10 bits of Kit – To improve your photography

If I had bought a new camera, what kit would I buy.   Spare batteries and memory cards – well that’s obvious isn’t it.  That’s really part of the camera isn’t it.  I mean kit.  A hundred different lenses?  No! More important than that.  I need to think of cost, what is essential, what will make a difference.  Frances – yells out – Prioritize.  I’m  trying  not to go overboard.  What is essential, what is most important.  Well here is my list.

  1. Camera bag

Get one with pockets for spare batteries and memory cards and filters and the like.  See if you can get one with a rain cover.  A wet camera is not a pleasant thing.  Apart from that the smallest and most portable one you can find.

2. Lens cleaner

I never really want to clean my lens until I am out somewhere taking a sunset and notice how much flare I am getting in the photos and then notice the dirty great finger print on the lens.  The cleaning kit needs to be portable – in your camera bag.  Finger prints are oily and usually require some alcohol spray, and a lint free lens tissue.  However before you start polishing the glass give it a sweep with the brush. or puff with the blower to remove any dust particles that could scratch your lens.  Also a cloth is good to remove water if it gets wet.  One portable solution is a cleaning pencil.. However I find it doesn’t do as good a job as the spray and tissue.

3. Sun hood

Second best way to reduce flare is to prevent bright side light from falling on the front of the lens.  A lens hood is better than holding your hand over the front of the lens as you take your photo.

4. UV filter

You know the camera already has an internal UV filter and the external filter really doesn’t do anything to improve your photos.  (It was designed for film cameras which did not have this feature)  However I think of it as a finger print filter.  It keeps the finger prints on the cheap filter rather than on your expensive lens.  Worse comes to worse and you need to shoot into the light with a dirty lens.  Just screw it off, and you have pristine glass with which to take your shot..

5. Polarizing Filter

This is the most usefiul filter to buy.  Good for darkening skies and improving colour saturation.  It requires experience to know when to use it.  See the article previously in camera clips.

6. Tripod

You know this is recommended for portarit photography, macro, landscapes, night scenes, self portrait, telephoto lenses, sports and wildlife.  Just about everything.  What can’t you do better with a tripod.  Perhaps street photography.  That’s about it.  Have a look at our previous article on 8 fun things to try with your tripod. Buy a tripod that’s sturdy enough for the weight of the camera and lens you are using.  You don’t want your camera going nose first into the sand like what happened to me with a light weight tripod.

7. Speedlite Flash

Well does not fit my inexpensive criteria, but very useful.  Most cameras come with an on board flash.  Why bother?  Matt Carr once said to me that the most fun he has had with the camera is with off camera flash.  There is so much more that you can do than with the standard flash.  Back and side lighting.  Portrait photography, still life.  How do you do that?  You need a flash and a cable or an electronic trigger.  The Nikon flash uses a control system that syncs with the Nikon cameras.

8. Diffuser

This is cheap.  You need to soften the light coming from your flash unit.  I have a blow up difuser that fits over the end of my flash unit.  very handy.

9. Remote control

You know you can get an ap for your phone that will mimic the remote control unit for many brands of camera.  The nikon control however is cheap and the battery lasts for ever.  It is essential for self portrait and useful for long exposure and tripod photography.

10. Macro Filter

This is the second filter I would buy.  It turns my ordinary lens into a macro lens.  See the article in previous camera clips on this filter.  Be careful however I find that it is not effective with all lenses.

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