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Buying a Digital Camera

How Much Optical Zoom is Needed?

SUMMARY: Do you require a digital camera with 6x optical zoom, or is 2x or 3x enough?

(Note that this tip was written for users of compact, intermediate, and prosumer digital cameras. Digital SLR users can purchase lenses with different zooming capabilities.)

With the plethora of digital camera choices available, one question you may ask is how much optical zoom do you really need for the types of photos you want to take? Purchasing a digital camera with a greater optical zoom distance is more expensive than one with only a 2x or 3x zoom, so this decision can greatly affect your pocketbook.

While there are no hard and fast rules, consider the following suggestions. Realize that even if you need a lesser zoom for most of your photos, there will always be times where a greater zoom may be useful.

* Are you primarily taking photos of friends and family, such as in parties or social situations? If so, a 2x or 3x zoom should be plenty. Just be sure to get up close if you need to record detail of a situation.

* Looking for photos of outdoor scenery, or interested in taking photos of architectural elements in a cityscape? A 5x+ zoom can help you take pictures from further away without sacrificing detail.

* Interested in taking photos of wildlife where you need to stand back to avoid scaring animals away, at sporting events where you may be situated in third level seating, from atop observation decks in large metropolises, or other situations where it will be difficult to get in close to your subject? That 7x+ zoom may be needed to get the photos you want.

Zoom magnifications differ between cameras. While this tip is written as a guide, if you need specifics, read the mm capabilities of a digital camera's lens. The higher the mm, the greater the telephoto capabilities (zooming in) of a particular lens.

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides information and links to public-domain, open source, freeware, shareware, and commercial software available for download.