Optical vs Digital Zoom – Which Is Better?

At the time of getting a security camera for your house or business, one of the things you must consider is the zooming capability of the lens installed. The zoom factor has excellent effects on image quality output and the minute details you’ll be able to see while playing back footage. If a CCTV camera does not have adequate or required zoom capabilities, then you might be missing important details that may render the whole point of getting a camera void. In the market, there are two types of zoom lenses available; let’s discuss optical vs. digital zoom.

Optical Zoom

When the lens’s adjustment is made to the actual lens for zooming in or out, that is optical zoom. The camera lens is rotated; it moves in or out of the optical sensory machine. Image output will be zoomed out when the lens is brought closer to the optical sensor. When it’s away from it, the images will appear zoomed in. Optical zoom vs digital will keep the image clear and sharply detailed.

There are 3 types of lenses available for optical zoom:

  • Varifocal lens – the lens moves physically or manually by rotating the cover it is in.
  • Motorized lens – compared to Varifocal motorized does not require manual adjustment. Instead, the motor will do the movement remotely controlled through NVR.
  • PTZ lens – they are controllable, just like motorized. However, the position is changeable manually as well.

Advantages of Optical Zoom vs Digital
Optical zoom plays on its strength, i.e., clarity. The resultant image remains clear and sharp even as you zoom in on it. This quality allows the user to have effective surveillance from afar, whether domestic or business.

Disadvantages of Optical Zoom
When you zoom in, the CCTV camera magnifies or enhances the field of view, making it narrow. Also, there is a per-camera limit on zooming.

Digital Zoom vs Optical

Digital is the most basic type of zoom. In this kind of zoom, as a default setting, the camera crops out the edges (outer) of the resultant image and zooms it by stretching. This phenomenon gives a closer or zoomed-in view.

However, there is a downside. The issue is that your final image output will be low quality and appear blurred because the pixels are stretched out. If you want to make use of digital zoom, you should go for a camera with a higher resolution. The higher pixel count on high-resolution cameras will cause the image to look more precise and detailed.

Advantages of Digital Zoom
The main pro factor of using this type is that you can easily zoom in on the recorded video as well. However, we cannot say whether the result will be entirely sharp. This is because the resolution is the limiting factor in this kind. The increased resolution yields better image quality.

Disadvantages of Digital Zoom
The issue with digital zoom vs optical is that the images recorded are already larger than normal. Zooming in further only results in the deterioration of the image.

Which Zoom Is the Best – Optical Vs Digital?

With both the types, there will be specifications that may fit for a few and some not, so there is no perfect camera. However, the choice should be according to the end user’s vision, purpose, and intention. The main advantage is a clear image on zooming when using an optical zoom lens. On the other hand, digital zoom will have to sacrifice quality.


So, which one is better? The answer is up to you. Choose according to your requirements. If you are concerned and looking for expert advice, talk to professionals at Illuminar. Not only will we help you decide on the proper lens but also source the best CCTV camera for you. Call us today at +1-281-438-3500

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