I got an E-mail basically asking “but what do I really need in my camera bag?”. OK there is a lot of great stuff out there and it mostly depends on what you want to shoot, your budget and how much you want to carry with you.
A great camera bag is something special. I have so many camera bags that are only used to store things in the cupboard because they just aren’t right to use. If you find a bag you love let me know. IMHO here are 10 thing you should always have with you other than your Alpha and your “Always on lens”.
1. At least one spare memory card is an essential. Memory cards are now pretty cheap so have a few of them. And if your camera has 2 card slots put a card in both of them. I recently took my kids to the playground and grabbed my 900 on the way out the door, unfortunately my CF card was still in the card reader… Luckily, I had a Memory Stick in the second slot for just such occasions.
2. Dust is pure evil and will create “evil dust spots” on your images, so you will need to clean the lens and/or sensor. Get a dust blower to help keep it all clean. Don’t use cans of pressurised air they may contain impurities and traces of oil that can damage your camera chip or the glass on your lens.
3. A detachable neck strap. I’m not a big fan of the straps that come with the camera, and i like to remove it when its not needed. With a detachable strap you can remove it easily from you camera when packing or using a tripod… And make sure its a comfortable one to wear.
4. Get a lens cloth. Please don’t use your T-shirt to clean the end of your lenses. They cost next to nothing but your lens cost a lot more.
5. Pol and ND filters plus whatever filters you take your fancy. Don’t forget some step-up rings so you can use then with all your lenses. Good Large filters aren’t cheap but you will only have to buy them once so save a bit longer and get a good brand. Don’t buy a 62mm filter today because that’s the largest filter size you need at the moment, as next year you may have that dream lens but it has a 72mm filter thread.
6. A fast prime lens e.g. 50mm 1.4, or 30mm 2.8 macro. Prime lenses tend to be faster and sharper than zoom lenses. Also as you can’t zoom you have to work more on you composition skills. They also make it easier for you to isolate your subject through a shallower depth of field. And a true macro lens can open up a whole new world.
7. A Flash. Something like a Sony HVLf42AM can make the world of difference with a bit of fill flash. And the wireless function not only allows for extra creativity but can also produce stunning images.
8. Rechargeable batteries for your camera and flash. At least 1 extra Battery for your DSLR and 1 extra set for your flash. The more you shoot the more power you need. The more you shoot the more you can learn.
9. A stable tripod and cable release. OK you don’t have to take the tripod every where with you but remember you can only push “super steady” or “anti shake” so far.
10. An open mind. Ok, that’s a bit hard to put in a camera bag but it makes all the difference. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try doing some thing different to the norm.
Of course all this stuff doesn’t have to be Sony original hardware. Companies Like Sigma and Tamron make some great lenses for the Alpha lens mount, and Sunpak and Metz have some powerful flashes.
Let me know what you think… anything you would add or replace to the list?