I’ve got a personal experience with every item on the list and I can personally recommend them all. I’ve spent a fair bit of money in the past on stuff I didn’t need, so learn from my mistakes and bookmark this list now! PLEASE READ FiRST: I’ve linked to all the items on Amazon US and to Canon products. That’s not to say that Canon are better than anyone else, I’ve just done it this way because Canon currently hold 44.5% of the DSLR market in 2010, whereas Nikon and Sony have 29.8% and 11.9% respectively.
There’s one in almost every camera bag these days – they’re that popular! it’s a great lens that allows you to get dramatically better images compared to the poor quality kit lens that probably came with your camera. It also helps you to get to grips with aperture, as it goes all the way to f1.8. Cheap and effective, it comes highly recommended. Be careful though, once you see the difference in quality, it’ll just be the beginning of your lens buying habit, expanding your camera gear.
New Kit Lens
This one isn’t so cheap, and it took me a while before I made the leap, but trust me it’s worth it. This lens is exceptionally good quality, and much more useful then just a prime. It’s on my camera the majority of the time so I feel it’s worth the investment. It is big and heavy though so only buy it if you’re willing to carry it around, there are smaller alternatives out there.
I always thought I hated photos with flash, but that was before I invested in an external flash; there’s so much you can do with it. External flashes are so useful because they can make a photo look like a flash hasn’t even been fired – a real natural look. There is a more powerful version of this flash which is worth it if you’ve got the money as it brings more functionality, but if you’re just starting out then this is the flash for you.
So simple, so effective, so cheap, so important. This adds to the functionality of your flash by adding a basic lightbox onto the end of your flash. That means you can fire your flash upwards to nothing and it’ll shed a nice soft light onto your subject. Far better then a harsh direct light and great for taking photos of people outdoors at night.
Flash Transmitter / Sync Lead
If you can afford one, it’s great to way of experimenting with light and giving your photos the professional look. You can create some really cool effects with it too, as well as using it for fill flash. It works great with a canon camera as anything you change in the camera will then change in the transmitter and in your external flash. If you can’t afford one, try a simple sync cord instead.
I would consider this absolutely essential camera gear for every photographer. No excuses.
I can’t believe how long I struggled with my old strap before I bought one of these. It’s padded for comfort, insured for $500, uses a shock absorber and has a steal wire inside to prevent thieves from cutting it off you. Most importantly though it the functionality and comfort; it hangs at your hip and doesn’t get in the way. It also allows you to wear a backpack over the top and still let you access your camera properly. I wish i’d bought one years ago!
A lovely set of legs, is an essential part of everyone’s camera gear setup – the tripod. When you start buying more expensive and heavier gear, you’ll want to make sure that your tripod can hold the weight and these legs do the job just fine. It’s heavy and sturdy and does the job great, the only bad side is that it’s heavy and sturdy – not the easiest thing to carry. It does have 2 leg warmers though so that you don’t freeze your fingers off in cold weather conditions.
The beauty of the joystick head is that it’s so easy to use and does exactly what you want it to. You can configure it in different ways to suit you and prevents you from having to control 3 different levers/handles just to get the angle you’re looking for. If you’re someone who uses a tripod a lot, this is a life saver.
The main reason I use a remote is not because I want to be in a photo, but because I don’t want any camera shake. I love doing night photography and that means spending a lot of time with my camera on a tripod and when you’re taking a long exposure, even the slightest movement will make your image less sharp. Be careful which one you buy though as there are different remotes for different cameras – wireless and wired.
I personally am not worried about UV light in a photo, i struggle to see a difference; I believe it was really just a problem in film photography. What I am worried about though is my lens, and for not much money at all, you can protect it with this simple filter. Get the best quality you can afford, I personally use this Hoya PRO1 because I use a high quality lens and it would be pointless to spend all that money on a lens just to put a cheap piece of glass in front of it. Always remember to check the diameter of your lens before buying.
Polarizing filters are great and essential for most photographers. To see what exactly they do, have a look at this article here. Remember to make sure you’re getting the right size for your lens and that you’re buying a circular (as apposed to linear) filter for a digital camera. Linear polarizing filters confuse the autofocus on modern cameras.
You should know all about how to get the right white balance by now, and using a grey card is the best way to get the most accurate results. Carry these around in your camera bag for whenever you feel like the camera is getting it wrong. They’re easy to use and have a great affect on your photos.
I’ve tried all sorts of cleaners over the last few years, and i’ve found these to be the most versatile and useful. They’re cheap and disposable and you can use them on your filters as well – something you can’t do with a curved cleaning pen. The antI static nature of them are great of keeping dust away too.
If there’s something really wrong with dirt on my sensor, I take it to a professional and don’t risk cleaning it myself. For anything else however, I use a rocket air blaster for blowing away any pesky dust inside my camera. It’s incredibly effective and once again, cheap.
You should really buy one of these when you buy your camera, as using it a lot will drain your battery fast. I’ve personally got 4 and whenever i’m running low on battery below 50% I just switch out for a new one. They don’t take long to charge either so i’ve still only got 1 charger. If you’re planning on using the camera a lot in one day on a regular basis, consider getting a battery grip. Grips are also useful if you do a lot of portait photography as the improved ergonomics make it much more comfortable to use.
Also make sure you get rechargeable batteries for your flash as it’s way too expensive to be constantly buying new, fresh ones.
Extra Memory Cards
These are my cards of choice, they take lots of photos on 1 card, especially if you’re shooting in jpegs. I always have 2 on me just incase I fill one up or (heaven forbid!) one of them fails on me. Make sure you get the right card for your camera; usually SD or CF. Also look at the speed of the card as that will effect how many photos it can take in burst mode at once, and how fast they’ll load onto your computer.
Memory Card Reader
I didn’t realise just how slow transferring photos through your camera can be until I bought one of these. It’s a HUGE speed boost and now that I take more and more photos, it saves me time, every time. Seriously, just buy one!
External Hard Drive
Whenever I transfer important photos onto my computer, I make sure I import them into an external hard drive at the same time so I have back ups incase anything happens. When i’m done with them on my mac, I relocate the photo masters into 2 separate hard drives so that I can still see them though my photo library, without them taking up room on my laptop.
I’m a mac user so aperture works great for me and what I do with photos. I’m not really a big editor of photos do I don’t need much more control then this program offers. If you’re a windows user, go for ‘Lightroom’, by the guys at ‘Photoshop’. it does basically the same thing and just as well. It’s pretty important to have proper photo software because using the free stuff that comes with your computer can actually damage your photos. Something I noticed with iPhoto was that if you wanted to straighten a photo, it would end up a hell of a lot less sharp.
Finally, now that you’ve bought all of that, you’re going to need a bag to put them all in. If you walk around a lot with your camera and want easy access, I recommend a sling bag. They let the bag slide around to your side so that you can access your camera without taking the bag off your back. Great usability and storage.