This article will introduce the concept of optical zoom and digital zoom and will guide you on how to distinguish their difference.

Applies to: All Reolink cameras 

Optical zoom: If taking a lot of photos from far away subjects is important to you, be sure that the camera you buy has an optical zoom. An optical zoom camera's lens can adjust its focal length, like the zoom lens you’d use on a film camera. They produce many better-quality images

Digital zoom: When you use digital zoom, the camera enlarges the image area at the center of the frame and trims away the outside edges of the picture. The result is the same as when you open an image in your photo-editing program, crop away the edges of the picture, and then enlarge the remaining portion of the photo.

Digital Zoom vs Optical Zoom Comparison Chart

Item Digital Zoom Optical Zoom
Function Digital zoom crops the image down to a centered area with the same ratio as the original and also interpolates the result back up to the pixel dimensions of the original. This method involves cropping, hence the resolution and quality are reduced. The optical zoom ratio of a digital camera measures how much the lens can actually zoom in to make subjects appear closer. Optical zoom enlarges a picture while keeping the resolution and sharpness of the picture.
Resolution and image quality Digital zoom crops a portion of the image and then enlarges it back to size. And due to this, image quality is reduced in comparison with the original one. There is no relation between the optical zoom and the resolution of the photo, as optical zoom only enlarges the whole image or the subject to a certain range. So image quality only depends upon the megapixel (MP) of the camera.