Digital Imaging Reporter’s 14th Rudy Awards

Digital Imaging Reporter’s 14th Rudy Awards


DIR’s annual Rudy Awards settles into its fourteenth year in 2020. Over the years, we’ve awarded some pretty remarkable imaging products, as we paid homage to our illustrious cofounder Rudy Maschke.     Rudy-Award-Trophy-2020-Trophy

The Rudys have recognized cameras from tiny wearables to flagship pro DSLRs, and a wide range of imaging accessories. This year’s honored gear is no different. The products span the spectrum from mainstream cameras to niche equipment—both digital and analog. They are all incredible in their own way—just like Rudy Maschke, who cofounded DIR 28 years ago with his business partner, Ed Wagner. While they were keen industry insiders, we don’t think even they could have imagined the high-spec or sophisticated low-tech gear represented in the 14th Rudy Awards.

                              14th Rudy Awards Winners

Insta360 Go Camera

This less-than-an-ounce, tiny stabilized camera from Insta360 mounts anywhere. The Go uses its innovative form factor and AI-powered smart editing to make capturing life’s moments effortless. Smaller than a thumb, it can capture angles other cameras don’t. When worn, the Go permits seamless, hands-free shooting. However, it is more than a wearable. A magnetic body plus numerous accessories mean the camera is ready to clip, tag or hang on just about anything.

Insta360-Go CES 2020 Innovation
Insta360 Go

The Go shoots 30- or 60-second clips at the press of the button, and it uses proprietary FlowState stabilization to keep the footage smooth. Then its AI-powered FlashCut finds the best shots and edits them together on beat. FlashCut sorts shots by theme and quality, so users spend more time capturing and less time fiddling. In addition, the tiny camera shoots fixed-perspective time-lapse images for hours at a time. It also shoots 100 frames per second, so users can slow down the highlights. And its barrel roll function lets them adjust the rotation of the shot with a swipe. With accessories, $229.95.


Lume Cube 2.0 LED Light

This diminutive LED light from Lume Cube is tough; it’s built to perform in any environment. With an aluminum housing, it’s waterproof to 30 feet. What’s more, the photo/video light can pair with a camera, drone, smartphone, action camera or other content creation devices to provide better lighting. About the size of a golf ball, it is among the smallest pro-quality LED lights for imaging applications.

Lume Cube 2.0 with Accessories

Lume Cube 2.0 emits a daylight-balanced 95+ CRI light. Its 80º beam angle lens provides a clean spread with zero hotspots. It provides daylight-balanced 5600K color temperature as well as 750 lux at 1m. And it offers a run time of 1.5 hours at 100% brightness. Plus, its enhanced two-button manual or wireless controls let users quickly increase or decrease brightness levels. There’s even a “secret” low-light mode they can unlock to adjust levels in 1% increments for creative long-exposure and night photography.

The LED light comes kitted with a modification frame for mounting gels and diffusers; a magnetic softening diffuser; a magnetic warming CTO gel for warming color temperature; a DSLR shoe mount; and a USB-C charging cable—all for $89.99.

Snap Inc. Spectacles 3

Spectacles 3, the latest version of Snap’s Spectacles sunglasses, has dual HD cameras to empower creativity in 3D. It captures depth and dimension the way the human eye does, providing a 3D canvas for a suite of 3D effects on Snapchat. Captured Snaps transfer in HD to “memories” within Snapchat to add lighting, landscapes and effects with a swipe. Snaps also export to a camera roll as circular, horizontal, square and VR formats, where they can be saved, edited and shared.

Snap Spectacles 3

Snap’s Spectacles 3 has a lightweight steel frame with adjustable acetate tips for comfort. Users can tap the glasses’ button for video recording (60 seconds continuously) or press and hold for still capture. And high-fidelity audio is possible via a four-microphone array. Additionally, LED indicator lights notify people when recording; users also see a light. Other features include two color options; on-the-go charging in an included case that stores four charges; a USB-C charging cable; and a 3D viewer to bring Snaps to life. $380.

Nikon Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct Lens

Now for the superhigh spec: a Nikon classic was reborn as the fastest Nikkor lens ever—the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct. This one-of-a-kind lens pays homage to the legacy that the previous Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 lens established. The original Noct-Nikkor was released in 1977, its name derived from “Nocturne.” Made for nighttime photography, it was renowned for its ability to reproduce point light sources as point images. The new Noct lens now demonstrates the superior technology and potential of the Nikon Z mount. The manual focus prime lens boasts an incredible maximum aperture of f/0.95. As a result, it offers staggering low-light performance and creates truly dramatic depth of field and stunning bokeh and blur effects.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct Lens

Even when the distance between the subject and background are insufficient, the new Noct captures sharp images with beautiful background blur. Further, its design eliminates sagittal coma flare across the frame, so point light sources are reproduced as tack-sharp point images for crisp night landscapes and astronomical shots.

Other high-tech features include a large-diameter glass aspherical element; an antireflective ARNEO coat; Nano Crystal coat to reduce incident light; an information panel to confirm aperture, focus distance and depth of field at a glance; an assignable control ring; an electromagnetic diaphragm for stable aperture control; and a dust/moisture-repellent fluorine coat. With hood and padded case, $7,999.95.

Kodak Smile Classic Instant Print Digicam

Instant print photography is all the rage, and the Kodak Smile Classic instant print digital camera produces the largest instant prints from Kodak’s lineup. The Smile Classic incorporates the contemporary technology of instant printing into a retro camera body for a nostalgic feel. In addition, the camera is equipped with a pop-up viewfinder; an automatic single strobe flash; a microSD card slot; and a 10-second timer. Best of all, it features augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

Kodak Smile Classic Line

The camera uses 3.51×4.25-inch Kodak Zink sticky-backed photo paper that prints instantly from the camera after capture. Users can also print from a smartphone by connecting it via Bluetooth and the Kodak Instant Print app. And before printing, they can enhance images via the app. But the fun really starts when they embed a 30-sec video using the camera’s AR feature. The app’s augmented reality capabilities let users bring their photos to life by attaching any video from their media library, including sound. Once the photo is printed using a Smile instant digital printer, anyone with the app can view the video. In addition, they can embed videos with love notes, secret messages, funny stories and more! $149.99.

SanDisk ibi Smart Photo Manager

SanDisk ibi smart photo manager -WD-ibi-w-phone
SanDisk ibi

As consumers continue to amass more and more photos and videos, scattered across multiple devices and services, photo management is crucial. To manage all those growing collections, SanDisk created the ibi smart photo manager. The handy, trendy-looking device is like a personal cloud that keeps consumers’ memories all in one place. A physical device that sits in their home, it offers the added convenience of anywhere access to their photos and videos.

The simple, comprehensive solution to take control of photos and videos is available with 1TB of storage. This means the ibi stores approximately 250,000 photos (average file size 3.5MB) or 100 hours of video. The device works with a companion app and an Internet connection. It will import photos and videos from phones, computers, USB drives, cloud accounts and social media platforms. What’s more, it offers private sharing of individual photos or entire albums. Consumers can also stream photos and videos to a TV via a TV streaming device. Best of all, ibi has a one-time cost and no subscription fees. $129.99.

Canon Ivy Rec Outdoor Camera

This clippable outdoor camera from Canon is made to go anywhere while capturing life’s moments. The ultracompact camera is built for adventure: the Ivy Rec is waterproof for dives down to 6.6 feet (30 minutes) and shockproof enough to withstand a 6.6-foot fall.

Canon-IVY-REC-family CES 2020 Product Showcase
Canon Ivy Rec

The wearable camera can be placed on a belt or bag. And its clip doubles as a viewfinder—eliminating the potential to crack a screen. The camera records video in 720p or 1080p for a maximum of 10 minutes. And with one-click capture for photos and videos, the Ivy Rec pairs with the Canon Mini Cam app. The iOS/Android app connects to the camera via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When paired with a compatible mobile device, such as a smartphone, users can keep informed about settings, including battery life; remaining capacity for the microSD card; video recording resolution; and image size. Snapshooters can even use the app as a live viewfinder to capture photos and videos. They can also use it as a remote shutter with a timer. The Canon Ivy Rec comes in three vivid colors: blue, green and pink. $129.99.

Polaroid Lab Printer

Polariod-Lab-side 14th rudy awards
Polaroid Lab

Here’s a twist—a device that turns digital images back into analog photos! Polaroid Originals’ Polaroid Lab is an instant camera product that converts smartphone images into classic Polaroid film photos. The device’s three-lens developing system functions as a miniature tabletop darkroom, and it uses unique Polaroid chemistry to transform smartphone photos.

To boot, the magic of the Polaroid Lab couldn’t be easier to use. Users select an image from their smartphone via the Polaroid Originals app, before placing the phone facing downward on the platform. When the red button on the Polaroid device is pressed, the picture is projected onto the film. Then, using a combination of mirrors, light and the unique Polaroid chemistry, the image is recast as an instant photo that ejects from the Polaroid Lab. After the usual development time, the digital image is now a full-fledged Polaroid photograph! The device works with both iOS and Android phones. $129.99.

GoPro Max Action Camera

Waterproof to 16 feet, the versatile GoPro Max is a single-lens stabilized Hero action cam, a dual lens 360º camera and a vlogging camera—all in one device! Users can switch between traditional Hero-style video/photo capture and immersive 360º footage. The Max records 5.6K 30p 360º video as well as 1440 60p and 1080 60p Hero video. It also captures 5.5MP Hero photos. What’s more, it takes its features to the “maximum.” Max HyperSmooth provides next-level stabilization and in-camera horizon leveling for a cinematic look without a gimbal. Max TimeWarp, in 360º and Hero modes, bends time and space with expanded control and performance over traditional TimeWarp. And Max SuperView delivers GoPro’s widest, most immersive field of view.

14th Rudy Awards GoPro_MAX GoPro Million Daollar challenge
GoPro Max

And when it comes to vlogging, the Max provides four digital lenses for the ideal “look”; a front-facing touch screen for framing; and six mics that enable shotgun-mic audio performance. It also features one-click 270° PowerPano with in-camera 360º video and photo stitching of 6.2MP photos. Other Max features include folding mounting fingers; directional audio in Hero mode that lets users prioritize sound from either side; 1080p livestreaming; voice control; and scene detection. $499.

Lomography LomoMod No. 1 Camera & Sutton Lens

Now this is something truly unique that will appeal to both analog photo enthusiasts and DIYers. Lomography combined two products in one kit: a Sutton liquid-filled lens and its medium-format LomoMod No. 1 camera.

Lomography LomoMod No. 1 with Sutton Lens

A DIY camera, the LomoMod No. 1 is made from planet-conscious, sustainable cardboard. Arriving in flat-packed sheets with a two-sided pattern, it’s built from the bottom up by the photographer. It requires no screws or glue, and the cardboard base means users can recut or edit spare or new parts. Lomo says the kit enables photographers to understand the roots and basic grounding of the concept of photography. It also allows them to customize the outside of the camera in infinite ways! And creativity doesn’t end with the build. The LomoMod No.1 comes with a shutter and aperture module to shoot in normal and bulb mode. It also has a PC sync for flash shooting and Waterhouse aperture units for quirky results.

Lomography Sutton Lens

The 80mm f/11 Sutton liquid-filled lens is a tribute to Victorian photographer Thomas Sutton’s eccentric invention inspired by the snow globe. This lens’s unique liquid-based focus is a source of experimentation that marries perfectly with the LomoMod No. 1. The liquid through which the lens focuses is easily changed to produce various effects. Whether filled with food coloring or orange juice, the lens creates an unexplored realm of photography. $59.

Mitsubishi CP-M1A Dye-Sub Printer

Mitsubishis high-capacity, high-speed CP-M1A dye-sublimation printer was designed primarily for photo booth integration, amusement parks, event and entertainment photography, as well as mass retail and kiosk photofinishing. The portable CP-M1A measures just 11.8×13.8×11.1 inches and weighs 31 pounds.

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Mitsubishi Electric CP-M1A

The printer’s largest target audience is photo booth and coin-operated self-operating booth providers, and Mitsubishi recognized that these companies typically have a high field staff turnover. So, Mitsubishi made sure the printer’s mechanics catered toward simplicity of replacing the media. You only have to remove the printer cover, pull out the expended cartridges, drop in the new media and close. There’s no rolling and unrolling paper or inserting flanges. Everything is geared toward increasing efficiency and making it easy for operators to use.

Moreover, each box of M1A replacement media comes with a single roll of paper and a dye-sub printer cartridge, capable of outputting up to 750 4×6-inch prints. The M1A also prints 5×7-inch photographs in full bleed—a popular size in the event photography industry—and 6×8-inch images. $469.99.

Sigma fp Mirrorless ILC

Sigmas sensational L-mount ultracompact ILC is literally a game changer that resets the boundaries of the full-frame mirrorless class. The fp provides pro-caliber still and video functionality in an amazingly slim-line, weather-resistant die-cast aluminum body. Measuring just 4.4×2.8×1.8 inches, it weighs in at under 15 ounces. At its core is a 24.6MP BSI full-frame Bayer CMOS sensor minus a low-pass filter. It enables 14-bit color depth as well as 18-fps full-res bursts.

14th Rudy Awards full-frame mirrorless enthusiasts ILCs Sigma-fp-left 5th Lucie Technical Awards
Sigma fp

The fp also incorporates a 49-point contrast-detection AF system that provides face detection, eye detection and focus peaking readouts. And its base sensitivity range of ISO 100–25,600 expands from ISO 6 to ISO 102,400. Additionally, video capabilities include 4K UHD recording at up to 30p and Full HD recording at 120p. It also supports 12-bit CinemaDNG external recording for raw video data.

On the cool side, the fp provides Sigma’s teal and orange mode that mimics high-end Hollywood color-grading techniques. And a “director’s viewfinder” function simulates professional effects like those captured by Arri and Sony cameras. Other features include a 3.15-inch, 2.10M-dot, touch LCD; a UHS-II SDXC slot; a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port; and an HDMI port. In addition, the fp offers a handy platform for custom configuration by adding Sigma and third-party accessories via dedicated mounts. Photographers can mount Sigma SA and EF lenses via the optional MC-21 mount converter. $1,899.