10 Essentials for the Camera Bag

By Geoff Harris

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Packing your camera bag for a day out can sometimes be a bit of a dilemma – on the one hand, you want to take every piece of gear you own, just in case you might need it, but on the other hand, you know you’ve got to carry it all!

Once you’ve packed your DSLR body and a lens or two, you’re almost ready. As well as those, here are my suggestions for other bits and pieces that should be in your bag as well. Some are essential, and others are optional, but may give you more creative options with your photography!

1. Spare batteries. There could be nothing more frustrating than having your camera battery die just when the light is right!

2. Spare memory cards. These are almost as essential as the spare battery, and for the same reason!

3. Lens cleaning kit. You should always have a lint-free lens cloth to remove fingerprints from your lens, and ideally a blower brush too, to remove any larger particles of dust or grit before you use the cloth – wiping a gritty lens will scratch it.

4. A tripod. This probably won’t actually be inside your bag! But if you don’t mind the weight of carrying it, a tripod can allow you to fine-tune the composition of your photos, and also to use long exposures for creative effects.

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5. A selection of filters. You should always have a UV filter on each of your lenses to protect the lens element. As well as these, it’s useful to have a polarising filter in your bag to saturate colours, and dramatise a blue sky with white clouds. If you’re interested in doing long exposures during daylight (and have a tripod with you), then you may want to pack some neutral density filters too.

6. If you’re carrying a tripod with you, you should also have some sort of remote release in your bag, to prevent shaking the camera when you press the shutter button.

7. Rain gear. Digital cameras and water are not a good combination! Some camera bags come with a rain cover, which can go over the whole of the camera bag and protect it. If you actually want to have your camera out of the bag when it’s raining, make sure it’s totally protected, either with a purpose made rainproof camera cover, or a sturdy plastic bag with the end cut off, held in place with rubber bands.

8. A hotshoe-mounted spirit level is a great little inexpensive gadget – with your camera on a tripod, you can use the spirit level to be sure you won’t get any wonky horizons.

9. As a flower photographer myself, I have to mention a reflector, which is so useful for close up flower photography. This can be purpose made, e.g, by Lastolite, or just a piece of A4 white card.

10. Finally, if you can still lift your bag, a back-up camera can be a reassuring thing to have, especially when you’re off on a longer trip. Either a spare body, or just a small compact, is great as “insurance”, just in case anything goes wrong with your main DSLR.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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