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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Top Mobile Photo Editing Apps: How to Get Started

It’s incredible when you stop to think about it, but almost every mobile phone these days has a built-in camera and almost everyone has a mobile phone. 

That means more people have the capacity to take photographs than ever before in human history.

Not only that but most modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras  have built-in Wi-fi that means you can quickly transfer shots between cameras and mobile devices.

This supercharged workflow means that modern photographers are able to capture images with a variety of different devices and upload them directly to social media sites like Instagram, Facebook or even send direct to clients on the way home from the shoot.

But what if you want to boost the shadows a little, add a watermark to stop image theft, or get creative with your images before you share them with the world?

Luckily, the processing power of our mobile phones and tablets has skyrocketed over the years. Our trusty pocket devices can now help us do advanced photo editing on-the-fly.

Features like spot removal, image overlay, curve adjustments as well as HDR-style rendering that previously was reserved for desktop applications have made their way into mobile image editing apps.

So where do you start if you want to learn how to edit your images on your portable device?

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular and powerful photo editing applications for your mobile device to point you in the right direction.


Available for: Android, iOS
Cost: Free

Snapseed is a well-thought-out editing app with some easy to use functions as well as some more advanced photo editing features like a handy lens blur effect, that lets you choose a circular or a star shaped aperture for a customisable bokeh. It also includes a curves adjustment panel with a histogram as well as a set of brushes that can be used to dodge, burn, change the temperature and saturation of particular sections of your shots.

The app also has advanced pixel cloning software that works in a similar way to Photoshop’s content-aware fill mode. It’s not perfect but when your image has a consistent background you can use it to radically change the perspective of image or to recreate missing pixel information.

The "Perspective" feature allows you to change the angle of your shot.
The“Expand” feature can be used to help centre a shot if it was framed incorrectly.

Snapseed also boasts sophisticated selfie software that gives you the power to “re-pose” your face after you’ve taken the shot. If used in moderation it can make a subtle change to a portrait but try and restrain yourself from over-using it.

Here’s is a hot tip regarding Snapseed’s “Re-Pose” function. 
Moderation is key, overuse can create truly horrific results.


Available for: Android, iOS
Cost: Free but VSCO X costs 19.99 USD a year.

VSCO is more than just hard to pronounce word (most people say it like VIS-CO), it is also a highly-regarded photo editing app born from the founding members love for analogue film. Terrified that film stock was disappearing they decided to try and immortalise the qualities of different films by creating preset filters to emulate the warmth and character of film.

Originally designed for desktop applications it wasn’t long before they decided to bring their celebration of classic film looks to an easy-to-use mobile platform and it’s only got more popular from there.

Although VSCO is free to use and allows users to edit settings like exposure, saturation, highlights and shadows as well as being able to add film filters, to really get the most out of VSCO it is recommended to upgrade to the paid VSCO X plan. This gives you access to over 100 classic mobile presets, and exclusive Film X presets that are modelled on popular films like Kodak Portra, Ektar, Ilford HP5 Plus, Fuji Pro and many more, carefully designed to create an authentic film look and feel to your shots.

An example of some of the camera stock filters that are included with a VSCO X membership plan.

Images edited with VSCO are often shared with the tag #VSCO or #VSCOCAM and the app tends to attract users with a healthy respect for film and dark room processing.

It is a generally a hub for creatives to share their work and a lot of professional photographers prefer the simple design and layout of the platform.


Available for: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

Pixlr is an easy-to-use mobile app with impressive photo editing features. The “double exposure” mode gives you the ability to blend two images together with control over the scale, rotation, opacity, and blending mode of the second image.

The best part of the double exposure function is that the eraser tool operates like a layer mask in Photoshop. You can set the size and feather of the eraser to remove what you don’t want in the shot but if you do accidentally erase something you need, you can easily switch tools and paint the pixels back in.

The“Double Exposure” mode in Pixlr gives you the ability to control how two images are merged together.


Available for: Android, iOS
Cost: Free
Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social networks. As of April 2017, Instagram has a whopping 700 million active users. Australia is estimated to have a population of 24.6 million so to put it in perspective, Instagram has about 28 times the entire population of Australia as active users.

It’s safe to say Instagram is THE mobile app for sharing images as well as videos. It offers a simple editing interface that lets you add filters, and tweak settings like brightness and contrast, warmth, saturation, as well as more advanced settings like highlight and shadow adjustments.

You can sharpen images, add a dark vignette or even process your images with a tilt-shift-style focus blur as well as tinting either the shadows or highlights with a colour.

A post shared by Digital Camera Warehouse (@dcwarehouse) on

Instagram’s main strength is its massive community and the fact that once you post an image other people can love it, send it to their friends, and comment on the image.

The comment and like function is hands down the most popular part of Instagram because it puts photographers in direct contact with their fans and followers and this makes Instagram the social media platform with the absolute highest level of engagement.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Available for: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Cost: Free but some features are limited without an Adobe creative cloud membership.

The photo editing juggernaut that is Photoshop is no longer limited to desktops, Adobe has released an express version that is designed for mobile devices like mobiles and tablets.

The app has more than 60 filters, a defog tool, noise reduction slider, and can even edit some RAW camera files too. With adjustments for clarity, sharpening, contrast, highlights and shadows, as well as vibrancy, saturation and temperature controls the app delivers comprehensive imaging control.

Photoshop express also has a setting that allows you to add a watermark on your final image. This can be text, or an image like a signature and you can choose from 10 different locations for your watermark as well as control the level of opacity so it doesn't ruin your shot.

Photoshop Express provides several different options for adding watermarks to your images.

Photoshop Express also comes with a red-eye removal tool and a retouch function that performs in much the same way as the heal brush in the desktop version of Photoshop.

The "Retouch" function can be used to clean up images with sensor dust spots.

So hopefully that gives you an idea about some of the things your phone or tablet is capable of, it's amazing what these little pocket computers can do in a pinch.

Mobile apps are fantastic for the quick sharing and fast delivery of content for social media use and can be a fantastic way of whetting the appetite of your clients after a particularly photogenic shoot. Just remember 

Ultimately, impressive as modern mobile apps and portable devices are, I would still recommend a desktop setup and a nicely calibrated high resolution monitor to give your images the attention they deserve, but it's nice to know we now have the option to do on-the-fly editing with a mobile device.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nikon: A Century of Innovation

They’ve been in the game for a long time, 100 years to be exact. 

Nikon. One word and everyone already knows what I’m talking about. They’re one of the most well-known, well-loved camera makers on the planet and, as of this month, they’ve been around for 100 years. A full century. That’s an incredibly long time and an equally incredible and beautiful history.

Once upon a time, there were three Japanese optical companies…

No, seriously. 

Way back when, it really did start with three of Japan’s leading optical manufacturing companies. In 1917, the companies merged to become Nippon Kogaku K.K. or Japan Optical Industries Co. Ltd.

Still not quite the brand we recognise today, but we’re getting there. A short while after forming, the company went full throttle on research and development, becoming the primary manufacturer of optics for the Japanese military.

It was a difficult time for much of the world, but after the war, Nippon Kogaku returned to their roots and resumed the production of more civilian friendly optical products. Lenses, telescopes, microscopes, you name it, if it had or required optics, it seemed like they were making it.
The lens range was a little more on track with the NIKKOR moniker nailed down in 1932 and known to be some of the most precise lenses at the time.

1948 saw the release of the Nikon I, a rangefinder camera and the first product to bear the actual Nikon name badge. Only about 400 of them were ever made so needless to say, it’s a rare collector’s item now. Though it was highly anticipated, it didn’t receive the warmest welcome upon its release. However, a cold reception didn’t stop Nikon at all. In fact, they worked harder. They listened and they learned. They pushed forward, committing themselves to change and improvement.

A mere 6 months after the Nikon I experience, Nikon overcame several performance issues and incorporated requests and ideas into the new Nikon M (1949) and Nikon S cameras (1951) that followed shortly after. Nikon was starting to gain traction on its own, but was still very much a ‘local’ camera company. As it often happens, though, one photograph can make a huge impact.

While Nikon was quietly evolving, famous American photographer, David Douglas Duncan, happened to be doing some work in post-war Japan when he had his first encounter with a NIKKOR lens. It was owned by Japanese photographer and photojournalist, Jun Miki, who asked if he could take Duncan’s photo.
Despite the shot being taken in low light, Miki–with his NIKKOR 85mm f/2.0 lens–was able to capture a stunning portrait which he presented to Duncan the next day.
Astounded by the sharpness and quality produced in such unfavourable conditions, Duncan was hooked. He started fitting NIKKOR lenses to his camera just before heading over to cover the Korean War in 1950 for LIFE.

Once back in New York, his colleagues were amazed by Duncan’s photographs. His already notable work helped popularise the optics in America. A piece in the New York Times shed light on the incredible quality of Nikon and NIKKOR products and things really started to shift into gear.

Inspired by the Nikon SP Instruction Manual from 1957. Who doesn’t love this retro vibe?
Breaking into the North American market meant that a world of opportunity was suddenly at their fingertips. All Nikon had to do was keep listening, keep improving, and keep producing. Luckily, this was something they had come to excel at.

1957 saw the release of the now legendary Nikon SP, one of the most innovative Rangefinder cameras ever made in Japan at the time. Its defining feature was a built-in universal viewfinder that supported 6 different lenses. With fast, quiet curtain shutters, a direct connection flash sync accessory shoe, and a built-in self-timer, the SP was an award winning camera that put Nikon in the spotlight.

As Nikon continued to adapt and evolve so too did their camera range, finally becoming something a little more recognisable for photographers even today; The Nikon F.
The iconic Nikon F became a new standard for professionals upon its release in 1959.
Departing the realm of professional rangefinder cameras, the Nikon F hit the market in 1959. It was the first 35mm SLR made by the company and one of the most advanced cameras of its time, taking all the most in-demand features and combining them into one robust little unit. After all this time, finally, photographers didn’t have to compromise. For obvious reasons, this became a new standard for what professionals had come to expect from their gear.

Nikon was on the rise and everyone else was backed against the ropes. The Nikon F was in production for an astounding 15 years, really hammering home the fact that Nikon was here to stay.   

On top of producing cameras for professional photographers, Nikon went a step further. Say, a step off the planet further. In 1971, they agreed to a contract with NASA that would see them develop a camera for the Apollo 15 lunar mission. What’s cooler than that? Not much, if I’m being honest.

The Nikon Photomic FTN was chosen as a base for the soon-to-be space camera. Due to its lofty destination, the specifications for this camera were incredibly tight. Only NASA approved and specified materials could be used in the design to prevent as many problems as possible for the Astronauts that would be using it. 
Nikon and NASA have been working together since 1971, bringing us all to the moon and back.
Each Photomic FTN camera had to be heavily modified to withstand the harsh and unusual conditions of the lunar surface. Nikon had finally reached the moon.  Even to this day, the partnership with NASA still stands. Every manned space flight since Apollo 15 has had Nikon cameras and lenses on their equipment checklists.

With all the trial and error that went into creating actual space-cameras, there were a lot of takeaways and new technology that Nikon was able to incorporate into their earthbound models.  It’s exactly this kind of innovation that kept Nikon in the hands of professionals for so long, capturing some of the most recognisable photographs of all time, including that one National Geographic cover photo that everyone knows. [Afghan girl 1984 taken by Steve McCurry]

It was taken with a Nikon FM2, originally released in 1982. It was a time when competition between camera manufacturers was fierce and the world was starting to see a shift from mechanical camera bodies to ones featuring more electronic automation.

Talk about a classic read; we were lucky enough to get our hands on an old school Nikon F booklet.
The FM2 was created with serious photographers in mind, not really intended to be a professional level camera despite the fact that so many professionals chose to carry it. The all-mechanical FM2 was incredibly robust and reliable, able to handle a range of punishing scenarios without fail, making it the ideal companion for photographers venturing into unknown territory.

Jumping forward a few years to 1999, the 80’s have un/fortunately ended and things are starting to look a little more familiar. Or at least the internet was finally a big thing. 
While some of us were concerned about Y2K, Nikon was concerned with releasing something amazing; the D1.
Released in 1999, the monstrous Nikon D1 was a real powerhouse of its time.
The D1 was a digital SLR designed from the ground up with integrated metering, white balance, and tone compensation. It had a 4.5 fps frame rate and a whopping 2.7MP sensor. At the time, that was actually pretty amazing. Before you laugh, I’ll take this moment to remind you that was 18 years ago. 

Looking back through the years of Nikon’s incredibly rich portfolio, there’s almost too many landmark cameras and moments to choose from. The D90 in 2008 had the first video recording capabilities ever seen in a DSLR camera. In 2010, Nikon delivered a D3S and two D3X cameras along with a host of NIKKOR lenses, accessories, and software to be used by Astronauts aboard the ISS.

On top of capturing some of the most iconic photos ever made, they’ve also captured our imaginations as one of the most recognisable, reliable, respected photographic brands to this date.

It’s a long and vibrant history that came from truly humble beginnings. From post-war to the moon, Nikon has made a lasting impression on so many people.

Here’s to the next hundred years!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Panasonic GH5 In The Wild

South Africa is on the bucket list for many photographers. The beauty of its natural landscape combined with its famous wildlife makes it a must-visit destination for tourists and photographers alike. In April, Panasonic invited 4 Digital Camera Warehouse team members to join a week-long training trip to South Africa that also celebrated the launch of the Lumix GH5. A trip of a lifetime, where we could join our partners at Panasonic to learn about their latest, incredible camera in a landscape like no other in the world.

We left on the Tuesday after the Easter long weekend and 14 hours after take-off and 11,000km across the earth the wheels of our Qantas 747 hit the tarmac at O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg.

Over the next 5 days the DCW team had the incredible opportunity to learn the GH5 intricately at some of the most beautiful sites on earth.

14 hours down, 2 hours to go.
ISO 800 | 1.6 sec | f/5.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 7-14mm Lens @ 7mm
We stayed in Sun City on the edge of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and National Park. Sun City could be described as the South African equivalent of Las Vegas; a ‘World within a City’.
The Cascades Hotel - Sun City
ISO 200 | 1/3200 sec | F4.5 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @ 12mm
Our first adventure was a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the plains of the Pilanesberg National Park. An unforgettable introduction to the area and an unparalleled vantage point for a perfect overview of the kind of landscapes Africa is known for. 550 hectares in size, the park is home to over 7000 animals including the Big Five - Lions, Elephants, Buffalo, Leopards and Rhinoceros. Graced with near-perfect weather for hot air ballooning, we were greeted by the roar of burning propane, filling our balloons with hot air.
Preparing for take-off
ISO 400 | 1/200 sec | f/3.5 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @ 24mm

For most in the group this was the first real chance we'd had to test the GH5's photo and video capabilities. Owners of the outgoing GH4 expressed that the ergonomic layout and logical menu carry over well to the successive model, making it a natural transition for users upgrading to the GH5. The learning curve was a bit steeper for traditional DSLR users, but once they got up to speed they praised the versatility and intuitive nature of the touch to focus and touch to shoot capability provided by the flip-out touch screen.
We ascended above the plains of the reserve to reveal a sprawling green expanse dotted with lakes and encompassed by a ring of ridges that were created after volcanic activity 1200 million years ago.
The unique Pilanesberg landscape
ISO 200 | 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | Panasonic GH5 + 7-14mm Lens @ 14mm
Lens changes came thick and fast. As we drifted and pirouetted across the reserve we were greeted with new landscapes, interesting angles and different perspectives. For capturing the vast, sweeping landscape, the most popular options were the trusted Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 or the new Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6 MkII or the Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH OIS were used to zoom into the landscape to capture detail on the ground or enlarge subjects in the distance.
All angles covered
ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | f/6.3 | 400mm | Panasonic GH5 +100-400 Lens @ 400mm
Our next planned activity was a friendly race on some lawn mower powered trikes. It was a good opportunity for some friendly competition and a chance to test out the GH5’s 225 hybrid autofocus points and impressive Full HD 180fps slow-motion recording capability.
2 Fast, 2 Furious
ISO 200 | 1/1300 sec | f/5.6 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400mm Lens @ 160mm
After an amazing stay at Sun City, we checked out and set up camp 30 minutes north of the Ivory Tree Game Lodge of luxury huts, campfires, and a shower that was a private cubicle outdoors, under the stars. Monkeys, zebra, wildebeest and other wildlife were practically on our front doorstep. We were ready to hit the trails of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve to really test the abilities of the GH5.
A little visitor
ISO 3200 | 1/640 sec | f/6.3 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @ 25mm

Anyone bring marshmallows?
2 Shot Composite
Campfire: ISO 1600 | 2.5 sec | f/6.3 | Panasonic GH5 + 7-14mm Lens @ 7mm
Sky: ISO 1600 | 20 sec | f/4.5 | Panasonic GH5 + 7-14mm Lens @ 14mm 
We were assigned a driver and guide for the remainder of the trip. Wildlife is the most active at sunrise and just before the sun sets, allowing them to rest and conserve energy during the hot afternoon sun. As a result, we split our adventures into two outings each day.

Our Exploration Vehicle
ISO 800 | 1/125 sec | f/4.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @ 35mm
Cruising down a rutted dirt trail in an open canopy 4WD, wind in the hair, the sun setting in the background, and ‘Africa’ by Toto blazing through the speakers is a memory I will treasure forever. The next 3 days of learning about Africa’s flora and fauna were a blur. We saw 4 of South Africa’s ‘Big 5’, with only the buffalo eluding us due to their migration activities at that time of the year.
Larger than life
ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | f/4.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400mm  Lens @ 100mm
The GH5 exceeded expectations in our extensive field test. It's myriad of shortcuts and customisable menus delivers access to your most frequently used functions and settings making it easy to be prepared for unexpected opportunities.

It's fast, accurate hybrid focusing was also essential when trying to capture elusive animals that have evolved over millions of years to try and remain out of sight to potential predators. The thumb joystick made selecting your focus point a cinch, enabling fast composition changes without taking your eye off the subject.

Best Friends
ISO 1250 | 1/500 sec | f/5.8 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400mm Lens @ 318mm
Most surprising was the real-world difference the 5-axis in-body image stabilisation and how much of a positive difference the Dual I.S. or Dual I.S.2 improved image sharpness when shooting with compatible O.I.S lenses. On safari, the Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH OIS was definitely the lens of choice, thanks to its Dual I.S.2 compatibility and whopping 200-800mm 35mm equivalent focal range. So many images on this trip would not have been possible without the impressive 5-stop advantage that the combination of in-body and in-lens stabilisation provides, allowing us to confidently exploit the full range of the zoom to create more detail in the image.
True Fact: Zebras are black with white stripes
ISO 640 | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3mm Lens @ 400mm
A lioness on the prowl for breakfast
ISO 800 | 1/250th sec | f/4.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400mm Lens @ 100mm

Glorious sunset
ISO 200 | 1/800 sec | f/2.8 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @ 12mm

Our last day in South Africa was marked with a memorable visit to Borite Primary School, located in a rural village neighbouring the national park. We were greeted with a big smiles and an enthusiastic musical performance from the kids.

Kids from Borite Primary School
ISO 200 | 1/2500 sec | f/4.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 12-35mm Lens @15mm
A sizeable donation from Panasonic Australia combined with individual donations from everyone in the group resulted in a total of over AUD$2500 going towards building a much needed classroom for the school. Classroom supplies and sporting equipment were also distributed, allowing the kids to feel a more immediate impact from our visit.

Our South African experience with Panasonic and the GH5 left us with motivation to return and explore what other photographic adventures the country has to offer.
Queue Lion King theme music
ISO 200 | 1/125 sec | f/10.0 | Panasonic GH5 + 100-400 Lens @ 160mm
Word Contribution: Tommy Trinh. Image Contribution: Tommy Trinh & Saul Sheldrick.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Day Out with Daniel Tran & the Canon EOS 6D Mark II

When news of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II hit our desks, we knew we had to do another Day Out feature. We also knew we wanted to work on it with Daniel Tran and, luckily, he was just as keen to work with us.

Growing up in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Daniel was surrounded by sprawling landscapes and big skies. With scenery like that, it’s hard not to be inspired. In fact, it’s one of the reasons he turned to photography in the first place; it gave him a way to capture and share the beauty of his environment with people near and far.

For Daniel, it’s all about getting out there and finding something exceptional in the places around you. It’s about exploring new locations and revisiting old ones with fresh eyes. Perhaps most importantly, it’s about finding a way to reconnect with nature to remind ourselves that Earth is a pretty incredible place.

He’s been working professionally for the last year under Daniel Tran Photography, specialising in landscape and travel photos. A background in art has given him a sharp eye for detail and, with an impressive portfolio and carefully curated Instagram, it’s not surprising that Daniel expects his gear to stand out. That’s why we thought he’d be the perfect candidate for our next adventure.
Check out Daniel’s Instagram for more amazing photos of cities, skies, and Mother Nature. 

The highly anticipated EOS 6D Mark II, with its brag-worthy low light capabilities and handy features like Bluetooth and a Vari-angle touchscreen (the first full frame DSLR to have both of these), was practically begging us to let it capture some epic sunset landscapes and astrophotography.

While we weren’t exactly sure where to go, Daniel came to the rescue with somewhere spectacular in mind; The Boneyard Beach, a chilling name if I’ve ever heard one. It’s about an hour and a half south of Sydney in Kiama Downs, a beautiful, quiet coastal town. Perfect place for a road trip!

We met at DCW HQ, packed up our gear, and carpooled down the motorway watching the skies and hoping the clouds would clear. Once we arrived, and after lunch of course, we broke out all the toys and finally gave Daniel his hands-on with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II.

He found it well balanced and familiar in hand as a long-time Canon user. It’s noticeably rugged, something Daniel really values as a landscape photographer. Right away, he pointed out the Vari-angle touchscreen noting how much easier shot composition would be.

Complementing the camera was the fast focusing Canon 16-35mm EFf/2.8L III USM, a wide angle favourite that saw the most use, and a trusty 24-70mm f/2.8 II work horse. Eager to let the 6D Mark II run free, we headed down to the beach to find the best spot for a moody sunset.
Standing in the line of fire and showing no fear of being drenched as the waves come in. 

Unlike the sandy beaches we’re used to, this one was made of battered stones and shells with the jagged spires of Cathedral Rocks looming in the distance. It was amazing.

Standing on a precarious rock ledge, Daniel bravely set-up shop and started shooting. With the tide coming in, most of us tried not to get splashed, but he didn’t even flinch. Getting the right shot was more important than keeping his shoes dry.

As we continued wandering, we spoke about the importance of timing, like reading the waves and knowing when to press the shutter. Having the right set of features on your camera can help immensely. This is where Canon’s fast and smooth Dual Pixel AF came into play, allowing Daniel to capture the waves rushing at him in quick, alarming detail.

When the water got too close, we headed back to dry land for a low light portrait session while waiting for the sun to finish setting. We really wanted to push the 6DII by putting it through a range of scenarios to see how it handled the meagre amount of light we provided.
Waiting for sundown, Daniel gets familiar with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II autofocus and lowlight settings.

The portraits, done by a small campfire with heavily controlled lighting, turned out sharp and clear with beautiful colours and not much noise. The 6D Mark II was definitely showing off its work ethic.  By now, the light had mostly faded, so we hurried back to our cars for a quick debrief before heading to our final destination; Bombo Headland Quarry.

Though it was pitch black, this location was the highlight of the evening. An eerie quiet settled over our group as we moved through the quarry, dodging slabs of sandstone and clamouring over loose rocks. Armed with flashlights and stepping carefully, it felt like we were exploring another planet.

It was perfect for the final part of our adventure; astrophotography. Looking up, the stars were bright and the Milky Way was visible even to the naked eye. We made base camp and got to work.
Gorgeously clear and vibrant shot of the Milky Way taken during the final part of our Day Out adventure.

Having been to the quarry before, Daniel was clearly in his element photographing something so awe inspiring. The darkness meant he’d really have to bump the ISO, much more than the previous sunset and campfire sessions. In a way, it felt like the first real test for the 6D Mark II.

It did not disappoint. The images were clean, despite the obvious lack of light, and the stars and foreground details were sharp. Focusing was quick and, thanks to the Vari-angle Touchscreen, framing was super easy. This is great news for astro shooters since, a lot of the time, both your camera and neck end up in awkward angles. #anythingfortheshot

We learned a lot on this (very long) day out and we really put this camera through the ringer. It was threatened with sand, water, fire, and deprived of the one thing all cameras need; light. But it met our challenges head on and impressed us at every angle.

For an adventurous, outdoor loving photographer like Daniel, the new 6D II ticked all the boxes, from its rugged frame, to its lightning quick Dual Pixel CMOS auto-focus. At the end of the day, however, it was the low light performance that really stole the show, the 26.2MP full frame sensor handling high ISO levels in a truly stellar fashion. (Pardon the astro pun.)

With a seriously strong list of features and conveniences, the Canon EOS6D Mark II  has proved itself to be a very worthy successor to the much-loved 6D. And from what we’ve seen so far, it looks set to become a new benchmark for low light photography.

See more of Daniel Tran’s incredible work below:

Are you a professional photographer interested in sharing your experience with us? Reach out to us at

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Day Out with Dan Cantero and the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II

Watch below our awesome Day Out video recorded entirely with the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II

Recently, we had the amazing opportunity to spend time catching up with photographer and DCW customer Dan Cantero in his natural habitat; the beach-side Sydney suburb of Manly.
For our Day Out, we all decided to go for an un-romantic walk along the beach to play with the
Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II camera. Of course, we recorded the whole thing , as Dan gave us some excellent professional insight about how this camera performs.  

Dan’s always had a passion for photography; that much was obvious from the look on his face when we asked him how he first got started. As a youngster, and perhaps like many of us, he was amazed by the concept of photography, recalling childhood memories of looking through old shoeboxes full of photos and marvelling at the idea of a little machine that could freeze moments in time for him to hold in his hands and look at whenever he wanted.

Whether he knew it back then or not, that curiosity and wonder would become the driving force to turn passion into profession.

One of Dan’s favourite pieces, affectionately dubbed “The Muscle Man” See Dan at work on his Facebook page

Dan’s been working as a professional photographer for 4 years now, building two successful businesses in that time: Capture Photography, whose main focus is family portraits and photos, and Dan Cantero Photography which is more commercially oriented.  Having rapidly established himself as an industry professional, Dan is quickly moving towards photography becoming his full-time occupation.

Both of his businesses offer photo and video services which, in today’s video-saturated society, is becoming more and more in-demand.  “That’s where we see a lot of the business going.”  He mentioned, as we picked his brain for advice.

One of Dan’s lifestyle product shots that shows off his eye for composition and lighting. Check out his Instagram

Over the past year, he’s had more interest and requests for video work and has added this sought after service to his expanding list of offerings. “I think it’s just going to get bigger so we’ve introduced that into our business to complement what we already do.”  He goes on to note that photographers already possess the skills and state of mind needed to make the jump to video relatively quickly. It just takes a little bit of time and the right gear.

Behold, the big gun, the hot topic, the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II in all its flagship glory.

Enter the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II. It’s the latest and greatest flagship model from Olympus, complete with 4K video recording, 5-axis stabilisation, a 20.4 megapixel sensor, and more, all wrapped up in a compact, weather-sealed body. It’s a professional level powerhouse without all the added heft.

Luckily, we happened to know a small bit of Dan Cantero trivia prior to all this: He’s never without his trusty Olympus E-M5. You can tell it’s been across the globe just by looking at its well-worn and well-loved little body. It’s also proven itself to be the perfect travel companion and a reliable alternative to hauling his bulky DSLR kit around.

Knowing all of this, we were eager to get Dan’s professional opinion on the top-end Olympus to see how it compared to his E-M5, but more importantly, how it measured up to his Pro DSLR gear.

Here’s Dan finally getting a feel for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II ergonomics.

Being familiar with Olympus cameras certainly helped things along, but right from the start, Dan was impressed by the updated, upgraded, and completely new features on offer.
We gave him a
12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, (equivalent to a 24-70mm workhorse), as well as the 12-100mm f/4 PRO lens so he could experiment with Olympus’s new Sync IS feature, which combines body and lens image stabilisation for ultra-steady results.

As the afternoon wore on, it became clear that this mirrorless dynamo was passing a lot of little tests for Dan. So much so, that we actually became worried we wouldn’t be able to pry it out of his hands at the end of the shoot.

Seeing Double? While Dan was getting to know the E-M1 Mark II, we were filming the encounter with one of our own.

For professionals, it goes without saying that your gear is a huge investment, so you want to makes sure it’s a good one. As Dan mentioned throughout the day, this camera is a solid performer and a handsome one too.

It’s often pointed out that appearance matters “I think it just looks the part. If you turned up to a commercial shoot with this, no one’s going to ask any questions. It just looks like a professional camera body as well and is extremely capable of getting really, really good images.”  

While it might seem like an odd complaint, the small, often minimalist and/or old-school designs of mirrorless cameras can make people feel wary of their capabilities. In the past, Dan’s been reluctant to make the switch from DSLRs for his client shoots due to these kinds of impressions. But that’s already starting to change.

 Dan’s well-loved Olympus E-M5 poses for a quick snap in front of its bigger, newer, shinier brother.

For Dan Cantero, this camera ticks all the boxes for professional use; it’s solid and feels great in hand with a bigger, ergonomic grip.  It features much desired dual memory card slots, 4K recording, in-body stabilisation, and a high-capacity battery to keep it going for hours. It also offers a selection of customisable buttons and settings to reduce the amount of time spent lurking around in the menu. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s these kinds of little considerations that really bring to light the attention to detail that went into designing the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, creating a truly premium product. With all the right framework for aspiring and seasoned professionals alike, plus a compact form factor that fits all kinds of lifestyles, the E-M1 is quickly becoming a favourite among shooters.

All in all, we were incredibly happy to give Dan the opportunity to put the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II through its paces. We loved getting first-hand insight on how this camera handled itself in the hands of a pro with high standards. Spoiler alert; it definitely stacks up. 

Dan Cantero is an accredited professional photographer and long standing DCW customer.
See more of his work.

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