[Updated: June 16, 2011 @ 8:38am - added photo gallery] There are still a few more shopping days left to get dear old Dad a gift that will put a smile on his face, and what better to do that with than some shiny new accoutrements for his digital camera? So without further ado, here are some of my favorite digital camera accessory gift ideas:
Tenba Discovery DaypackEvery photo enthusiast I know is on a constant hunt for a better camera bag. One of the most useful bags I've seen lately is the Tenba Discovery Daypack, a perfect gift for the outdoor adventurer dad. Part of Tenba's new line of lightweight, adventure-friendly photo bags, the Discovery Daypack weighs just 2.4 pounds but sports plenty of storage space to fit a full-sized DSLR with multiple lenses. There's even a compartment designed to fit a hydration reservoir (think CamelBak), that can double as a space for a tablet or netbook. The backpack is a great size--not too big, not too small, and the attention to detail on this bag is impressive. The bottom panel is waterproof, which lets you put the bag down on wet surfaces without worry, and there's an easy-to-access weather-proof cover included as well.
If your dad is lucky enough to have both a digital camera and an iPad (and with more than 25 million iPads sold to date, chances are he is), then the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is a no-brainer of a Father's Day gift. The kit includes two small white dongles -- a connector for your camera's USB cable and a tiny SD card reader -- and lets you import photos and videos directly from your camera or SD card, bypassing the annoying iTunes synching process. It supports most standard image formats, including raw files and JPEGs (of course) and on the video front, supports both SD and HD video formats such as MPEG-4 and H.264. With a slew of great photo-related features being added to the iPad when iOS 5 comes out, the iPad is going to become an even more flexible photo accessory itself, so the connection kit will likely get even more use. Unfortunately, the iPad Camera Connector does not officially support other USB devices, though some folks have found workarounds, so if you're lucky, you might even be able to use the following gift idea with it.
Backing up digital image files is a critical, but easy-to-overlook process, especially when you're on the go. With most of today's new digital cameras sporting double-digit megapixel resolutions, managing the large resulting files while away from home can be a particularly arduous process. Most folks probably download their images to a notebook and worry about backing them up later. With Lexar's Echo line of flash-based USB backup drives in hand, though, your favorite father can rest assured that all his photos and videos can be easily backed up on the fly. The Lexar Echo ZX is a super low-profile drive -- measuring barely three-quarters of an inch long -- and can be left plugged into a laptop or netbook's USB drive unobtrusively, so it's always at the ready when you need it. In fact, you can set up the built-in backup software to run automatically, and choose what type of files to back up (text documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos, etc.). With fast transfer speeds up to 28MB/s read and 15MB/s write, backing up is a snap.
Everybody and their father has seen those pocketable desktop tripods, but for an even more versatile tool to steady your dad's camera, check out the Alite Twig Pod, available exclusively from one of my favorite photo gadget stores online, Photojojo. The Twig Pod is a skinny, collapsible monopod that's designed to be planted in the ground like a tent spike. In fact, the collapsible design is similar to a modern-day tent pole (with bungee cord running through it internally, so you pull and fold it into four sections). Though it's not strong enough to hold a DSLR, it's a great accessory for a point-and-shoot, with a ball-head mount that lets you tilt the camera to a number of different angles. You can even tilt the camera and use the Twig Pod to add distance for taking an "arm's length, plus" self-portrait. It works with a standard threaded tripod mount and measures 25 inches extended or just 8 inches collapsed.
Polaroid Grey Label GL10 Instant Mobile Printer Chances are your dad is old enough to remember when Polaroid cameras could give us instant print gratification, but nowadays the vast majority of photos never even get printed out. Enter Polaroid's Grey Label GL10 instant mobile printer. This portable printer uses Polaroid’s Zink print technology (like the company’s PoGo printer and camera line) to instantly print photos from most PictBridge-enabled digital cameras using USB, or wirelessly from cell phones or other Bluetooth-compatible devices. Relatively portable at just 15 ounces, the GL10 can print 3×5-inch full-bleed snapshots, or a photo with a white “Polaroid Classic Border.” The Zink GL10 photo paper is a bit larger than the PoGo’s 2×3-inch peel-and-stick paper, but is similarly steep in price at $19.99 for 30 sheets (PoGo paper sells for $12.99 per 30-sheet pack). Unless you live near Bloomingdale's in Manahattan, you'll have to order from hsn.com (and choose express shipping to get it by Sunday). Costco.com will begin selling the printer on June 20.