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Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom vs Hybrid Zoom : Difference Between the 3 Types of Camera Zooms

Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom vs Hybrid Zoom

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:18 am

Time was when zoom was largely the concern of a videomaker or serious hobbyist with a camcorder.

These days zoom is much-talked-about, especially in these days of smartphone video.

Why it’s Important to Know the Different Types of Zooms

So, it’s important to know the difference between optical zoom, digital zoom and hybrid zoom.

This will help you know when to use them. The knowledge will also come in handy when you’re out buying a new camcorder or a smartphone.

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom is also known as real zoom. There is actual lens movement in this type of zoom to magnify (zoom in) or demagnify(zoom out) an object.

It is a form of lossless magnification done by increasing the focal length of the lens.

The higher the focal length, the narrower the viewing angle is, giving rise to increased magnification.

Optical zoom provides the highest magnification quality.

Good optical zoom should give you the experience of physically moving closer to the object.

Digital Zoom

With digital zoom, magnification is done electronically.

It is similar to the magnification done by image editing software. It just enlarges the image by increasing the pixels within the area covered by the lens.

The rest of the image is cropped out,

Digital zoom also known as artificial zoom reduces image resolution and quality.

Watch the video below to learn more about the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom.

What is Hybrid Optical Zoom?

Hybrid zoom is available in smartphone cameras. It is a combination of optical zoom and digital zoom enhanced by AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology.

The technology, through software magic, aims to improve the capability of optical zoom to provide natural images at higher zoom levels.

Unlike camcorders, smartphones have limited optical zoom capability, usually in the range of 3x to 10x.

Zooming beyond this limit results in a loss of image quality. This is when the ‘intelligence’ hybrid zoom is needed to set things right.

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