Every photographer has different needs, and so every camera bag will have different stuff to suit those needs. We’ve listed items that deserve a place in every photographer’s kit bag, whatever sort of photography you enjoy doing.
Carrying a full-size tripod around isn’t always practical. Unless you know you’re definitely going to use it. Mini tripods are small, lightweight, and open up a lot of possibilities, especially when it comes to low-light photography.
A remote release allows you to trigger your camera’s shutter at the precise moment that you want, without needing to physically touch the shutter button and risk introducing vibrations. Traditional cable releases will allow you to stand off a short distance, but many modern cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III from Beachcamera.com offer support for wireless remote releases with a longer range.
Microfiber cloths are among the most useful accessories you can have in your camera bag. As well as cleaning off dust and dirt from your equipment, you can also use them to wrap lenses and other small accessories to prevent them from being scratched.
When it comes to cleaning your gear, it’s best to avoid contact with it if you can, to prevent accidental scratching. A simple rubber bulb-style air blower like the Vivitar Professional Blower-Dust Removal System can put out a pretty powerful puff of air, which is often enough to dislodge dust and fine particles of grit.
Smartphone / Tablet computer
If you’re out and about it’s always a good idea to have a phone on you, especially if you’re on your own. But as well as emergency use, smartphones and tablet computers are also incredibly useful photographic tools. There are countless applications available to help with everything from compositional basics to depth of field calculations, and sun-tracking apps can tell you exactly where the sun rises, sets and tracks across the sky at your location. This is extremely useful for landscape and architectural photography. You can also use mobile devices to store PDF user manuals for your gear.
Spare battery/Memory cards
Always carry a couple of spare memory cards and at least one extra charged-up battery. If your camera runs on AA batteries, it’s a good idea to have a few lithium ones tucked away in your bag somewhere.
External flashes from Beachcamera.com can be very useful for balancing exposures in good light, as well as in dark conditions.
Polarizing filters make the colors in blue skies and foliage more intense, increase contrast in clouds and reduce reflections on water and glass.
Gaffer tape is so versatile and useful. It provides a strong grip to hold stuff together, and yet it peels off without leaving residue.
Water can seriously damage your DSLR, so protection against rain and snow is a very good investment. Consider also bringing a poncho to protect yourself.
There are some everyday items that belong in your bag as well:
- Small acrylic mirror to use as a reflector.
- Garbage bags to toss your gear into or to cover lights when it starts to rain.
- Zipper bags for weather proofing lenses and storing passports and plane tickets.
- Mini bungee cords for broken camera straps, attaching a water bottle to your bag, or lashing up tripod legs.
- Electrical tape for anything that falls apart. It’s a photographer’s duct tape.
- Paper plate that can be used as a reflector for backlight close-ups and face shots if you cut a hole in it and tape it to your lens with gaffer tape.
Take a look through your bag. If you see something in there that you never use, take it out. It’s taking up room that might be better taken up by something more useful like one of these items.