What to give for the dad who has everything (and by everything we mean a digital camera)? Ties are out – if they were ever in – but lucky for you there are a number of digital accessories to choose from that will enhance his digital camera owning experience.
Wireless Memory Card: Memory cards don’t get much more exciting than the Eye Fi card. Drop it into your camera or digital SLR and – presto – you’ve got a Wi-Fi digicam. The new Eye Fi Pro X2 ($149) is the top-of-the-line model in Eye Fi’s growing lineup and delivers a dazzling array of features: geo-tagging, wireless hotspot access, support for RAW image files and a large number of video files (meaning it will work with Dad’s HD camcorder too) and the ability to pick and choose which files the Eye Fi card will upload. It’s an 8GB card with a Class 6 rating, making it fast enough for an HD camcorder and capable of handling with most consumer d-SLRs on the market.
If you’re not familiar with the Eye Fi concept, it’s quite simple. You register your card with your wireless home network and choose a folder on your desktop and an online destination (Eye Fi supports uploads to 25 photo websites, six of which also support video uploads). Thereafter, whenever your camera is turned on and in range of your network, your files will automatically be uploaded to both the Web and your computer. It takes all the grunt work out of image transfers (not to mention the cables).
Digital Frame: What good is a computer full of photos if no one can see them? A digital frame will liberate those photos for all the world to see. There’s no shortage of brands, but here are some features to look for: large screen size, 10-inches and up. There’s really no point at having a frame if the images aren’t clearly visible from across the room. Try to find frames with an aspect ratio of 4:3 (not 16:9) – otherwise, the photos will have to be cropped or you won’t use the entire visible area of the screen. Wireless is also a huge plus – it lets you manage your frame’s images from your computer (where the images are) rather than swapping out memory cards (which you’re not going to do after a few weeks). Other key features to watch for: programmable on and off mode, as there’s no use wasting energy at night or when no one’s home to see the frame.
eStarling’s TouchConnect ($199) boasts all of the above plus access to photo-sharing and social networking sites, RSS feeds and Google Calendar. The only downside – it’s 16:9, so you won’t use all of the frame’s 10-inch screen.
Portable Storage: As large as memory cards have gotten, d-SLR owners and avid shooters can eventually exhaust them. A portable hard drive helps you offload the images (or videos) from your card and keep shooting. They’re especially useful to bring on vacation. No need to lug the laptop, just bring the drive. Plus they’re small enough to drop in the camera bag so you’ll never run out of memory on the road. The Picture Porter Elite 35 from Digital Foci comes in a 250GB ($399) or 500GB ($499) version. Pricey, yes, but they pack a 3.5-inch color LCD for reviewing stored images and work with all the popular memory card formats. They can serve as a USB host device, meaning you can attach camcorders or other drives to them to offload data. Plus, you can connect the Porter to a TV.
An External Hard Drive: It might not scream photography, but anyone who’s amassing a collection of digital photos needs a secure form of backup. Storing your images on a single hard drive on your desktop or laptop is a recipe for disaster (learn more about the why’s and how’s of image back-up here). An external hard drive provides enough storage for thousands of digital memories. A network attached storage drive (or NAS) is even more useful. Plug it into your router and multiple computers can use it as a central respository for digital files. Western Digital’s My Book World Edition ($259) packs 2TB of storage and continuous back-up software, which automatically archives select files and folders so you don’t have to.
A Camera Bag: Don’t buy dad a fanny pack (at least, don’t buy him one if you sincerely love him) but a stylish camera bag can protect his precious gear – lenses, memory cards, cell phone — while preserving a modicum of dignity. M-Rock’s Rocky Mountain ($34) is a nicely styled, durable bag for point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders with a removable interior divider so you can customize your fit. Wear it on your belt (if you must), sling it around your shoulder or carry it by hand. If Dad’s a d-SLR man, the Cascade ($55) can accomodate his camera body and a pair of lenses.
Happy father’s day!