Camera Gear Essentials
Buying camera gear can feel like a monumental task. Let’s break down the 10 things you should definitely consider when looking for new gear.
1. Camera Backpack
A camera backpack becomes a sanctuary for your gear; the place where it can be safely stored, carried, and accessed in any location you can get to. Without a camera backpack, you have nothing. Now what type of things should you look for in a camera bag? The first thing you need to look at is how does the bag allow you to access gear? Does it open from the back, top, or side? Which orientation do you find most user friendly? Personally I love bags with access only from the back of the bag(the part resting against your back). This orientation keeps the weight as close to your body as possible allowing for maximized comfort when wearing the bag all day long. Likewise it becomes a very natural access point the second you go to place the bag down. The next thing to consider is how much more can this bag carry beyond camera gear? I am typically taking my bags on day hikes so I need to be able to pack away layers, snacks, extra water, and potentially even some weather gear. If you are doing a shoot in town and need to edit, does your bag have an area for a laptop? This may seem like an unnecessary addition at first, but trust me, you will wish you had it. The bag I use is the Mindshift Backlight 26L bag and it has never failed me. Below, I suggest a few great cheaper options as well. The final thing to consider is the straps on your bag. I don’t care how fashionable a bag looks; if the straps are like measly little strands of spaghetti, it’s not for me. Unless you enjoy the feeling of your shoulders getting slowly pulled from their socket, look for something with some more thick and supportive straps. Better yet if it has a waist and chest strap to further the support!
What Bags I recommend:
The Every Day Bag: Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
My Camera Backpack: MindShift Backlight 26L
A Good Bag On A Budget($50!): AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack
I know the first thing that you will all gasp at is the price of these bags. A good, bomb proof camera bag, is as much of an investment as your camera itself. The upfront cost may seem like a lot but 5+ years down the line, when you’re bags still kicking butt and not killing your shoulders, you will be happy you made the purchase. If you are a little more of a casual shooter, the AmazonBasics bag looks to have all the right features with a sturdy build. Definitely one to have an eye on!
A tripod is a super crucial piece of gear that I believe every photographer should own. A tripod makes it possible to take long exposure shots that could never be done handheld. The things to consider with tripods are 3 things: How much does it weigh? What’s is minimum and max height? Can this tripod sit in the side pouch of my bag? You may not think that weight is that big of a concern; but when you decide to lug it around all day, you will begin to care. You can ensure a tripod is light just by looking at the product specs for weight. Likewise, the material it’s made of will make a HUGE weight difference….aka don’t buy a metal tripod. The height abilities of a tripod are really important because they will define the range of angles you can achieve with that specific tripod. I prefer tripods that have legs that fold 180 degrees, allowing me to get really close to the ground if need be. I will suggest some of my favourites below. When I first got into photography I had a massive and bulky tripod that would never fit in my bag. I would hand carry my tripod where ever I went… it got old really fast. Finding a tripod thats compact enough to fit in the side pouch of your bag will make a huge difference.
Tripods I Recommend:
Light and Compact Travel Tripod: Benro IT15 Travel Tripod
Amazing For Low Angles & Vlogging: Joby GorillaPod
The All In One – Promaster XC525 Professional Tripod
I’ve seen these tripods around quite a bit recently and have heard some good things. If you are wanting something cheaper, solid, fits in a bag, the Benro IT15 will do just the trick. If you like to do a little more hand bombing with your gear(like vlogging)definitely check the Joby GorillaPod.
3. Faster Memory Cards
Memory cards seem to be that last piece of gear people really care about, but a good card makes every one of your shoots run much smoother. What makes a card good or bad? or in this case, fast? The main thing you want to consider is the cards reading/writing speed. In short, card reading and writing speeds dictates how fast your card can process the information being recorded, then play it back to you. If you have a slower card you will notice a longer wait time to review photos and it will be nearly impossible to shoot anything in 4k video. At the very least you should look to find a card with a writing speed of 95mb/s(megabytes per second)so you’re not waiting around.
Cards I Recommend:
Depending on whether you are shooting video or photo will mostly dictate that size of card you should buy. If you are shooting video, especially in 4k, I would suggest the Lexar 1000x cards. They have a fast writing speed and won’t lag out on you during a shoot. If you primarily shoot photos, either card will suffice. In terms of what size is best, I don’t usually buy cards any smaller than 64GB for photos and 128GB for video. If you are shooting frequently, make sure to get extra cards! You may be surprised how fast they can fill up. I have 6 memory cards I rotate through constantly.
4. Lens Pen
A lens pen is likely the cheapest thing you will ever buy for your kit but will be one of the most handy! It can be seriously annoying to carry a micro fiber cloth around, constantly ensuring it hasn’t gotten dirty or dusty somehow. A lens pen is perfect to quickly clean lenses, filters, and even your glasses if you wear ’em.
The Lens Pen I Recommend:
In all honesty, almost all the lens pens on the market do the same thing. This lens pen is the one myself, and many other photographers I know use. I have come to like its build quality and it gets the job done. For less than $6 you can’t go wrong.
5. Camera Strap Holster
Admittedly I didn’t know of these things till recently but they have seriously become one of my best friends. A camera strap holster allows you to mount your camera securely on your bag strap. They are extremely useful when you are hiking, scrambling, or even just want quick access to your camera without having to hold it. I recently got hooked up with a strap holster from Cotton Carrier that I have been loving so far. Especially since it can mount to both my strap and my tripod with the same baseplate. Another great strap holster many use is by Peak Design. Both are linked below!
Camera Holsters I Recommend:
These types of clips are really best suited for those constantly moving around, or needing to have both their hands free in an instant. For me, I find these holstering systems most useful while hiking. It lets me have my camera out and ready to go, without having to actually hold it. It ensures I never miss those candid moments while fishing through my bag for my camera.
6. Camera Rain Cover
If you shoot landscapes, action sports, or just about anything out in the elements, I’m sure you and your camera have seen some sh*t. Most modern cameras have decent weather sealing, but just like a gore-tex jacket, it can only take so much. That’s where a rain cover comes in. You can get a variety of different covers from snug fitting sleeves to literal bags. I most often find myself using mine in the winter months and when I’m shooting anywhere in the snow. They are a relatively cheap piece of gear that can protect your camera from some serious water damage.
Rain Covers I Recommend:
Best Used With Tripods: Altura Photo Rain Cover
Best Handheld Cover: Peak Design Rain And Dust Cover
I personally use the Peak Design Rain Cover since I am typically using it while shooting handheld, and on the go. The Altura Photo Rain Cover is a better option if you intend to be shooting on sticks out in the elements. If just you want something less bulky that adds a bit of extra protection from rain/snow/sand I would highly suggest the Peak Designs’s cover!
These filters are like sunglasses for your lens. They darken your photo so you can alter your settings to shoot long exposures in brighter environments. If you want to know more about these filters and if they are right for you, I wrote an article going in depth that you can find HERE. Since I primarily use my ND filters for landscape photography, I think a 10 Stop ND is the most ideal ND filter to use. Below are 2 that I recommend.
ND Filters I Recommend:
Pro Level ND: Lee Filters Big Stopper
Best Budget ND: Gobe 10 Stop ND
I have been on “Team Lee Filters” for quite a while. Admittedly I may be a little bias towards them. I think the quality of all their filters are quite impressive, while not giving off distasteful colour shifts or terrible amounts of vignetting. That being said, I have a several close friends who swear by the Gobe 10 Stop filter. When we stacked it up against the Lee Filters Big Stopper, the results (in regards to quality) were actually quite similar. If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a ND filter, the Gobe system is definitely one to consider.
8. Remote Shutter Release
If you already own an ND filter, you’ll probably want one of these. A remote shutter release lets you shoot long exposures for far longer than your camera allows natively. Most cameras have a long exposure limit of only 30 seconds but with a shutter release, you can shoot exposures 72+ hours long if you REALLY wanted to. Before purchasing a shutter release, make note of what port is needed to connect it to your camera. In some cases you may need an adapter.
Remote Shutter Releases I Recommend:
I shoot on Canon so I use the Neewer shutter release and have never had any problems with it. It has tons of nice features and you can’t beat the price, coming in under $25. The other shutter releases I mention are all around the same price; with similar functionalities. The main difference is just what connection cable they come with!
A reflector is a cheap and fantastic tool to have at your disposal. Whether you are shooting portraits, product shots, or need a little extra fill, reflectors do it all. They take the natural light and reflect it back towards the subject they are facing. It adds a cool effect that can give your shots a more professional look. Make sure to find a reflector that has several different surface options! I’ve linked below the ones I personally use or have heard great things about.
Reflectors I Recommend:
Personally I like the 43″ reflector for a little bit more reflective surface area. It still folds down to a compact size and I’ve never felt it was too big. If you are specifically concerned about size, take a look at the 32″ reflector!
10. SD Card Case
Keeping all your cards organized and safe in one place is super important. If an exposed card gets lost or damaged, that can be potentially devastating to your project.There’s no better system to keep everything safe than with a SD Card Case.
SD Card Cases I Recommend:
My Go-To Bomb Proof SD Case: Kupton Water-Resistant Memory Card Case
Something With A Bit More Space: Eco-Fused Memory Card Carrying Case
Both these cases do just the trick with ample room for all your cards; and then some! The Eco-Fused case is a canvas carrying case that gets the job done, it just won’t hold up against poor weather. If you find yourself frequently camping or in the backcountry, the Kupton case is what you need in your life!
There is a never ending list of camera gear to buy. What lens to buy next, what new filter to get, fancy new external flashes, the list goes on. At the end of the day what is most important is to slowly build your kit, while really focusing on taking great images. The first step is to just start shooting photos!
Is there any camera accessories that you could not live without? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to LIKE and SHARE this post with anyone you know who may find this useful! Happy Shooting! -Brendan