Why are Camera Zoom Buttons Labelled W and T?

My daughter recently received a digital camera. One of her first questions to me was asking why the zoom buttons were labelled with the letters W and T. Once you know, you will remember it forever.

My daughter was extremely excited when she got her digital camera for Christmas. The one thing she could never figure out what why the zoom buttons were labelled with a W and a T instead of a plus and minus. The good part of this is it allowed me to explain some basic camera terminology to her.

T = Telephoto

Using a telephoto lens zooms in on the object viewed. “Tele” comes from Greek and means to cover large distances. You might remember it better by relating it to a telescope which certainly zooms in to distant objects.

Here’s an example of the telephoto button used to zoom in:

W = Wide Angle

As the name suggests, this button zooms out to gives a wide field of view. Objects in the frame will appear smaller, but more of the environment can be captured on the image.

Here’s a picture zoomed out using the wide angle button from the same location:

Many digital cameras now are ditching the T and W buttons for plus and minus signs instead.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
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  • Thanks for the info, I am using a dslr camera but still didn’t know this fact..

  • Wow, this was interesting logic. And I guess every digicam owners ought to know this. Thanks

  • Knotryder

    unbelievable, is my only comment as to the level of ignorance these days. Look up the meaning of the word ignorant it not a bad word.

  • Good one. Thank you for the question and, of course, the answer. It is amazing how many miscellaneous pieces of information I quickly wonder about but that don’t make it past that when something else comes up and takes the thought before I can even write it down to remind myself to find out the answer. I have notebooks upon notebooks filled with little things like this to things on much larger scales that I want to delve into and find the answers to – but I hardly sleep as it is!!