Ten items you should have in your camera bag
Oct 4, 2013 at 18:02 GMT
Ten items you should have in your camera bag
What's in your camera bag? A camera (hopefully) and maybe a lens or two, but that's probably not everything that you need. In this article we're looking at ten items that deserve a place in every photographer's kit bag, whatever sort of photography you enjoy doing. If you think we've missed anything, let us know in the comments.
Let's get started!
Carrying a full-size tripod around isn't always practical unless you know you're definitely going to use it. But there's nothing worse than being caught out without a camera support when you end up really needing one. Mini tripods are small (obviously), and lightweight. While not as versatile as a full-size model, a mini tripod opens up a lot of possibilities, especially when it comes to low-light photography. With your camera on the tripod, resting on a wall, tree branch or even the ground, you can use slow shutter speeds without fear of shake.
Almost all cameras have self-timers, but they're often pretty limiting. A remote release allows you to trigger your camera's shutter at the precise moment that you want, without needing to physically touch the shutter button and risk introducing vibrations. Traditional cable releases will allow you to stand off a short distance, but many modern cameras offer support for wireless remote releases with a longer range, and often front and rear IR receivers, meaning you can trigger the shutter from behind or in front of the lens. The downside of IR releases is that they can become unreliable in very bright light.
They're not sexy, but microfiber cloths are among the most useful accessories you can have in your camera bag. As well as cleaning off dust and dirt from your equipment, you can also use a cloth to wrap lenses and other small accessories to prevent them from being scratched when they come into contact with one another.
When it comes to cleaning your gear, it's best to avoid contact with it if you can, to prevent accidental scratching. A simple rubber 'bulb-style' air blower can put out a pretty powerful puff of air, which is often enough to dislodge dust and fine particles of grit. Once you've got rid of the nasty stuff, a tissue or microfiber cloth and some cleaning fluid can do the rest.
Smartphone / Tablet computer
If you're out and about it's always a good idea to have a phone on you, especially if you're on your own. But as well as emergency use, smartphones and tablet computers are also incredibly useful photographic tools. There are countless applications available to help with everything from compositional basics to depth of field calculations, and sun-tracking apps can tell you exactly where the sun rises, sets and tracks across the sky at your location. This is hugely useful for landscape and architectural photography. You can also use mobile devices to store PDF user manuals for your gear.
Spare battery / Memory cards
Hopefully this is obvious, but if you run out of space on your memory card, or your camera's battery runs flat, you may as well pack up your gear and go home. In order to avoid nasty surprises we recommend always carrying a couple of spare memory cards and at least one extra charged-up battery. If your camera runs on (or can be adapted to use) AA batteries, it's a good idea to have a few lithium ones tucked away in your bag somewhere. They're light, powerful, and don't discharge over time.
Rain cover / Poncho
If the weather in your part of the world is anything like the weather in Seattle, you'll need to make sure that you and your gear are protected against the elements. Cheap folding ponchos can be found in most pharmacies and gas stations for unexpected downpours, and (with a bit of adjustment) will protect both photographer and equipment, but dedicated rain covers for cameras and lenses are also available from several manufacturers.
This might sound strange, but it's always a good idea to carry a few business cards with you when you're out shooting. If you like taking pictures of people, it's polite to ask permission and offer to send them a picture, and a business card will reassure them of your intentions (as well as providing contact details). The same applies to any nervous security officials you might encounter in cities and near public buildings.
Your camera might well have a built-in flash, but it's unlikely to be very powerful. You don't need to spend much to get an external flash with a good deal more juice, and external flashes can be very useful for balancing exposures in good light, as well as in dark conditions. A lot of cameras can also wirelessly trigger compatible external flashguns, which is extremely useful when it comes to portraiture, because it allows you to shape the light more precisely than you can with conventional 'straight on' flash.
Some people think that when shooting digitally you don't need to use filters, but that's not true. While there's perhaps not much point using old-style warm-up and cooling filters anymore, polarizing filters remain indispensable if you're capturing landscapes. Polarizing filters make the colors in blue skies and foliage more intense, increase contrast in clouds and reduce reflections on water and glass. Good-quality polarizers aren't cheap, and you might only use one a handful of times every year, but having one tucked away in your camera bag ensures that when you really need it, it's right there.