WARNING! - Using the Digital Zoom on Your Camera Can Lower Your IQ!

Jul 12, 2013

If you’re a budding photographer looking for a new camera I’m sure you have been enticed by some incredible deals.  Goodness knows there are definitely so many choices out there.  Not only that, but as with most camera choices these days I’ll bet they come with some amazing features.

One feature in particular…the digital zoom!

How many of you have dealt with a sales person who says to you “This baby not only has a 10x optical zoom but it comes with a 200x digital zoom.  Pretty cool huh?!”  Well, not to burst your bubble Mr. Salesman but my answer to that would be “Actually…pretty lame dude.”

See, I think they should explain in more detail WHAT a digital zoom actually is.  But since they never do, I will explain it here so that it is finally out in the open.

There are two types of zoom on any camera.  An optical zoom and a digital zoom.

An optical zoom means that the lens is doing all the work.  When you zoom in 10x, as per my original example, it means that you are ACTUALLY zooming into your subject  by 10x.  There is NO loss of quality in your picture.  If you have a 12MP (mega pixel) camera, then the photo you zoom into with your optical zoom is 12MP.  There is no loss of quality in your image.  What you see zooming in by 10x, is a full quality image that is just as magnificent as your non zoomed in image.  I love my optical zoom lens.


Photo Credit: www.ephotozine.com

A digital zoom means that the cameras computer, processor, or other cybertronic gadget residing in your camera is, well, GUESSING at what you are looking at and through digital technology is trying to create a near enough facsimile of what it thinks you are looking at.

You’re probably asking your self now “Huh? What did he just say?”  Well let me break it down a bit more.

When you use your zoom on your camera, for example, that has a 10x optical and a 200x digital, what usually happens?  You push the button and the camera zooms in to your subject.  Then the zoom stops when it’s reached the end of the optical zoom and you have to push the button again for it to now go into the digital zoom mode.  And again, what usually happens at this point?

You’ll notice that the subject starts to get blurrier, fuzzier, hazz…ier??  Now why is that?

Well, your camera can’t find any more information to work from so it guesses at what you are looking at and creates, or adds, more pixels that resemble what it thinks it’s looking at.  In other words once you have reached the end of your optical zoom, your camera goes into guessing mode.

Really I think instead of your sales dude saying that the camera has a 200x digital zoom he should tell you that the camera has the ability to arbitrarily create pixels of information that it thinks is there, but probably isn’t, to create an imagine that is completely, if not entirely, useless for any purpose what so ever other than to show your friends and play a version of “Guess what I”m shooting” because really, if you can actually make out anything in your photo taken in such a manner you should win a prize.

That description of a digital zoom would be, unequivocally, the best, and only, description that should be used to explain a digital zoom.

So now that I have vented my frustration with what  a digital zoom actually is what am I really saying?

If you are wanting to shoot like a pro…

If you are wanting to take more professional looking photos…

If you are wanting more professional results from your point and shoot camera…

If you don’t want to be seen as someone with a low IQ…

NEVER…EVER….use the digital zoom on your camera.  Just with this one tip I can assure you you will always get a better result and feel more confident in your shooting.  So remember, if you are looking to buy a new camera always buy one that has a high OPTICAL zoom, not a high DIGITAL zoom.  And never, ever, ever, use the digital zoom for taking photos.  I believe I made that statement twice but it bears repeating :)