Zoom on a camera is something we can no longer do without. It helps us capture distant objects or even capture objects at a normal distance as if they were right next to us (Yes, perhaps we should do an article differentiating portrait photography and voyeuristic photography). What confuses most consumers are the terms optical zoom and digital zoom. Under optical zoom vs digital zoom we will tell you why cameras, in their specs, have two types of zoom. 

Most photographers who have, at some point, used a 35mm camera or an APS sensor camera would have no clue what this ‘Digital Zoom” is, as their cameras have been fully manual. They are only familiar with Optical Zoom. Optical Zoom uses the optics (yes, clusters of spherical lenses in your lens) of the camera to zoom in on an object. Digital zoom is simply a software facilitated zoom brought on with the digitalisation of cameras. It wont be uncommon to find a cameras or camcorders with 300x digital zoom.

If you were to understand the Optical Zoom vs Digital zoom debate in a nutshell, digital zoom is not really zoom. What it is, is simply a blown up image clicked as if it was zoomed in, thus ‘simulating’ optical zoom. In simpler words, the digital camera crops a part of the image and then enlarges it to a normal image’s size. In so doing, you lose onto image quality. Ever noticed why your 20MP camera clicked pictures at 10MP when you zoomed in, this is why. Thus digital zoom gives grainy and pixelated images.

So under the debate of Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom, one would think, is digital zoom all bad? Well no, not at all. It is an added feature. All digital cameras come with this feature so its sort of unavoidable. Many people argue that bad quality images are better than no images, well for them then Digital zoom is something to be happy about. Digital zoom is also useful if you are inept at using a image editing software like Picasa or Photoshop to crop and blow up your pictures as needed.

The most important point in the Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom debate is thus : Always use Optical Zoom.

Try to use digital zoom in a condition where you do not have any other choice. Also if you want to print your photos larger than 4″ x 6″ then avoid digital zoom at all costs.


While comparing cameras, always use the criteria of Optical Zoom. No point making a comparison between digital zoom and digital zoom or digital zoom and optical zoom. Simply pitch optical zoom against optical zoom. Funny, right? You thought you’d find a different conclusion in an article titled Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom, but this my friend is the answer to your query.