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Author Topic: Digital zoom vs optical zoom  (Read 2785 times)
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MattB
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« on: August 25, 2020, 10:12:24 pm »

Hi Forum,

I'm looking to change my camera but can't get my head around Optical Zoom and Digital Zoom.

As an example, a camera with an Optical zoom of 60 and a Digital zoom of 4. It doesn't make sense to me.

Regards and thanks in advance.

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lappino
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2020, 02:50:30 am »

Here's a simple explanation:

https://www.dummies.com/photography/digital-photography/the-difference-between-optical-zoom-and-digital-zoom-on-your-digital-camera/

In reality, I'd disregard any notion of a "digital zoom" for the criteria of choosing a digital camera.

Cheers

Vlad
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Russell Judge
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2020, 08:15:09 am »

I agree with Lappino
Avoid "digital Zoom" at all costs if you can!
You will just lose resolution and the increase in zoom is never justified.
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ChasB46
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2020, 11:33:40 am »

I bought a Lumix FZ1000 approx 5 years ago ( newer Mk2 available now) to replace a Canon SLR + numerous lenses to carry around. I did take my own USB card into shop and tried various cameras and compared them at home with my usual software etc. with the Canon with equivalent max zoom. Still have the Canon etc. but not used since (did compare for a few weeks side by side). 
However I would compare /purchase a camera within my budget range on its normal photo quality not just on having a digital zoom. Treat the digital zoom as a bonus.
BUT I forgot I had a digital zoom capability for 4 years and actually missed taking many photos. I have since learnt my lesson and a photo 90% brilliant is better than none.
A digital zoom is not all or nothing ...you use as much of the range gain as you choose.
I find the atmosphere more of a challenge at long range than the zoom degradation.
Question ..how do you view your shots? A4 print, 68cm monitor screen or projector screen? Would the slight degradation matter?
In summary I would say compare your camera options on price/ normal quality and then does it have digital zoom.   In my opinion a digital zoom is worth at least 10% + value on a camera and
given the choice between a 600 euro camera without and 680 euro one with I would choose the latter.  Over time how many extra good photos would you now have?
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MattB
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2020, 02:13:04 pm »

Ahh, thanks for that gentleman. Yes, it sure is difficult trying to pick out a decent camera. I currently have a bridge camera as I'm not one for changing lenses and I've had it for around 9 years.
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Patrick Hill
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 02:30:49 pm »

I'll give another vote for the Lumix FZ1000 - check out this photo http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=3195447 - optical zoom is 400mm equiv, this was taken at 800mm maximum. Image reduced to 1152x768 to meet minimum site standards, still think it's very sharp. As ChasB46 points out, environmental issues cause more problems, heat haze especially. You may be able to find the original FZ1000 still available online at quite a discount on the mk 2 version.
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Aleksi & Tane Lindström
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 06:17:02 pm »

Here a third vote for the FZ1000, costs around 500 EUR and you get photo quality similar to dSLR's thanks to the big censor (13.2 × 8.8 mm, 1 inch type, 2.7x crop factor). I fell in love with it so much that I now have two of them, one as main cam and the other as backup.

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Aleksi
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ChasB46
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2020, 06:43:15 pm »

Subsequently to my original posting others have praised the FZ1000.
For some in-depth info re Lumix FZ1000 and newer, but not necessarily better models take a look here https://www.grahamhoughton.com/.  Very informative.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2020, 07:16:00 pm by ChasB46 » Report to moderator   Logged
MO Roy
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2020, 11:02:27 pm »

Hi Mattyboy,

If you want a bridge camera and best quality available you have the following options:
-Sony RX10 mark III or IV. The mark IV is quite expensive and more for sports / fast moving objects.
-Panasonic FZ1000 mark I or II as already mentioned by other members.
-Panasonic FZ2000, little more expensive then FZ1000 and more orientated to video.
The above options all have same size sensor and consequently more or less same image quality.
Other options are Panasonic TZ 100 and TZ 200 and Sony RX100 mark VI and mark VII, those are smaller and have generally less quality lenses compared to the ones mentioned above, though still the same, relatively large, sensor.

Do not know what your current camera is but smaller size sensors will give you less image quality, especially in low light.
If you go for the small sensor camera's I would recommend the Panasonic FZ300 as the only real option. An advantage for the FZ300 is that you currently can buy one for less than 400 euro's. It will still give you nice pictures.

I think all of the above will also have digital zooming on top of their optical zoom. I however never use the digital zoom and rather crop the picture on my laptop.

Cheers,
Roy
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MO Roy
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2020, 12:30:22 am »

Hi Mattyboy,

Just checked your pictures and you use a Fujifilm HS10 (nice pictures!).
This mean the RX10 and FZ1000 should give you a bump in image quality.

I forgot to mention the Canon G3 X, same league as the above though without a viewfinder (you can buy an external one extra).

I personally use the RX10 mark III and am very happy with it.

Cheers,
Roy
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pieter melissen
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2020, 09:16:48 am »

I once (2014) made a trip to Indonesia, and not wanting to carry my normal kit (Canon 1D + 28-300 ISL lense), I bought a Canon G7 (450 Euro) with a combined optical and digital zoom. The optical zoom gave an 8 times magnifying factor, and after that the digital zoom came in, for further magnifying to 12. We made a trip in the Surabaya anchorage, and I never regretted the absence of my normal stuff more than at that day. Also the crossing from Java to Bali ended with some very disappointing shots. Therefore my advice: No digital zoom at any time.     
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Owen Foley
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2020, 02:59:07 pm »

Digital zoom is great for marketing to people that don't understand what digital zoom is.
Optical zoom is the only zoom that means anything.
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Cedric Hacke
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2020, 05:56:34 pm »

Other options are Panasonic TZ 100 and TZ 200 and Sony RX100 mark VI and mark VII, those are smaller and have generally less quality lenses compared to the ones mentioned above, though still the same, relatively large, sensor.

I have a 10 year old Lumix TZ10, quality in low light is a little lower due to the smaller sensor size but generally it is an excellent and very portable package.  Most of my pictures on here are taken with that camera. It cost me €340 back then and still works perfectly after all these years and many thousands images. An added bonus with a smaller camera like that is that you look like a tourist, which can come in handy in places where they are not so happy on photography (such as certain ports which have been mentioned in this forum before).

On the RX100 quality will be excellent because you have the same size sensor you’ll find in entry level DSLRs. Sadly because of this, this camera is quite expensive. It is recommended by quite a few tech websites because of the image quality, the versatility and its light weight. Pretty much the only bad mark is its price.

Kind regards
Cedric
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ChasB46
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2020, 06:41:03 pm »

Re my earlier Lumix FZ1000 input. I have never compared Digital zoom v optical zoom in the 5 years I've had the camera. Today, first time. Folk-law said it was worse so I never bothered. Today took maximum optical zoom of tug Apex and then a digital zoom to full. Optical zoom filled half of monitor screen so zoomed to full screen to compare with digital zoom( full screen, no further enlarging needed) . With the digital zoom I could read writing on open engine room door at 1 nautical mile ... optical enlarged blurred. So in this instance digital superior ..I was surprised so now I'm leaving it turned on.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 10:27:20 am by ChasB46 » Report to moderator   Logged
MattB
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2020, 07:17:25 pm »

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your input. Appreciate it. I think that FZ1000 might be nearer my budget but again I'll have to take a closer look
at the specs on the other cameras.

It might have to wait awhile though. I drove over a pothole and my front shock needs replacing, it's virtually come out of it's cup !  Cry

But yes, it's interesting 2 know what others are using. I want something that may give me a competitive edge.


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