After camera and lenses your camera bag should hold some other essentials.
The things you need are not always obvious. But things happen when out shooting. Some extra items in your bag help you to carry on without a hitch.
What people commonly carry in their camera bags
Well, camera and lens(es), of course, but also most people carry something to wipe the lenses clean and possibly a tripod. The latter being the third most important piece of photography equipment. Lots of people also carry an off-camera flash too – it is much more useful than the on-board flash.
Items that might save the day…
Here are some things that when the chips are down you will find most useful to have in your camera bag.
Spare battery: Everyone should have a spare battery or batteries. Batteries can be a problem for many reasons. I dropped one onto concrete once when trying to put it into the camera after charging. It split – and, well, it took three hours to buy another one. That was most of my shooting time gone. I learned a lesson there!
Modelling putty: or something similar. A small spot of putty can be used to stick things down while you photograph them. Wedding photogs use it for holding the rings in place for the ring shot. But there are dozens of other on-location reasons for holding something in a particular position. Small and easily hidden the putty can do the job and be out of sight. You can buy it in craft shops or there are sticky putty packs for putting pictures on walls. That works too.
Memory Cards: These get old and sometimes fail to work. If you get an error on your camera check the card. It may be the cause. They are also easily lost, damaged and stolen. You may lose your pictures, but if you have spare(s) on hand you can at least shoot some more. Check out theses articles for more on memory cards…
20 Ways to Protect Files on Memory Cards (Part 1)
20 Ways to Protect Files on Memory Cards (Part 2)
Always keep more than one memory card. I actually carry quite a few and rotate them. Memory cards on Amazon
Light modifier: if you use a pop-up flash or an off-camera flash you should have a way to diffuse or deflect light from the flash. It is often the case that you will want to create fill in light, especially on a bright day. It counteracts the contrast created by strong ambient light. A modifier can also be used to create deflected or diffused light for portraits. This helps to avoid nasty highlights or washed out colour on the face.
Two clothes pegs (clothes pins): I use these for a number of things. Most often I use them to pin back my camera neck strap when the camera is on a tripod. This stops the strap from blowing in the wind which reduces the vibration. However, they are also great for hanging reflectors up or clipping back wires so they don’t catch on things and damage the wire.
Remote button release: (essential) If you want your tripod shots to be sharp you will definitely want to be able to fire your camera without touching it. A cable release, or hand-held remote are quite cheap items and will make your shots sharper by a long way.
Spare lens caps: Lens and end caps for your camera are small, light and fit in a bag tucked away. If you lose one you will have to put your precious lens into the bag without a cap – against that harsh material. You can bet your lenses will be scratched. No fear if you have spares.
Camera manual: My dad used to say, “If all else fails, read the instructions!”. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard. So keep your camera manual on hand. You never know when you need to use one of its functions and don’t know how. Or, this classic… your camera shows an error and you don’t know how to get out of it. The manual tells it all.
Compass/sunshine calculator: OK, this one is not for everyone. But I always carry a compass when out taking landscapes. You never know when you are going to get caught in fog, or just lost off-road. My compass is also set into a small card used to calculate sun angles so I can calculate sunset or dawn times. Again, not for everyone. But I like to be prepared!
There are probably some other wonderful things we could carry. If you have an essential item you think we should know about please leave a comment!