Guide to Digital Camera Accessories: Camera Bag, Rechargable Batteries and Tripods

Whether you just discovered the marvelous, film-less world of digital cameras or you’re on your third or fourth, ever better version, you may not realize that some of the components you can use to turn up the heat on your photographic passion are just a few steps away. For a little more money and a bit of planning and research, you can outfit yourself with everything you need to take the kind of pictures you want the first time, every time.

Yes, you could even turn pro. After all, many former amateurs now make at least a nice bit of extra money taking and selling digital images which they submit to content Web sites, newspapers, magazines, TV stations, and even books.

First, do you have more than one camera? You can often get your best results if you have a choice of features, which aren’t necessarily always available one single camera. Some cameras take much better close-ups while others handle motion or long distances with greater accuracy. Since many digital camera owners now have two or more units, think about always having both cameras ready and switch between them, as needed.

Second, but related to the first, you need a good camera bag. This usually is NOT the little pouch many manufacturers provide for free. Instead, this is almost always a bag you put together yourself, selected just for the size and space you need, the expandability, and the protection it affords the highly-sensitive hardware devices.

Now, if you purchase a bag marketed as a camera carrier, you’re often going to pay far more, perhaps more than you need fork over. You may be able to find an equally good if not better bag for a much more reasonable price.

Regardless of what type you buy, you need to analyze it carefully for proper cushioning. One of the main jobs of the bag is to absorb the impact of a fall or being struck. Even some camera-specific bags have surprisingly little shock absorbency.

But you can get away with buying a cheaper, more general bag, and then using some of the saved money to acquire good foam cushions you can cut yourself to fit the bag and/or equipment. The bag also needs room for all the stuff you need to pack in it, a list that will grow larger as you read on.

Next, think camera accessories. Many manufacturers offer special accessory packs that contain really useful components – as opposed to the ones who just offer a cheap little camera cover, a strap, and maybe other useless doodads for an exaggerated price. A good accessory kit may include extra lenses, a spare Flash memory or other medium for picture storage, and sometimes rechargeable batteries along with a recharger. Depending on the price, this kit could be a good purchase. But not until after you price out each item individually to see if you actually save – and you won’t always.

If you must buy parts piecemeal, then be sure you get the items that are specifically compatible with your camera model. At least one spare storage medium, such as an extra Flash card, can be invaluable.

Likewise, a set of at least four rechargeable batteries (assuming the camera uses two, you can have one set recharging at any time) and a battery recharger is pretty much mandatory. Without them, you’ll pay a fortune in standard batteries that may last only an hour or even less (the flash and the LCD display can seriously drain the charge).

Also think about tripods. I like to have two: one a standard, adjustable tripod appropriate for the floor and a second one suitable for tabletop use. You’ll love this addition when you take stunning still photographs you can’t achieve with a shaky hand.

Finally, even if you get extra photo storage devices like Flash memory, you want to take a laptop computer along loaded with Windows XP and/or your camera software. This lets you transfer photos from the camera to the PC to free up storage to take more shots. I do this whenever I’ll be away more than a day because I only lose the best pictures when my Flash cards are already full.

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