Sometimes, you just need to give someone a bananas gift
The holidays are a time of giving. That’s the case whether you’re making gifts by hand or buying ridiculous stuff for yourself and others. If you’ve got a lot of money to…ahem…dispose of this winter, or you’re feeling extra generosity in your soul, the DPReview team has a few suggestions you might want to consider.
DJI Ronin 4D
What do you get for the filmmaker/videographer who has everything? How about a camera that is as goofy looking as it is enjoyable to use. The DJI Ronin 4D is a feature packed full frame camera built into a 4-axis gimbal. It also looks like a robot chicken.
Basically the Ronin 4D is a giant DJI Pocket, but it’s the inclusion of a LiDAR system for focus that makes this bizarre contraption so compelling. It allows you to have a “Focus Waveform”, an overhead view of your scene with a line indicating your focus distance. Incredibly intuitive and effective when pulling focus.
The Ronin 4D is too bulky, expensive and attention grabbing for me to invest in one. But, if money was no object I’d absolutely snap one up for the odd shoot where it would work. The most fun I’ve had shooting an episode in the last few years was our Tamron 35-150mm F2-2.8 review, which I shot walking around the streets of Calgary with a Ronin 4D. You can’t put a price on fun. Actually, you can. It’s $6800 USD plus lenses.
— Jordan Drake
Leica M6 Reissue
The last time I visited Wetzlar, Germany, it was to attend the 40th Leica Photographica Auction. I was fortunate enough to see old friends again, and witness the record-breaking sale of the Leica 0-Series prototype. Because Jordan Drake and I were covering the auction for DPReview TV we didn’t have a specific camera to review, so why not make a retrospective about my personal favorite, the Leica M6 rangefinder.
The Leica executives were gracious enough to accommodate our request and provided a used Leica M6 and a few choice lenses for our video. Coincidentally they also revealed their plans to re-release the Leica M6, and we were pleasantly surprised to hear it.
I truly loved every second with that M6 in hand, but could I really justify buying one? I’m on a budget like most of us are, and purchasing a Leica rangefinder is a daunting financial decision. Even the most affordable examples of the M6 cost a pretty penny, and if I were to receive an old and beat-up M6 as a gift I would be over the moon!
But this is a money-is-no-object article, and Leica has reissued the M6 on a brand new production line. You have a rare opportunity to give the special photographer in your life an experience that hasn’t been possible for twenty years. Let them open up a brand new box, pull out a brand new camera, and start shooting the greatest film rangefinder Leica has ever made. Oh, and don’t forget to throw a couple rolls of film in there too.
— Chris Nicholls
Put your mark on a photography museum
As much as I can indulge flight of fancy about having enough money to bribe government officials to let me take photos with the James Webb Space Telescope (arguably the greatest camera ever invented!) I pulled my ripcord and reentered the atmosphere. The thought occurred that so much of photography is in the past and literally belongs in a museum.
As much as we at DPR love to be dorks about dynamic range, megapixels, autofocus and the latest imaging tech a lot of the history we love and admire is disappearing. That’s where museums come into play. Archivists are heroically saving our history, preserving prints, restoring old corroded cameras, and spreading the love of photography to new generations.
So, if you’ve got the cash lying around, why not give to a photography museum? If you’re a big roller, go ahead and buy them a new foyer, storage facility, or exhibit wing. Places like the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY or the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, CA are institutions I can vouch for. Why not kick them a million or two? Cinema and photographic history is priceless, after all! Plus, they’ll probably let you put the name of your choosing on whatever they buy with the dough.
I can’t imagine a better gift than seeing a loved one’s name above some spectacular fine art photographs or a temperature-controlled negative storage vault. But maybe that’s just me.
— Brendan Nystedt
A cool aerial shooting experience
Until recently, shooting from the air meant hiring an aircraft to take you and your camera into the sky, but consumer drones have changed that equation. So, when I started thinking about what drone I would buy if cost were no object, the answer was easy: the NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. As you would imagine, flying on Mars doesn’t come cheap and entails unique technical hurdles, like the speed of light. But if you can work around the limitations, you can fly on Mars.
In addition to a 12MP camera with a global shutter, Ingenuity has solar-charged batteries (a necessity considering the distance to the nearest electrical outlet), can fly in an atmosphere with 1% the density of Earth’s, and has a remote control range of 300 million km.
I know, I know… some of you have already concluded that this isn’t something anyone could actually buy, but hear me out. At a cost of around $85 million, plus a mission control center and some brilliant engineers, this is within somebody’s price range. For the well-positioned multi-billionaire, it’s a lot less expensive than starting a rocket company. Or buying a social network. If cost is truly no object, this is within reach.
If $85 million is out of your price range and you want a more affordable aerial adventure, consider going old school and hiring a helicopter for a shoot. It may stretch your budget, but there’s nothing like shooting out the side of a helicopter with its doors removed.
— Dale Baskin
A better experiential storytelling machine
I received some great advice early in my career as a photojournalist: when you interview someone and they have a dog, make sure to get the dog’s name.
It’s a reminder to pay attention to the details, set a scene and help readers and viewers better understand what you’ve uncovered. As I began working in video, interactive films and experimental projects such as mixed reality, I continued to remind myself to get the dog’s name.
If I had a bucket of endless funds, I’d use off-the-wall tech and emerging tech to create an immersive experiential narrative driven journalistic documentary film theater.
Load up my shopping cart with an array of ILM’s Stagecraft display, advanced eye tracking, 3D without glasses, computer vision, advanced climate control, olfactory tech, generative AI voice, haptic sensors with force feedback, immersive object-based audio, cut me loose With a team of journalists and documentarians, let’s create stories that you can walk inside!
Today we can read a story, see a still image or a long video about what is happening in our communities and around the world. For instance, on the morning of January 13, 2018, Hawaiians woke up to a false alert that missiles from North Korea were inbound. I remember this day vividly, since I had a team of journalists in Hawaii filming a piece on ham radio operators. During the day we put out written, live broadcast and video stories and our readers and viewers several timezones away learned from a distance what our team was seeing in Hawaii.
Now, consider this same story, but instead of reading it from hours away, you experience it. In the center of a dark room, you “awake” to a buzzing phone with an alert that missile impact is imminent.
You can turn on the TV, look out of the window, talk to hotel staff in the hallway, or walk outside to try and figure out what is going on. As you make your way thorough the story in real-time, you’re able to walk around a scene, interact with the environment, talk to people and hear, smell and feel what it is like to be there. Everything is in real-time and fact-based, based on the work of real journalists who documented the moment, but you are in charge of your path and journey through the story. What you learn is true, you get to decide how you learn it.
At its heart, my wish list is a collection of tech that can produce an empathy engine, helping us really see each other, understand our hopes and conflicts and move beyond assumptions, spins, othering and hate. I want to build a better way to literally take you inside the story and let you walk around and discover what’s happening on the ground for yourself.
And if after building this contraption, it doesn’t work, well, we’ll fall back on plan B: make the most intense game of Pokemon Snap ever.
— Shaminder Dulai