How to Shoot with Mobile Optical and Digital Zoom

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May 3, 2018

Learning how to shoot mobile pictures with optical and digital zoom will quickly improve your cell phone photography. There are two types of zoom that cell phones have; optical and digital. By knowing when to use each you will be able to quickly take close up shots.

What is Optical Zoom?

Optical zoom uses a true lens that has optics (lens) that magnify the image to bring the subject closer. The image will turn out clear and not pixilated. This is the traditional way of photography and provides a more crisp and professional look. New smartphones have added two lenses on phones to create a better optical zoom image.

What is Digital Zoom?

Digital zoom is the level of magnification achieved through the camera’s internal software. It enlarges a section of an image and magnifies the pixels. This is similar to resizing and cropping an image in photo-editing. If you have ever seen a low resolution image and try to zoom in it will look blurry and pixilated. This creates images that are grainy and pixilated. You don’t need to use digital zoom because after you take the image you can enlarge it with the digital zoom effect in the editing process.

When should I use optical zoom?

As a rule of thumb optical zoom should be used most of the time. This will improve image quality if you plan on printing and sharing your images. Phones are coming out with better ways to allow optical zoom to get closer to the subject.

Zoom Cell Phone Photography

When should I use digital Zoom?

Digital zoom has improved for smartphones but still has a little way to go. The images are still usable for photos and good for close up videos. These close up images work well if they are not printed larger than 4×6 prints. They are great for social media posts.

Cropping instead of digital zoom?

Another way to digitally zoom into a photo is to crop. Shoot with the optical zoom and then crop into the center of the photo yourself. You can do this on any app. To crop manually drag the box around the image with your finger. Using this strategy will create a better image for cell phone users.

Mobile Photography zoom

Which to use?

To determine the best option to use to create stunning zoomed in mobile pictures think about what you are using the image for. If it is for quick social media updates use the digital option; for more professional looking images that you can print use the optical. Cell phones can still create great images if you use optical, digital zoom or choose to crop. To get better images use a telephoto or macro lens lens to get closer images.

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