5 Must Have Photography Accessories for Beginners

Are you the proud owner of a brand new and shiny new camera? If you are then you may well be feeling the irresistible urge to compliment your fantastic new purchase with any number of accessories that you will have seen available. Some of them are essential, some desirable and some, well not really needed at all!

This post shows you five of the most important “must have” items and will guide you through the photography accessory minefield!

Camera Bag – These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be incredibly expensive! The first thing to decide is what sort of size you need to carry your current equipment and also to allow for the fact that your kit will inevitably grow a little as well. It’s worth bearing in mind that you may well want to pack other items in your bag when you go out on a photographic outing so allow space for your sandwiches too!

Firstly, decide on which style of bag will suit your photography. If you often walk in the hills to take landscapes a photo rucksack may well be a good option for example or, if you are a street photographer and need security and speed of access then a top opening messenger style bag may be a better bet.

Whatever style you choose go for a good quality bag where the interior has plenty of padding to protect your equipment. Most good quality bags have a pull over rain cover as well as you really do want your camera bag to be completely water tight – that’s very important!

It’s worth considering security as well. Nothing shouts “photographer” more than a large new looking camera bag slung over your shoulder. Something discreet can be a better bet and is less attractive to thieves – even looking for a good quality and slightly battered second hand bag is less conspicuous and can be a good bet.

Finally you need to consider your own comfort. Remember, you may well have the bag over your shoulder for some considerable time. Does it have good padding and do the straps adjust to create a comfortable fit for you?

Tripod – Even a simple tripod can open up all sorts of creative possibilities and improve your photography immensely. From a compositional point of view using one can improve your photography very quickly as it really slows you down and makes you look very carefully before pressing the shutter. Pressing the shutter on a digital camera doesn’t cost anything and very often we do rush, don’t think what we are doing and the resulting pictures can be a bit haphazard.

Tripods are traditionally used to allow slower shutter speeds to be attained without camera shake. Typically it’s very hard to hand hold a camera below around 30th of a second without some sort of camera shake and blur being present. Using a tripod eliminates movement of the camera and exposures of up to several seconds or more can be made. This is great for night time shots, low light shots and also landscape photography where you might want a very wide depth of field and therefore a very small aperture. If you are wanting to shoot at say F16 and would prefer the quality of shooting at a low ISO of maybe 200 you are going to probably need to use a tripod as the corresponding shutterspeed will be quite slow.

The common wisdom is that the heavier and more expensive the tripod the better. Certainly a good quality heavy tripod will keep the camera more secure and is much easier to use but a less expensive model will still open up a number of creative possibilities and will be easier to carry. Even a simple fold up spider style can be useful and a simple mono pod does the job almost as well.

UV filter – this is a simple clear filter that screws onto the front of your lens. It’s main advantage is that it protects the expensive lens glass from the elements, from getting scratched and keeps the lens clean. It doesn’t really have any effect on the image at all although it does, as it’s name suggests, filter UV and can reduce distant haze on sunny days.

There’s not a lot of point in buying one to protect a cheap kit lens as the cheaper filters are not that great but, if you have a good quality lens, it really is worth investing in a good quality UV filter and leaving it on there. The only time it’s likely to cause a problem is if you shoot into strong light and it might create excessive flare and also if you want to use another filter as well.

Do not buy a cheap UV filter as it will cause more problems than it solves. Check your filter’s compatability with your lens and then put it on and forget about it safe in the knowledge that your lens is protected from the elements!

Card storage holder – This is an easily overlooked piece of kit but, assuming that you will use more than one memory card, you will need something to store them in. There’s nothing worse than scrabbling around in the bottom of your camera bag looking for a card in a hurry!

It’s also worth mentioning that memory cards are relatively physically tough but they can be effected by water and dust in particular and I personally treat them as carefully as I once treated a roll of exposed film many years ago!

Look for a card holder that is tough and easily opened. There are some annoying designs where, as soon as the holder is opened, all the cards fall out so look for a model where this doesn’t happen!

It can be helpful to have separate space in the holder for empty and full cards as well to avoid confusion when you might be doing a quick change.

Cleaning stuff – Finally, it’s really important to keep your camera gear dirt and dust free. There is a whole array of products on the market but essentially you need cleaning cloths for wiping lenses clean and also some means of cleaning your camera’s sensor.

As with most things the more you pay the better the quality and the same is true of cleaning cloths. Get a really good quality one and make sure that you keep the cloth itself clean and replace it frequently.

Some photographers prefer to send their cameras into a camera shop to have the sensor cleaned but it’s not a difficult job providing that you follow instructions carefully and buy a good quality cleaning kit. Make sure that you are working in a well lit clean area and that you camera’s battery is fully charged whilst cleaning and take care. Assuming that you change lenses all sensors will get some dirt on them and it’s good to check and clean them regularly.

 

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