There's still time to make your favorite dad's day this Sunday with a shiny new photo-related Father's Day gift. If he's in need of a new digital camera, don't miss my lists of the Top 10 digital SLRs and Top 10 compact digital cameras of 2010. But if he already has a good camera, check out my picks of the best digital camera accessories (to suit a range of budgets) for the various dads in your life:
|Image Gallery: Check out photos of the Top digital camera accessories.|
Brag Book Dad Sometimes also known as Grandpa, he's the one that can't stop showing off snapshots of the little ones. Whether he wants to pass photos around at the office or around the poker table, the Digital Foci Photo Book is an easy way to share digital snapshots. Forget about jockeying for position around a monitor, or passing about a clunky laptop or digital photo frame. The Photo Book is essentially a digital version of a paper photo album. In fact, with its classic leather case, it looks much like a photo album, but when you flip it open, there's an 8-inch LCD that plays both photos and videos from the 4GB of internal memory, or directly from a memory card or USB storage device. The $189 device includes two card reader slots that support CompactFlash, SD, SDHC, MMC, xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, and MemoryStick Pro memory cards, as well as a USB interface for photo, video, or music transfer. The built-in speaker is surprisingly loud (though there's not much bass as you'd expect from a little speaker) and lets you play music in the background while displaying slideshows. Unlike most digital photo frames, the Photo Book supports raw images from a huge range of dSLRs as well as JPEG, BMP, GIF, and TIF image formats. The 800x600 pixel LCD's viewing angle is a little limited, but since it's really a personal viewing device (rather than a photo frame meant for display) it's not much of an issue.
Gadget-addict Dad This dad can't resist any new electronic toy. He'd probably love an iPad, but at $200 the Sony Dash is a more affordable way to quell his gadget lust. Part WiFi-enabled alarm clock, part digital photo frame, the Dash is really a slicker, more grown-up version of the Chumby Internet appliances. In fact, it uses the Chumby OS, so you can run the thousand-plus existing Chumby Internet apps as well as Sony own content and apps, such as traffic and weather, Internet radio players (e.g., Slacker Radio and Pandora), and Sony Bravia video services (e.g., Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and more). The 7-inch touchscreen is crisp and bright -- perfect for displaying photos, which you can load from online services such as Photobucket or directly via the USB connection. You can use the touchscreen to rotate images and control and play slideshows, as well as access all the other settings and modes of the device.
Active Dad Always on the go, the active dad is often found with his camera outdoors, taking pictures at sporting events, or shooting travel or nature photos and the like. Whether he's capturing sunsets on a hiking expedition or taking panning shots of the kids' soccer game, a tripod is a must-have accessory for him. The problem is that a full-size tripod is bulky to carry, but pocket tripods are way too limited. The Trek-Tech Essentials kit is a great travel-friendly bundle that includes the TrekPod Go Pro combination monopod/tripod/hiking staff, a dSLR ball head, a pan-and-tilt video head, a small table-top tripod, and a clamping arm with a standard ¼ - 20 threaded stud for attaching ball heads, a hot shoe, or a cold shoe. The whole kit and caboodle packs into a travel case that's small enough for carry-on luggage at 5 pounds and 22 inches. Like the rest of Trek-Tech's TrekPod line of lightweight monopod/tripods the Go Pro doesn't take up as much space as a standard tripod when fully set up, making it even more versatile. But my favorite feature is Trek-Tech’s unique MagMount, a quick-release camera mounting system that uses strong rare-earth magnets to enable super-quick, one-handed attaching and detaching of your camera. Best of all, the whole Essentials set is currently available for just $200 (when sold separately, the products cost $335).
World Traveler Dad Closely related to the active dad, he is the one who constantly monitors his frequent flier account, planning his next trip to photogenic locales like Antarctica or the Galapagos Islands. This dad shoots with a dSLR and he needs a strong yet lightweight bag to take all his gear with him. The Kata Bumblebee Ultra-Light 222 Backpack is just the ticket. From a company that got its start designing carrying gear for the Israeli army, the Bumblebee UL-222 is a well-constructed and meticulously designed high-tech backpack. Everything is optimized to the smallest detail: the tripod sling attaches to various parts of the bag so you can change its location depending on your needs; a laptop slot (for up to 17" models) offers easy access during airport security checks; the Elements Cover is reversible so one side protects against rain and the other deflects direct sunshine. Even the harness system is designed to optimize comfort and reduce weight -- made from the same materials as Crocs shoes, the straps are tapered in thickness to provide cushioning where you need it without unnecessary bulk. The 5.1-pound dSLR backpack can be reduced in weight to a mere 3.3 pounds if you remove all the included accessories, such as the modular "cocoon" pouches and Aeriform foam dividers that organize and cushion lenses and flashes. At $275, these innovative details don't come cheap, but the Bumblebee UL-222 does come with Kata's "Lightweight Protection" guarantee (return the bag for your money back, no questions asked, if you find another that offers "the same level of protection, similar capacity, features and functionality, which weighs less than Kata’s bag").
Slideshow Dad This is the dad that still has carousels filled with Kodachrome slides and shoeboxes of 35mm film negatives kicking around the attic. Sure he replaced his old Canon AE-1 with a digital SLR long ago, but he needs an easy way to digitize all the slides and negatives he shot back in the day. The Plustek OpticFilm 7400 is a great gift that will help him accomplish the task himself slowly but surely. Priced within reach of the amateur photographer at $349, the OpticFilm 7400 is a 7200-dpi scanner that uses a four-scan multi-sampling and multi-exposure engine to digitize 35mm film and slides. The light and compact unit comes with a mounted slide holder to scan four slides at a time, as well as a filmstrip holder. Easy to set up and use, the unit has an LED-based illumination system for more accurate color rendering, and is bundled with LaserSoft's SilverFast 6.6 SE Plus software. Plustek claims that the combination of its hardware and the Silverfast software allows the scanner to increase dynamic range and reduce noise resulting in more accurate exposure and color fidelity. In ad hoc tests, I found the clarity, sharpness, and color of scanned images to be impressive, and the files didn't require much tweaking afterward. You could easily print good-quality images up to 16x20 inches.