digital zoom. Optical zoom uses the lens to magnify the subject and will give you a good photo at full resolution. Digital zoom can get you closer to the subject, but it enlarges the image using the circuitry in the camera, much the way you'd enlarge it using image editing software—and with the same effect. Digital zoom results in a lower-quality picture (Figure 4.13).

Figure 4.13. Even though the second, digitally zoomed, shot brings Megan and her friends in closer, it loses detail and sharpness that is there in the first shot.


The bottom line is that you should stick with optical zoom unless it's absolutely necessary to get a closer shot.

Using Optical Zoom

The zoom control allows you to reframe a shot without moving. This is incredibly convenient and is thus a feature that you'll use a lot. You can change from a wide angle to a close-up without moving an inch. Typically, you'll find the zoom control on the top of the camera. Just look through the viewfinder (or LCD display), and push the zoom button to move in or out.

Using Digital Zoom

Most digital cameras with both optical and digital zoom are set to use the optical zoom by default. If you find that you want to get a closer shot, you can change the setting to keep going beyond the optical zoom's range. As you zoom, the display will indicate where optical zoom stops and digital zoom begins (Figure 4.14).

Figure 4.14. The zoom indicator shows you when you've gone past optical zoom territory and into digital zoom.


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