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need buying advice - megapixals vs zoom

by Tuckerd6 / January 22, 2005 2:29 AM PST

I am looking for a second camera and have done research but still can't decide. My first camera is the 4 mp Kodak cx7430. I love it except for the zoom. I take mostly outdoor scenic shots and am looking for something with a lot of zoom and the ability to enlarge pictures 8x10 and above. Is it better to have more zoom or more megepixals. I have a Canon Elan 7e SLR and am looking for something more compact. I will spend $500-$600 but am not ready for a DSLR. Currently am looking at Olympus C-770 and the new Kodak7590. I'm not sure about the Kodak though...seems a little too plastic. HELP !

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Megapixel vs. zoom
by rgfitz / January 22, 2005 2:56 AM PST
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More megapixels will provide more detail in the picture
by Kiddpeat / January 22, 2005 3:05 PM PST

that the camera takes. This allows you to do the equivalent of a digital zoom if you work with the image in a photo editor. Another way of saying it is that you can get larger prints which will show more detail.

Digital zoom in a camera does not get much respect since it throws pixels away. It is optical zoom which is important. Most consumer cameras talk about the zoom range of the camera. This doesn't tell you a lot. You need to know what the maximum focal length is. A 50mm lense will let the camera see what your eyes can see. There is no magnification. A 100mm lense is twice as powerful, and would be called a 2x or 2 power lense. 200mm is a 4x. It will magnify things to 4 times their normal size.

A consumer camera might say it is 10x, but that may just mean that its focal length goes from 10mm to 100mm. Thus, it can only double the size of the objects you can see with your eyes.

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Zoom matters more, but hi-res may be good too
by digitalcameraguide / January 25, 2005 8:42 AM PST

Sure, digital zoom does not cause any increase in the quality and detail of the subject of the picture, and decreases the quality of the picture overall. However, if you start out with a higher number of megapixels (more detail/quality), some optical zoom can be used before the quality drops below your standards.

For example, say you want to take a picture of something far away. The quality of how well the picture shows your subject can be "measured" by how many pixels in size your subject is on the picture (given all else - like noise - is equal). Say you have a Panasonic FZ1, and your subject just about fills the screen when you use the 12x optical zoom. In this case, the subject is 1600 pixels across. Now say you have one of those super-nice Nikons with 8mp and 6x optical zoom. The 8mp image is 3200 pixels across (twice as long and twice as tall as the 2mp image). If your subject filled the screen with 12x zoom, it will take up 1/2 the picture with 6x (assuming the wide-angle-end equivalent focal lengths are the same, or pretty similar). This means it will be, again, 1600 pixels across.

In the end, what matters is how many pixels the camera fits per degree of your field of view. The pixels per degree are proportional to the square root of the number of megapixels (FOUR times the magapixels means TWICE as many pixels per degree vertically, and TWICE as many horizontally), but it is proportional to ONE TIMES the optical zoom (TWICE the optical zoom means TWICE as many pixels per degree vertically, and TWICE as many horizontally).

In other words, because the pixels are about AREA (two dimensions) and the zoom is about linear proportionality (one dimension), the optical zoom has a much greater effect on the detail of something far away - you need a lot more megapixels for the digital zoom to have the same effect.

In other words, twice the optical zoom gets you as far, detail-wise, as four times the megapixels. Or 1.4 times the optical zoom gets you as far as twice the megapixels.

So go for the optical zoom. I'm a very happy Panasonic owner myself, having started out with the FZ1 and now using the FZ10.

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