There is one issue each year that holds a special place for all of us at DIR. It’s the issue in which we announce our Rudy Awards. It isn’t simply because we are all passionate about innovative imaging products, though we are. It’s because we get the opportunity to reflect back on our beginnings—and our founders. The 13th Rudy Awards again give us this opportunity.
The Rudy Awards were named for the late Rudolf Maschke, who cofounded the magazine 27 years ago along with his friend Ed Wagner. Rudy, as friends and colleagues knew him, was an amazing human who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany, came to America alone, just a child, with barely a nickel and truly achieved the American dream.
Rudy Maschke had a keen eye for emerging trends and products that might push the boundaries of imaging. So it is in the spirit of our cofounder that we present the 13th Rudy Awards to a selection of devices we believe enhance the joy and creativity of imaging.
Again this year, the products we’ve chosen for the 2019 Rudy Awards are not all high-tech digital devices. We’ve also selected analog products that are again renewing interest in photography.
Honorees of the 13th Rudy Awards
Nikon Coolpix P1000
Nikon’s Coolpix P1000 sets a new standard for long-zoom point-and-shoot compacts with its 125x optical zoom lens. The 24–3000mm-equivalent f/2.8–8 Nikkor lens extends from macro (1cm) to extreme distances, making the P1000 a companion for birding, sports and even celestial photographers! The 16MP P1000 captures 4K UHD video with stereo audio and time-lapse effects. And it offers manual controls, RAW output, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Standing squarely at the top of the ultra-zoom category, its lens employs ED and super ED lens elements. And it works with Nikon’s Dynamic Fine Zoom technology to extend its reach to 250x, or a staggering 6000mm. To handle extreme distances, the P&S uses an advanced Nikon Expeed processor and Dual Detect Optical VR technology, which provides 5 stops of shake compensation.
In addition, the camera’s control layout comprises a function button, a command dial and mode dial. Plus, a focus mode selector can be used to change the focus mode, while a control ring allows adjustment of settings such as white balance. Also featured are a 2.3M-dot OLED EVF for composing shots, a vari-angle, 3.2-inch, 921K-dot LCD and designated scene modes like moon, to literally shoot the moon. $999.95.
Humaneyes Technologies Vuze XR
Despite its portable design, the Vuze XR combines two advanced capture systems into one pocketable device. Its unique dual-camera design provides visual storytellers with the dynamics of a full 360° camera—and with a single click, it converts to an immersive VR180 format. Targeted at content creators, social media enthusiasts, travelers, adventure seekers as well as families, the XR records in either 5.7K 360° (2D) or stereoscopic VR180 (3D) formats. And you can record or share live to mobile phones, computers and VR headsets.
“The Vuze XR is a must have for anyone with a story or special moment to share, from consumers to prosumers. With powerful 360° and VR180 5.7K camera technology built in, along with instant sharing and a live-streaming mode, anyone can enjoy the freedom of shooting their story, the way they want,” said Shahar Bin-Nun, CEO, Humaneyes Technologies.
The new camera permits users to: capture and share full 360° or immersive VR180 video or photos; “click” between standard 360° mode (when the camera is closed) and 3D VR180 mode (when open); enjoy high-res, 5.7K video; and live stream to popular social media channels. $439.
Sony SF-G Tough Spec UHS-II SD Card
Sony made quite a bang when it announced the “world’s toughest and fastest” SD card—the SF-G Tough specification UHS-II SD series. The card is engineered to keep images safe in any environment. It combines fast read (300MB/s) and write speeds (299MB/s) with a rugged design that’s shockproof, waterproof and dustproof. Made of materials using high-grade hardness, it is 18x stronger than the SD standard (180N compared to 10N rating). It also resists damage from X-rays, magnets and extreme temperatures, incorporating UV Guard. Even bending this card won’t phase it!
Its monolithic structure has a completely sealed one-piece molding, leaving no empty space in the card and preventing debris from entering. And because it is built without any easy-to-break parts, it’s protected against damage caused by a cracked plastic casing, data protection lock or connector ribs. Sony says it is the first ribless SD card series with no write protection switch. The card also supports V90, the highest standard of video speed class, making it ideal for shooting high-res video. Sporting a bright yellow banding design for visibility, Sony’s SF-G Tough card comes in three capacities: 32GB, $72.99; 64GB, $131.99; 128GB, $275.99.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom is a consumer drone with optical zoom. With the Mavic Pro’s folding design, it features 3-axis gimbal-stabilized cameras and advanced intelligent features like Hyperlapse and ActiveTrack. It also has an increased flight time of 31 minutes, a more stable video transmission system and is powered by a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. But what really sets this drone apart is the fact that it is DJI’s first foldable consumer drone that enables pilots to combine 2x optical zoom (24–48mm) with 2x digital zoom to simulate a 96mm telephoto lens.
A hybrid AF system uses phase and contrast detection for higher accuracy, with 40% faster speeds. The drone captures 4K UHD video at 100-megabits per sec and 12MP photos. Plus, its super resolution feature utilizes optical zoom to automatically stitch nine photos together to create a 48MP image! It also offers DJI’s intelligent modes, along with Dolly Zoom QuickShot mode, which creates “an otherworldly warped perspective,” keeping the subject the same size while the full background is revealed. $1,249.
Kodak Professional Ektachrome
OK, we couldn’t help ourselves; we just had to include this revived legendary classic. When Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris announced the availability of the highly anticipated Kodak Ektachrome film line, we were all in. Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100 film, from Kodak Alaris, is initially available in the 135/36x format. Kodak Ektachrome 7294 color reversal film in the Super 8 format is distributed by Eastman Kodak.
A resurgence in the popularity of analog photography and motion picture film created demand for new film offerings. “Ektachrome film was the choice for generations of filmmakers,” said Steve Bellamy, president of Eastman Kodak’s Motion Picture and Entertainment Division. “We are extremely excited to reintroduce this film to those who know and love it, and to a new generation of motion picture artists.”
Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100 is a daylight-balanced color reversal film featuring clean, vibrant colors, a neutral tone scale and extremely fine grain. Its distinctive look is well suited to a wide range of applications, such as product, landscape, nature and fashion photography. 36-exposure: $12.99.
GoPro Hero7 Black
GoPro’s flagship, the Hero7 Black boasts advanced video stabilization via a HyperSmooth function. This makes it easy to capture pro-looking, gimbal-like stabilized video without a motorized gimbal. HyperSmooth also works underwater and in high-shock and wind situations where gimbals may fail. The action camera also introduced a new form of video called TimeWarp, which applies a high-speed, “magic-carpet-ride” effect.
In addition to capturing 4K 60p video and 12MP photos, the waterproof (33 feet) Hero7 Black records ultraslow-motion videos at 8x in Full HD 1080p at 240 fps. And it’s the first GoPro to live stream. So you can automatically share video in real time to Facebook, Twitch, YouTube and Vimeo. Other niceties include: portrait mode, which supports native vertical capture for sharing to Instagram Stories and Snapchat; a 2-inch touch display with touch zoom; face, smile and scene detection; and GPS. The Hero7 Black also responds to verbal commands in 14 languages. Move over, Alexa! $399.
Anthropics LandscapePro V3
This dedicated landscape photo editor features advanced image recognition technology, atmosphere adjustment tools and easy object removal. It also provides pros with overlay and logo facilities, sharpening and clarity tools, and improved straightening tools. Its image recognition technology is powered by artificial intelligence, which allows LandscapePro 3 to detect features in landscape shots. Drop a label in place and the software finds the area automatically.
You can also manipulate photos with atmospheric effects such as rain, fog and lens flare. Weather features adapt to the landscape and are reactive to objects and distance, enabling them to blend in. In addition, the new selection of skies is ready to enhance photographs. Choose from 150+ in the built-in library or import your own. You can flip a sky horizontally for more options. And with the new overlay tools, you can add a layer on top of an original image—perfect for protecting your photography online by adding a logo or watermark.
LandscapePro Standard is $39.95. LandscapePro Studio handles RAW files and 48-bit per color TIFFs. It also supports different color spaces and is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Elements: $59.95. Studio Max 3 adds batch mode and a histogram panel: $119.95.
Fujifilm GFX 50R
Fujifilm’s GFX 50R rangefinder-style “super-format” mirrorless camera uses an impressive 51.4MP G-format (43.8×32.9mm) CMOS sensor and X-Processor Pro. They deliver image quality in a compact, lightweight body reminiscent of medium-format film cameras widely used in street and documentary photography. The 50R has a 0.77x, 3.69M-dot OLED EVF for focusing and framing images. And it supports Fujifilm film simulation modes that express the tonality of photographic films like Velvia, Provia and ACROS. Its magnesium alloy body is weather-sealed in 64 places, is dust resistant and operates in temperatures as low as 14º.
It has a focus lever for quick focal point adjustment and also eliminates selector buttons to provide space for comfortably holding it. On top are two milled aluminum dials—for shutter speed and exposure compensation. In addition, its rangefinder style design lets you keep one eye on the subject while looking through the viewfinder with the other. Weighing 27 ounces, it’s 5 ounces less than the GFX 50S, and its body nearly an inch thinner. Other features include: three JPEG, two RAW settings and TIFF output; Full HD video recording; a 3.2-inch, 2.36M-dot, tilting, touch-screen LCD monitor; and dual SD card slots. And it’s the first GFX model with integrated Bluetooth LE wireless communication. $4,499.95.
Lomography Diana Instant Square
This lo-fi analog camera brings the iconic Diana aesthetic to trendy square-format instant photography. A twist on a classic look, the Adriano edition is clad in brown PU leather and accented with blue panels. It may be new, by the Diana Instant Square produces strong, saturated colors; rich, moody vignetting; and all the unpredictable effects that made its 1960s predecessor an analog classic. Grab a pack of Fujifilm Instax Square film, get creative with composition and watch your frames develop in your hands in seconds.
Fully manual, the camera is built to push your photography skills to the next level. It features an adjustable aperture: choose from sunny (f/32), partly cloudy (f/19), cloudy (f/11) and pinhole (f/150). And with a simple twist, switch its zone focusing between 1–2 m, 2–4 m and 4 m–infinity. In bulb mode, keep the shutter open for as long as you want to capture a psychedelic light painting. Or use the pinhole function; with no lens to hold you back, you can snap dreamy images that throw back to the early days of photography.
Other features include: unlimited multiple exposure mode; a hot shoe to attach flashes; a detachable viewfinder optimized for each of the camera’s lenses; a selfie mirror; and a standard filter thread that works with tons of Lomo accessories, like portrait and wide-angle lens attachments and ND, color and star filters. $109.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12–200mm f/3.5–6.3 Lens
The just-announced Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12–200mm f/3.5–6.3 (24–400mm equivalent) super telephoto zoom conforms to the Micro Four Thirds standard. It currently boasts the highest magnification zoom available on an interchangeable lens for mirrorless at 16.6x. Dustproof and splashproof, it is durable enough to withstand tough shooting conditions, especially when paired with a weather-sealed OM-D camera.
When shooting wide, its closest focusing distance is less than nine inches from the main subject, so you can capture the subject as well as an expansive background. When shooting telephoto, its 0.46x-maximum magnification (equivalent) allows for close-up photography and significant background defocusing.
Equipped with the Olympus MSC (movie and still compatible) mechanism, it provides fast, smooth, quiet and accurate AF for video shooters. Helping the cause for clear, high-contrast images is the ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating. Along with optional accessories, the 12–200mm lens ships in March. $899.99.
Lowel Tota Portable LED Light
The Lowel Tota LED portable floodlight for photographers and documentary/student filmmakers is also suited for event and museum use. The floodlight emits 4275 lux of flicker-free continuous light. Its worldwide auto-sensing power supply lets you use it anywhere in the world your assignment takes you. It operates on AC or battery power, drawing only 70W, but it delivers the equivalent output of a 750W tungsten bulb.
It’s daylight balanced (5600K) with a CRI of 96.3, delivering color accuracy. Power output is controlled by a stepless dimmer knob that ranges from 100% to 0% brightness. A slot and lock allow use with an umbrella for softer light. Other features include: 160 LEDs; a 50,000-hour bulb life; and 65º coverage without a diffuser, 100% with a diffuser. Built with a metal chassis, it measures 7.3×12.3×3.9 inches and weighs 5.1 pounds sans control box. The Lowel Tota LED floodlight kit comes with a yoke; a worldwide auto-sensing power source; an AC power adapter; a 9.5-foot power cord; a diffuser; a V-mount strap; and a case. $449.
Nixplay Seed Wave
Nixplay’s Seed Wave digital photo frame adds a new dimension in sound and music to smart connected photo-and-video frames. The Seed Wave gives Nixplay owners the ability to curate music and add all-in-one audio to their photos and videos. Building on the design of its Seed line, Nixplay added two premium 5-watt Bluetooth speakers with a dedicated bass and audio amplifier. You can also stream music from a Bluetooth-enabled device by pairing a phone, tablet or PC to the Seed Wave. Or enjoy enhanced audio performance as you watch your video memories on its 13.1-inch widescreen frame.
“Nixplay owners can now entertain friends and family by sharing their precious memories paired to their favorite tunes from any room in their home,” said Mark Palfreeman, Nixplay’s CEO. “We know the mantelpiece is still the focal point of the home and the backdrop of our family photos. That’s why we created the Seed Wave to have a sleek, minimalist design that makes it the perfect addition to your mantelpiece.” Other features include: Google Photos connectivity to access Live Albums via the frame; 10GB of secure, free online cloud storage; the ability to connect albums from all social platforms; and compatibility with the Alexa smart speaker. $249.99.