Digital Cameras and Camcorders

The zoom lens of digital cameras and camcorders is the ability to vary focal length and, thus the angle of view. Both digital cameras and camcorders have zoom capability. For the consumer this can be confusing because there are two different types, known as digital zoom and optical zoom that is a much better function for the best quality and resolution of digital pictures and video.

The digital zoom enlarges images by magnifying the actual pixels. The finished image is thus affected and lacks clear definition. Simply put, this zoom function merely captures pixels and magnifies those and produces inferior photos, always go with optical zoom, which is a much better capability.

Optical zoom actually utilizes the movement of the lens. The focal length is changed and the image that passes through the lens is captured. Simply put, it magnifies the size of an image by adjusting the lens. Unlike the digital type of zoom, optical zoom enlarges the subject without sacrificing resolution.

Higher optical zoom ratings give better image quality. The ratings vary from 3PX to 20PX and the higher ratings give the best image quality. It gives you all the benefits of the cameras and camcorders maximum resolution, combined with the cameras ability to focus in tight on faraway action.

Often times an optical zoom is more important than resolution because it means you won’t have to magnify your subject and then use software to crop the image and discard some of the resolution as a result.

The Digital type of zoom has its place. It can be used if the only destination for your photos is to view them on your computer, and send them via email. Photos online can be a much lower quality in the camera and still appear acceptable when sent through e-mail or posted on a web gallery. But, if your goal is to print any of your photos you need a camera that has a high optical rating and if your camcorder or camera also has a digital zoom function you should turn it off when taking those pictures. Your digital pictures will be much better in the end, even if they are not as close up.

Another important camcorder or digital camera shopping tip is to ignore digital zoom ratings within optical zoom. Some vendors tout a high total zoom that includes digital zoom, and it is not the true optical zoom rating.