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Today’s college dorm rooms are all about the technology. Totally connected college kids are deep into consumer electronics than ever. If you are looking over your shopping list for a college-bound kid, the gift of capturing and preserving their college memories and milestones with a high-tech camera can be the perfect choice. 


Here are nine perfect campus life cameras to choose from.


cool cameras for back to school

GoPro Hero+ LCD

POV (point-of-view) action cams are perfect for recording campus life, and GoPro is the undisputed leader. GoPro’s Hero4 Black is incredible, but the newest model, the Hero+ LCD, has a superior price point and ease of use. The Hero+ LCD captures Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps and 8MP photos with GoPro’s first touch display. The LCD enables shot framing and access to control settings, including the new in-camera video-trimming feature. 


The cam is built into a waterproof housing, making it waterproof to 131 feet. Students can use the “HiLight” tagging feature, allowing them to mark key moments while recording and during playback so they can easily find them later. They can even create short clips for sharing without a computer using the video-trimming function. 


Other features include: built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to sync with a GoPro app-enabled smartphone/tablet for camera control and shot preview, plus sharing to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other sites; the ability to power on and record automatically with the press of a button using QuikCapture; two hours of recording per charge; and a microSD slot. $299.99. gopro.com


Nikon Coolpix P900

Nikon’s Coolpix P900 is a perfect choice for long distance shooting. If they want to capture the action from the bleachers, this camera delivers with an incredible 83x optical zoom, 24–2,000mm equivalent Nikkor glass lens, and 166x dynamic fine zoom. With unrivaled zoom power in a point and shoot, it offers a 16MP CMOS sensor and functions for capturing images and Full HD video from afar. Photos can even be sent to a smartphone/tablet via built-in Wi-Fi/NFC (Near Field Communication) connectivity with Nikon Snapbridge. 


Students can frame subjects using the built-in electronic viewfinder with an eye sensor, or the vari-angle 3-inch, 921K-dot LCD. A snap-back zoom button lets them frame subjects when shooting super-telephoto shots, while the side zoom control button helps eliminate shake. 


Other features include: 7-fps bursts; command and mode dials to adjust settings one-handed; the highest level of shake compensation in a Coolpix (5 stops); creative effects; a zoom microphone function for clear distance recording; and built-in GPS with POI (points of interest) to geotag and view where images were taken on a map. $599.95. nikonusa.com


Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4

The Olympus Stylus TG-4 can withstand 220 pounds of pressure and survive a 7-foot drop making this a tough choice for a college-bound camera. It’s also waterproof to 50 feet, operates down to 14ºF, and is dustproof making it a take anywhere camera. GPS records landmark information, and an eCompass provides barometric pressure, altitude, and water depth as it displays direction. 


Performance features include RAW capture, macro capabilities, underwater modes, a nighttime live composite mode and AF target selection. With a scratch-resistant coating, its fast 25–100mm f/2.0 lens is engineered to produce images with reduced blur, particularly when capturing fast action or shooting in low light. 


The camera’s variable macro system, with microscope mode that captures subjects 1cm away, makes it a super student-friendly camera. The lens magnifies subjects to 44.5x, and to ensure clear shots, focus-stacking mode captures eight shots while shifting the focus from foreground to background, then merges them into one photo with maximum depth of field.


Using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi and the Olympus Image Share app, students can sync it with smartphones and tablets to upload to social networks and control the camera remotely. $329.99. olympusamerica.com


cool back to school cameras

Lomo’Instant Boston Edition

The Lomo’Instant is an analog camera, and instant photography is really popular with the younger crowd. The Lomographic Society International was actually founded by students so your college-bound kids can truly relate. Lomography started as an art movement where students put on photo exhibits, and the movement developed into a commercial enterprise.


The Lomo’Instant is a perfectly sized instant camera to take anywhere and share in the moment. It can shoot unlimited multiple exposure instants, so students can artistically combine shots. The camera comes in trendy colors, and most Lomo’Instant cameras come with a set of color gels and three creative lenses that attach to the built-in 27mm, wide-angle lens: a 170º fisheye; a 35mm-equivalent portrait; and a close-up lens with a 10–15cm close focusing distance. The kit also includes the Lomo’Instant Splitzer for multiple image slicing.


Auto flash mode lets students take instant photos with flash, while a sensor detects the brightness and the light meter automatically gives off the right amount of light needed. They can switch to the two manual shooting modes to experiment more with their photography. Flash on manual mode is great for shooting indoors, and users can switch between N for normal daytime shots and B shutter for long exposures. With the B setting, users can create light-streaked photos by holding the shutter open for as long as they like. For long exposures at night, there’s flash off manual mode. The Lomo’Instant works with Fujifilm Instax Mini film. $169. lomography.com 


Canon EOS Rebel T6i

For a more serious student photographer, the Rebel T6i DSLR delivers high-quality photos and Full HD videos that are easy to share—and it has an affordable price. An upgraded 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor is combined with its advanced Digic 6 processor and hybrid autofocus system with 19 cross-type AF sensors. This combo delivers faster, more accurate autofocus with action during movie recording and live view. 


Canon’s EOS Scene Analysis system automatically adjusts settings to produce the best results whether shooting friends, campus landscapes, or sports action even in tricky light situations. A first for the Rebel line is built-in Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity. Images and video can be seamlessly sent to smart devices for social sharing, including Canon’s CS100 Connect Station.


Other features include: a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, vari-angle, touch-screen LCD for shooting from various perspectives; ISO settings of 100–12,800 (expandable to 25,600); a 5-fps maximum full-res burst; and built-in creative filters. With a Canon EF-S 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 STM OIS lens, $899.99. usa.canon.com


Pentax Q-S1

For students who want DSLR functionality and interchangeable lenses, but a smaller camera body, check out the mirrorless Pentax Q-S1. This compact, interchangeable-lens system delivers high quality images and comes in 40 fun color combinations.


The compact Q-S1 measures just 4.1x2.3x1.3 inches yet delivers a 12.4MP, 1/1.7-inch, BSI CMOS sensor, and Q processor that delivers high-quality images and Full HD 1080p video recording at 30/24 fps. It has a top sensitivity of ISO 12,800 and a reliable shake-reduction system for crisp images. Students can use the camera’s bokeh control to produce SLR-like artistic background blur effects, as well as nine smart effects, and 11 creative filters all applied with the turn of a dial. 


Other features include: a 3-inch, 460K-dot LCD with a 170º viewing angle; 5-fps continuous shooting; RAW shooting; a quick dial; ND filter on/off; auto picture mode selection; interval mode selection; scene modes; built-in HDR; and multi-exposure mode. The Q-S1 supports optional Eyefi wireless memory cards. With 5–15mm f/2.8–4.5 Pentax 02 lens, $399.95. ricohimaging.com


back to school cameras

Sony FDR-X1000V

Student videographers will crave the ability to capture 4K content, and the compact X1000V delivers just that. This is Sony’s most powerful POV action cam yet, and the splashproof X1000V records 3,840x2,160 video at 30p (100Mbps/60Mpbs) and 8.8MP stills. It features upgraded stabilization, image quality, and high-frame-rate shooting. Updated Sony Action Cam SteadyShot technology adds electronic IS that is three times more effective at suppressing motor vibration. This means students can even capture vibration-free aerial footage using drones. It also shoots video at high frame rates of 120p in Full HD and 240p in HD for slow-motion footage. 


Other specs include a Zeiss Tessar lens with a wide 170º field of view, a BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor, a Bionz X processor and full pixel readout technology adopted from Sony pro cameras. This allows the cam to read and process data from all of the sensor’s pixels to create smooth, detailed 4K and HD video in MP4 and XAVC S formats. Wind noise reduction minimizes wind interference with the stereo microphone, and for advanced videographers, there are manual controls and setting adjustments. Loop recording is even available to maximize available card space. Live streaming capabilities are provided via Ustream, and a kitted waterproof case keeps the FDR-X1000V watertight to 33 feet. $499.99. sony.com


Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS45

This easy-to-use point and shoot has a wink-activated selfie function and 3-inch, 1,040K-dot, flip-up LCD. When the LCD is tilted up 180º, it triggers the self-shooting mode to take selfies to a new level. Built-in Wi-Fi links the ZS45 to a smartphone for remote control and on-the-spot mobile sharing.


Three imaging effects give students more expressive selfies. Soft skin mode makes skin look brighter and smoother; slimming mode sharpens facial lines to make faces look slimmer; and defocusing mode keeps the subject clearly focused while gently softening the background.


Video is recorded in Full HD 1,920x1,080 60p in the AVCHD Progressive format, so fine details on even fast-moving subjects can be captured clearly. Recording transfer-friendly MP4 video also starts with the push of a button. 


The pocketable camera features a 16MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor with low-light performance. Along with this high powered sensor, they will enjoy a 20x optical zoom, 24–480mm f/3.3–6.4 Lumix DC Vario lens that brings friends in close and is suited for a variety of shooting situations. Adding to the zooming capabilities is Power OIS, which minimizes the appearance of camera shake. Other features include: 10-fps, high-speed burst shooting; filter effects and creative controls; and geotagging. $249.99. panasonic.com


Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

Fujifilm’s Instax Wide 300 instant camera is designed for shooting wide-angle photography and immediately sharing prints at parties or even for school projects. This camera will deliver vivid, high-quality prints in seconds. Its Instax Wide film takes photos that are twice as wide as Instax Mini film.


The Instax Wide 300 has a sleek design and improved features for better handling and image composition. Take advantage of a tripod socket for steady sharp images, a real image finder, and a lens ring dial with two-range focus settings. 


It also features a retractable, 95mm f/14 lens and a built-in electronic flash that automatically adjusts light levels depending on the distance to the subject. Users can select fill flash when shooting friends in a backlight scene, while a lighten-darken exposure compensation control adds high-key and low-key effects. A close-up lens adapter for 15.5-inch macro shooting is included, and the Wide 300 runs on four readily available AA alkaline batteries. $109.99. fujifilmusa.com

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