So that box underneath your tree that you’d been eyeing with hopeful suspicion has been unwrapped, and your hopes and dreams were affirmed – you’ve got a shiny new camera! Chances are good it came with a kit lens or else you already had some, so we’ll consider you covered in that department, but what else would perfectly accompany your new camera? Let’s break it down.
The one your camera came with doesn’t look good, isn’t that comfortable, and its colorfully-emblazoned can’t-miss-it logo is screaming your camera’s brand at would-be thieves as a bonus. Fortunately, there are replacement straps for every budget, and function doesn’t have to come before form when it comes to price.
*Alternatively, some people swear by holsters. A holster lets you hang your camera from your person rather than carry it around your neck. Some here too
Your camera most likely came with one, but you will want more ASAP. If you’ve only got one battery, that means that when it’s charging, you’re not shooting. This is particularly problematic if you shoot on location, want to take your camera on a long hike, or any other activity that takes you far away from a power outlet. Circumvent this by purchasing at least two spares.
OEM is generally going to hold the best charge, but you pay for it. If budget is of no concern, pick up some OEM batteries and don’t look back. If, however, like most of us, you do have to allocate your photography budget aside from practical things you will be happy to know that there are viable alternatives at a lower price point.
If you choose third-party, just be sure to read the reviews diligently as not all are equal.
Like batteries but even more so, you can’t have too many. Whether your camera takes SD, CF, XQD, some combination, or something else entirely, the first time you miss a great shot because your cards were all full and weren’t ready to be cleared yet, you will lament not owning more memory cards. Depending on the type they can be found for relatively cheap with SD, the most common, being the least expensive.
Memory cards come in a variety of speed ratings (though the precision of said ratings is debatable) and faster is better, especially if you’re a burst shooter. But like so many things in photography, and life in general, you pay for the best. As the card speed climbs, the price does the same. Go too slow, though, and you’ll be annoyed at best, missing shots as your camera outpaces your card at worst.
Scratching your camera’s LCD screen is the worst. Even if it’s just a little nick, you’ll constantly be trying to wipe it off only to be reminded that your unprotected screen fell victim to a cruel accident. The good news is that it’s easily preventable with a screen protector. They come in film and glass varieties, with the glass being more protective as well as less likely to leave bubbles in the screen’s appearance. They also cost more. You may notice a pattern here.
If you haven’t got a dedicated camera bag, what better opportunity to acquire one than when you’ve been freshly gifted a camera. Or gifted yourself a camera, whatever. We aren’t judging.
Camera bags come in many sizes and shapes and run a gamut of price points. From hipster elite (ONA, anyone?) to more utilitarian and affordable, you’ll find styles like daypacks with storage for both photo and non-photo gear, rolling bags, slings, and messengers which will usually have a laptop compartment. Or, if you’ve already got a bag you like but want to protect your camera inside of it, you can get a camera bag insert to transform any bag into a camera bag.
In line with screen protectors, UV filters have the potential to prevent costly lens damage. In the film era, they served the purpose of protecting the film from UV rays, but in today’s digital world it’s more about protecting your lens’s front element. Hang around enough photographers, and you will surely find at least one who’s lens has been saved by a UV filter that graciously bore the brunt of a destructive impact.
Caveat: get a nice one. It doesn’t make much sense to put a cheap filter on the end of a sweet lens and potentially degrade your image quality. The better UV filters will be multi-coated to reduce glare.
What are your new-camera-must-haves? Let us know in the comments!