How CNET reviews camerasNatali Del Conte shows us how we test cameras at CNET with the help of editors Lori Grunin, Josh Goldman, and Matt Fitzgerald.
[ music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Natali: How does one go about testing digital cameras? We're gonna show you how we do that here at CNET today. I'm outside the office of Laurie Grunin, she's one of our Senior Camera Editors at CNET, and she's gonna show us how that process works. So let's go inside her office. Hey Laurie. >> Laurie: Hey. Have a seat. >> Natali: Thank you very much. So you review cameras here. What does that include? >> Laurie: Well for me that includes anything pretty much that costs over $500. I do digital SLR's, and the high-end ultra super mega zooms. And I split the beat with Josh Goldman, who does the less expensive models. >> Natali: So where do your cameras come from? >> Laurie: They come from the manufactures. I request evaluation units from them. We get them on short term loans. And occasionally on long term loans, because I need to have some around for comparison, especially the more popular models. >> Natali: So when a camera comes in, what's the process that it goes through? >> Laurie: First thing that happens is I bring it over to Matt Fitzgerald, our tester, and I open the box and we look to make sure it's what we wanted. And he gets it photographed and starts the in-house testing on it. >> Natali: So you must have a lot of lighting specifications to test a camera. >> Laurie: Oh, yeah, we have a lot of expensive lights too. >> Natali: And where do you keep all those? >> Laurie: We have a permanent set up in our testing lab, which we lovingly refer to as the urt. [phonetic] >> Natali: Do you want to show me? >> Laurie: Sure. Okay. >> Natali: Hey Matt! >> Matt: Hey Natali! >> Natali: I came to take a tour of your lab. >> Matt: Oh, that is great. I would love to show you. >> Natali: What is this scene you've got going on here? >> Matt: This is a scene that mimics lots of things in real life that gives us various textures, patterns, colors. And since we use the same scene for every camera it allows us to be consistent and to compare different cameras. >> Natali: Is this the first process that a camera goes through, is this scene here? >> Matt: Yes. This is the first process that a camera goes through. We, we photograph the scene. And then we move onto the other things that we have, such as, well you'll see a basic primer here. >> Natali: Uh huh. >> Matt: And that's where we get into measuring all the performance of cameras. You certainly wouldn't want a camera that was slow that you would miss your shot. >> Natali: Right. >> Matt: It's a common complaint of people. That we can measure their performance and make sure that matches what the manufactures are telling people. And then down here we have a very nice set of HMI lights, which are day light balance, which allow us to do a lot of objective testing under perfect lighting conditions. What you see on the wall here now is for measuring sharpness, which is very important. Mega pixels don't tell the whole story. The lenses have a large part to do with it; how sharp, how distorted they are, and other artifacts that they create. >> Natali: So what other equipment do you need for that besides just the chart and the lights? >> Matt: Although the lights are the main thing, we have several other charts that are used. We have color checker charts, which are used for evaluating the color accuracy of the cameras. We also evaluate the, how much noise is created in the cameras. >> Natali: So, do you analyze all that data yourself? >> Matt: No. No I don't. In order to remove the subjectivity we have some very nice software here at CNET that we use to analyze all the things we just discussed, the color, the sharpness, the distortion, and the various other things that we measure all get analyzed with the software. And then all the data gets exported to spreadsheets. >> Natali: Okay. And then once you have those spreadsheets then what? >> Matt: Then all that data gets compiled together. I compile it all. And that all gets delivered to both Laurie or Josh. >> Natali: And then they write it up. >> Matt: Exactly. >> Natali: Okay, well lets see what the write up process is like. We'll go into the Josh. Hey Josh. >> Josh: Hey Natali. >> Natali: I'm gonna bug you a little bit, so that we can learn about the review process. Are you writing a review now? >> Josh: I am. Yep. Just finishing up one right now. >> Natali: How does that work? You take all the data from the lab and then what? >> Josh: Basically gather it all up and then compare things. I compared my real life results to the lab results and see how things flushed out between them. And then we write up the comparison, look back at competitive models to see how they matched up, how the photo quality matched, how the performance matched up. And then we put together a review, usually about, well depending on how complicated the camera is it will be anywhere from 700 to 2,000 words. >> Natali: And what do you think are the main specs that consumers are looking for from you? >> Josh: From me it's a lot of; it's still megapixels, even though they matter less and less, LCD size, the bigger the better usually, and the zoom range. A lot of people are looking for that little bit of extra zoom. >> Natali: So after you write up your review what happens? Do you send it somewhere? >> Josh: Ah, right. It goes off to our copy edit staff. And they look it over, put everything together, the charts and the, the photo samples that we put together, and post it up on the site. And it's done relatively fast. >> Natali: And then you're ready for your close up, because you do a review for CNET TV right? >> Josh: Exactly. Because we want to give our readers a good idea of the physical size of the camera and how it operates. And the extent to what we go to to make sure that they're happy with their final purchase. >> Natali: Well thank you very much. I'll let you get back to your review. >> Josh: Thank you. >> Natali: No problem. So next time you're looking to buy a camera you'll know that we put it through the wringer here at CNET, now that you know the process. Thank you for visiting CNET, and thanks for watching this video. I'm Natali Del Conte in New York for CNET TV. ^E00:05:27