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Thread: Is there any point having 'digital' zoom on a camera?

  1. #1

    Default Is there any point having 'digital' zoom on a camera?

    As far as I understand, 'digital' zoom (on still or video cams) is simply some software in the camera taking the middle of the image and making it bigger. On the face of it, it appears a useful function.
    But, if the camera is not actually receiving any additional information about the frame, then surely exactly the same feature can be had using standard graphics or video editing software.
    In fact, is it likely that the computer's software can do it better.

    I often see this advertised as a feature of cams and was wondering if there was anything particular which the camera does.

    As usual, sorry if this is dumb question.

  2. #2


    Some wise man once said "there are no dumb questions" or something like that. A digital zoom is just a sales gimmick. I don't even have digital zoom on my camera. The picture quality loss is usually so bad you can't tell what it is your pointing at.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Hertfordshire, UK


    There are sometimes uses.

    Some people don't have the image editing software to enlarge their images in this way, and some people wouldn't know how to do this. For the non-tech-savy consumer, they can just zoom in on the camera. It may also help them frame the (lower quality) image better when taking the photo / recording video.

    Many people like to take photos / video on their camera without the intention of copying it over to their computer. So for just the viewing pleasure of browsing past events quickly, on a small screen, it's useful. They're not likely to need to edit their photos / video.

    For anyone other than these, I don't see many advantages to digital zoom.

  4. #4


    I dunno Tim. My V1U has that newer "digital extender" thingamabob that's supposed to be a whole new take on digital zooming. I don't know much about it and haven't even had a chance to try it yet, but here's what a couple of reviewers said:

    Zooming from a reasonably wide 37 mm to approximately 750 mm focal length, the V1U also offers a Digital Extender mode. Everyone knows that digital zoom is for amateurs and soccer moms, but that has changed with this particular camcorder.

    Using the addressable CMOS system matched to the proprietary DSP system, the digital zoom takes on a new meaning in the evolution of the HD camcorder world, as the image on the left illustrates. This hand-held frame has the soft-stabilizer mode enabled (the camcorder offers four stabilizer modes) and is at an exceptional distance from the subject.

    Yet the stitching on the pilot's pants and lugs in his shoes are clearly detailed without the macroblocking and pixelation usually assigned to the concept of digital zoom.

    Even the hairs on his legs are clearly discernible, which was surprising to me when I viewed this footage frame by frame on a 2k projector at a size of 40 feet, or approximately life size in scale.
    "On the optics front, we are glad Sony has backed away from useless digital zooms in favor of squeezing out more optical focal length with their 20x Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens. The image quality is excellent, and the zoom control on both lens barrel and handle is very smooth with built-in ease-in/ease-out. There is, however, a 1.5x digital extender that operates similar to professional lenses by enlarging the entire focal range by 1.5 times. So, while your zoom is 1.5 times greater, your wide angle is also that much less wide."
    So maybe we're entering the age of usable digital zoom. But like I said, I really don't know much about it.

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