So you’ve snagged yourself a brand spankin’ new DSLR eh? Well, that’s great, but your purchases don’t just stop there. If you think your camera is all you need, you’d be sorely mistaken. Sure you can get by in most day to day conditions, but that’s just what you’re doing; getting by. To really take things up a notch. These aren’t major expenses, but small things that make every photographer’s life way easier, so pay heed.
Get a BAG!
Damn straight! Before we get to what you should definitely have in your bag, you need a bag and the LowePro Fastpack 200 is our strongest recommendation for a starter bag. It can easily host one camera body two lenses, along with leaving you with enough room to store little knick-knacks. IF you want to go super pro, you can look at the LowePro Transit 350 AW or the Dakine Reload 30L.
Micro Fiber Cloth
Rarely will you find yourself in a shooting condition that is absolutely clean. Many a times, you would just want to walk around the streets of your city taking photos! Dust is everywhere and hence, it gets on your camera and lens. A microfiber cloth is the best and safest way to clean that grime off your precious gear, without hurting it.
Contact Free Cleaner
Giotto’s Rocket Blower is another cleaning tool, very essential to keeping the camera body clean. It is essentially an air blower that will knock dust particles off the lens and the camera body. Ideally should be used before releasing the lens from the lens mount so that no dust particles fall onto the sensor.
Hot Shoe Flash
If you thought that the puny pop-up crap flash on your DSLR was decent enough for anything, you’re sorely mistaken. If you want good quality illumination, invest in a hot-shoe flash, preferably first party (for maximum benefit). Yes, this can be a somewhat expensive proposition, but the returns in terms of image quality make it worth the investment.
Power for the Flash
Eneloop has pretty much set the standard for rechargeable batteries here and any pro will swear by their products. They cost almost twice (or thrice) as much as regular rechargeable batteries, but are definitely worth the premium. Why are they so special? Well, for one, they come charged, meaning you can use them the minute you buy them, but more importantly, these batteries do not lose charge when stored. Normally NiMH batteries will lose their power if they are stored for long periods of time, but Eneloops retain up to 95% of their charge.
While the standard strap that comes with your camera is okay, it is not something we recommend you rely on. Instead, see if you can get yourselves a Kata or a BlackRapid Strap. These third party straps offer far more security for your camera as they lock into place on your shoulder so as to not slip off. Secondly, they also have a mechanism of preventing the camera from sliding all over the place, which can be quite annoying. A BlackRapid strap will prevent all of this, and make the camera accessible even with the strap slung around your shoulder, something the stock straps cannot do.
Avert disaster, but in the unfortunate even that you can’t and end up damaging your main DSLR, you should not be without a tool to create your images. We strongly recommend having a small backup camera in your bag, either the Fujifilm X100s if you can afford it (or the Ricoh GR if you want something slightly cheaper), or you could go with a simply Canon SX240 HS travel zoom camera. All these cameras will at least allow you to make decent images in the event your main camera is out of commission, so you don’t feel like the day was a total waste.
A Compact Flashlight
You’d be surprised just how handy this little tool can be. Shooting in very low light where your camera can’t lock focus? Flash your light. Just got done shooting in the wild and its now dark? Flash your light! Shooting a concert in a dark, dingy venue and need something out of your bag? FLASH YOU LIGHT! We think you get the point.
More Memory than you Camera has Room for
Chances are the guy who sold you the camera would have tossed in a freebie memory card. Chances are, it’s an utter crap slow card. We STRONGLY recommend getting yourselves a few 8GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SD cards which have a 95MB/second rating. Also, don’t be stingy. Get yourself atleast TWO of these puppies, in case one card gets full on a shoot, or is damaged, or worse yet, is eaten by your puppy.
UV and Polarizer Filters
There are about a million and a half posts on the internet that will tell you that UV filters are bad for image quality, and then there’s an equal number highlighting their benefits. We recommend getting GOOD quality filters (such as SinghRay, or B W or if you’re on a tight budget, then Tiffen/Hoya. The UV filter will protect your lens’s front element from serious damage and a polarizer will add a lot of good value to your landscape shots. IF you’re feeling a little generous, then even get the Cokin Neutral Density (graduated and non-graduated) filters, but make sure they’re the Cokin P system (which can be fit on any lens).