Here is what you need to know about your camera zoom in the outdoors.
I created this outdoor guide to camera zoom after I suggested in this article, that the digital camera you take to record your hunt can also serve other practical purposes.
However, there are some things you should know to get the most out of the camera you buy.
This video is for the Canon Powershot SX260 camera. You may not need all of the details given but watch it to see the difference between digital zoom and optical zoom.
Maybe you do not want to spend $450 on a camera but if it works as binoculars, a spotting scope, and video camera as well, it is a bargain.
Outdoor Guide to Camera Zoom
When it comes to outdoor sports, your choice of optics can be the difference between boom or bust.
- Success in many outdoor sports depends on the optics such as a hunting scope, binoculars, or a range finder.
- Other outdoor sports benefit from adding optics for better viewing.
- Outdoor sports are a place where you want to record your exploits.
- With optics, the more versatile it is, the better.
With modern technology and an understanding of zoom, it is possible for a single digital camera to serve most of your outdoor needs.
Bringing it in Close
The most interesting things outdoors happen far away. You always want to see a little more, reach a little farther, or climb a little higher. A big part of outdoor sports is exploration and discovery. That is also the point of having a camera with zoom.
Video cameras, digital cameras, and even cell phone cameras come with zoom features these days. There is a reason for that. We love to see more. However, not all zoom is the same.
Digital vs. Optical
Your camera is likely rated for two different kinds of zoom, digital and optical.
- Optical zoom is created by the lenses. The distant image is brought closer.
- Digital zoom is simply focusing in on a small area of the picture like cropping a photo. It does not require a lens adjustment.
That is all nice to know, but what does it mean? And which do you need most?
Which is Best?
Optical zoom will be superior to digital zoom in most all of the critical tests, however, in the outdoors, the difference may not be enough to matter.
As you saw in the video, maximum digital zoom may not produce clear, crisp videos and pictures but it still provides the details you want to see.
When you choose your camera for the outdoors, pay for the best optical zoom that you can afford and enjoy the extra range of the digital.
What Else Do You Need?
The downside of using a camera this way is that it is electronic and electronics and more prone to failure than mechanical binoculars or spotting scopes. You must have:
- A storage bag to carry and protect your camera and to store extra items.
- An extra battery and memory cards if you plan to use the camera a lot.
- A lens cloth to wipe off dirt and moisture without scratching your lens
- An adjustable tripod.
If you are going to skimp here, don’t skimp on the tripod.
Remember, that the further the zoom, the more critical the camera stability. Long range viewing demands a solid support. Plus, in a pinch, a tripod can double as a gun rest for very long shots.
In the outdoors, versatility and adaptability are key to success. A decent digital camera offers a lot of opportunities for both.