Digital zoom versus optical zoom
Though they offer comparable results, digital zoom and optical zoom are not the same. Depending on the situation, one type of zoom can prove a better option over the other. Some security cameras offer only digital zoom, while others offer only optical. It is also common for a security camera to have both digital and optical zoom.
Security cameras featuring optical zoom typically deliver between 10x to 35x zoom. With this technology, the camera lens' optical components physically move to zoom in on a scene. Meanwhile, cameras with digital zoom crop and magnify a portion of an image. One way to think of optical zoom is as looking through binoculars, while digital zoom is akin to enlarging an image on a computer screen.
Optical zoom produces better quality than digital zoom, but both techniques can deliver high quality images when used correctly. For instance, digital zoom is ideal for wall-mounted cameras used for discreet video surveillance. Optical zoom is best for capturing detailed images from afar without sacrificing image quality.