Digital Zoom versus Optical Zoom

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ray, May 30, 2004.

  1. Ray

    Ray Guest

    Question, how long before digital zooming replaces optical? Seeing recent
    advances and the very high cost of powerful zoom lenses I have been
    wondering how long it will be before powerful zooms say 1000 are available.
    We do see high zooms on digital video already.

    Would be interested in comments on this.

    Ray, May 30, 2004
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  2. Ray

    Jim Townsend Guest

    Never ?
    Optical zoom in still photography is a non-feature. It's a gimmick. It's of
    no use. It's one thing you don't see on high end cameras.

    You can do your own optical zooming *after* the fact by cropping out a section
    of your photo and enlarging it through interpolation. That's all a digital
    camera does. Not only that, but good software can usually do a better job.

    With video, you have a live moving image. People may be watching the image
    as it is being shot. It's very inconvenient to crop and enlarge sections of
    moving video after the fact.. That's why it's prevalent on video cameras.

    Also.. Video is very low res format. Even high definition TV only uses
    a bit over half a megapixel.. Still photography is *far* more demanding.

    Forget digital, even cropping and enlarging film will result in a degradation
    of image quality.

    Try print an 8 x 10 photo with a 640 x 480 pixel file (Which is about what you
    get with a standard TV frame) and you'll understand.
    Jim Townsend, May 30, 2004
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  3. Ray

    spodosaurus Guest

    It won't.
    spodosaurus, May 30, 2004
  4. Ray

    spodosaurus Guest

    You mean digital zooming here, right?
    spodosaurus, May 30, 2004
  5. Ray

    Bob Williams Guest

    Probably never!
    Anything you can do with digital zoom, you can do with a photo editor.
    After all, that is all a digital zoom does is enlarges a center portion
    of the image. It does not add resolution .
    You can get by with huge zooms in camcorders because the image is
    displayed on low resolution devices (TVs or Monitors). If you freeze a
    camcorder image an print it at 8 x 10 it will look terrible. But on a
    screen it looks fine.
    My Opinion.....
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, May 30, 2004
  6. And given how low resolution video is already, I wonder why people find the
    ability to see a hundred pixels on-screen at a time a useful feature.

    I suppose I should draw my curtains.
    Knee-jerk reaction:

    For the forseeable future, it won't. Digital zoom has not improved to a
    remotely useable level in any amount of time- it still amounts to a massive
    reduction in quality, and any claims of "enhanced digital zoom" are to an
    optical zoom what interpolation is to resolution. The only use it might have
    is in the occasional "art" photo where image quality sometimes doesn't even
    manage to be a secondary concern.

    However, I have been working with computers for quite a few years, and i'm
    learning to equate digital photography more with computers than cameras.
    Given the incredible rate of development in technology, I wouldn't be
    surprised if there are cameras with considerably higher resolution than
    strictly necessary in the next ten years. Perhaps when we are measuring
    resolution at the quarter-gigapixel level, and even a 10x digital zoom is
    yielding more resolution than any digital camera in current production, then
    consumer cameras may ditch optical zoom. I sincerely doubt professional
    cameras will ever ditch optical zoom- given how loathe I am even to crop
    pictures, I don't think I would ever voluntarily give up even the smallest
    slice of resolution :)
    Martin Francis, May 30, 2004
  7. Ray

    Mark B. Guest

    Umm, like, never.

    Mark B., May 31, 2004
  8. Ray

    Jim Townsend Guest

    Yep :)

    Case of typing faster than thinking..
    Jim Townsend, May 31, 2004
  9. Ray

    Skip M Guest

    Digital zoom would more properly be termed digital cropping. It really
    isn't an equivalent of "optical" zoom, it just takes a section out of the
    middle of the image and presents itself to you as the desired image. Your
    image is degraded in proportion to how much you have digitally "zoomed."
    Skip M, May 31, 2004
  10. Ray

    Jan de Vos Guest

    Well... Of course the advantage of doing it in-camera, is that the
    interpolation step is done /before/ compression, which in theory means
    that it should yield a little bit better image than doing it on your PC,
    later. That is a pretty small advantage, IMHO calling this operation
    'zooming' is very misleading and wrong.

    What might be a reasonable feature, in stead of digital 'zoom', would be
    if you could select a piece of the image and have that stored, without
    any interpolation, with less (or no) compression (= more detail). In
    onther words, leave out information in a part of the image you are not
    interested in, at the advantage of _adding_ detail to a piece of the
    image you are interested in.

    Jan de Vos, May 31, 2004
  11. Ray

    stewy Guest

    I bought a Fuji S7000 last weekend and took a series of pictures at full
    digital zoom. After cropping sections at full screen resolution (72ppi) I
    realised the full optical zoom at 12.3mpxl was the same as full digital zoom
    at 1mpxl, but the degredation was very pronounced.

    Go with optical zooms, if you need more powerful magnifications move towards
    stewy, Jun 1, 2004
  12. Ray

    Ron Hunter Guest

    In a word, never. Unless someone invents a sensor that can resolve
    single photons, then digital zoom will never be as good as optical zoom.
    Ron Hunter, Jun 6, 2004
  13. Ray

    FredBillie Guest

    << From: Ron Hunter
    Date: Sun, Jun 6, 2004 3:01 PM
    Message-id: <>
    In a word, never. Unless someone invents a sensor that can resolve
    single photons, then digital zoom will never be as good as optical zoom.And, the very high zooms on Video cameras are a joke.
    FredBillie, Jun 7, 2004
  14. Ray

    Tim Guest

    [ Re: when will digital zoom replace optical zoom ]

    Not this year or next year, but sometime in the years thereafter
    digital zoom should start becoming more common, slowly.

    You're right, for digital zoom to fully replace optical zoom, you'd
    need a sensor that gets near to resolving a single photon (for some
    hazy definition of "single").

    But consider the size and expense of a zoom lens relative to a
    prime lens. Once sensors become good enough and good sensors
    become cheap enough, then it should be cheaper to simply fit
    a non-zoom lens onto your Canon A75 and use digital zoom only.
    Besides being cheaper, it'll be significantly smaller and
    lighter. Smaller and lighter sells, that's what people want.

    That said, other research, sponsored mostly by cellphone sales, is
    ongoing to simply make lenses smaller, cheaper, and lighter. If
    any of this research should bear fruit, then whatever progress they
    make in building smaller/cheaper/lighter lenses will raise the
    bar that much higher for sensors to become cheap/good enough to
    fully replace lenses.

    So digital zoom replace optical zoom in your expensive DSLR? No.
    But, digital zoom replace optical zoom in mid- to low- range
    cameras? Possibly, but only if the research into smaller, cheaper,
    lighter lenses fails. Research is called "research" because of
    the potential for failure, so yes, I think it is possible that
    digital zoom will replace optical for many people (although perhaps
    not the people reading this post, who don't fall into the class
    of average camera users).
    Tim, Jun 8, 2004
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