The higher the optical zoom number, the closer in you will be
able to focus and shoot a subject. Optical zooms can range from
3x up to 24x.
Fast shutter speeds (high numbers) are advantageous if you are
shooting quick moving objects, such as sports, birds, etc. An
example of a high speed would be 1/2000th of a second.
High ISO settings are typically used when you are taking photos
in dimly lit or dark situations. Here is where the quality of
the camera is important. Just because a camera offers a very high
ISO setting does not mean that the image captured will be noise-free.
Noise is tiny specs that appear in a photo. If this is important
to you (taking pictures in dark areas), be sure to buy a camera
that produces quality photos even at high ISO settings.
If you like things to be very automatic, be sure the camera you
are considering has lots of Scene Modes, where you can set the
camera to just shoot, for example, Sports. The camera makes the
correct settings automatically.
This is the viewing screen on the camera. Generally they will
range from 2 to 3 inches in size...the larger, the better. Some
cameras offer this with or without an electronic viewfinder, which
is the small opening you look through when framing a shot.
Automatic flashes usually work for a specific distance. If you
are shooting in situations where you will need to use the flash,
check out the flash distance of the camera to make sure it will
work well for you.