Never having owned or used a camera with a decent zoom lens before, I am understandably excited at playing with my new camera. I have used cameras with a digital zoom, and I've found most digital zooms really are kinda crappy. I've very impressed with both the optical and digital zoom on my camera.
This photo is a normal 1X view of the swimming pool from my apartment, no zoom at all. Note stairs in the pool. Go ahead and click for the large version.
This is a full 8X optical zoom picture of the same view and stairs.
And this is the full 8X optical plus 4X digital for an effective 32X zoom of that same pool stairs as viewed from my apartment.
The digital zoom is surprisingly clear.
The actual photos taken by the camera are about 2-1/2 times the size of what you get on the screen, due to Photobucket cropping the file size, but you get the idea. I'm looking forward to taking it to the mountains and seeing what I can do with it.
Or the park, or the river, or the mall, or........