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I know almost nothing about photography. But I am interested in learning. My dad just purchased a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I own a pair of Leica 10x50 binoculars. I asked him how the maximum zoom or magnification of his camera compared to by zoom (10) on my binoculars. He said he wasn't sure how to compare the two.

With my 10x50 binoculars, I can bring an object in 10x closer. What would be the equivalent zoom or magnification (whatever the proper term is) on my dad's camera?

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Leica 10X binoculars show a field-of-view of 6.7°. This is slightly wider than a 400mm lens on a full-frame camera.

The Panasonic FZ1000 has an equivalent 25-400mm zoom, so at its maximum it will appear slightly more zoomed-in than the binoculars, showing a 6.1° angle-of-view.

The angle-of-view is the best way to compare these two because other measures are relative. When stating a magnification, like 10X, one has to know relative to what. Cameras state it in relation to the widest angle, so both a 35-350mm and a 24-240mm lens have 10X magnification because objects appear much closer at 350mm than 240mm.

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  • Would it be possible for you to add the maths for how to get to those 6.1 and 6.7 numbers? That would make this a great answer which could generalise to any binoculars vs camera questions. – Philip Kendall May 22 '15 at 6:27
  • For reference - the formula is: angle = arctan( sensor width / ( 2 * focal length )). See Wikipedia. – agtoever May 23 '15 at 7:19
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In my case, because I do star imaging, we too use FOV instead of magnification. Basing on the formula 57.3 x sensor dimension / true focal length to derive the FOV, you'd get 57.3 x 13.2 / 146 = 5.2° which would make it narrower than that of the binos' 6.1°.

However, if you must stick to magnification, in the old 35mm film days, 50mm was considered the closest to the human eye, i.e., 1X. So 10X in the Leica would be like using a 500mm lens, while in the case of the FZ1000, its 35mm equivalent of 400mm means it's 8X.

So in summary, it would appear that the 10x50 would give a wider FOV AND a larger magnification. Of course, on the FZ1000, if you dropped the MP to say, 5, the focal length would double, the FOV would half, and the magnification would double to 16X too.

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