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Digital and Optical lenses


22 Aug 2012 5:16PM
I have been told that optical lenses are better than digital lenses. I have a Canon 300D. Can someone explain the difference? Alex

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Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
22 Aug 2012 5:20PM
There is no such thing as a digital lens. They are all optical. You have been misinformed. Smile
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 5:45PM
Apparently 'digital' lenses have a different construction or coating inside to prevent internal reflections that can (theoretically, at least) happen when the light strikes the sensor and that is the only thing I have ever been able to find out. However, I have never heard of spurious artefacts when people use lenses manufactured pre-digital - maybe they have happened but I would guess rarely or under specific circumstances.
But all of them are 'optical' in that they transmit light.
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
22 Aug 2012 5:47PM
There, as Mike indicates, are optical lenses which are supposedly "designed for digital" and some which are from the pre-digital age. But all are optical.
ensign e2
7 192 1 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 7:13PM
Firstly welcome Alex_Noel.

Some cameras mostly compacts use the term "Digital Lens" these are as Carabosse says optical type. From my understanding they utilise the senor and software to increase the size of the image, and I understand the quality can be reduced.

Hope this is useful.
Bernard
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 7:31PM

Quote:From my understanding they utilise the senor and software to increase the size of the image


Ensign - are you talking about 'digital zoom'? (not 'digital lens') - as you say the 'digital zoom' is really only in-camera cropping.
ensign e2
7 192 1 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 7:37PM
Hi Mikehit,

Yes I think it's more the "digital zoom" thanks for pointing it out.
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
22 Aug 2012 8:04PM
It just goes to show how the marketing jargon can confuse.

All lenses are optical.

Some are designed specifically for digital cameras.
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
22 Aug 2012 9:25PM
As a general rule, if you come across a digital zoom in a stills camera the best thing to do is turn it off...................... forever! Smile
StrayCat e2
10 15.5k 2 Canada
22 Aug 2012 10:56PM

Quote:As a general rule, if you come across a digital zoom in a stills camera the best thing to do is turn it off...................... forever!


Except in the OM-D, where the digital zoom results are almost as good as the original jpeg.Grin

From PC Magazine's review of the OM-D;


Quote:I programmed the Fn2 button to activate its integrated digital zoom. If you're shooting in JPG or Raw+JPG, it effectively doubles your focal length. I was quite impressed with the quality of the digitally zoomed JPGs—they were only slightly softer than non-zoomed files, and retained the full 16-megapixel resolution. I also used the function as a manual focusing aid when shooting with legacy lenses. Tapping the button toggles between the two views, and even if you do find yourself firing a shot off when zoomed unintentionally in Raw+JPG mode, the Raw file retains the full field of view—it is only the JPG version that is cropped in-camera.
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
22 Aug 2012 11:01PM
There are 'smart' digital zooms around which lower the resolution when zooming, to avoid pixellation. This is the system used in the 41Mp Nokia 808 camera phone. It is also the case (but for video only) on the Nokia N8 phone.

But, generally speaking, digital zooms degrade quality and the effect can be achieved by cropping after shooting.
StrayCat e2
10 15.5k 2 Canada
22 Aug 2012 11:03PM
Just promoting the best camera available CB.Wink
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
22 Aug 2012 11:05PM
TBH I've not even tried the digi zoom on the OM-D. Grin I only shoot RAW on it anyway.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
23 Aug 2012 12:18AM

Quote:Except in the OM-D, where the digital zoom results are almost as good as the original jpeg.Grin

From PC Magazine's review of the OM-D;



That I like Denny, a very handy tip, I hate the multiple x zoom to aid focusing, x2 would not be to bad Smile
23 Aug 2012 9:41AM
Without knowing exactly what you were told it is difficult to comment reliably.
Some older film era lenses perform less well on digital bodies than more recent optical designs.
Internal flare is potentially greater with digital because shiny digital sensors are much more reflective than film. Some of the independent lens makers got "caught out" because to keep costs low they did not multi coat the rear element in the film era - and had to introduce upgraded rear element coatings when digital took off.
Digital does not handle light at a low angle as well as film. In the film era it was normal for wide angles to have a small rear element close to the mirror - which was fine for film but often gives extra corner shading and CA with digital. There are now many telecentric optical designs with the needs of digital sensors to the fore.
As a rule of thumb modern lenses specifically designed for digital often produce better results on digital than older film era lenses.
Even so second hand film era lenses can still produce very satisfactory results at affordable prices.

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