Exciting imaging gear to fuel a springtime renewal in photography, videography, vlogging & videoconferencing!
This spring comes with a particularly special promise of renewal. Warm breezes and longer days bring a sense that the normalcy of our lives may yet be returning. Covid-19 vaccines are in the arms of more and more Americans and spirits are lifting.
While the past year was extremely difficult, one of the happy “consequences” of the pandemic was a renewed interest in photography. People rediscovered the need to preserve everyday moments as well as the momentous ones. Our images and videos kept us connected as never before, while pandemic protocols kept us apart. Photos took on a more important role as families and friends were forced to distance from one another.
We even found time to get to those imaging projects we always wanted to complete. People printed photos, made photo books and gifted photo items in a renewal of memory keeping.
It is with this backdrop that DIR presents this article on terrific imaging gear for all those important spring holidays and events—including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations and summer picture taking. We’ve selected a variety of products that will enhance anyone’s photographic experience, whether they are bought as gifts or to satisfy one’s own passion for photography. And given the times, it may be apparent that some of them are also ideal for videoconferencing and vlogging!
We cover just a handful of the incredible products that the imaging industry continues to roll out, but there are so many more worthy of promotion. And while we have grouped these devices for “mom,” “dad” or “grad,” they have universal appeal.
A Selection of Exciting Imaging Gear
Nikon Coolpix P1000 Point & Shoot
This P&S stands at the pinnacle of long-zoom bridge cameras with its telescopic zoom power. An all-around imaging tool, it’s the ultimate compact for mom to take to the ball field, while traveling or to literally shoot the moon’s craters in the backyard! The most extreme Nikon zoom ever, it even makes the International Space Station visible with its 125x optical zoom lens.
The 24–3000mm-equivalent f/2.8–8 Nikkor lens extends from macro to extreme distances, making the P1000 perfect for birding, sports, wildlife and celestial photographers. And Dynamic Fine Zoom technology extends its reach to a staggering 6000mm.
To handle extreme distances, the camera uses Nikon’s Expeed image-processing system and Dual Detect Optical VR technology. The result is 5 stops of blur-reducing shake compensation.
In addition to its groundbreaking zoom, the 16-megapixel P1000 records 4K UHD video with stereo audio as well as time-lapse effects. It can also find, track and capture faraway subjects using a snap-back zoom feature, which temporarily expands the field of view for super-telephoto shots. And it offers manual controls, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Plus, it features a 2.3-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) along with a vari-angle, 3.2-inch, 921K-dot TFT LCD to capture images at unique angles. It also has numerous picture controls, creative modes, filters and an accessory shoe. $999.95.
Joby Gorillapod 5K Mini Tripod
These days, everyone could use a good desktop camera support. Whether Zooming for work, a book club or just catching up with family, mom can use this machine aluminum flexible tripod with DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Pro caliber, Joby says the Gorillapod 5K tripod can handle a camera weighing up to 11 pounds, but it works best with one around 5 or 6 pounds. And it’s not just a cool desktop accessory; a rubberized ring and foot grips make in stable in difficult terrain.
The mini tripod kit comes with a precision-engineered ball head with an Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate. So mom can use the ball head to precisely control the direction and angle of the camera. And because it’s a Gorillapod, its jointed legs will wrap around nearly any object.
What’s more, a 3/8″-16 thread adapter at the top removes to reveal a 1/4″-20 screw. The versatile support is configurable for still photography, cinematography, vlogging or livestreaming in three different modes: grip, wrap or stand. Weighing just 17 ounces and with a height of 15.2 inches, the tripod fits easily in a small bag. $104.99.
Canon Pixma G3260 MegaTank Printer
The Canon G3260 MegaTank wireless all-in-one printer is for high-volume printing environments in home offices and classrooms. Its enhanced connectivity combines with high-quality printing. Notably, a front-facing refillable ink tank system makes it simple to monitor ink levels and refill. Moreover, its ink bottles don’t require users to squeeze the bottles to fill the tanks.
And mom doesn’t have to worry about running out of ink. The printer’s black ink provides 6,000 B&W pages per bottle; the color ink bottles combined provide 7,700 color pages. Further, the Pixma G3260 delivers print speeds of 10.8 images per minute in B&W and 6.0 ipm in color.
As an AiO, the printer also copies and scans. And it has Wi-Fi capabilities. Moreover, mom can dictate print commands through the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant smart speakers. Also, by using a smartphone and the Canon Print app, she can access the Pixma Cloud Link to print photos and documents from social platforms and services; they include Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
What’s more, for school or office projects, the G3260 supports PosterArtist Lite V3 software, allowing mom to create flyers and posters from 100 templates. She can also select photographs and clip art from a collection of content. $199.99.
Pix-Star Digital Photo Frames
While we’ve always loved the idea behind digital photo frames, they’re even more appealing during these times of pandemic protocols. Today’s digital frames are decidedly not your grandmother’s! They are high-tech connected devices with growing storage capacity and cloud-based support.
We really like Pix-Star frames for their connectivity options. They come in several sizes, including a 15-incher. The 10-inch version offers 1,024×768 resolution with a 4:3 ratio that’s bright and crisp. Its backlit LED makes it easy to see images, and it’s simple to adjust brightness or contrast.
The real benefit, however, is its slew of connectivity options. When on a Wi-Fi network, it pulls in images from about 20 services. These include photo-based platforms like Flickr, SmugMug and Shutterfly as well as cloud-based ones like Google Photos, Dropbox and OneDrive. Social media platforms like Instagram are also supported.
Key is the frame’s dedicated e-mail address, where friends and family can e-mail photos, conveniently integrating content into the frame. Additionally, Pix-Star’s app takes photos/videos from a smart device and transfers them to the frame. Its 8GB of internal storage holds 30,000 images. Moreover, USB ports and SD card slots add storage space, as does free cloud storage. The frame even displays weather forecasts and plays web radio stations! $155.
Sigma EF-630 Flash
We all know better photography comes from better lighting! If dad wants to up his game, this compact shoe-mount flash does a lot more than deliver a much higher flash output than his camera’s flash. It creates more natural-looking lighting by extending the flash-head-to-lens subject distance. And because it’s so effective in brightening dark environments, he can shoot at lower ISOs for better image quality or extend the depth of field by shooting at smaller apertures.
The EF-630 is the latest DSLR flash from Sigma. Updated and enhanced, it has an intuitive user interface with a dot matrix LCD for improved menu visibility. The device provides completely automatic settings and can operate with full manual power from 1/1 to 1/128 power. In addition, it delivers an impressive footage guide number of 207 at ISO 100 with the 24–200mm zoom flash head at the 200mm setting. It also tilts from -7º to 90° and rotates left or right 180° for total 360° coverage.
Other useful features are a modeling light; an AF-assist beam; a wide-angle diffusion panel for 17mm coverage; and a high-speed sync function for shutter speeds faster than 1/250 sec. Available in versions for Nikon i-TTL, Canon E-TTL and Sigma TTL flash systems, the EF-630 runs on four AA batteries. $349.
Nikon CoolShot 50i Laser Rangefinder
A great gift for golfers who want precise distance measurements, the new CoolShot 50i delivers the most user-requested high-end features and Nikkor optics—at an affordable price. It provides accurate distance, slope and height measurements for casual weekender golfers to tournament players.
Furthermore, it features Nikon’s Dual Locked On Quake technology. This enhanced function confirms the distance to the flagstick was measured. When measuring overlapping subjects, like flags, the distance to the closest subject is displayed with a visible signal in the viewfinder. It also sends out a simultaneous gentle vibration.
With a mounting magnet that securely connects to metal surfaces, the CoolShot 50i has two measurement display modes. Golf mode shows a guide as to how far the golfer should hit the ball when taking uphill or downhill shots.
In actual distance (horizontal distance ± height) mode, the green LED of the external actual distance indicator blinks to inform observers of use to confirm tournament compliance. As a result, dad can play casual golf, practice with golf mode or use actual distance mode for official golf competitions.
The device’s display is wide and bright; multilayer coated optics provide 6x magnification; a long eye relief helps when wearing glasses; and it’s weather sealed. $299.95.
Sony ECM-W2BT Mic
No home office or remote classroom is complete without a reliable, clear mic. Sony’s ECM-W2BT is also perfect for vloggers, YouTubers and video content creators. The wireless microphone works with the multi-interface shoe on Sony’s cameras. Consequently, it makes wireless high-quality audio recording with lower noise and a stable connection possible. Notably, the receiver’s digital audio signal output is recorded directly on the camera body without wiring an external audio cable.
Sony also reengineered the ECM-W2BT for high sound quality using an advanced omni-directional mic capsule. It now captures clear sound recording from any direction. And communication is possible up to 600+ feet, while an attenuator function helps out in challenging recording environments.
What’s more, the wireless mic offers creative freedom via its sound acquisition functions. Three sound pickup modes—MIC, MIX and RCVR—let users record sound and ambient sound based on preferences. MIC mode only picks up audio from the microphone transmitter, so only the subject’s audio is captured. RCVR mode only picks up sound from the internal microphone at the receiver; this lets users record audio of themselves. MIX mode picks up both transmitter and receiver audio; this is useful when audio from the subject and the user is desired. $230.
Canon PowerShot Zoom Telephoto Monocular
This 2021 Rudy Award winner is a terrific gift for the man who has everything. Canon showcases an impressive telephoto reach in the user-friendly PowerShot Zoom telephoto monocular. The lightweight monocular will let dad quickly and clearly see the sights wherever his adventures take him.
Its three-way, one-touch switchable button lets him view at 100mm straight to 400mm (optical), as well as directly to 800mm digital for subjects farther way. Moreover, autofocus with face tracking helps him stay on the subject, while image stabilization keeps the view nice and steady.
More compact than IS binoculars, it’s easy to take along, whether to sporting events or the great outdoors. To preserve the day’s moments, the PowerShot Zoom captures 12MP photos and Full HD 30p video with face tracking to a microSD card. What’s more, it enables autofocus when viewing through its 0.39-inch, 2.36M-dot EVF.
Dad can also pair the monocular with a smart device and the Canon Camera Connect app to download its files. This also transforms the monocular into a smartphone companion for viewing and capturing super-telephoto scenes. Other features include Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity; live view; and a USB-C terminal for charging or power. $299.99.
GoPro Hero9 Black Action Cam
Another Rudy Awardee, the Hero9 Black gives GoPro shooters more of everything they asked for in an action camera. It has a new sensor that delivers 5K video and 20MP photos and RAW files; next-gen HyperSmooth 3.0 video stabilization with in-camera horizon leveling; a front-facing display; a larger rear display; 30% more battery life; and improved cold weather performance.
Additionally, the sensor records in 5K 30p, 4K 60p, 2.7K 120p, 1440 120p and 1080 240p. And the upgraded 1.4-inch front color display provides live preview and status modes, while the larger 2.27-inch rear display boasts touch zoom capability.
Waterproof to 33 feet, the Hero9 pairs nicely with GoPro’s Max Lens Mod accessory ($99). The accessory brings Max HyperSmooth video stabilization and Max SuperView ultrawide-angle photos/video to the Hero9.
Other Hero9 features include TimeWarp 3.0 with half speed; 1080p livestreaming; and a very useful 1080p webcam mode. What’s more, SuperPhoto + HDR Night lapse mode joins HindSight, LiveBurst, Scheduled Capture and Duration Capture.
If that isn’t enough, there are digital lenses; voice control with 14 commands (11 languages); three microphones with advanced wind-noise reduction; and stereo + RAW audio as well as a larger speaker for improved audio playback. It comes with a lens cover; a rechargeable battery; and built-in folding mounting fingers. $449.99.
Lume Cube Mobile Creator Kits
With the crazy popularity of YouTube and TikTok, Lume Cube released three mobile creator kits for content creators with varying styles and skill levels. Whether a grad is just starting out or looking to take content to the next level, Lume Cube has the right kit. All kits feature the company’s new Mobile Creator Stand and select lighting and audio products.
With mobility in mind, the Mobile Creator Stand functions handheld or handsfree, enabling creators to add variation to their content. The stand boasts a 360º rotating mount and 290º tilt angle for portrait or landscape content. Subsequently, it’s an option for TikTok and YouTube videos, as well as for going live on social platforms. Two attachment points complete the rig, while an extension grip and adjustable base allow comfortable holding and steady support. The stand retails for $59.95.
The Lume Cube Mobile Creator Lighting kit includes the stand along with the best-selling Lume Cube Panel Mini. Lume Cube says this kit is a solution for vlogging or TikToking in any environment, day or night. $119.95.
Finally, the most advanced of the three kits, the Mobile Creator Lighting and Audio Kit bundles the stand, the Panel Mini and a Röde VideoMicro compact on-camera mic with a Rycote Lyre shock mount. All of this enables creators to customize content with control over lighting, audio and mobility. $179.95.
DJI Mini 2 Ultralight Drone
OK, this is just good fun—and an awesome imaging device! Sporting DJI’s iconic folding design, this small drone weighs less than 249 grams yet boasts advanced imaging capabilities. They’re spearheaded by a 1/2.3-inch sensor that captures 12MP images (JPEG/RAW) and 4K 30-fps video. While recording in 1080p, pilots can use the 4x zoom (2x lossless). For the novice, preprogrammed intelligent modes capture footage with set movements, while beginner tutorials and simplified buttons aid new pilots.
Photo modes include AEB Triple Shot, which uses autoexposure bracketing to take three images of varying exposures and merges them for a vivid image. Users can edit them to create HDR photos in post-processing and trim videos before downloading.
Moreover, DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission now ensures a stable, long-distance connection between the remote controller and the drone. Its transmission range of six+ miles is a 150% increase! And dual-frequency technology automatically combats interference. Plus, upgraded motors provide 31 minutes of flight and faster acceleration. They also withstand 24 mph winds, while a 3-axis gimbal compensates for movement and wind. Additionally, a live feed to a smartphone lets pilots see what the drone sees.
Safety features include positioning/vision sensors that help it hover in place; GPS that tracks it while vision sensors map out the ground for automated landings; geofencing, which keeps it from restricted areas; and a return-to-home function. $449.
Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 P&S Camera
The Cyber-shot ZV-1 has been called one of the best cameras for YouTube videos. The pocket-size Sony P&S is an option for content creators and vloggers of all skill levels. Also useful for new grads is its ability to act as a webcam when connected to a PC via USB for interviews and meetings.
The ZV-1 allows creators to interact with followers in real-time while also using its high-tech features. That tech starts with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor with DRAM chip. What’s more, the camera records 4K movies with full pixel readout and in-body image stabilization.
Its integrated 24–70mm-equivalent f/1.8–2.8 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* large-aperture lens creates beautiful background bokeh. Vloggers can switch between two levels of bokeh. They can adjust the optical aperture between more and less background defocused blur without losing focus on the subject. And the bokeh button is easily accessible for selfies.
Moreover, a product showcase setting allows for quick, smooth focus transitions between the subject’s face and an object placed in front of the lens. And the ZV-1 can switch focus between multiple subjects while users control the AF speed and tracking sensitivity.
A side-opening, vari-angle LCD screen also makes it simple to compose shots in selfie mode when external audio accessories are connected. Audio options include a mic featuring Sony’s directional 3-capsule mic for forward-directional audio capture. It enables clear capture of the subject’s voice while minimizing background noise, especially in selfie mode.
Along with its multi-interface shoe, the ZV-1 has a 3.5mm mic jack and a windscreen. Vloggers can also operate the camera one-handed with its easy-hold grip and large record button. $799.