Coming up with (good) Father's Day gift ideas is always a tricky task. After all, there's only so many old DVD boxsets you can give before your presents start to feel a bit predictable. So what are you going to do this year's Father's Day on Sunday 19 June?
Luckily, if your dad happens to be a photographer, he will likely be afflicted with the condition known as GAS: gear acquisition syndrome. This means that he will love anything to do with cameras – so we've come up with the best photography gifts to make your life a bit easier.
Whether you're shopping for a digital dad, an analog dad, a DSLR dad or a phone snapper dad, we're confident that a couple of these ideas will be just the thing!
Given Manfrotto's sterling reputation in the tripod market, it makes sense that the firm's mini support would also be impressive – and the Manfrotto PIXI is just that. It's a fairly standard mini tripod in a lot of ways, small enough to slip into a jacket pocket or small bag, and capable of holding up to 1kg of kit. It also adds into the mix a handy ball head with 360° of rotation and a simple push-button secure and release mechanism. Be aware that it doesn't tilt up more than 35°, making astrophotography impracticable.
In our review, we were impressed most of all by the build quality of the Manfrotto PIXI – its aluminium legs are smoothly curved in a way that just feels premium. What's more, when they close, they form a single rounded column that transforms the PIXI into a pretty serviceable camera grip, which is extra useful for video.(opens in new tab)
If you're looking to flash a little more cash and you think your pop would enjoy an camera that he doesn't have to build himself, this is the coolest one you can buy right now. A limited edition version of the Polaroid OneStep 2 i-Type instant camera (opens in new tab), this has a retro colorway and branding to match the hit Stranger Things Netflix series – making this an extra timely present if your dad is a fan of the supernatural show.
Don't forget to pick up some film, as well – if you want prints that are as cool as the camera, grab a pack of Color i-Type Film Stranger Things Edition (8 shots per pack) with unique designs and logos inspired by the show.(opens in new tab)
For just under $40, your dad can build his own camera with this upgraded version of the Konstruktor. It even comes with a PC socket for flash photography, though you’ll need the hot shoe adaptor in the optional accessory kit (another £17). However, we found there were a lot of plastic panels, parts, screws and springs to put together so this is one that will reward those with a degree of patience as well as constructing dexterity.
Unsurprisingly, like the camera body itself, the lens here is plastic and has a focal length of 50mm and an aperture of f/10. We enjoyed using the waist level viewfinder and the through-the-lens viewing that comes courtesy of the spring loaded mirror level. Very Heath Robinson it may be, but it’s not without charm if your dad doesn't mind putting the initial work in.(opens in new tab)
Around the same size and shape as a computer mouse, Sandisk’s Extreme Pro CFexpress card reader is a nicely designed piece of kit. The spring-loaded memory card slot has a pleasing action too, with a gentle push of the memory card ejecting it from the reader.
In our testing, this reader hit a mighty impressive 718MB/s sustained read speed when transferring one large 4K video file. Image read/write rates of 534/410MB/s are just as incredible, easily eclipsing even the fastest UHS-II SD cards.
The only slight disappointment is that CFexpress cards are capable of even higher transfer speeds - up to 1700MB/s. The bottleneck here is likely the reader's USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection, which though very fast, can't keep up with the blistering performance available from CFexpress cards. But if you can live with that, this Sandisk CFexpress reader is a superb choice.(opens in new tab)
This is the baby of the OpticFilm range, yet it still boasts a respectable 7,200dpi maximum scanning resolution. It’s also a real optical film scanner and not just a digital camera sensor in a scanner body. This does however mean the 8100 is no speed demon. Each 35mm film frame takes nearly 4 minutes to scan at max res, but 3,600dpi is more than adequate for most film stocks and you’ll have a scanned frame in 1 minute 20 seconds.
Though the front panel has a QuickScan button that automatically scans and saves a frame to you computer desktop, it’s best to load up the bundled SilverFast software that provides comprehensive scanning options and pre-scan image enhancement. Even without messing with the settings, and scanning at 3,600dpi, the 8100 is in a league of its own for scan quality, extracting bags of detail from our 35mm negs and transparencies. It also lets you scan the entire film frame with no overzealous cropping. The 8100 can struggle to reveal every detail in the shadow areas of high-contrast 35mm slide positives, but this is our only nitpick.(opens in new tab)
The FDR-AX43 may be compact but it doesn’t skimp on features. Fronted by a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens, the FDR-AX43's niceties include a 20x optical zoom, 4K shooting (with super-down-sampling for 1080p displays), a low noise Exmor R CMOS sensor, and dual-video recording in XAVC S or AVCHD, plus easy to share MP4. For those who want convincing surround sound when playing back their footage into a home cinema or soundbar, there’s also a multichannel 5.1 microphone. Expect limitations in low light, but if you’re looking for an easy-to-manage but capable 4K shooter, then this model is a fantastic choice, and that balance between functionality, portability and price is why it takes our #1 spot.(opens in new tab)
Amazon’s Ring series of cameras – offered in black or white to fit any room – are simple to install, and not only can you see a live view via a phone app but if you have an Echo Show (Alexa with a screen) you just need to ask. The system is backed up by an integrated cloud service, of which you get a 30-day free trial, called Ring Protect, and offers phone alerts when it spots motion in an area of the camera’s view you define from the 140˚ field of view. A really nice touch is that the camera is offered as a basic model at a price to beat its competitor from Nest, but if you want extras – like battery backup or weather protection – you can choose different models with similar styling (though, oddly, ever-so-slightly narrower fields of view). There’s even a Solar HD option for the outdoor version, and a special app, Neighbors by Ring, to build a neighborhood watch group.(opens in new tab)
There's nothing better than sitting down and going through old photos together, but with so many of us still stuck in lockdown, this might not be possible for you and your dad at the moment. However, you can still celebrate memories together with a photo book. Whether you're reproducing old childhood photos, collating shots from a recent trip together, or simply putting his favorite images of his grandkids in one place, a photo book is a great way to keep your dad feeling connected. Printing a photo book might initially seem like a daunting task, but it's actually easier than you might think – check out our photo book creation guide here.
• Read more: Best photo books (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
There are some fantastic photography books (opens in new tab) out there (and more than a fair share of stinkers, too), but unless it happens to be written by your dad's favorite photographer it can be hard to pick one that you know he'll like. Fortunately, one of the best books around is the fantastic How to Photograph Absolutely Everything by Tom Ang – simply put, if you enjoy using a camera, you'll enjoy reading this book.
A highly respected photographer and educator (or "sharer" as he prefers to put it), Ang has an effortless way of explaining things and his book really does show you how to photograph virtually everything. A great one for the bookshelf, and something dad will be sure to read cover to cover.(opens in new tab)
If your dad is anything like ours, his phone will be stuffed with pictures of kids, grandkids and perhaps the latest tomatoes sprouting at his allotment. Save him from his next moment of panic when his storage runs out with this handy little device.
Designed for next-generation devices with the new USB Type-C port, you can now quickly and easily free up space on your smartphone with the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C. It can transfer files between devices at USB 3.1 high speeds of up to 150MB/s. The SanDisk Memory Zone app for Android is then available to help your dad manage his device's memory and content.(opens in new tab)
The GoPro Max is a pitch-perfect blend of sophistication and useability. It's a deep camera, but also a highly accessible one, and that high-end GoPro waterproofing gives it an extra leg-up over a lot of the other cameras on this list. This is ultimately what clinches it as our #1 choice, though its stills/video quality is also good enough to pretty much manage this by itself. It'll do pretty well as a general vlogging camera thanks to the high-quality on-board microphones, and the app is really well put together, making it simple to control camera functions with your phone. This is one of the pricier cameras we've included, but it really is the best of the best in 360-degree imaging right now.
Read more: GoPro Max review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Something of a bargain, this pair of Celestron BaK-4 prism binoculars boasts 8x magnification and multi coated optics to keep your view as clear as possible. This isn't the only size available – you can get these Outland X binoculars in other magnifications and sizes too. They're suitable for outdoor use by birders and wildlife watchers, thanks not only to said magnification but also a sturdy polycarbonate build and waterproofing.
The decent-sized 42mm objective lenses on offer here gather a lot of light, making these binoculars suitable for use in dim conditions as well as regular daylight. A large smooth-feel focus wheel aids operation and a long 18mm eye relief delivers viewing comfort. Capable of being tripod mounted if desired, a strap, lens cloth and carry case comes as standard, plus a limited lifetime warranty.
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