Megapixel Vs Optical Zoom
I am new to digital photography. This may sound like stupid. Would a higher optical zoom compensate for Megapixel resolution. I heard that human eye cannot actually distinguish more than 4 MP if the picture is around 12 by 6. So Should I buy a ' 5 megapixel camera with a 4X optical zoom ' or a ' 4 megapixel camera with a 5X optical zoom ' thanks in advance..

Comments (5)

Ravi, The human eye has limits. The JPEG compression technique uses that weakness. A pixel will always be a certain size when printed, or when viewed on your monitor (at 100% of it's size.) And the resolution you select on your camera, say 1280x1024, will give a certain image size and any picture you take at that setting will yield the same image size, and would fill my computer monitor right now. Taking the same picture at 5x optical zoom would still yield the same number of pixels, the same image size, but you'd be "zoomed in" on some smaller portion of the first picture, "blowing up" that portion 5 times, hence getting a better "resolution" on that portion. That's how the Hubble Space Telescope works, zooming in on very small portions of the sky. Then, the pieces are joined together to form a very high-resolution image.

But more is better, so you could print Hubble's pictures at say 5'x5' easily, just because they contain enough information (resolution). Would a higher optical zoom compensate for Megapixel resolution? They are two different animals. But it would compensate, as it did for Hubble, if you put them together into a larger picture. Hubble also has, as far as I know, multiple CCDs arranged into an array, to increase the "resolution" of each shot. The more pixels for a certain zoom, the better the resolution...

I hope this helped. Mike..

Comment #1

Most would easily take the 5mp with 4x zoom as not all of your pictures will use max telephoto.

I find that even 4x still is quite limited in some situations, most cameras have 2x telephoto adapters so a 4x zoom camera with the adapter will have a zoom of 8x. More importantly, what type of photos will you be taking? What's your budget?..

Comment #2

While most would take the 5 meg camera with 4x zoom, that's not that different from a 4 meg camera with 5x zoom in a practical sense. The difference between those two cameras, assuming equal quality just isn't that great, one probably gets you closer but supports less crop and enlarge, the other may not be as close but allows more crop and enlarge. Highly dependent on the particular camera and the actual zoom range, as well as the intended usage of the pictures. (I can pick 3 cameras and have 5x, 6x and 7x zoom ranges and they would all be from 190 to 210mm equivalents at the long end of the zoom, that's just 5% either way on a 4x magnification.) A meg difference was more significant when talking 1, 2 and 3 meg cameras. If you don't intend to make prints larger than 4x6 or for monitor viewing, a 2 meg camera with a 10x zoom may be more useful than a 5 meg camera with no zoom. If you want to make prints larger than 8x10s, then the more pixels the better...

Comment #3

"Zoom" is a somewhat meaningless term. When trying to frame a picture, what matters is the Field of View (FOV - most often stated in terms of 35mm equiv focal length). One camera's 4x zoom might go from 28m to 132mm while another from 45mm to 180mm. Both are 4x, but have have different capabilities. If you are going to shoot groups of people indoors where you cannot back up to get a wider view, you will want the first camera. If you are trying to get shots of birds, you will want the second...

Comment #4


I like to do nature photography. I am about to buy another digital camera. Hopefully the last one for a while. I am considering the Olympus C series cameras. Would I be doing better with a 3 to 4 meg 8 to 10 X zoom or a 5 megapixel with a 3x zoom and then crop the picture. I will not make any print larger than 8x10.

Thanks for responding...

Comment #5

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