There is more to purchasing a new camera than just deciding about the body and lens(es). Once you have made that big decision, there are some follow-up accessory purchases that you should make. This post will provide a quick overview of the most common 'must have' accessories for your new camera.
A UV filter is a screw-on filter that protects both your lens and your camera body. It is easily cleaned and helps protect your lens from dirt and dust. A UV filter also cuts down on the impact of UV rays on your camera and sensor. When purchasing a UV filter, you need to know the diameter of your lens (indicated with the Ø symbol). Recommended brands for filters include B+W and Hoya. Read more about the importance of UV filters in this post on Lens Accessories.
You should always have at least one spare battery on hand. That way, you do not have to worry about how many shots are left on your current battery. That way, when one battery gets low, you can immediately replace it with a fresh battery. Off-brand batteries are often available that match the battery that came with your camera: just do a search for the battery name. I use both Promaster and Sterlingtek batteries with my Canon. Read more about batteries in How Long Does Your Camera Battery Last?
Extra Memory Card
Along with a spare battery, you should also have an extra memory card on hand. Memory cards continue to fall in price and are often heavily discounted around the holidays. You can also purchase a small, waterproof and weather-sealed case to hold your spare cards. Read more in Travel Photography Must Haves.
Lens Cap Holder
Lens caps are small, fiddly, and often misplaced. These simple holders attach via adhesive to your lens cap and then you can wrap the band around your wrist or lens. A quick and easy way to keep track of your lens cap.
You want to be sure to keep your new camera clean. A LensPen is a handy double-sided cleaning tool for your camera lens. One end has a retractable brush for brushing away dust and particles, while the other end has and a flattened tip with a carbon cleaning compound. Use small circular motions to wipe away grime and fingerprints. The LensPen is so-called for its pen shape, which makes it easy to transport and keep one on hand when you go out shooting. Read more in Keeping Your Camera and Sensor Clean.
A camera case is an important, and often overlooked, camera accessory. There are two primary purposes for camera bags (carrying your camera and supplies when shooting and for holding your camera, lenses, and supplies at home), and you may want to consider different bags for both.
Think about the types of shooting that you do before purchasing a bag. For those who do a lot of street photography or want to remain inconspicuous, the Crumpler brand of camera bags are very popular, including the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Bag, shown above. Backpack-style bags are popular with those who do a lot of traveling or like to change lenses often. Personally, unless I am traveling extensively, I keep my camera out when shooting and use my regular purse to carry accessories, filters, and my remote.
For home use, you also want to have a dedicated area or bag(s) for storing your camera, lenses, and other supplies. Keeping your photography equipment clean and organized will make it easier for you to use and access it whenever you need it. Since I know that I will not be traveling with this bag, I just use the inexpensive, not well-padded bulky bag that came with in the 'kit' with my DSLR camera and lenses. For traveling, I have a more compact, padded bag with a built-in waterproof cover: the Lowe Pro Nova.
Another often-overlooked camera accessory is a camera wrap. Rather than a case, a wrap is simply a neoprene sleeve for your camera. This is useful for times when you are traveling with your camera and not with a dedicated case. I often use my camera wrap to hold my camera in my purse when I am out traveling with my camera but not shooting at the time.
Remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter release allows you to operate your camera remotely – whether you are using a corded remote plugged into your camera or a wireless version. A remote is useful for keeping your camera stable when shooting with a tripod, triggering shots when you want to include yourself in the picture, and shooting pictures with a shutter speed longer than 30 seconds (using the Bulb setting). Read more in Easy Photography Upgrade: Get a Remote Shutter Release.
A tripod is a useful photography tool, and tripods come in many varieties and styles. You may want to consider buying two different tripods: a small travel tripod, like a GorillaPod, and a full-size tripod for more serious use.
A GorillaPod is a small, flexible tripod. You can use it like a traditional tripod, or you can manipulate the legs to wrap around something and hold up your camera. You can also buy a ball-head with level attachment. The ball-head is extremely useful, as it allows you to easily level your camera without re-adjusting the legs. If you purchase a GorillaPod, you want to buy the correct version for your size of camera, as there is a smaller, thinner version for point-and-shoot cameras and a larger, chunkier version for DSLRs.
If you are serious about wanting to use a tripod, then you will want to buy a full-size version as well. There are many varieties of full-size tripods, so you will need to decide which features are important for you. Pricier versions are often lighter or more compact. Many brands, like Vanguard, will come with a lifetime warranty. Take this into account when purchasing a tripod, as a larger investment now may be one that you do not need to ever make again. (I recently had an adjustment button on my Vanguard Alta break during rough transport, and my local camera store was able to ship it off and get it replaced for free within only two weeks. While it was tough to be without my tripod for those weeks, but it was well worth not having to buy a new one!)
Read more about How to Maximize Your Tripod.
Summary: Camera Accessories
There are many things to consider with your new camera, and this post has served just to highlight some of the most common and most useful ones. If you are just starting out, be sure to purchase, at minimum, a UV filter, an extra battery, a spare memory card, and a LensPen or other cleaning supplies. Then, as you can, think about adding a lens cap holder, a camera case and/or wrap, a remote shutter release, and a tripod and/or GorillaPod. You will find these invaluable as you continue on your photographic journey.
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