Updated: Nov 2, 2021
written by Abby Corrigan
The first club night of the new club year was an evening of chit chat and knowledge sharing, as the group decided to start the year off with talk about camera kits. As a less experienced member of the group I looked intensely into the camera bags of my fellow camera enthusiasts, to see what items the other members value on their camera adventures - I currently own a bridge camera and have been borrowing DSLR equipment, so I am currently in a haze of trying to decide what to buy!
So, as I am searching to soon purchase my own kit, I scribbled away making a few notes from the night - which I thought would be a great thing to share for any newbies to the camera scene…
There are so many camera brands and so many different types of cameras it can be quite overwhelming when trying to pick a camera. From full frame to crop frame sensors, to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras - the options are endless.
At our camera club night, our members brought a mix of Canon, Nikon and Lumix, together with their interchangeable lenses. Each was an advocate for their own camera - experience of use and comfort were the reasons. But, all in all the group were unanimous in the thought that no matter the camera, it's the photographer that makes the photo a great one.
Shoulder straps, neck straps, wrist straps, quick release straps - any strap that will keep the camera from hitting the ground! I prefer to use a neck strap so I can keep my hands free whilst I am searching for my next photo opportunity, however when it comes to sports and action shots, wrist straps can allow you to react a little quicker. The two most important elements that came from our club night, was that a camera strap becomes your favourite if it’s comfortable and, most importantly is of a good quality that it can withstand the weight of your camera.
As my fellow members passed their lenses around the room I found myself hearing a bunch of numbers, a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ - and I was totally and utterly confused. With little experience of lenses, all I have managed to grasp is the traditional kit lens and the ‘nifty fifty’ - a phrase I learnt on club night - which refers to the 50mm lens. I love this lens when it comes to portrait photography - and in basic terms, it captures reality in truest form - basically, what you see, it sees. Along with this lens, the group were unanimous in the thought that kit lenses are hard to beat as a starter as they provide a lot of flexibility, able to be used for a variety of photography forms. Three other lenses mentioned as being kit ‘must haves’ were a wide lens for the likes of landscape photography, a macro lens for detailed shots of smaller objects, and a telephoto lens for some extra zoom power.
*Tip - when it comes to switching out the camera lens on your camera, it’s important to try to keep dust from getting into the sensor - so, when changing the lens, keep the camera pointed down as you take the lens off and replace it with another.
4. Memory cards
8gb, 16gb, 32gb...there are lots of brands of memory cards and many different memory card sizes, but one takeaway from club night was that a camera is only as good as the memory card in it - therefore opting for a good quality brand and fast speed is favoured amongst the group. In terms of size, the group differed - larger card sizes were preferred for those who also like to shoot video, whilst some members prefer to go 8gb so they are forced to back up their images after each camera session - a thankful choice if you are ever faced with the dreaded memory card error message!
5. Lint free cloths
There is nothing worse than finally capturing that amazing photo on an adventurous outing, only to discover mysterious markings over your image when it comes to editing time. From dust to raindrops, we need to wipe our lenses from time to time - and that means carrying cloths. Lint free cloths are best for digital cameras - not only do they not give up any fluff when being used, they are also less likely to build up a static charge, attracting dust and debris.
6. An extra battery or two
Depending on how long a trip you are taking with your camera, and what your subject of choice is going to be, it’s a good idea to bring an extra battery along for the ride - things like using continuous shutter mode and using the display screen rather than the eye viewer to capture your photos can drain the battery quicker.
Now, these next few aren’t a necessity, but part of a wish list for many...
Filters can help you to manipulate lighting - from little stoppers to big stoppers, there are various filters depending on how much you want to ‘dim the lights’ - 10 stop being a really dark filter enabling you to cut your shutter speed right down for long exposures. In addition to these, graduated filters can be added on top to balance the lighting of a scene - for example, if you want to bring the bright sky down to match the lighting at ground level.
*Tip - to save you money get a filter holder and adaptor rings so that your filters can be used to fit your different lenses, rather than purchasing multiple filters for each lens.
A tripod is a must if you are wanting to do long exposures, stabilising the camera in a way which the human hand cannot. They are also beneficial if you are trying to capture that beautiful sunset - you can set up your composition and wait on the lighting to hit that perfect moment of blended colour. From travel size to heavy duty, there are plenty to choose from no matter where your destination - from the windy coastline to the top peak of the Mourne mountains.
9. Cable release
This is an item that’s really used for long exposures - a cable release allows you to operate the shutter without touching and jiggling the camera. You can therefore open the shutter and close it after your desired time, without affecting your image. Alternatively, you can use the camera’s self-timer mode or remote release.
10. Pop up reflectors
Reflectors in photography are used to bounce and diffuse light, and usually have white or silver surfaces. Small pop up reflectors are a handy item for the kit bag, especially when it comes to portrait photography in either natural or artificial lighting.
Oh, and lets not forget the camera bag…
Your camera bag should be comfortable and meet your needs. Some like a camera bag that has extra space for non camera related items in addition to a bottle slot and a tripod holder, whilst others prefer a small cross body bag for carrying their extra lenses. One thing the group agreed on is making sure your camera bag has theft deterring features such as buckles as well as zips - you can also get rain covers to protect your kit in a downpour!