5. Camera and Lens Accessories

If you want to save yourself a lot of money and time researching various camera accessories, here’s a quick list of the only accessories you’ll need:

Memory Cards

Get SanDisk, always. Other brands are cheaper, but not reliable – I’ve had entire photo shoots erased because a faulty off-brand card. Some pros endorse Lexar, but if you want to play it safe, stick with SanDisk. The higher the write number (i.e. 60MB/s), the better – a low number means you’ll be stuck waiting for the camera to write the photos on the memory card before you can take more photos, and that sucks. My favorite card is the SanDisk ExtremePro – I would get the 2-card version, it’s always safe to have a backup card.

Camera Bags

Many of the kits I’ve linked to on this website come with a free camera bag. I wouldn’t get one online unless you know what model you want, or have a lot of lenses – stop by any local store that has them and buy the smallest bag that will fit your cameras/lenses and that you like. If you have a lot of pro lenses, these brands are very good Lowepro, Think Tank, Tamrak, Kata, and my favorite – Domke. You can also shop for the camera bag you can afford on Amazon, Adorama, or BH Photo.

I prefer shoulder bags – they often come with a waist belt that makes it easier to carry them, and I find it easier to change lenses especially when I am walking around. Sling bags sound like a good idea, but they often are too small or poorly designed for quick access of bigger lenses. Backpacks are a nice thought too, but again, it takes forever to access your lenses. If speed and quick access is your goal, stick with shoulder bags.

Tripods

I think it’s safe to say that 90% of us don’t need a tripod. I have a professional Manfrotto tripod, and it’s been in my garage for years, although I shoot lots of landscapes and weddings. Tripods were very useful with film cameras, but digital cameras can handle low light a lot better, so tripods are pretty much obsolete. If it makes you feel better to have a tripod, get the best one you can afford. Remember that once you put your camera on a tripod, you have to trust that it will hold it.

I recommend Manfrotto or Gitzo. Aluminum is heavy, carbon fiber is very light but also very expensive. I’ve heard good things about Dolica tripods, which are very affordable, but my general rule is that a tripod under $100 is most likely a waste of money and a risk of destroying your camera and lens. I would do a search on Amazon, Adorama, or BH Photo and buy the one you can afford – make sure you get one that comes with a tripod legs and head. me if you need more help narrowing down your choices.

Lens Filters

The only filter you need is a Hoya polarizer filter if you shoot landscapes. The fact that you have to have a UV filter on top of each lens is a bit of an exaggeration – most of the time it doesn’t do anything to your photos. If you have one on the lens, it serves as extra safety feature and prevents smudges on the lens glass.

A bad filter will blur your photos, so always get the best filters – I prefer Hoya filters. Make sure to check your lens for the filter size (58mm on Canon 18-55mm f/4-5.6, 52mm on Nikon 18-55mm f/4-5.6).

Batteries

I always carry an extra battery with me for safety when I shoot commercial projects or weddings. You don’t have to buy a brand name battery, just get the one you can afford from Adorama or Amazon – I use the extra battery as a backup, and don’t expect it to last very long.

That’s all you need – any other cleaning kit, macro kit, cheap extenders, etc. is mostly useless fluff. Save your money and instead of wasting $100 on accessories that you’ll never us, buy a lens that will actually make a huge difference in your photos, like the $200 Nikon 50mm f/1.8 or the $125 Canon 50mm f/1.8.