Zoom or not to zoom


For years I have believed I should in no circumstances use digital zoom available on my phone camera. Today I finally decided to test it. First of all for my surprise the pictures where zoom used turned out they are same size in pixels as in photos where no zoom used. Then I had a look on them at PC screen… …

I took two photos. In the first one I used no digital zoom. In second one I used digital zoom to pick up a detail in the same view. Here's the original where no zoom used.

Here's the area cropped from the picture above, where no digital zoom used.

And finally the one I took using the digital zoom.

For my surprise the picture taken with digital zoom looks even a bit better and sharper than if I would just crop the same area from photo where no digital zoom used. All these years I have believed it's better not to use the digital zoom because one can just crop the same afterwards. But now I'm not so sure anymore. At least the quality is not very different, thus suggesting it's just alright to compose the wanted area already on the spot using digital zoom.

There is of course the limits how much zoom-in is reasonable to use. The number of pixels the sensor can produce is limited. Too much digital zoom and it is just an awful pixel mess. But in certain limits digital zoom works just alright. Moreover it is important to understand this experiment of mine is only for online media. My camera phone is capable for 3.2 mega pixels which means I get 2048x1536px pictures. So, there's plenty to crop for pictures usually presented on Web sites. For example I usually downsize the pictures in my MyOpera albums to 1280×960 pixels.

UPDATE 2010-09-09: The ultimate question is whether the interpolation algorithm on camera works better than it does on photo editing software when decreasing the size or cropping images for Internet. For print media it is still better not to use digital zoom of your camera phone but just walk closer to the subject to catch the pertinent if possible ๐Ÿ˜‰

Recommended readings:
Digital Vs Optical Zoom by Panther Products
Digital image interpolation: Note on optical vs. digital zoom by Cambridge in Colour

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27 thoughts on “Zoom or not to zoom

  1. As always, it's worth to try, or should I say: know the equipment we have ๐Ÿ™‚ I always say to myself: ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ You were smart in discovering the possibilities of your phone camera ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚ I don't see significant differences between photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. When I took silk screen printing in HS we used exacto blades and hand cut the emulsion. But if you got really close to the print you could still see the screen pattern on the edge of the ink. Does it say diapers are advisable in your owners manual or is that just me?:awww::cry:Why did Zarusthustra spake?

  3. Sami, I think what really matters is the software the particular camera uses to provide the "digital zoom". On my HD-20, unless I'm being really nit picky and incredibly slow I can't be sure when it's lens or digital zoom. At least the film doesn't go grainy at high ISO. Unless, of course, that's what you want it to do. (I kinda like that effect):lol:If I want to isolate a subject by focus I find I have to use a little zoom despite a low f stop. It's like a new set of skills that are intrinsic to this particular camera. I just wish it was easier for me to upload from it in the field. I'd have a great time with it!Back to field work. When will I ever get my own lab?!

  4. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Does it say diapers are advisable in your owners manual or is that just me?

    :faint: Can't follow, sorry :DOriginally posted by fainoantonietta:

    ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

    After the smoke vanish, it's time to read the manual ๐Ÿ˜€ Except in case of Sony Ericsson Cybershot camera phones I have not seen anything about the quality of photos taken with digital zoom :left: Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    I think what really matters is the software the particular camera uses to provide the "digital zoom".

    Absolutely :up: I really forgot to emphasize enough this works if one would decrease the size of image to be published on Web pages and such. For prints it is still better to have as much "real pixels" as possible. All this is well explained here: http://www.pantherproducts.co.uk/Articles/Digital_Camera/digital_optical_zoom.shtmlI'll update my post a little by adding a list of recommended readings ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Optimism is so much easier first thing in the morning. Don't you think?

    No worries, usually optimism should diminish before noon ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. :up: I'll try to not succumb to the frustration of homelessness and the temptation to be overly sarcastic. :DI'll also keep searching for an easier way to transfer photos from my camera to be uploaded w/o trashing my netbook. :yes:Optimism is so much easier first thing in the morning. Don't you think?

  7. Are you trying to effect my boiling point depression!:irked:I just replaced 5 spokes on one of my trailer wheels. It's a good thing there are 48, because it took about 3 months for me to be able to do it!:eyes:You know, this BlackBerry is built reeeally well! :yes: and it doesn'teven scab up and heal!

  8. :awww: Come on! I'm only "polynya"ing your leg! :lol:You won't get "in trouble" that way! Will eye?

  9. Here you go Sami. I conceite your right. :lol:Digital zoom on my BlackBerryAnd this is a screenshot of a nonzoomed BB photo magnified by Opera MiniIt's just barely better, but, still it is. :idea:Do they make a ribbon that'll hang out my cell and enable easy exchange of SD cards. I'd need a special holder for it in the camera too! :insane:If only soldering didn't take so high a wattage. I've got that battery and graphite tip deal but it's not a hot iron! :irked::dragonfly::monkey::banana::heart:

  10. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    It's just barely better, but, still it is.

    Difficult to say on PC because the first one was displayed much bigger than the second one. On Opera Mini, where they are displayed in the same size, the second photo looks sharper :up:

  11. Damn it! Just lost a whole book of a comment. (This thing won't really work with 2 tabs open). Yes, so many options and so little time to gain skill in using them before the next upgrade. Just took a couple of shots in a moonless, partially cloudy sky in 800 iso and they did come out grainy! :up: ๐Ÿ˜† I've been using it early morn. Now, don't go telling me I dropped my guard and lost an ear,(again?). You're outta your skull.

  12. Soldering in the field is a job for butane, not batteries. :left:.If you camera uses standard SD cards, you should try a mini-SD adapter. :left:.Ever considered adding a dynamo to your drive chain? :whistle:.I'm tempted to try my own solar experiments with my netbook. Although to be fair, I never have relied fully on battery power. :rolleyes:.

  13. "If you camera uses standardSD cards, you should try amini-SD adapter. .Ever considered adding adynamo to your drive chain?" – Already do use the sd adapter and have a perm mag motor to use as a dynamo but haven't gotten round to rigging it up. Heat and dust, not to mention torrential rain and flash floods have been a factor all summer. I have become very critical of the physical design of the usb port for use in the field.

  14. Yeah I can imagine. :insane:.I've always questioned any 'open' style connection for similar reasons. Even normal indoor conditions can wreck havoc on usb and other connectors. In that way they're no improvement to rs232 :down:.

  15. I wonder if the difference between Digital zoomed frame and non-zoomed but cropped frame was more to do with how exposure was evaluated and shutter speed was determined. The field of image in non-zoomed frame seems overall darker than the zoomed one, which probably resulted in more exposure and/or slower shutter speed (and less depth tolerance). That probably explains your perceived impression of less sharpness of non-zoomed picture, because there'd be more blurring due to slower shutter speed and larger out of focus areas because of less depth tolerance from larger exposure.Still your finding is very interesting all the same. In future if I have choice of digi-zoom or not digi-zoom, I shall try to do both. Thank you very much for an informative post, Sami. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. You are right Mimi's Mum, different exposures also affect significantly on how we perceive the sharpness.In general I recommend to use no more than approximately 1/3 of the digital zoom. Any greater "magnification" and very likely the results are just not good enough, not even for Web publishing.The use of the pictures of course have significant role as well. If you just plan to shoot some moody backgrounds, then I recommend just experimenting more:

  17. With just a smidgen of guesswork to go by I will try to apply your advice. :lol:The signal stopped totally while trying to access this page. :insane: I don't think they're out to get me though!I remain optomistic and am applying myself to a "resolution" of all my technical difficulties! :up:

  18. :cheers: Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    I don't think they're out to get me though!

    I'm sure they are not, whomever you mean ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. It pays me to play it safe though, Sami. :lol:And Yahoo! Just sent me an email saying they'll help, for a price. Which do you think is more powerful Odin's vision or Heimdahl's hearing?Which stinks worse goat's urine or seal's milk?Have you ever seen a moose bull winkle? (It was more like Barney Google) I'd run out of film! Almost got stepped on. He wasn't as angry as the cow in AK. What's the topic again? I resolve to remain on it. :bye:

  20. So many questions :faint: But let's pick one…Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    What's the topic again?

    Photography :p And all the rest could be just nice subjects to illustrate: Odin's vision, Heimdahl's hearing, goat's urine, seal's milk and moose bull winkle :up:

  21. Originally posted by mimi_s_mum:

    I wonder if the difference between Digital zoomed frame and non-zoomed but cropped frame was more to do with how exposure was evaluated and shutter speed was determined.

    :sherlock:.Surely that would affect the autofocus software as well? The zoomed image has less foreground subjects than the cropped one and I suspect that the camera's autofocus assumes that the foreground is the focus priority. :sherlock:.

  22. Originally posted by qlue:

    Surely that would affect the autofocus software as well

    You are right, qlue. It could. And I suppose you can specify how autofocus is done through camera settings, as well as how exposure is evaluated. My three years old basic point and click basic digital compact has "on", "off" or "face-detection"(!) auto-focus settings, and "evaluative", "centre focused weighted" and "spot" auto-exposure settings. I wonder what settings Sami used for those photos. :sherlock:

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