Friday, December 12, 2014

What does a 60X magnification on a digital camera means

I am always troubled by the magnification factor of digital cameras. Recently, there is an advertisement about a camera that could zoom 60X. Now if that is a DSLR standard then it will be 3000 mm super telephoto lens. A standard lens is 50 mm (1:1 view) If you see professional camera man, you will notice that they carry camera with super long lens and that is generally a 1000 mm lens. It is thus impossible that a compact camera have 3000 mm focal length lens.

In actual fact the magnification on a compact camera is a negative magnification type. That is to say you set the maximum focal length then you could zoom out to view more areas. Taking the Nikon P600 as an example. The focal length is about 4.3mm to 258 mm.  To a standard 50 mm lens, 258 mm is about 5x and 4.3 mm is -12x. So you practically can zoom in to 5x for a telephoto and zoom out 12x to get super wide angle.

For a person who likes telephoto zoom, 5x is generally not good enough but is sufficient for not-so-far-distance shots. 12x wide angle shots will be useful only if you are in a very tight spot like shooting a large building on the edge of a steep slope. Consider the aperture of F3.3-6.5 (P600), practically you can only shoot at bright light condition without flash.

The conclusion is that it will be convenient camera to carry around but don't expect very good quality photos when you play with telephoto shots. Moreover, at 100 mm and above, you practically need tripod. There is no way you could shoot a picture free hand using telephoto. The convenience is totally lost if you need to carry an extra tripod.