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I have a general question regarding optical zooming.

By taking an optically zoomed picture, the result is essentially a fixed-size picture that cuts off the surroundings in order to zoom in on a part of the image. Is there a way to take an optically zoomed picture but include the cut-off surroundings (IE. Optically zoom the entire field of view seen before zooming)? This would create a larger picture that could be panned.

  • What problem are you trying to solve? – Itai Nov 22 '16 at 22:14
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No. Zooming in works by moving the optics of the lens so that the focal length is longer, resulting in a reduced field of view and greater magnification actually projected on to the sensor. This isn't like "digital zoom", where only part of the available area is used. In optical zoom, you've reconfigured the lens so that the wider context is simply outside of what's being recorded.

If you want that larger view, you have two basic options. One is to simply leave the lens zoomed out to its widest setting, and there you go. You won't have the same resolution of detail — but that's why we have zoom lenses in the first place. The other is to zoom in to a long focal length, but take many images and stitch them into a panorama.

  • Thanks for the clear explanation. You mentioned possibly stitching images together: There is a technique I believed called "stacking" as demonstrated at gigapan.com/galleries/6967/gigapans/75452. This image can be zoomed in with extraordinary detail. Do you know of any way something similar could be done with video rather than still images? Is it possible to stitch videos together rather than images like you suggested? – jfin Nov 22 '16 at 4:00
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    @jfin stacking and stitching are 2 completely different techniques. – jwenting Nov 22 '16 at 9:03
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    @jfin This site is dedicated to still photography. Video is specifically off topic here. However, the traditional solution for videographers is to shoot at a much higher resolution than the intended resolution of the final product. If you shoot at 4K (3840x2160) to produce an HD (1920x1080) video you leave yourself room to crop up to 50% in post-production. – Michael C Nov 22 '16 at 9:05
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    I think using video frames to construct a still photograph would be on topic. It's photography, just using a non-standard tool. I'm not sure if that's what's meant, though. – mattdm Nov 22 '16 at 20:38
  • @jfin if you can separate the video to separate images you can then stitch them together using photoshop. – Crowley Nov 23 '16 at 16:54

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