As Supertramp once said, give a little gift. Mine is this guide to high-performance digital cameras, just in time for the holiday season. I'll be honest: When faced with each new assignment like this--as opposed to, say, profiling a musician, ranting about culture, or writing a personal essay--I wonder what I have to offer my audience. Clearly there are people who know more about digital photography than me--take, say, digital photographers. And clearly as more and more magazines and newspapers get more and more obsessed with the gaggle of consumer technology available there are too many people buying products they simply don't need. Consider, for instance, the tourist at L.A.'s Grove I saw last week, strapped with a $10,000 digital camera--replete with big-ass power flash--all to snap a photo of his loving wife in front of a fountain. A fake fountain in an outdoor mall, mind you. What I mean to say with this is that when I write something about cameras, I am, often, consciously attempting to explain why you don't need a certain product as much as I am trying to highlight one's gifts. I, for one, don't need a digital SLR camera that costs more than $800 (don't know what SLR means? check the guide). But some of you National Geographic photograhers may. I just know that I'll probably play with mine for years, adding lenses, messing with speed and light meters, and likely still be able to publish my shots alongside my travel stories, as I am beginning to do. The cameras are that good now. See for yourself, and by all means, if you must capture a mall-shopping trip--here or abroad--please don't use anything other than a point and shoot. Or else I'll take a picture of you. And share it.