What Is Optical Zoom in a Camera?

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The optical zoom in a camera is a type of zoom that is achieved through computer components instead of through the actual lens itself. Learn about optical zoom in a camera with help from a professional filmmaker in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Cameras & Promotions for Filmmakers
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Video Transcript

Hi guys, I'm Justin Z. I am a Los Angeles independent filmmaker, and a freelance editor. I've been getting some basic questions about film making, including this one, what is optical zoom on a camera? Well, long story short, it's the only thing you ever need to worry about when it comes to zooming. If anyone tells you about digital zoom on a camera, you ignore them. The basic idea of an optical zoom is the lenses physical ability to zoom in from a wide angle to a telephoto shot, or a closeup. The max optical zoom of a consumer-based camera usually ranges from 3x or three times its area of distance, to five to even 10, but usually not more than that. It is measured in length of millimeters. This one goes from 18 millimeters to 55 millimeters, which is not very good. A professional telephoto lens can zoom anywhere from 18 millimeters to 700 millimeters. This is really good for sports photography or wildlife photography. But generally, you never ever want to use digital zoom on a camera. It just comes out terribly, you see the pixels, it's not a professional photo at all. Even if you're just an amateur having fun with it, don't use it for any purposes. Basically the bottom line is, optical zoom is the only way you want to go when it comes to zooming in on a subject. Digital zoom makes it look pixelated, bad quality, just don't do it. So if you have any questions regarding this or other film making techniques, feel free to ask.

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