Top Gadgets for Dads and Grads
Whether their wish list is pages deep or they have it all, you can find something special to fit any budget.
$50 and Under
||| |—|—| | | 1. Professional photo book ($9.99 – $29.99)A professionally bound photo book can serve as a priceless record of your grad’s school days or dad’s family photos. If you have a Mac, creating a gorgeous photo book is easy with iPhoto or Aperture. Prices range from $9.99 for a 20 page, 6×8 soft cover book, to $29.99 for a 20 page hardcover book with 8.5×11-inch prints. You can add extra pages for $0.49 to $1.49, depending on the size of the book. Apple is offering a 20% discount on books purchased by June 15 when you use the code ‘springbooks’ at checkout. Not using a Mac? Dozens of companies such as Mpix, Shutterfly, Kodak, MyPublisher, Lulu, Snapfish, Blurb, and Picaboo offer book printing services with comparable prices. Many printers offer services not found through Apple, so another company may offer a better option even if you do have a Mac.| | | 2. 4GB SanDisk SDHC card ($19.95 after rebate)Memory card prices tend to drop significantly in only a few months. A 4GB SanDisk Extreme III SDHC memory card, originally listed for $140 just over a year ago, can now be had for $19.95 after mail-in rebate (valid until 6/29), an 85%+ discount from its original price in 2007. Enough storage for thousands of full-resolution images will barely make a dent in your wallet, making this a great choice for anyone on your list. Be sure to check with your dad or grad to see what type of storage their digital camera requires and keep a receipt handy in case they need to make any exchanges. For an added bonus, let your recipient fill out the rebate form and claim their reward in the mail a few weeks later.| | | 3. Lowepro Cirrus TLZ 15 bag ($23.95, street)Full size, professional grade camera bags can cost upwards of $200, but for the photographer who rarely carries more than one lens, a small shoulder bag will do the trick. The Lowepro Cirrus TLZ 15 provides enough room for a digital SLR camera (without battery grip) and a short zoom lens. The no frills bag also includes storage for memory cards and other small accessories, and can double as a holster using the included belt loop — great for use during activities that often require both hands, such as skiing.| $150 and under
|4. Nikon Coolpix S210 ($149.90, street)Recent point & shoot cameras range in price from about $100 to $400 or more, but the Nikon Coolpix S210 packs mid-range features in a very affordable package. The 8.1-megapixel snapper includes a modest f/3.1-5.9, 38-114mm 3x zoom lens; a large 230,000-dot, 2.5-inch LCD; face detection; 15 scene modes; and VGA video recording. At 0.71-inches wide, Nikon’s thinnest camera includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and is available in a variety of colors, including Plum, Graphite Black, Cool Blue and Brushed Bronze.|
|5. Western Digital 250GB Portable Hard Drive ($100, street)Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Western Digital Passport Essential Portable 250GB USB 2.0 External hard drive will enable the dad or grad on your list to back up tens of thousands of photos with plenty of room to spare for videos, music, and other files. And at $0.40 per GB of data, the Passport Essential hard drive is a great value. Compatible with both Macs and PCs, the 250GB portable hard drive is available in nearly a dozen colors including Midnight Black, Real Red, Intense Blue, Arctic White, and Viola.|
|6. Lensbaby 2.0 ($149.95)For a unique gift that will provide hours of entertainment (not to mention some very cool images), the Lensbaby 2.0 hits the spot. With an aperture range from f/2 to f/8, the all glass optic uses interchangeable, magnetically levitating aperture disks to select aperture, and a push/pull design to select a focal point. It features a focal length of about 50mm and a minimum focus distance of one foot. Because the lens does not support electronic communication with the camera body, SLR support is limited only by the camera’s mount design. With a variety of versions differing only in camera mount, the Lensbaby 2.0 supports most popular SLR mounts, including Canon EF and FD, Nikon F, Sony/Minolta, Pentax K, Olympus E1 and OM, Minolta, Contax, and Screw mounts. Be sure to check with your dad or grad to verify mount compatibility before ordering.|
$500 and under
||| |—|—| | | 7. Olympus E-420 ($469.95, body only)Unless you’re buying for your own dad or grad, a $150 gift is probably at the high end of the spectrum. If you’re prepared to spend a little more, however, the Olympus E-420 digital SLR is a fantastic value. The world’s smallest digital SLR includes a 10-megapixel sensor; a 230,000-pixel, 2.7-inch display with autofocus live view; a 3.5 fps burst rate; face detection; dual card slots (xD-Picture Card and Compact Flash); and support for Four Thirds lenses. Adding a lens and memory card will push you over $500, but may be necessary if your dad or grad isn’t an Olympus shooter.| | | 8. Think Tank Airport Security V2.0 ($369)With a $369 price tag, this better be one impressive bag. But the Think Tank Airport Security V2.0 does not disappoint. Appropriate for only the most hardcore photographers or professionals, the Airport Security includes enough storage for a 600mm lens, 17-inch laptop computer, 3-4 camera bodies, and enough accessories to open a small camera store. This is one serious camera bag. The built-in rain cover, security cables and locks, and replaceable wheels make the Airport Security the best choice for a photographer who’s constantly on the go.| | | 9. Western Digital 2TB My Book World Edition II ($450, street)If there’s anything not to like about my desktop computer, it’s that I can’t bring it everywhere I go. All of my data, over one terabyte of images and other files, lives below my desk. The My Book World Edition hard drive includes Western Digital’s Anywhere Access software, which allows just that, access to your files from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Just a year ago, one terabyte of storage was barely within reach, but the World Edition is available in capacities of 1TB, 1.5TB, and even 2TB, with all three drives landing within our $500 budget. Data is accessed via the drive’s Ethernet connection, so a home network is required for use, even when working from your main computer. If 2TB of storage sounds like more than you need, considering using the included RAID software to configure the My Book to mirror data in case of drive failure.| Over $500
|10. Nikon D3 ($4999.99, street)It’s not easy to throw a $5000 price tag on a camera and still expect photographers to call it a great value, but that’s just what Nikon accomplished with the D3. While a 12.1-megapixel sensor is nothing to write home about these days, groundbreaking image quality certainly is. The D3 earned an Excellent rating on our resolution test for its entire ISO range, impressive considering just how wide a range that is. A score of 1700 lines earns an Excellent rating, but the D3 exceeded the minimum by leaps and bounds, with JPEGs registering 2320 lines at ISO 200 and an incredible 2020 lines at the extended ISO of 25,600. Great performance at high ISO settings has enabled the D3 to improve the way photographers capture their images. Considered too dark to attempt without a flash in the past, photographers are now able to capture images in low light without so much as a tripod. Tack on a 3-inch, 307,000-pixel live view display; 9 fps full resolution capture; a 51-zone AF system that can track by color; and a full-frame sensor, and this is one digital SLR I wouldn’t mind spending $5000 on.|
|11. Sanyo XActi HD1000 and Philips 42-inch LCD HDTV ($2216)With this dynamic duo (sold separately), your dad or grad can shoot full HD content and display hours of shaky footage for your family to enjoy. The Sanyo XActi HD1000 ($650, street) was included in Pop Photo’s Top Cameras for your HDTV in April, and the Philips 42PFL7432D 42-inch LCD HDTV ($1566 , street) made Sound & Vision’s Best list of gear to buy right now. With its fast, f/1.8, 10x optical zoom lens, the XActi HD1000 is capable of allowing almost four times as much light through the lens than other models (according to Sanyo). It also includes a large, 2.7-inch fold-out LCD, and can capture 1080i video (at 1920×1080 resolution). The Philips HDTV can display 1080p video, and includes 3 HDMI hookups for connecting the Sanyo camcorder and a blu-ray disc player such as the Sony Playstation 3. Among others, features that stood out to S&V included accurate color and solid blacks, contributing to the display’s overall good picture.|
|12. Cold Hard CA$HIf your dad or grad has everything on this list, they’re either filthy rich or knee-deep in debt. Gadgets and college are expensive, and so are kids. While many consider it to be impersonal, a check may be much more appreciated than any gizmo or gadget. Well — perhaps a check and a camera.|
For more Father’s Day gift ideas, check out Sound & Vision’s 15 Must-Have Tools for the A/V-Freak Dad.What if your father isn’t as obsessed with photography as you? Our friends at Elle.com have even more last-minute ideas for every style of dad!