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Digital Zoom

Digital Zoom
Digital Zoom
What's the difference between the optical and digial zoom on a digital camera?

I'm looking into buying my first digital camera and i've been reading about the different models. This one model says "3x optical/4x digital/12x total zoom"...what's the difference between optical and digital zoom and what's meant by "total zoom?"
Huh? Speak in simple terms please.

Optical zoom is true zoom. One or more elements (or simply put: pieces of glass) inside the lens moves to manipulate light. This type of zoom is made possible only by the physical properties of the lens.

Digital zoom is "fake" zoom. The camera basically cuts the center of the picture after it's been taken and blows it back up to the maximum resolution that the camera can output. It's simply marketing tool used to push cameras; digital zoom should be completely disregarded when considering cameras and camcorders.

Total zoom is the combined theoretical zoom that can be achieved
(3x optical * 4x digital = 12x total).

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