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Picture taking, whether you use a smartphone or digital camera, doesn't have to be boring. Here are some cameras and peripherals that can help you create truly marvelous photos.
Got a smartphone? Then you've got a camera -- and you're probably busily recording your friends, family, colleagues and life. But for many people, a quick snapshot or video with a camera phone is only the beginning.
While smartphone cameras are getting better all the time, regular digital cameras and camera accessories are getting more innovative as well. They are pushing the envelope as to what cameras can do -- and what both amateur and professional photographers can do with them.
In the following slides, we highlight some digital cameras -- as well as accessories for cameras and/or smartphones -- that are expanding our capabilities for interesting and innovative photography.
The manufacturers of the Autographer call it the "world's first intelligent, wearable camera." Clip it on your pocket: Using five sensors that detect changes in light, temperature, direction, color and how fast it is moving, the camera determines the best time to take a picture, up to 2,000 photos a day. It weighs only 2 oz. and measures 1.5 x 3.5 x 0.9 in.; it comes with 8GB of storage and a 5-megapixel low-light sensor.
The Autographer has a built-in GPS unit and a lens capable of taking 136-degree photos. An iPhone app lets you preview and share your images, check the camera battery, set modes and adjust capture settings. Desktop software lets you view, share and edit your images from your computer.
The Brinno TLC200 is a time-lapse camera that creates HD videos. Simply set the time interval for picture taking using its Menu and Time buttons, leave the camera in your desired location and let the Brinno do the work.
The lens is rotatable up to 120 degrees, and you can attach an additional wide-angle lens to capture a larger view. The 5-megapixel camera measures 2.5 x 1.8 x 4.2 in. and weighs 4.2 oz. (without its four AA batteries). By default, it captures two pictures each second, or you can set it to take images at intervals from every 1 second to every 24 hours.
The DoorBot is a doorbell with a difference. It is equipped with a small camera, a microphone and a speaker, and connects wirelessly to your mobile device. When somebody rings your doorbell, an app on your iOS or Android device notifies you, lets you see who is there, and allows you to speak to them.
You can wire DoorBot to an existing doorbell so that it will ping your smartphone and ring your actual doorbell at the same time; it gets power from the doorbell wiring. Otherwise, just hang it and let it run it off its internal battery.
For an additional $150, you can pair your DoorBot with Lockitron, which lets you wirelessly unlock your door as well.
Grip & Shoot
Are your smartphone videos too shaky to show? Grip & Shoot can solve that. The product is made up of a hand grip, an iPhone case (it comes with two: one for an iPhone 5/5S and another for a 4S), and an app that pairs the handle and case with your phone via Bluetooth 4.0.
Once paired, you can use the Grip handle to control your smartphone camera. A trigger lets you take still pictures or videos; two +/- buttons let you zoom in or out. You can also detach the Grip and it will still take pictures from up to 100 feet away from your phone.
Although Grip & Shoot does not currently work with Android-based phones, the company is working on it.
ioShutter is a cable which, when paired with an iOS app, becomes a remote shutter release controller for an SLR camera.
The app comes with a 20- or 60-second timer for delayed shots, a bulb mode with slow shutter speeds for night photography, and a time lapse mode. Other features include the ability to take pictures by making noise (yes, screaming or banging around will do the trick) and ShakeToTake mode, where you take a picture by shaking your iOS device.
There are different cables, depending on which camera you want to use. A lite app with limited functionality is free, but the full app costs $10.
Unlike some other small wearable cameras, the Looxcie 3 can take both video and still pictures. The Wi-Fi-enabled device clips directly to your clothes or backpack, or can be worn on a neck lanyard. Use the Looxcie app to connect the camera to your Android or iOS device, which then becomes your viewfinder and remote control. The app also lets you stream video live to other mobile devices or to your Facebook page.
The Looxcie measures 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.6 in. and weighs 1.3 oz. It comes with a 64GB microSD card which can save up to 90 minutes of video. You can also buy colorful covers or a waterproof case for taking it to the beach or using it in the rain.
The Narrative Clip fastens to your shirt or jacket and automatically takes two pictures a minute. The small (0.4 x 1.4 x 0.3 in.) 5-megapixel weather-protected digital camera stops when you remove it and restarts when you clip it back on.
All photos are stored by Narrative's photo service. Apps for Android and iOS organize the photos on a timeline; smart algorithms, along with GPS and time data, enable users to search for specific photos.
The camera goes two days without needing a charge and will take pictures manually when you double-tap it. It also corrects image orientations if they are off kilter.
The device comes in arctic white, graphite grey and orange. Unfortunately, current orders won't ship until January.
Ricoh Theta 360
The Ricoh Theta 360 is a small (3.3 oz., 1.6 x 5.0 x 0.9 in.) digital camera with two lenses, one on either side of the camera, so that it can take 360-degree spherical photos.
To take a picture of your surroundings, just press the shutter button. If the camera is at an angle, the Theta will automatically adjust the orientation of your photo. You can also set the Theta on a table or a tripod and take pictures remotely -- and then view and/or share them -- with its iOS app.
However, if you want higher resolution results, it's better to use the desktop app (for Mac or Windows); it's also the best way to keep your firmware updated.
Like taking selfies but tired of holding your smartphone at arm's length? ShutterBall is a remote shutter for your phone. This small, flexible gadget can loop onto your belt buckle or be thrown in your bag. An Android or iOS app links it to your smartphone camera via Bluetooth; simply press a button on the ball to take a picture.
ShutterBall comes with a mini easel stand for your phone; it works from up to 60 feet away, and can take either still pictures or video. The battery can last for up to five years and is replaceable.
For the ultimate in corporate selfies, check out the Swivl: It uses an electronic marker (which can be held or worn around your neck) and a swiveling iPhone mount to act as a robotic cameraman.
The Swivl base follows the marker as you move, keeping it (and you) in the video frame. The base will work up to 33 feet from the marker and swivels 360 degrees around and 30 degrees vertically. A button on the marker lets you start and stop the video.
An iOS app uses a wireless connection to capture sound from a microphone in the marker and can upload your videos to YouTube, Ustream, GoToMeeting or Webex.
A version for iPads and Android devices should ship in early 2014.
Weye Feye is a device that connects your DSLR camera and lets you control it (using Wi-Fi) with your smartphone.
Using the smartphone app, which is available for Android and iOS, you can use the Weye Feye to control your camera from almost 600 feet away. You can adjust multiple camera options such as ISO, white balance, aperture and focus -- not to mention actually taking pictures. (Using the app will give you a 0.2-second lag on picture taking.)
The Weye Feye is compatible with several models of Nikon and Canon cameras.