Security cameras have the ability to zoom in. The zoom function enlarges an image to allow you to have a closer look at a desired subject. There are two types of zoom, namely, digital and optical zoom. All surveillance cameras have the ability to zoom digitally, but only select cameras can zoom optically.

Optical Zoom vs. Digital Zoom

Optical zoom is achieved by actual adjustment to the camera optics i.e. rotating different lenses inside the camera. The lenses are referred to as varifocal lenses because their focalsecurity cameras lengths can be adjusted physically in order to magnify or reduce the size of an image. The optical zoom function does not rely on the megapixel resolution of security cameras to determine the maximum enlargement that can be achieved. In effect, pixelation does not occur as a result of zooming an image optically.

Digital zoom on the other hand, is an internal software image processing function, which works in a similar fashion to desktop image editing software. Digital zooming works by reducing the focus of an image to cover the desired subject, and then cropping the areas outside these margins. The original pixel dimensions of the image are then used to interpolate the cropped image, without changing the aspect ratio. Unfortunately, this type of enlargement disturbs the original pixel layout, leading to pixelation.

Important Considerations when Buying Optical Zoom Security Cameras

  • Zoom Range: Camera lenses have a unique zoom range, which represents the maximum range that a lens can enlarge an image. This range is denoted as a figure e.g. 5x indicates that a lens can zoom an image up to five times its original size. Therefore, if you wish to get a close-up on distant images, choose optical zoom lenses with a higher rating.
  • Zooming Mechanism: The optical zoom mechanism can be either, manual or electronic. The mechanism is responsible for rotating the lenses in order to change the focal point, and subsequently the zoom level. Electronic zoom lenses use a motor to control the movements, whereas manual zoom lenses have to be adjusted by hand. 

For a demonstration on how optical zooming works contact I-Tech Security!


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