Oskar Barnack, an optical engineer in the early 20th century, loved taking pictures on his long hikes through the woods near Wetzlar, Germany. Back then, that meant lugging around cumbersome field cameras and equipment, which only worsened his asthma. This challenge prompted him to design one of the first handheld 35-millimeter cameras, circa 1912, merging portability and quality for the first time. His innovation opened the door for guys like Robert Capa to capture the soldiers landing on D-day and Alfred Eisenstaedt to memorialize their return.
When digital technology first arrived, in the ’90s, once again size and weight mattered. Top photographers faced a dilemma: They could opt for heavy DSLRs that broke the bank, and the shoulder, or poor-quality point-and-shoots.
The quest for lossless miniaturization has finally yielded a product without compromise with the 20.2-megapixel DxO One. The palm-sized gadget works well on its own, but perhaps its most impressive feature is the way it can couple with an iPhone, directly or remotely. Once connected, your smartphone becomes a remarkably versatile control panel, allowing you to adjust everything—from depth of field to focus to shutter speed to ISO—at the tap of a finger. With its outstanding low-light capability, 32-millimeter prime lens, and superfast ƒ1.8 aperture, the device is a boon for pros and hobbyists (and spies) alike. Oskar Barnack would approve. $500; dxo.com.