August 13, 2013

What’s in Your Camera Bag?

self portrait
Circa Spring 2012

A friend of mine is considering getting his first DSLR camera. (I think I’ve created another Nikon fan, yay!) We were discussing camera bodies and features, before the conversation turned accessories and I started thinking about what accessories I have in my camera bag, and what might be missing.

Here’s my list of favorite inexpensive accessories.

1. Camera Strap

A professional photographer friend once told me he can always spot the successful photographers from the wannabes by one piece of gear – the camera strap. According to him anyone whose getting any amount of business and shooting on a regular basis is going to want to replace the strap that comes with the DSLR.

Back in March I purchased this basic black strap. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable the strap that came with my DSLR was until I got this puppy on my neck! The non-slip elastic is great, and the neoprene/silicone is so soft! It’s a little on the shorter side which is great because so am I. Who knew $8 could make such a difference?

2. Spare Batteries

On our honeymoon we took a bus tour through the Peloponnese in Greece. My camera battery died while we were at the Museum in Olympia. It died right before we got to Hermes of Praxiteles – the signature piece in the museum! Never again. Now I always have a spare battery.

These days I’m actually a three battery gal. I have my battery that came with my camera, and two off brand cheap batteries. When on travel I like to keep one in my camera, one in my bag (or go bag if that’s what I’m using) and one back at the hotel charging. That way I always have at least one fully charged battery each day.

I like the off brand batteries because they are so much cheaper than the brand ones. I bought this two pack when I was using my D60. After two years they weren’t holding as much charge as my Nikon battery, but they would hold enough of a charge to last the day. That’s good enough in my book.

3. Lens Pen

For lens cleaning on the go I typically use a Lens Pen. I have the rocket blaster, but it’s so big and bulky I tend to leave it at home.

4. Tweezers

I also keep a pair of tweezers in my bag. Why? It dates back to honeymooning in Greece. When we were visiting the acropolis I noticed a cat hair on some of my photos. Yet there was no hair on or behind the lens! I keep trying to clean out this hair I couldn’t see, but no amount of blowing was getting rid of it. It was the day before we were leaving on the bus tour and the fear of having photos with cat hairs from our once in a lifetime vacation had me pretty upset. We went back to the hotel and online and found that the hair was likely trapped behind the shutter. In order to get it out I had to set the shutter speed for a 30 seconds exposure and unscrew the lens while the camera was taking a photo and the shutter open to expose the cat hair. The next step was to remove the hair with a pair of tweezers. But we were in a foreign country where we did not speak the language. While many of the hotel staff spoke English rather well, ‘tweezers’ was not a common enough word for them to know. Finding a store where we could buy tweezers proved a bit of a challenge, but we succeeded and they haven’t left my bag.

5. Memory Cards

I keep a 32 GB card in my camera, and have a number of smaller cards for backup. I like the 32GB size as it’ll holds about three weeks of photos for me. Another piece of advice from a photographer friend was to get a fast card. After switching to the ultra (30MB/s) I’m a convert! I like to leave my photos on my card until I’ve ensured I’ve backed everything up to both my computer and the external hard drive. That sometimes means I run out of space when using my camera and have to delete some of the older ones that are only backedup on my computer asap. A fast memory card is essential in these moments. I also will use continuous mode when trying to photograph Nicki splashing in the tub or walking. It’s nice not to have to worry about buffering.

I typically upgrade my memory card once a year (on Black Friday, they’re always door busters!) While I’m willing to go off brand for spare camera batteries, I’m much more hesitant to do it for memory cards. The thought of having my memory card dying before backing up my photos terrifies me to my momtographer core.

So what am I missing?

I’m considering getting a set of white balance cards, but the white balance in my photos doesn’t appear particularly off to me. Maybe it’ll be like the camera strap, where I don’t realize what I’m missing until I have them?

So that’s my list. What else am I missing? What would you recommend?

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