In Season 2, Episode 1 ("Brother") of Star Trek Discovery, the crew takes images of an asteroid's surface using Discovery's "telescopic cameras".

Since one of the images shows

a starfleet vessel which has crash-landed on the surface,

the image is put on the main screen and we hear Michael Burnham say the following:

"There's no way to zoom in any further!
Commander Saru, I know your vision has a larger optical window than ours. Can you make out the registry number?"

which was not a nice thing to do, because it completely broke my suspension of disbelief in the middle of the episode.

Seriously? The Discovery's main screen has no "digital zoom" feature? My PC was able to do that back in the 20th century! Oh, and they could have also just walked a few steps closer to that huge view screen.

On the other hand, obviously, a lot of effort went into that scene (we even see Saru's eyes "zooming in"), so there might be a perfectly logical in-universe explanation that I have just missed.

Why weren't they able to just digitally zoom in on the image taken from the surface?

  • 2
    The only possible explanation I could come up with would be that Saru's vision has an enhance button (warning: TVTropes) which the Discovery's computer doesn't... – Heinzi Jan 20 at 12:46
  • 2
    I think this is just bad writing... Discovery probably has bazillion-pixel cameras with telescopic lenses better than Hubble, so that shouldn't happen... – Loki Jan 20 at 13:00
  • 2
    Because terrible writing – Valorum Jan 20 at 16:25
  • This reminds me of the times that TNG went "Oh no, our massive state-of-the-art exploratory science starship doesn't have sensors that can scan that thing! Geordi, please look out the window"... After the first time, why didn't they upgrade their sensor suite? – Chronocidal Jan 23 at 9:18
  • I don't think this is about zooming, but about making out the actual letters from the image. In real life, this is also ridiciously easy for humans to do, but computers struggle with it (think about captchas). So, it's easier for Saru to make sense of the image. – Philipp Flenker Jan 25 at 13:29

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