As a photographer, I often get over consumed with my cameras and lenses. After all, these are the items I invest thousands of dollars into in order to create beautiful portraits. But there are many accessories that I use on a daily basis that never get attention. These are the must have items that keep my gear safe, clean, organized or whatever else is needed to function properly. Below are my essential photography accessories outside of cameras, lenses and flashes.
Rocket Air Blower
Without a doubt, one of my most used accessories is the Giottos Rock Air Blower (I use the large size). Giottos is the market leader in this category and is the brand I see other photographers using as well. The blower is very simple to use and makes it easy to direct air just in the right place for blowing away dust or other debris. I use it on lenses after every photo shoot and occasionally on my camera mirror and sensor. (Word of caution: if you use this to clean debris off a sensor, be extremely careful not to touch the tip of the blower to the sensor itself).
For under $10, this is a no-brainer investment in helping to keep your gear clean and dust free.
Amazon Price: $19.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 28, 2015)
Pec Pads are a very inexpensive and high quality wipe designed for use on electronic equipment, compact discs, or other sensitive surfaces. They do not stretch nor tear and are completely lint-free (which is the biggest selling point of why I use them). After using my Rocket Blower (see above), I use a Pec Pad to wipe away the dust particles that did not blow away. These wipes will not scratch your lens, though be careful of any tough residue that seems to be sticking to the lens element. I do not, however, use these on my camera sensor. I am very cautious of having anything touch the sensor.
Amazon Price: $7.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 28, 2015)
Pelican Memory Card Casee
As a wedding photographer, I am very protective of my memory cards throughout a wedding day. I use the Pelican protective case to store all used and unused memory cards. The case is shock and water resistant, meaning it will endure being dropped on cement or in water and still keep the memory cards safe. Those memory cards contain priceless wedding photos and are extremely important to keep safe. I would never compromise on a cheap memory card case or holder, especially since a top of the line Pelican case is less than $20.
When I shot with Canon cameras I owned the Pelican compact flash case. Now that I shoot with Nikon, I use the case for SD cards.
Zeiss Lens Cleaner
I use a cleaner on my lenses after every wedding I photograph, and occasionally I will use a cleaner after a portrait session. I spray the cleaner directly onto a Pec Pad and gently wipe the lens element in a circular rotation (think of waxing a car). I do this after using the Rocket Blower to blow away loose particles. The cleaner helps remove any oils that might be on the front element, such as from fingerprints. There are many brands of cleaner to choose from, and I have chosen Zeiss since they have a very strong reputation for making high quality camera lenses. If they can make good lenses, they can make a good cleaner.
Think Tank Airport Security Bag
The above accessories are items I use frequently and are all under $20. My biggest and most important accessory that gets used on a daily basis is a bit more expensive, but all the more important. I store all of my cameras and lenses in my Think Tank Airport Security bag. Yes, this bag sells for around $400, but I believe it is worth every dollar. It is designed perfectly to keep your equipment padded and protected. It is somehow extremely durable - the wheels have logged a lot of distance, the zippers work perfectly despite the bag being overfilled, and the material is holding up great after being moved and pushed around after years of weddings.
To sweeten the deal even more, Think Tank has extremely great customer service. A photographer friend of mine used his bag for nearly five years when one of his wheels failed on him. Rather than replacing that wheel, Think Tank replaced the entire bag! Both their customer service and their products are top-notch industry standards.
This is by far the best camera bag I have ever used. It might be on the more expensive end, but it is extremely durable and well made.
Batteries seem to be a necessary evil. My cameras use proprietary Lithium-Ion batteries. My flash units and transmitters/receivers use standard AA and AAA batteries. The important quality of these type of batteries for me is long life, both while being used and in the number of charges the battery can take.
For AA and AAA batteries, I use the Eneloop brand. Eneloop batteries are rechargeable and boast 2,000+ cycles (the number of times a battery can be charged from 0 to 100% power). These batteries also claim to hold 70% of their storage capacity after five years of non-use. Many people do not realize that batteries drain over time, used or not. If I charge my Eneloops to full power after a wedding and its six months before I use them again, I can be confident they will still have their full capacity and be ready to go. Eneloops also perform well when used in flash units, which require a high amount of energy to fire the flash and recycle for the next photo.