Many of our tutorials or blog posts are inspired by mentoring conversations and workshops sessions we have with our DGRCP community of photographers. One topic that arises almost every time is “what are our ‘must-have’ accessories”. Lindy-Ann and I can only speak to the items we have used ourselves in the field, so this list is not all encompassing. That said, if you don’t see a brand or item on here that you love, share it with us! Our goal is to help others get the most out of their photography journey and build community, so we are always open to hear from you and about your experiences!
1. UV filter – There are several types of filters out there, but this specific recommendations is for protecting your lens. I have firsthand experience of when a UV filter protected my lens during traveling when I opened my bag and the filter was cracked, but my lens was safe. Filters are dependent on the diameter of your lens and there are several good brands out there, with prices range from $15-100 depending on the quality of the glass. The downside to any filter is that it is one more piece of glass for your image to go through, which can possibly degrade it. However, weighed against the potential for scratching your lens, I would use still use it.
2. Lens pens – this is a great gift for photographers! Throw them in your bag or car and pull them out whenever you see a smudge or dust spec on your lens. They are a awesome!
3. Flash – Sadly, the kit flashes that most cameras come with have ruined many a photograph. We all have to shoot in low light settings at some point and an off-camera flash (also referred to as a “speed light”) is a huge improvement on your kit flash, with the ability to bounce light off the wall or ceilings to add diffused light to your subject. There are good third party alternatives to the main camera manufacturers that are quality products and less expensive for the novice or hobbyist photographer. That said, I highly recommend looking at your brand specifically (ie. Canon or Nikon) as the camera and flash will be able communicate well and the TTL (auto settings) will be better paired.
4. Camera bag – This is one of those subjective accessories. It is highly dependent on your style and specific needs. There is a great market of stylish bags that don’t even look like camera bags! I have had two Kelly Moore bags and I love them, plus their customer service is fantastic. Lindy-Ann has Epiphanie. One of our manly photog friends loves his ONA bag.
5. Straps – Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the strap that comes with your camera is not very forgiving and can cut into your shoulder as you wear it. I recommend getting a softer, padded, and more stylish one. They even make infinity scarf options that are soft and look great! I really like the patterns and styles from Mod Straps, another brand we really dig.
6. Tripod – There is a tripod for every possible need and use! When selecting a tripod, it is important to consider your budget, your goals (capturing yourself in the images, night photography, etc), and read reviews. Here is a link two great articles listing their recommendations: The Wire Cutter and The Shot Kit. A gorilla pod is great for traveling, light, and malleable, I just used it over the weekend camping for a shot of our whole group! I also have a Zomei that I use for most tasks. It is sturdy and can change from tri to monopod easily.
7. SD cards – Using a dSLR, you will definitely need at least one of these. From personal experience it is important to have backups, so let’s say you need at least two! I recommend Sandisk or Lexar brands and you can purchase these almost anywhere. It is important to note that if you are shooting in jpgs (not RAW) the lower storage may work for you. That said, in addition to the quantity of the images the memory on the card is capable of storing, I would consider the speed of capture (looks like: 95MB/S). If your card’s writing speed is slow it will cause you to miss the in-between shots and won’t be able to keep up if you’re especially trigger happy. I personally use 32MB and 64MB cards with high speeds of capture.
We hope this helps you as you consider your equipment needs. Just remember it is never the equipment, or the stylish accessories, that makes the photographer, it is about you and your unique perspective. Get out there and snap away friends!
Stay tuned as Lindy-Ann kicks off our new “what’s in your bag” video series, where we, and our photog friends, will share what we carry to and fro living the photog life!