Gear Guide: For creative types

Shopping for someone with a creative streak? Here are seven suggestions.

Lights, Camera

Cameras—as well as GPS devices, e-readers, smartphones, and all pocketable Apple products—need to be recharged all the time. Unfortunately, you aren't near an electrical outlet all the time. Thankfully, Solio has a line of durable, portable chargers that let you plug into the power of the sun. One of the coolest: The Solio Mono, which is small enough to toss into your camera bag but can hold enough juice for a Canon PowerShot to grab 215 photos. The Mono can be fully charged by the sun in 17 hours or via a USB connector or optional wall charger.
$60; Solio

Burning in Style

Slightly larger than a CD case, and available in seven designer colors including navy, red, and pink, the tiny, elegant Samsung SE-S084 Slim DVD Writer is a versatile charmer. It features buffer-underrun technology to prevent errors, works with standard and mini discs, and has a manual eject button.
$70; Samsung

Talk to the Hand

Your iPhone or iPod touch might be able to record audio, but the results won’t be great. In the past, getting quality recordings was an expensive undertaking. Samson makes it affordable with its $99 Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. Recording at settings of up to 24-bit/96kHz WAV (or MP3 files at 320 kbps), the lightweight H1 easily fits into the palm of your hand. Sporting two microphones in an X/Y pattern as well as a mic/line-in port, the H1 records to removable microSDHC cards.
$99; Samson

All-in-One for Artists

Epson’s new Artisan 725 All-in-One printer uses six Claria Hi-Definition dye inks, and offers automatic photo correction, red-eye removal, wired and wireless printing, automatic two-sided paper handling, and a choice of a black or arctic white case.
$200; Epson

Special Effects

The Lensbaby Scout with Fisheye Lens combines the beloved Lensbaby 12mm fish-eye optic—you can capture sweeping 160-degree views and focus as close as a half inch in front of the lens—with a straight-shooting, manual focus lens. You can also swap out the fish-eye for other Lensbaby optics to experiment with different effects without dropping piles of cash.
$250; Lensbaby

Little Camera, Big Picture

Sanyo’s Xacti VPC SH1 is a small, comfortable handful of camcorder that lets you shoot both videos and stills without changing modes—or even shoot both simultaneously. It has a convenient flip-out viewer that closes into the body when you’re not shooting. But ease of use and sleek handling are just part of why this camcorder makes a great gift. The VPC SH1 can capture Full HD videos (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video format, to be exact) with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, and offers a range of shooting modes, from wide angle to telephoto. The slim, vertical design provides excellent ergonomics and ease of use.
$400; Sanyo

Superserious Point-and-Shoot

On the outside, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX5 is a sturdy, compact camera with nice retro styling. Inside, though, there’s a 10-megapixel CCD sensor and a number of advanced features you usually only get in a large DSLR. It has full controls (including manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority), extensive white-balance controls, and a Raw shooting mode. Its centerpiece, though, is a stunning, ultra-wide-angle 24mm Leica lens that opens up to an aperture of f/2.0. It’s a great camera for DLSR owners who want a second camera or for beginners looking to get more control over their shots.
$500; Panasonic

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