You have seen the terms already come over once: optical and digital zoom. IP cameras come in two basic types. Fixed-position cameras have no moving parts, and can offer digital zooming to end-users. PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras have built-in motors that can aim the camera and adjust the lens for optical zooming. But what the difference between the two?

Digital zoom: Some cameras offer a digital zoom, which is simply some in-camera image processing. When you use a digital zoom, the camera enlarges the image area at the center of the frame and trims away the outside edges of the picture. The result is the same as when you open an image in your photo-editing program, crop away the edges of the picture, and then enlarge the remaining portion of the photo.

Optical zoom: If taking a lot of photos from far away subjects is important to you, be sure that the camera you buy has an optical zoom. An optical zoom is a true zoom lens, like the zoom lens you’d use on a film camera. They produce much better-quality images.