What’s in a camera bag? Of course your camera (isn’t it in your hands?!), maybe an extra lens or two, an extra memory card . . . but what else? DPReview recently posted a list of “Ten Things You Must Have in Your Camera Bag,” which has some good–if a little obvious–things.
Here in Part I of our “Must Haves for Your Camera Bag,” we’ll recap DPReview’s list and add a few thoughts of our own to consider. Keep an eye out for Must Haves Part II, which will include a bunch of things they missed.
First, the obvious on DPReview’s list of Must Haves For Your Camera Bag:
1. Extra Battery & Memory Card. Of course. But one thing: don’t put that memory card into your bag until you’ve downloaded (and backed up) then deleted everything on it. This keeps you from wondering in the field whether you can delete on the fly. Also, I don’t put my extra battery in my bag unless I’ve charged it fully the night before.
2. Microfiber Cloth. Great for cleaning dirt and dust and smudges on your LCD screen and all else (don’t even think of using your cotton T-shirt to clean the front element of your lens). Here’s one from Canon that we like.
3. Air Blower. More cleaning products that could have been combined under a single header. The air blower helps you clear away dirt from hard to reach places before going in with a cloth. Giottos makes a great set that include a blower, a brush, and a microfiber cloth.
4. Smartphone. Doesn’t this just belong in your pocket… OK, we get the recommendation for it’s ability to send out photos on the fly, but you weren’t going to leave it home, were you?
Next, several items that are a twist on the more obvious:
5. Mini Flashgun: A very nice addition, more powerful than your pop-up flash. Both Canon and Nikon offer reasonably-priced lightweight options (but the priciest additions to this list) that some cameras can trigger wirelessly. On first seeing this addition to the list, we thought it a bit unnecessary, but the idea of a small, lightweight, off-camera flash is quite compelling, and definitely saves weight over larger flashes. Oh, and if you’re shooting with Canon Full Frame cameras, you don’t have a built in flash… Doh!
6. Mini Tripod: Eh, these can be quite heavy. If you KNOW you’re not going to use it, don’t lug one around. But if there’s a chance–and there often is–we’d recommend going with a Joby GorillaPod–their bendable legs allow you to use a fence post or chair back to hold the tripod in place.
7. Remote Release: We consider a Remote to be a must have accessory. Remotes allow you to trigger the camera’s shutter release at the exact moment you want to take a picture. Wired remotes are more precise but limit the distance you can be from the camera; infrared remotes tend to be much cheaper and have a greater range but can be unreliable in bright light. Great for self portraits, but also for any time you’re using a tripod.
8. Circular Polarizer: DPReview correctly points out that just because you’re shooting digital doesn’t mean you don’t need a polarizer. Polarizers are still indispensable for landscapes, making blue skies and foliage pop, increase contrast in clouds, and reduce water and glass reflections. (Also consider getting some filter wrenches.)
9. Rain Cover/Poncho: The real insight here is to keep the camera rain cover in your bag. You don’t know when that unexpected downpour is gonna happen (it’s unexpected). I’ve used cheap versions to great effect even in hurricanes! Yes, a plastic bag will also do the trick, but not as well as a dedicated DSLR rain cover.
10. Business Cards: This is one of several insights on the list that are particularly useful. As DPReview points out, if you’re “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).” These don’t have to be professional photographer cards, by the way–just anything with your email address.
All in all, a pretty good list.
Be on the lookout for Part II where we include all the things they forgot!