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Optical zoom

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A lens that can be adjusted from one focal length to another. Wide zooms cover a range of wide-angle focal lengths while tele zooms cover telephoto ranges and superzooms go from wide angle to a long telephoto.

Related Terms

Cameras with figures in this column have a digital zoom that increases the magnification of the optical lens by the quoted figure. To do this it uses part of the CCD so the resolution is reduced to allow for the increase magnification. If you dont intend making big enlargements this is useful other wise stick to the optical zoom. Most cameras have the option to turn the digital zoom on or off.
(Not be confused with Fixed focus lens!) A lens that only has one focal length (as opposed to a zoom lens). A fixed focal length lens (also called 'prime lens') will often have good brightness, contrast, and be optically well-corrected. For that, it doesn't need any special glass or aspheric lens elements. Fixed focal length lenses are always superior to zoom lenses if they're made with the same optical materials and standards. They usually offer a wider maximum aperture than zoom lenses. They're often preferable for indoor shooting, but are also favourite choices as long telephoto lenses used for wildlife, sports and news photography.