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Shoot for the Stars: 5 Reasons You Should Try Astrophotography



Number 1: Enjoy some Peace and Quiet

How’s the Serenity? To get great images of the night sky and the Milky Way it’s best to get out of the city to avoid light pollution. The perfect excuse for a road trip or a weekend away. Make sure you pack a sturdy tripod though, because capturing the stars means using a super-slow shutter speed.


Using shutter speeds of 20-30 seconds or even longer gived you plenty of time to relax, contemplate, and enjoy the peace and quiet while waiting for your exposure to finish. Why not bring a hot drink along to warm you up while you wait. Just remember to focus before pressing the shutter or you’ll be waiting a long time to get a blurry shot.

Number 2: Experiment with Composition

Even the most popular locations tend to have fewer people at night, so there’s more room for you to explore different compositions. 



Spend some time thinking and planning what to feature in the foreground of your star or milky way shot to make your astro photography really stand out.



Number 3. Bring Your Own Light Show

You don’t have to worry about sunlight or harsh shadows at night. So why not make your own lighting effects with LED’s or flashlights




The moon can also be used as a light source for your scene as well, but beware of it drowning out the stars if it’s full.





Number 4: Enjoy Some Quiet Reflection

Capturing the night sky with the milky way in all its glory on a clear night is an incredibly experience, and one thing to make it look even better is something as simple as a bit of water.




Look out for puddles and still bodies of water, because shooting with a low perspective from next to the surface can some create incredible mirrored reflection shots.



Number 5: Unleash your Creativity

Your camera can see way more than your eyes can. Combine that ability with the power of a telescope and you might be able to catch a glimpse into the wondrous light beyond our atmosphere.


You can experiment with different techniques to capture more unique shots. Combining several shots together can create stunning star trails.



Or try zooming your lens while your camera is capturing a long exposure for an interesting and unique look.


We're running some great workshops on Astro this month at Digital Camera Warehouse. Check out our Photography Workshops to find out more.

Everything You Need to Start a Vlog


What’s a “vlog” you say? It’s a portmanteau of “video blog” and if you’ve ever been to YouTube, you’ve definitely seen one. It’s a bit of a household term these days and they do cover some pretty informative, insightful stuff!

From tutorials, to reviews, it’s become quite normal to check the vlogs of our favourite internet personalities before we start, do, or buy something.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a vlog yourself, but aren’t sure what you need to begin, we’ve done some legwork and created a few kits that’ll make it easier to get the cogs turning.

Level 1 – Beginner

DCW Vlog Kit

DCW Vlogger Kit

Ideal for Social Media & Podcasts
Suits most Android and iPhones
Also compatible with most Compact DSLR and Mirrorless
Great for Time-Lapse, Vlogs, Selfies & More
Enhance your Creative Potential
Kit Includes Mini Tripod, Smartphone Mount, Lavalier Microphone

If you’re new to the idea of using a camera entirely, you might prefer to get started with your smartphone. That’ll give you a taste of what to expect as well as a good foundation upon which your cool new hobby can grow.

Our own vlogger kit includes a mini tripod and lavalier microphone. It’s pretty much all the basics to get you going right out of the box, just add your own Smartphone. And when you do get over using your phone, no worries, this kit works just fine with cameras as well.

The kit's small size makes it very portable. If you’re planning a more ‘out and about’ style vlog, this will fit easily into your bag and, as an added bonus, doesn’t look super-obvious when set-up on a table at your favourite cafĂ©.

Nice-to-Have Additions
Despite being a capable beginner kit already, as you progress, you’ll find little things that could make your life easier. Something like a small LED light might be a good early addition if you find yourself struggling with lighting in different locations.

Suggestions: The LitraTorch or the Aputure Amaran AL-M9.


Level 2 – Intermediate 



 Canon M6 Vlogging

Canon EOS M6 Vlogger Kit

24.2 Megapixel APS-C Sensor
Dual Pixel AF Focusing System
Full HD Video Recording
3-inch Flip-Up Touch Screen
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Connectivity
Compact, Mirrorless Design
Includes 15-45mm Lens & 64GB Sandisk Extreme Pro
Includes Joby Gorillapod 1K

The Canon EOS M6 kit is an excellent step into the realm of vlogging cameras. It comes with a versatile 15-45mm zoom lens that should help you capture dynamic angles and close-ups.

It shoots Full HD video, has super-accurate autofocus, and a flip-up touch screen so you can see yourself while you record. This is a real benefit, as you can easily make sure you’re still in frame and not drifting off to the side somewhere.

The included 64gb memory card has enough capacity to record your newest episode, while the Joby Gorillapod gives you the flexibility to position your camera very creatively.

Nice-to-Have Additions
A dedicated microphone would knock this kit into a whole new tier of awesome. If you’re going to be alone in a small space, you can get away with a little on-camera mic. If you’ll be working in larger areas or chatting with other people, a set of lavalier mics will significantly improve your sound quality and vocal clarity.

Suggestions: For an on-camera mic, the Rode VideoMic GO. For a lavalier mic, the Rode SmartLav+.

Level 3 – Advanced

 Sony Vlog Kit

Sony a6400 Vlogging Kit

24.2 Megapixel Exmor CMOS Sensor
4K Video Recording with No Time Limit
Real-Time Tracking and Eye AF
11fps Continuous Shooting
180° Flip-Up Screen and XGA OLED Viewfinder
Built-In WiFi and NFC Connectivity
Dust and Moisture Resistant Alloy Body
Includes Sony 16-50mm Lens + Zoom Mic + Vlog Grip/Mini Tripod

Getting more advanced, the Sony a6400 vlogging kit is kind of like a perfect storm. It’s pocket-sized performance that’s accessorised and raring to go.

Sony's a6400 is a very capable camera with a boat-load of features that'll make vlogging life super-easy, like the real-time eye tracking autofocus. This keeps your eyes in focus, even if you’re moving around the frame. You can see all this on the handy flip-up screen, to.

It also shoots 4K which really lets you step up your video game in terms of smoothness and clarity. Bonus, viewers tend to appreciate it too. The kit includes an on-camera shotgun microphone and a mini tripod that’s perfect for interviews or shooting a selfie-style video.

When closed, the mini tripod acts as a comfy little hand grip that features convenient controls like start/stop recording, still image capture, and zoom. This makes it really easy to start new clips or change your framing without having to touch the actual camera.

Nice-to-Have Additions
While this is more than enough to get started, there’s still other goodies that might end up on your shopping list. For starters, a gimbal would go a long way. Not only does the longer handle make it easier to hold the camera, gimbals offer incredible stabilisation and oftentimes they have accessory attachment points to help keep the weight off your camera.

Another addition that would make a big difference is an LED light or two. Especially if you’re a more active ‘on-location’ vlogger, you can never be certain what the lighting situation will be at your destination. Best to be ready for anything!

Suggestions: For gimbals, see the Feiyu AK4000 and the Zhiyun WEEBILL Lab.
For LED lighting options, check out the Rotolight RL48 Ring Light, or the Aputure Amaran AL-H198.

Bonus Level – Professional

 Nikon Z6 Vlog Kit

Nikon Z6 Vlogging Kit

24.5 Megapixel Full Frame BSI CMOS Sensor
Vibration Reduction Sensor Stabilisation
273 Autofocus Points
4K Ultra HD Video Recording
Robust Weather Sealed Body
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity
Includes 24-70mm f/4 Lens + FTZ Lens Adapter
Includes Atomos Ninja V, Zhiyun Weebill Lab Gimbal, Rode VideoMic Pro+, Nikon EN-EL15B Battery, ATF 7-inch Articulating Arm

Check out that arsenal! We are not playing around here. The Nikon Z6 vlogging kit is real deal. The Holy Grail. This rig is for pro-level users looking for the answer to all their vlogging needs. (And then some.)

The Z6 comes with a 24-70mm lens, a favourite for its versatility and perfect for stills and video. The kit also includes the ultra-flexible Zhiyun Weebil Lab gimbal for reliable stability that’s easy to balance and hold, no matter how the camera is mounted.

Another feature item is the Atomos Ninja V 5.2-inch external touchscreen monitor which provides a bright, super-sharp display that’s perfect for checking framing and footage. It can be mounted to the gimbal directly using the handy articulating arm, letting you position it as needed for a clear view.

Every accessory in this kit has been carefully chosen to make sure it’s a literal all-in-one solution for professionals, businesses, or enthusiasts ready for a serious upgrade in production capabilities.


The kits listed above are a bit of aspirational food for thought. There’s no sort of ‘hard and fast’ requirements for vlogging gear, just because there’s so many factors to consider. Location, style, subject matter, frequency, the list goes on.

In reality, the best way to figure out what kind of gear you need is by just getting started with what you have. As you progress and get used to recording regularly, you’ll start to notice which bits and pieces you could add or upgrade to make your workflow smoother, whether that’s a new camera, a better tripod, or lighting.

When it comes down to it, the most important thing to do before hitting record is to decide what you’re going to talk about. And that’s a whole other topic in its own right.

If you’re thinking of getting started and need a little more inspiration, check out our dedicated Vlogging Kit Category!

It’s a good starting point, at least for gear, whether you’re looking for a whole kit or just accessory ideas to complement your current set-up.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to us for more help, either! Find us online on Facebook and Instagram, or give us call!

The Olympus OM-D E-M1X: Is Bigger Better?




Olympus have made a big move with the release of their brand-new flagship camera the OM-D E-M1X and to celebrate they invited us to the Hunter Valley to test out how the camera handled extreme fast-paced action.

Our first stop was a dirt track with a couple of rally cars that flew around covering us in a fine layer of dust. We weren't afraid to get our hands or the camera dirty so we grabbed a 12-100mm lens to test out the new autofocus tracking system.

Using AI, the camera can detect and track 3 different types of subjects: cars and motorcycles, planes and helicopters, as well as trains. The algorithm starts tracking subjects before you even press the shutter and when you half-press, the camera springs to life, locking onto your subject and relentlessly holding focus throughout the frame.

Once the drivers were satisfied that we were covered in enough dirt we moved on to our next challenge, shooting a stunt plane pilot performing a series of elaborate aerial manoeuvres using the 12-100mm lens and the 300mm telephoto lens.

You can see how accurately the autofocus system performed from the video below, which is constructed entirely from JPEGS straight out of the camera, shot in the 18fps burst mode.



Let’s be real for a second though and ask the question that is on everyone’s lips. Why release a bigger camera while other manufacturers are focusing on making cameras that are smaller and smaller?

Does size matter?

With the E-M1X Olympus are making the statement that in some situations smaller is not necessarily better. The grip has been precisely designed to allow for seamless switching between landscape and portrait orientations while at the same time greatly improving the balance of the system when shooting with long telephoto lenses.

But it isn’t just that that the camera is more ergonomic and comfortable to use, it also packed with power, boasting dual image processors and a heat dissipating venting tube. The grip also includes dual batteries that effectively double the shooting time of the camera.

Olympus have taken the release of the E-M1X is an opportunity to flex their muscles and show off what they're capable of. They’re confident that once photographers get their hands on the new camera, they will be converted.

Who is the OM-D E-M1X made for?

Firstly, The E-M1X is not aimed the same shooters the most recent batch of mirrorless cameras are designed for. It is instead aimed squarely at the high end of the professional market and if you think about it that makes sense.

Olympus already produce some of the most compact and portable mirrorless systems with models like the E-M5 Mark II and the E-M10 Mark III, so why not focus on making a camera that instead combines the weight savings of mirrorless with the performance and ergonomics that are an industry standard for professionals.

And that is exactly who Olympus have designed the E-M1X for. The wedding photographers, photo journalists, portrait, nature and sports shooters.  

In short, if you pick up a camera to make a living, they designed this camera for you. So why are they so positive that this new camera will appeal to professionals?

Reliability

It’s built like a tank, with improved weather sealing that surpasses the IPX1 standard and a super durable shutter unit rated for 400,000 actuations. We shot in super dusty conditions on a hot Australian summers day and tested the splash proof construction and the E-M1X didn't miss a beat.

Image Quality

Quality is key. It doesn’t matter how in focus your shot is, if you don’t have excellent image quality nothing else really matters. As professionals, clients expect you to be able to deliver the absolute best. The E-M1X delivers image quality and then some by introducing the new handheld pixel shift mode.

Handheld Pixel Shift

The camera uses the in-body stabilisation system to move the sensor several times, capturing images at different positions and then merging the shots together to produce an ultra-high-resolution final image.
Because this method takes several photos it means that even the slightest movement can ruin the shot, requiring that the camera be set up on a tripod. That is until now.
The Olympus EM-1X can produce handheld pixel shifted ultra-high-resolution images with a whopping 50-megapixels and it can do that at shutter speeds as slow as 1/60 of a second.

5-Axis Sync IS

Olympus were one of the first manufacturers to incorporate in-body stabilisation or IBIS into their line-up and they’ve been refining the technology for years. Their latest innovation, the EM-1X offers an impressive 7 and a half stops of image stabilisation when paired with their 12-100mm f/4 lens, or 7 stops with other Olympus glass.

Just to provide some context of what that means, 7 stops is equivalent to increasing your ISO from 100 to 12,800 or shooting with a shutter speed of a 1/4 of a second rather than 1/500th of a second. So, if you can picture the difference between those settings would have on your image and then add another half a stop that’s the advantage the system can offer.

While we were at the Hunter Valley, we got the chance to speak to Olympus Australia visionaries; Nick Ghionis and Michael Hurren to find out their thoughts about the new camera and the Olympus system in general.



From the time we were given the cameras to the time we reluctantly handed them back, the performance of the E-M1X was nothing short of incredible.

Overall the high-speed capture ability of up to 18 fps with AF/AE tracking was super impressive, but for us the big stand-out features were the industry leading 7.5-stops of image stabilisation and ‘Intelligent Subject Detection’ autofocus.

Find out more about the camera by following the link below.