Flawlessly light your next video project (as long as you're shooting with a Nikon 1 or Coolpix camera) using the Nikon LED Movie Light ($100). The built-in diffusion panel allows it to provide natural, soft light for illuminating your subject consistently without glare. Unlike a standard flash, it constantly emits light, letting you adjust it on the fly while shooting. Remove it from your camera for handheld light from a variety of angles depending on your artistic preference. Available in October.
While photos are still a great way of capturing moments you want to remember, they still leave something to be desired — everything outside of the frame is left completely to the viewer's imagination. With the Ricoh Theta Camera ($400) you can photograph not just what's directly in front of you, but a complete image of your surroundings, creating a spherical photo. The camera is small and portable, fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand or stashing away in your pocket. It pairs with your iOS device using the included app over a WiFi connection (Android support is on its way), so you can view, edit, and share your spherical snaps.
Transform your smartphone into a fully-functioning camera with these Sony Cyber-Shot QX Lens Cameras ($250-$500). Each of these lenses attaches to your smartphone with an included mechanical bracket, and connects using WiFi or NFC, letting you take the kind of pictures reserved, until now, for actual cameras. They can also function as stand-alone cameras, with a slot for a memory card and a shutter button. They currently offer two models, one with a large 20 megapixel sensor and 3.6x zoom, and another with an 18 megapixel sensor and 10x zoom.
If you want to discreetly take a photo with your phone, the Smartphone Spy Lens ($20) will help boost your espionage-cred immediately. This somewhat-creepy, periscope-like device attaches to the camera on your smartphone thanks to an included magnetic ring. Internal mirrors let you snap shots at a 90-degree angle, so no-one around you will know what you're taking a picture of.
Instantly share your photos across social networks — or if you never learned to share, just store them in the cloud — with theQ Camera ($200). Thanks to 3G connectivity (and internal two-gig storage for when you're off the grid) you upload each of your shots to a web-based service called theQ Lab, where you can store, edit, and post photos from any device. Alternatively, with two pushes of the upload button, you can directly share a picture to any networks you've already configured. This small, five megapixel camera is also waterproof, features a built-in diffused LED flash, manual focus wheel, and a fixed lens with an f2.4 aperture.
You're all familiar with the standard feature-set of an action-sports camera by now, so it should come as no surprise that the Garmin Virb Camera ($400) is waterproof, highly-portable, can attach to just about anything, and shoots video in HD. But, because it's made by Garmin, the Virb brings something extra to the table. Full GPS connectivity, an altimeter, and an accelerometer mean it can do things like record your location, measure your speed, and determine your altitude (letting it intelligently shut off at the bottom of a ski run and turn back on when you reach the top). It also easily connects to smartphones, tablets, and other Garmin devices, while a wide-angle lens with distortion correction lets you capture huge images without a fisheye effect — and pressing play is as easy as sliding a switch.
Just because you like to travel light doesn't mean you have to keep shooting grainy, low resolution videos on your smartphone — with the Canon VIXIA Mini Camcorder ($300) you can shoot HD video on the go and still share on all your social networks. Designed to slip conveniently into a pocket, or a small pouch in your bag, you'll barely notice its less than a half a pound weight. The flip-up 2.7-inch LCD screen lets you record from a range of angles, and even view yourself while you record. Wi-Fi connectivity lets you upload video directly to the web, and an available iOS app lets you share content to your phone, or control the camera remotely.
Another in a long line of digital single lens mirrorless cameras to hit the market recently, the Panasonic Lumix GX7 Camera ($TBA) sets itself apart with some fairly-impressive features. A 16-megapixel live MOS sensor lets it capture images at high light sensitivity with very little noise, as well as full HD video. The 90-degree tilt-able, three-inch, touch-enabled live viewfinder lets you get the best look at your subject, regardless of your shooting angle. Wi-Fi and one-touch NFC device connectivity let you control the camera from your smartphone and transfer photos so you can upload them to the web to share with friends.
In the 19th century, the majority of photos were shot with an extremely popular lens called the Petzval. Photos using this lens were known for their crispness, strong color saturation, terrific swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes, and narrow depth of field. Those same qualities are front and center for a new generation of photogs now, thanks to the Lomography Petzval Lens ($500). The reimagined gem will work with Canon EF and Nikon F mount cameras and might just be your new favorite portrait lens.
Most situations that call for a full-featured camera are also the situations where it's too inconvenient to bring along a bulky DSLR — hiking, concerts, parties, weekend trips. The Fujifilm X-M1 Camera ($800) packs all the features you'd look for in a camera into a size that can go anywhere. It features a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, a three-inch tilting LCD screen, and supports most Fujifilm lenses. Wireless image transfer lets you to download up to 30 images at a time to your iOS or Android device. At less than one pound, and under five inches by three inches by two inches, it's half the size of a typical DSLR.
Regardless of how good of photos you can shoot on your iPhone, there are some situations that just call for a DSLR. The Pentax Q7 Camera ($500) presents a great compromise between size and features for when all you want to do is shoot great photos on the move. It's the smallest interchangeable-lens camera, and comes packed with everything you would expect from a full-sized camera — adjustable aperture and shutter speed, manual and auto focus, a three inch LCD screen, and a 12.4 megapixel CMOS sensor. You can also customize the body and grip in 120 different combinations, letting you really make it your own.
Call us luddites if you want, but we appreciate few things more than completely disconnecting and doing something with our hands. The Lomography Konstruktor DIY Camera Kit ($35) contains everything you need to build a fully-functional 35mm camera (yes that precludes posting to Instagram) from scratch, combining our passion for the maker mentality with our love for photography. In only about thirty minutes, you can build your own plastic analog camera, customize it with decals, load it with film, and start shooting. Then all you need to do is find somewhere that actually still processes the stuff.