Which digital camera accessories do you need?

A lot of digital camera accessories are available. Some of them are nice to have and others are in my opinion must have accessories. Below is listed what I have experienced are the most important accessories.

Camera bag
To keep all your digital camera accessories you will need a camera bag. First of all a camera bag will protect your digital camera from lens and LCD scratches as well as from dust. Second a bag is a must have if you have a DSLR camera with lenses, filters, extra memory and a flash gun. What kind of camera bag you should buy is depending on your use.

If you have a few kilos of equipment, a back pack type might be your choice. These are bags that are kind of bulky, but they are solid and you get a lot into them. Smaller back pack fits one DSLR and a couple of extra lenses. This is a good option if you are trekking and have to carry your stuff for a day.

Other camera bags are shoulder bags which are not that

Lowepro bag

comfortable if you plan to walk for a longer distance. These bags are good if you are on location and want easy access to all your stuff.

There are quite a few camera bag manufacturers and a great variety and type of bags. Among the most reputed manufacturer's are Lowepro, Tamrac and Crumpler. Which bag covers your needs?

You can read more on the manufacturer's web sites: Lowepro, Tamrac andCrumpler

Tripod
Among the most underrated digital camera accessories among the amateur photographers is the tripod. Some would say the secret of the professional photographer is the use of tripod. This might be only partial right, because there as so many other things that makes a “perfect” photo. Professional photographers most of the time use a tripod when they are working. Of course what most photos is about, is getting it pin sharp. A tripod may surely help achieving this.

But there is a drawback with a tripod and this is the weight and size when you need to carry it along.

Generally situations a tripod will be a nice support is:

  • Using long telephoto lenses
  • Slow shutter speed because of limited light as with night photography
  • Slow shutter speed because you want to blur the scene to get special effects
  • Macro photography
  • Consistent camera position - studio photography
  • Consistent camera position – bracketing shooting for HDR images
  • Composition – you spent more time getting the composition right
  • You want to be in the photo yourself

I use my tripod mostly in situations when long shutter speeds are needed. Either in situations with little light, or I want to achieve special effects with longer shutter speed. When I discovered and learned about the possibilities that opened up with the use of a tripod, I got a totally different view of photography. It is so much more than “snap shots”. With a tripod you can shoot images simply not possible doing while hand holding the camera.

There are many different types of tripods for every kind of needs. For additional tips on buying a tripod read further here.

Filters
Filters are digital camera accessories that are often forgotten. There are three filters you might consider when shooting digital. The first one is a UV filtermostly to protect your lens from scratches. The UV filter is color less and will not have any impact on the final photo.

The second filter is a Polarizing filter which is useful for removing reflections of water surfaces and in windows. When shooting landscapes, you will also see the sky getting a much darker and richer blue color when using a polarizer filter. The effects of a polarizer filter can not be done with editing software.

The third and last very useful filter is the Neutral Density filter (ND filter). The ND filter is most commonly used by landscape photographers. This is a neutral grey filter which reduces the amount of light that reaches the camera lens. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds or wider aperture (for special effects) than what would be possible without using the filter. Read more about the different filters here

Lens Cleaning Kit
One of the most important digital camera accessories is lens and camera cleaning kit. If you have spent a lot of money on expensive equipment, it will not be of much use if it is full of fingerprints or dust particles. You should take care of your lenses and clean them regularly. If you use a UV filter, at least you will not get scratches directly on the lens. Keeping the lens clean is also vital to ensure the quality of your photos.

Never clean your lens with your shirt or anything in hand. It is very easy to scratch the fine optics. A lens cleaning kit is not expensive and is well worth the money. The kit usually includes a small blower brush to blow and brush dust off, a soft cloth to wipe the camera body, a small bottle of lens cleaner solution and a number of sheets of lens tissue to clean the lens.

Memory cards
Among must have digital camera accessories is the storage cards. Normally the capacity of the card delivered with a digital camera is very limited. You will certainly have to buy one or two extras. Different manufacturer use different brands of memory cards, so be aware of this before purchasing your card. The most important when choosing a memory card is the cards writing capacity and the storage size. Read more about Memory cards here

Extra batteries
Another important digital camera accessories is the batteries. The worst that can happen is if you run out of batteries when shooting. I have done this a few times and it is really frustrating. Now I always bring a charged spare battery for with camera. Luckily the batteries are getting better and better. With the Nikon D300 I can shoot more than 600 photos without charging.

External Flash
The flash on your digital camera has a limited range. Usually the on board flash can illuminate up to 3-4 meters depending on how dark the surroundings are. Most likely you have experienced getting a too dark photo after trying to photograph a group of people in a bad lit room. The built in flash is not powerful enough.

The only way you can improve this is to use an external and more powerful flash. The external flash is mounted on top of the camera on a hot-shoe. Unfortunately the smallest compact cameras do not have a hot-shoe, so you have no option for external flash. With a DSLR camera and an external flash a lot of creative flash photography possibilities open up.

Other accessories you should consider
Lens hood, portable storage, flash diffusers