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>> David Carnaway: Hi, I'm David Carnaway [phonetic], Executive Editor for cnet.com, and I'm here to talk digital camera 101 with editor Laurie Grunin [phonetic]. First question, Laurie, what are the big classes of digital cameras that people should be looking at?
>> Laurie Grunin: Cameras fall into a bunch of different classes, usually defined by their size, but also by their capabilities. Smallest are the ultra-compacts. They fit in your pocket, obviously, and are different from the compacts, not only by size, but capability. Ultra-compacts tend to be the least-capable of the cameras, whereas compacts start to introduce more features like manual exposure modes. Mega-zooms are large point and shoot camera that have a mixture of capabilities depending upon price and tend to have very long zoom lenses. Finally, you've got digital SLRs, which produce the best image quality and have the most features, but the price you pay is in portability.
>> David Carnaway: Alright, a lot of people talk about megapixels. It's not so important anymore, but how many megapixels should you look for in a camera these days?
>> Laurie Grunin: Well, frankly, if you can find a camera with less than seven megapixels then, well, don't buy it. But right now, pretty much any new camera you buy is going to have enough resolution. And we're not even seeing a lot of seven-megapixel cameras anymore, and you know, that's plenty.
>> David Carnaway Different manufacturers' cameras tend to come with different types of memory cards. Is that something that people should be concerned about?
>> Laurie Grunin: You should only really care about the memory card if you're going to be using it in different devices. For instance, Sony uses their proprietary memory stick duo. Olympus and Fuji Film have their proprietary XD picture cards. The most common formats are SD, secure digital, and compact flash. And frankly, if you're going to be looking to be sticking that card in a television or using it in a different device, then you need to worry about whether it's proprietary or not.
>> David Carnaway: So are there any extra special features that are now going into cameras that people should be really looking at as kind of something they really should have?
>> Laurie Grunin: Frankly, there aren't a lot of really "gee whiz" features that make a camera better. There's a lot that look good on checklists when you're buying, but I would say extra special features you may wanna think about are things like wireless connectivity, GPS for geotagging your photos. There are a bunch of other features that if you're a little more advanced like [inaudible] shutter priority, sort of semi-manual exposure modes. You definitely wanna look for video capture, preferably HD video capture. There are some features that manufacturers put in there sort of to make up for defects in their autofocus systems. Face detection's there to make sure that it's automatic focus system focuses on faces instead of the park bench the people are sitting on. Things like smile shutter wait until the subject of the photo has smiled before it shoots. Of course, then you miss opportunities to shoot other, funny faces that they might've made.
>> David Carnaway: Now, what's the difference between, say, a camera that costs less than $200 and one that costs more?
>> Laurie Grunin: Well, generally as price increases, performance increases and image quality increases. Under $200, the camera may not be able to keep up with kids and pets when you're trying to shoot them. It may not be able to take pictures in low light that you're gonna like. Whereas, you spend a little more money, you start to get better image quality in low light and you get better performance when it's shooting things that move.
>> David Carnaway: And when you're talking about performance, you're really talking about things like shutter speed and how important is that in shooting?
>> Laurie Grunin: Yes, and it's really not shutter speed so much as shot lag. It's how long the camera takes to focus and shoot. And that can make a considerable difference. You know, if you're looking at our reviews, you wanna look for something that has a shot lag of half a second or less. That's in good conditions, or maybe eight-tenths of a second or less in low light.
>> David Carnaway: Most cameras these days have some sort of zoom capabilities. How much zoom is really a good number to get in a camera?
>> Laurie Grunin: I think about 5X is probably a good range to look for. It's important because you wanna have a lot of flexibility when you're shooting. You wanna be able to shoot large groups and you wanna be able to shoot landscapes, but you also wanna be able to zoom in on individuals.
>> David Carnaway: I'm David Carnaway for Laurie Grunin. Thanks for watching.
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