Before you buy: Cameras and camcordersMany camcorders can take photos, and still cameras can shoot video, and both make great gifts. CNET's Natali Del Conte and Lori Grunin take a look at the merits of both so you can make the right choice.
^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:13 >> Ms. del Conte: Hi. I'm Natali del Conte with cnet. And today I'm here to help you make a good decision about buying a digital camera this holiday season. There are so many to choose from. And you don't want to just choose by the cheapest there are a lot of variables. So we have Lori Grunin with us here today. Thank you for coming. >> Ms. Grunin: My pleasure. >> Ms. del Conte: And she's going to tell us: What are the best ways to choose a digital camera. First off, what are the different types of cameras that you review? >> Ms. Grunin: Well, still cameras like you see here and camcorders or video cameras. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. And what are the different needs for different types of cameras? I know there's just the regular point and shoot but then you also review the big mamas in the digital SLR. >> Ms. Grunin: Right. Point and shoots or -- tend to be very small ultracompact and they're good if want to have something always around. They tend to overlap with the capabilities of your cell phone or your camera phone. So it depends, if you have a really good camera phone, you may not want a point and shoot. You may not want to get somebody a point and shoot. If you want something that's fast and can photograph kids and pets and things like that, then you really want an SLR. Point and shoots even the mega zooms really can't handle that type of speed shooting. Or alternatively to shoot your kids and pets you can always go with a video camera because they are designed to capture motion. And they come in all sorts of types from the budget flip camcorder type products to regular you know big HD camcorders. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. So let's start with the little point and shoots then. What are the price range for those these day? >> Ms. Grunin: Well, the prices actually range up as high as say $600 depending upon the sort of all the nifty features they include. But really you know if you want to get somebody a nice gift of a point and shoot, $200 to $250 is usually a good price range. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. And some things that we should look for? I know a lot of them have smile technology. >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. Frankly, I tend ignore all those gimmicks. And you want something that just has really good image quality and decent performance which unfortunately are things you can only get by reading reviews you can't just look at the specs. >> Ms. del Conte: Right. >> Ms. Grunin: And it always has to be easy to use which is something you really want bring the person you're buying the gift for into the store and have them touch the camera. If you want to make it a surprise, you can still do it under false pretenses and whatever but. >> Ms. del Conte: Right. >> Ms. Grunin: You really want to see how the camera feels to them. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. And what about mega pixels? Do we need to compromise? >> Ms. Grunin: Don't worry about that. Frankly, anything that you'd buy these days has enough resolution to handle anybody's needs. >> Ms. del Conte: All right. And optical zoom versus digital zoom? >> Ms. Grunin: Digital zoom? Forget it. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn't exist. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. >> Ms. Grunin: Optical zoom remember that on one hand more is better because it provides for flexibility. On the other hand, you can't really make a good lens that covers a really broad range. So if you want something mainstream about 5x to 8x is a good range. >> Ms. del Conte: And then let's move on then to the SLRs. What is a good acceptable price range for a good SLR. >> Ms. Grunin: Well, depends upon your user. You can get a really good kit that's a digital SLR body with a lens for about $700 these days. And that's a really nice gift to give someone. However once again, especially with SLRs, you really want to know what they like and what it feels like to them. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. And then you can go crazy switching out the lens, right? >> Ms. Grunin: Yes. >> Ms. del Conte: Probably if you're giving someone a gift like this you're going to let them choose the lenses? >> Ms. Grunin: Yes. And that's actually a very good idea too. And frankly the if you're looking for a gift for somebody who already has an SLR, there's lots of accessories that you can buy that make really nice gifts like another lens or a flash or a tripod. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. >> Ms. Grunin: Or faster memory, bigger memory, or lots of stuff. >> Ms. del Conte: Right. And now digital cameras are taking video. Is that video worth having? And how is the audio? >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. It can be -- for a combination device that can be pretty good video. The audio you have to watch out sometimes it's only mono but a lot of times it's stereo. And you can get pretty good useable clips from something like that. If you're looking for a gift for someone who is just looking to upload videos to YouTube something in the $200 range those candy bar style camcorders are a really goods idea. >> Ms. del Conte: But if you wanted more feature and better quality you'd get a real camcorder right? >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. For that you'd pay more. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. Well, let's go take a look at those. So these are the higher end camcorders, right? >> Ms. Grunin: Yes. Something like this they have better zoom lenses. They cost more. For a good one you really want to spend about $500 to $700. And they have more features like control over exposure, and they can take better stills. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. And most of these are high definition now, right? >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. The standard definition models boast these really huge zoom lenses that you really don't need unless you're planning to do astronomy work. >> Ms. del Conte: And I know when you review these cameras you talk a lot about how comfortable they are in your hand. >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. Because if you can't hold it and you can't hold it still and you can't see the LCD especially in bright sunlight, then it's really -- you're not going to use it. >> Ms. del Conte: Right. If you can't reach the buttons, that's a big deal. So you want to try it out in your hand and maybe have your gift recipient try it too. >> Ms. Grunin: Plus a lot of them these days have these touch screens which some people are comfortable with and others aren't. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. What are the other things we need to consider when you get someone a camera? Do you want to get them a case? Do you want to get them a memory card? >> Ms. Grunin: Everything needs a memory card. Even if the camera or camcorder ships with it, it's probably too small to use. So a nice big 8 gigabytes is a good size for an sd card. >> Ms. del Conte: So this is one of your picks for a camcorder. Why? >> Ms. Grunin: Because it's very well priced. It's only about $180. It takes flash memory and has good HD video and it's portable. >> Ms. del Conte: What about a budget still? Do you have a pick for that? >> Ms. Grunin: Yeah. It's over here. >> Ms. del Conte: Okay. Let's go see. Here's one of your picks for a digital still camera? Why? >> Ms. Grunin: Because it's very well priced. It's an older model but it still delivers very good image quality. It's small. It's well designed. And it's just a nice overall gift. >> Ms. del Conte: Great. And let's take a look at your pick for a digital SLR then. >> Ms. Grunin: Okay. >> Ms. del Conte: And finally here's your pick for a digital SLR. Why is that one of your favorites? >> Ms. Grunin: Because it's very well priced. You can get a kit for about $900 and it's one of the best entry-level SLRs of 2009. It has an articulated LCD and really good image quality and good performance and it's just a very well-rounded camera with a nice kit lens. >> Ms. del Conte: Great. Well you can see all of Lori's picks on cnet.com. Remember to do your homework before you go shopping this holiday season because you want get to the store and know what you're looking for. For more about that again go to cnet.com. Have a great holiday shopping season. I'm Natali del Conte here in New York. ^M00:06:33 [ Music ] ^M00:06:38