How To Use Optical Zoom Lenses on a Camcorder

Today there are two types of zooms that can be found on cameras: an optical zoom and a digital zoom. In order to get the best from each zoom, it is necessary to understand how each works and the best ways to use them. The optical zoom tells the capabilities of lens on the camera while the digital zoom really talks about the camera software. The digital zoom will show how much the picture can be enlarged, though no additional details are recorded. With an optical zoom it is possible to get much more detail in the video. When shooting, using the optical zoom is preferred over the digital zoom.

Step 1 - Optical Zoom

Most camcorders will come with a 10x optical zoom. This means that by using the zoom it is possible to enlarge the image 10 times from what it really is. It is an actual increase in the focal length of the lens so the distance between the image sensor and the center of the lens will change depending on the zoom. Many camcorders and cameras come with ultra optical zooms, such as 18x or 35x. The greater the zoom the more detail can be captured. Experiment with how the zoom works and what is best for your video.

Step 2 - Zoom Range

Instead of looking at the 10x or 35 x it is necessary to look at the type of zoom available in the camera specifications in mm. This is because a 10x zoom will measure the distance between the 2 extremes. So if the minimum capabilities is 25mm and the maximum is 250mm then this is a 10x zoom. However, another camera with a 10x zoom can have a minimum of 35mm and maximum of 350mm. So the magnification will be different. Before shooting, make sure you know what type of zoom you have.

Step 3 - Hold it Steady

The greater the zoom, the more effect slight movements will have on the video. A slight tremor by your hands will look like an earthquake on film. When using a zoom, particularly the larger zoom, it is best to use a tripod. The tripod will ensure that the camcorder is held steady and will not create unknown movements on the film.

Step 4 - Zooming in and out

Try to keep the zooming to a minimum. Too much zooming in and out can actually make the viewer seasick. If this video is spontaneous try to zoom in to capture all of the action and keep it at that zoom. If it is possible to plan out the shoot then see about planning the different zoom settings and when and how much to zoom each time then do so.

Step 5 - Resolution

When using large zoom of magnification, make sure that the video resolution is set high enough. A low resolution paired with an ultra high zoom will not produce very good footage. Look at the different specifications of the camera to make sure that the resolution and other options will produce the right quality at the zoom you are using. It is possible to set these parameters to suite the optical zoom magnification.