Point-and-shoot and compact cameras are often advertised as having 3x,
4x…digital zoom. But digital zoom is not the same as what is called optical zoom.
Without getting too technical, digital zoom means that the subject in the camera is
enlarged almost like when viewing something through magnifying glass. The
resolution and focus is not as good as with Optical zoom. See this photo example
illustrating the differences between optical and digital zoom.
By default, your non-DSLR camera should be set to shoot in Optical zoom, which
“uses the optics (lens) of a camera to bring the subject closer” (Photoxels.com.) So
optical zoom is what you should primarily use on your point-and-shoot camera.