Did you receive a new camera for Christmas? Millions of folks did… and regardless of whether it’s a DSLR or a point-and-shoot style device, one should consider what accessories are going to help create the best images, keep the camera in the best condition, and help make the most of the photography experience. Here’s a list of some accessories you should consider for your new camera:
Photo Storage & Backup
- Spare Memory Cards – one can never have too many memory cards, and if you run out while shooting you’ll be faced with the unfortunate task of having to delete images in the field. If your camera uses SD cards, I like the SanDisk Extreme 30MB/s SDHC cards. If your camera uses Compact Flash (CF), get the SanDisk 16GB 60MB/s Extreme Compact Flash Card.
- Backup Hard Drive – Don’t risk losing your images if your computer’s hard drive crashes. Get the habit of routinely copying photos to a backup drive (and ideally storing that backup drive at an offsite location such as your office, a family member’s house, or even a safe deposit box). The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1 TB Portable External Hard Drive works great – I’ve used this exact model for several months.
- Rocket Blaster – the best way to clean a lens or other electronic gear is without touching it at all. The Giottos Rocket Air Blaster is the standard for easily getting rid of dust with a puff of air.
- Lens Pen – a lens pen offers a soft surface on one end for easily cleaning off minor lens dirtiness along with a soft brush for whisking away dust or debris. Regardless of the brand of camera, I like the Nikon 7072 Lens Pen Cleaning System.
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – don’t risk lens damage by using paper towels, tissue, or clothing to wipe off a lens. Grab a basic set of Cables Unlimted Ultra Absorbent Microfiber Cleaning Cloths or get one in a neat little pouch.
Digital cameras often come with “starter” software, but if you really want to enjoy your images, I recommend the following software, purchased in this order:
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 – Lightroom works on either Mac or PC systems and allows for easy import, cataloging, and editing of RAW and JPG photos from a digital camera. You’ll be able to easily browse your collection of images, add captions and keywords so that you can find things later, and perform a ton of editing adjustments including cropping, color adjustments, exposure adjustments, black/white conversion, and more.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 – Lightroom handles 95% (or more) of all of my photo editing. Occasionally I want to do some skin retouching or perhaps remove a distracting object from a scene. That requires a tool with a bit more fine editing power, and I recommend Photoshop Elements. Unlike it’s $700 big brother, Photoshop Elements is focused on tools just for photographers. Like Lightroom, this will run on either a Mac or Windows system and works great.
Want to learn more about photography? Here are some recommendations for ways to increase your knowledge.
- Books are great. Here are some I can recommend:
- Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Laurie Excell
- Photography and the Art of Seeing by Freeman Patterson
- Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson
- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby
- Kelby Training offers online classes in all things photographic including camera technique, post-processing, lighting, and more.
- Enroll in a photo workshop. There are numerous workshops available for all levels of skill. If you’d like a very comfortable workshop in northern California, I attended one of Derrick Story’s TDS Workshops in the past and can highly recommend it.
- A good camera strap – the straps that come with cameras are okay at best and painful at worst. A small investment in a good padded camera strap will result in your neck thanking you for years to come. I like the Op/Tech Pro Loop Strap.
- Spare battery – most cameras use a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged from a wall outlet. Look into a spare battery to keep with you so that you won’t miss a shot due to a lack of power.
- A good camera bag. I like the Lowepro Classified 160AW for a shoulder bag and the Kata DR-467i is a great backpack for carrying a camera, a lens or two, and a laptop. I have both of these items and love them.
What other accessories or add-ons would you recommend for a new camera owner?