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Difference between Zoom and Dolly

Difference between Zoom and Dolly

Most people think of zoom and dolly as interchangeable terms for the same kind of shot, but in reality they are two very different techniques with unique purposes. We’ll explore the differences between zoom and dolly shots so you can choose the right one for your next project.

What is Zoom?

Zoom is the technique of altering the focal length of a zoom lens. This allows the user to change the field of view without moving the camera, and is incredibly useful for capturing close-up shots or vast landscapes. There are two types of zoom lenses: optical and digital.

Optical zoom lenses use a series of mirrors and lenses to magnify the image, while digital zoom lenses rely on algorithms to digitally enlarge the image. Zoom lenses are often used in photography and filmmaking, as they allow for a great deal of flexibility when framing a shot. However, it is important to note that zooming in too much can result in a loss of quality, as the image will become pixelated.

What is Dolly?

Dolly refers to the actual physical movement of a camera. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but the most common is to mount the camera on a dolly, which is then pushed along rails or a track. This type of dolly shot is often used to film moving vehicles, such as trains or cars. It can also be used to create smooth tracking shots through busy streets or crowded rooms.

Another popular way to achieve a dolly shot is by suspending the camera from a crane or helium balloon. This allows for dramatic shots that would be otherwise impossible to capture. No matter how it is achieved, a dolly shot adds a sense of fluidity and motion to a film, giving it a professional look.

Difference between Zoom and Dolly

Zoom and dolly are two techniques that are used to change the framing of a shot. Zoom is achieved by changing the focal length of the lens, while dolly refers to the actual physical movement of the camera. Typically, zoom is used to change the framing while keeping the camera in one spot, while dolly is used to physically move the camera to change the framing.

Zoom can be used to either tighten or loosen the shot, depending on whether the focal length is increased or decreased. Dolly, on the other hand, will always result in a tighter shot, as it effectively brings the camera closer to the subject. Zoom can be used for a variety of different effects, such as creating a sense of tension or unease, while dolly is often used for dramatic reveals or tracking shots. Ultimately, the choice of which technique to use will depend on the desired effect.


Dolly is the physical movement of the camera, whereas Zoom is the focal length of the lens. When it comes to video production, it’s important to understand the difference between these two techniques in order to create footage that looks smooth and polished. In short, use Zoom when you want to keep your subject in focus and use Dolly when you want to move the camera around.

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