Do DSLR cameras have digital zoom? Yes and no. Digital zoom is a function of the camera’s sensor, not the lens. Any digital camera can do digital zoom, even if they do not have an optical zoom capability. You typically find this feature on point and shoot cameras. However, some DSLR cameras have a ‘crop mode’ feature that provides something like a digital zoom but not as zoomed in.
What Is a Digital Zoom on a Camera?
Digital zoom takes place electronically, and the “optics” change automatically. Digital zoom is a method of cropping an image to get closer to the subject. This function trims the edges of the image and enlarges it digitally, thus “zooming in.”
Your camera uses more pixels from a smaller area on your sensor. As a result, digital zoom results in lower image quality than optical zoom if you use this feature.
How Does Digital Zoom Work?
The camera does not do any zooming. When using this feature, you are essentially just cropping your image on camera. That is why when you zoom way in with digital zoom, your image can become pixelated.
Using digital zoom is as simple as when you press the button to take a picture. You do this by pressing buttons on the back of your camera or as part of the menu system. In most cases, you do not get to choose how much zooming occurs digitally since this will depend on resolution and file size factors.
This, however, is opposite from how a traditional optic zoom works. In this case, a lens physically changes its focal length to do the zooming.
Why Would You Use It?
In some cases, you may zoom digitally. For example, if you were taking a picture of your child from the bleachers at his football game. Let’s say you don’t have a long enough lens for the shot; then digital zoom might be an option to try. However, it would not be ideal as there is no telling what image quality you may end up with.
A perfect example of when using digital zoom would be ok is if your posting to Instagram. Pictures are limited to 1080×1080, making it ideal for cropping in on your images and keeping pretty good quality.
How Do I Know If My Camera Has Digital Zoom?
Check your manual or search on the internet to find out more about this feature of your camera. You can also test it by looking at some pictures you have taken in the past. Check their pixel dimensions using an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop. If you do not see any change in the pixel dimensions, then your camera does not do digital zoom.
Can I Do Digital Zoom With My DSLR?
Yes and no. Digital zoom is a function of the camera’s software, not the lens. A crop mode, for example, is available on some full-frame cameras that expand the sensor’s focal length by 1.6x. This focal length expansion makes it act like an APS-C camera. In a way, it is working as a digital zoom.
Since digital zoom is just cropping in on the part of the image, this can be quickly done in post-production using photoshop or a similar product. But, depending on your camera’s megapixels will determine how much you can crop in. A camera with 40MP will be able to crop in. And, you’ll have a way clearer image than, say, a camera with 12MP.
When Should You Not Use It?
As mentioned before, digital zoom can result in a substantial decrease in image quality. If you want to do zooming with your camera, try using the optical zoom capability on your lens instead. This way works through the glass. The results are a much better picture clarity.
Tips for using digital zoom:
Some of these tips for digital zoom are self-explanatory. However, we photographers should always follow these tips for the best zoom photos:
Ask Yourself: “Is it necessary to use digital zoom?”
Do not use it unless you need to. If using a camera with this feature, try zooming-in as little as possible and use your feet to get closer to your subject.
Always Test for Quality
Test out the image quality of cropped images before finalizing them, and do not rely on viewing only what your LCD screen displays. This may give you a false idea of the quality, and you do not want to let down with your shots once they are on a larger screen.
Fast-moving Objects Should Have Minimal Digital Zoom
When shooting sports or other fast-moving objects, do not use this feature as it can cause blurring images if done incorrectly. Keep in mind that digital zoom is used primarily for stationary subjects such as landscapes, portraits, etc.
Don’t Use on Manual Mode
Do not use it when you are in manual mode. Manual focus and exposure will be difficult to determine if you zoomed in too far on your subject. Try using aperture priority or shutter priority modes for this feature instead.
Conclusion: All About Digital Zoom on Cameras
If you do not have a long enough zoom lens, or if your subject is too far away for the camera to focus on it properly, then digital zoom may be an option. However, this type of zooming will result in decreased image quality, and you should only use it as a last resort when no other options are available.
If you need to use this function with your DSLR camera, make sure that the photo’s resolution remains high. Do this by cropping out fewer pixels from one side to compensate for cropping at the other end. Additionally, do not rely solely on viewing images through your LCD screen. These screens can sometimes give false information about how well they turned out after being enlarged onto a jumbo screen.