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Get Out Of Town

It’s that magical time of year again. No, I’m not talking Christmas, I’m talking aftermath. The rush is over, the presents are unwrapped, and you’ve made it through the questionable parties and family dinners. Still working your way through the leftovers, but hey, there’s still time.

No, my friends, I’m referring to annual leave. Post-festive season is a popular time to get out of town for most people. Work’s end of year rush has slowed and you’re no longer bombarded by a million holiday induced stressors.

Your dream destination is set, accommodations are booked, and you’ve requested the time off, but you’re faced with one last thing; how to capture it all?

I mean, where do you even start? Your phone has a camera, right? That’s fine, right? But what about all the amazing stuff you’ll see? Will a phone really do it justice? The last camera you owned was a Polaroid, help?!

No worries, mate! We’ve got you covered, but there are a couple of things you need to think about.

First things first, what kind of holiday are you planning? This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but it’s definitely not, we promise.

Think about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing for most of the trip. Are you going to be watching lakeshore sunrises from a big wooden deck chair with a hot cup of tea? (Please take me with you if so.) Or maybe you’re going surfing in Hawaii or zip-lining across a foggy mountain top.

The point here is that there can be a different camera for every type of adventure and it really helps to have the right gear with you when the perfect photo opportunity presents itself.

As a first camera, or just a first new camera in a long time, point-and-shoot/compact cameras are an excellent combination of great image quality and the convenience of a small form factor that fits easily in your day pack or carry-on luggage. They’re super easy to have at the ready so you can snap a few shots nice and quick, plus they also fit well in small hands making them kid-friendly too.

If your vacation is all about the R & R and taking family photos, then a compact camera might be your best bet. Nowadays, these cameras come in a range of different options from super basic to advanced manual controls so there’s really something for everyone.

Some great examples: Canon Powershot SX620 HS, Panasonic Lumix TZ90, or the Sony RX100 series (Mark II, Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V)

For others, though, a holiday might be about cramming in as much action and as many new experiences as possible. If you’re going backpacking around Europe or headed anywhere with a beach or resort, there’s bound to be a plethora of activities on offer. From hiking rainforests to snorkelling to even just hanging out on a boat, this is where your needs might change.

At this stage, it might be better to think about an action camera or another waterproof offering. Gone are the days when choosing a ‘tough camera’ meant sacrificing performance and features. No, no, that’s well and truly behind us now, as evidenced by the GoPro action cam. Bring one of these with you and you’ll never have to worry about keeping your camera dry or out of the sand again.

A lot of these cameras also have various photo sharing options, whether it’s Wi-Fi or App based. You can send video and images to your friends and family right away which can honestly be quite comforting especially when you’re on an extended trip so far from home. 

If action is your game, check out the GoPro HERO selection, the Panasonic Lumix FT30, Olympus TG-Tracker, or the Garmin VIRB 360.

Of course, there’s more yet. A lot of times, we go away for the simple feeling of escape. To get out of the cities we know, to break free of our routines, to go off and see something different and breath taking. These are the moments you just want to keep forever and, never fear, there’s a camera for that too. There’s a lot of stuff for that, actually, but we’ll stick to the basics.

If you’re hoping this kind trip will help turn photography into a new hobby, you might want to go for something a little more involved from the start, like an advanced compact or mirrorless camera. This will give you a chance to get familiar with manual controls and really grow into your camera or even change lenses as you gain more confidence.

The real benefit of choosing the mirrorless option is the ability to swap lenses to suit the different scenarios you might face which gives you a lot more creative freedom. Compact DSLRs work too, but I lean a little more towards mirrorless for travel as they do tend to be smaller and more discreet. This also makes them easier to pack and conceal if you’re not keen on having people check out your gear.

Another advantage is a more advanced feature set and the ability to get experimental with things like long exposures, time lapse, and even 4K video. When going down this road, you might also want to take a good look at the accessories you’ll be taking with you.

Do you have enough memory? What about power options? Can you spare the space for a compact tripod? With this style of camera it’s worth going a little overboard on the extras, especially if you’re planning to pursue this hobby once you get back home.

Perfect beginner cameras to grow into include the popular Sony a6000, the Olympus E-M 10, the Canon EOS M6, or the Fuji X-A10.

Each camera has its own set of benefits you might find useful or convenient, but what matters most is that you’re confident using the gear you’ve got. It’s well worth spending the time to get familiar with your camera because, at the end of the day, you don’t want to miss out on capturing something really special.

Of course, where you go with your photography (pun intended) is up to you. That’s the beauty of photography, really; the fun doesn’t have to stay on vacation even though you might want to.  

If you’re struggling with all the options out there, don’t be afraid to reach out! Our in-store and contact centre teams would love to hear about your holiday and help you pick the right gear to get you sorted before departure day. 

Gift Shopping for Photographers: A Cheat Sheet

Photographers are a picky bunch, that much is true and I don’t think any of us can deny it. As such, we tend to buy a lot of our own gadgets as we realise a sudden need for them. Of course, every photographer does have that epic wish list of items they’d love to own one day, but those things can be a little on the pricey side. Well, mostly a lot on the pricey side.

All these factors combined can make it pretty tough for our loved ones to shop for us, be it for birthdays or the holiday season. (Sorry, fam!)

To most people, it can seem like we’ve literally got everything, but there’s a bit of a trick to shopping for the fully armed photographer, it just takes a bit of sleuthing to come up with a few ideas.

For example, if they’re a working professional, think about what type of photography they specialise in. Do they shoot weddings, products, models? This could be a good indicator of the type of accessories they might be using, or might even appreciate having some spares of.

Avid hobby photographers are a whole other beast as you’re never quite sure which bits and pieces they do and don’t have at this stage in their evolutions. Finding out what their favourite subject matter is or what style they’re hoping to master can be a good place to start looking for ideas. 

Lucky on the left, Peak Design on the right. Both come in different colours to suit #mood and #aesthetic.

I like to think you can’t really go wrong with a quality camera strap of some kind. Sure, most pros and enthusiasts already have one, or they’re using the one that came with their camera, but a nice strap is always appreciated. Plus, we might like to switch things up a bit, depending on the occasion. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

Brands like Lucky or Peak Design are a good starting point. Lucky offers Australian made classic-looking genuine leather straps in a range of colours to suit almost anyone. Peak Design’s straps are more on the modern side with a modular aspect for easy removal or swapping from one strap to another.

Both are very appealing with a premium look and feel, but are different enough in style and features to give you some options.

Finding memory cards floating around the bottom of your bag is cringe-worthy. Storage is the answer!

Memory card storage is a great option for shooters at enthusiast level or beyond, since we’ve all got several cards in rotation at any given time. Most camera bags have pockets for memory cards, but they often don’t provide much in the way of security and are sometimes a bit of a tight fit which makes it hard to access the cards.

At this point, a memory card wallet or case might be a great choice. Photographers won’t mind having multiples of these in their arsenal because they’re always incredibly useful. There’s soft, wallet-style options as well as waterproof hard shell cases, so it won’t be hard to find something that works for your friend and your budget.

We all need a little help keeping our gear neat and tidy. A cleaning kit top-up would be deeply appreciated, thanks.

It may sound boring or strange, but for avid photographers, a cleaning kit is like gold. A lot of these kits contain consumable odds and ends that need to be replaced over time, like lens pens, cleaning wipes, and tissues. This is something that kind of falls by the wayside as we tend to forget about these items until we desperately need them.

A good cleaning kit with a quality air-blower and lens cleaning fluid would be a welcome gift for any photographer at any stage of their journey.

Nothing beats having some pretty prints to dress up your desk, office, home, etc, etc, etc.

If you’re aiming to get something a little on the bigger, more epic side, you might want to think about a dedicated photo printer. These things aren’t your typical home or office printers, no, no. They’re designed and specialised to deliver high-quality prints with some even offering up to A2 print size options.

If you know your special someone loves or just wants to get their photos printed, this could be the perfect gift. Being able to print your photos offers a very satisfying sense of completion, like you’ve finally seen your work through from start to finish with something tangible to hang onto in the end.

These printers do require proper photo paper, so even if your photographer friend already has a printer, some good quality paper could be an excellent stocking stuffer. 

ONA on the left, with a soft leather shoulder bag. Peak Design on the right with a sweet sling.

Going with some kind of storage solution can be tricky, but it can also make you a hero gifter. Bags or backpacks are pretty personal and most photographers will have very different wants and needs from any bag they deem worthy of their gear.

If you’re planning to go down this path, consider something like a premium quality bag or even a hard storage case.

For bags, check out ONA, Peak Design, and Think Tank for some ideas. They all have some great options, some of which don’t even look like typical camera bags.

For hard cases, look at HPRC and Pelican. Both have foam inserts for easy customisation. These things are also airtight and can handle a fair bit of punishment which makes them perfect for travel.
You might be thinking “Yeah, great, but my bestie already has, like, two camera bags.”

That may be true, however, ask yourself how nice those bags really are. Fancy bags are things we tend to want, but not buy in favour of more practical options that can fit everything we own.

If you’re going to be buying a ‘secondary bag’ for someone, go with something on the smaller side, like a messenger bag or sling. These are perfect for day trips and encourage a more minimalist kit. As an added bonus, they tend to be a little more budget-friendly, too.

When photography is life and all you want to do is take pictures forever.

If you’re feeling uncertain about buying actual photo gear, you could always go with something that will fit easily into everyday life, but is still no less clever a gift idea.

Things like photography-themed T-shirts or coffee mugs are fun and subtle little nods to your friend or family member’s awesome hobby or profession.

Let’s also not forget that a coffee cup shaped like a camera lens is a truly excellent office prank and ice breaker, so you’d basically be doing your pal a favour.

The holidays are a tricky time to shop for anyone, let alone someone with very specific interests and, while the internet is extremely helpful, sometimes it’s best to take what you know and ask some camera-nerds for advice. Like the staff at DCW. We’d love to tell you what we… I mean, what your friend… might like for Christmas.

Come see us in-store or give our contact centre a buzz, we’d love to talk you through some gift ideas this silly season.

Top 5 Christmas Gift Wishlist - as voted by DCW Staff

Top Five Christmas Gift Wishlist

Surprising absolutely no one, the DCW team is chock full of talented, gear loving photographers so we decided to get nosy and find out what’s on everyone’s wish list this holiday season.
Since everyone’s got their finger on the pulse in here, there was some overlap. This is also not surprising, but it is pretty interesting, so we’ve turned the results into a list of our top five hottest picks of the season.

It’s also a great list of gift ideas for last minute shoppers, hint hint.

5. DJI Spark

Starting us off is the adorable DJI Spark. This hot little UAV is very portable and easy to use. There is a videogame style remote controller available, similar to DJI’s other offerings, but it can also be conveniently operated by using your smartphone, which is great when you’re trying to pack light. It has a range of tool-free accessories to complement its impressive feature list, like tracking and gesture control and, with a built-in 2-axis gimbal, your footage will be steady and easy to watch. Did I mention it comes in five different colours?

4. Zhiyun Smooth Q

The next item on our list is the Smooth Q gimbal from Zhiyun which offers 3-axis stabilisation and a host of easy-to-use controls and settings. It’s designed for smartphones and has an easy balancing mode so you can set-up and start shooting pretty quickly. With 12 hours of run time, the Smooth Q can be used to charge your device which is great because we all know what video does to our phone’s battery. The gimbal is also compact and good looking making it a perfect companion for vloggers, bloggers, and anyone out to document a day trip in the city.

3. DJI Mavic Pro

How cool are drones, though? Really, the DJI Mavic is an awesome one; it’s light, it’s small, it folds up even smaller, the controls are easy to use, the list goes on. The Mavic is great for photographers that travel a fair bit, or spend a lot of time outdoors searching for unique perspectives on their surroundings. Of course, it has a huge range of flight modes, settings, and a 3-axis gimbal, so you’ll be able to capture high-quality stabilised footage almost anywhere. (And let’s face it; you’ll be taking cool drone-selfies, too.) With easy to replace spare parts, great battery life, and a host of cool accessories, it’s hard to pass this one up.

2. NiSi Filters Starter Kit

Perhaps the biggest surprise on our list was the epic NiSiStarter Kit. It’s perfect for enhancing your landscape photography and comes with everything you need to get familiar with using square filters, something that a lot of people shy away from at first. The three Neutral Density filters, two solid and one gradual, each provide different stops so you can adjust your image. The holder features three different adapters to accommodate a range of lens sizes while the filters themselves are 100 x 100mm, offering good coverage as well. For photographers that are serious about improving their landscapes or just getting more creative with them, this is a great solution.

1. Sigma 85mm f1.4 ART Series Lens

And finally, here we are at number one. Taking the top spot is Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 Art series lens. The Art series is well known for its image quality and sharpness and this lens is no exception. It works a real treat for portrait photography with its super wide aperture allowing you to get creative with depth of field. Capture softly blurred backgrounds with smooth bokeh all while your subject remains in crystal clear focus. This lens isn’t a one-trick pony, of course. That f1.4 aperture also performs incredibly well in lowlight, so you can easily explore other photographic styles as the mood strikes.

1. Zhiyun Crane 2

But wait, there’s more! In a shocking twist, we had a tie for the number 1 product and it’s a real goodie! If you’re looking for ways to improve your video then look no further because the new Zhiyun Crane 2 is here to deliver. A much awaited update to the popular Crane, this new gimbal has managed to really pack in the features, from its Real-Time Follow Focus, to its OLED display and intuitive controls. It can also support a hefty 3.2kg payload, so it’ll work well with DSLR cameras, and it has a whopping 18 hour run time with the ability to charge your camera at the same time! This 3-axis gimbal superstar is seriously a videographers dream.

That’s officially our list concluded! It’s fun, it’s exciting, it includes a good mix of gear that suits different styles of photography as well as the many different kinds of shooters out there.
Are any of these items on your wish lists? Reach out and let us know if so, we’d love to hear from you on any of our social platforms!

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