5 Pieces of Photography Kit You Shouldn't Leave Home Without

5 Pieces of Photography Kit You Shouldn't Leave Home Without

There are five crucial pieces of kit you should always take with you when heading out with the camera. Read on to find out what they are and if you have them already.

As in any role, there's certain equipment you need in order to undertake the task of photography. The obvious things you'll need are the camera and lens, but as anyone who's walked into a camera store knows, there are plenty of accessories and add-ons that improve the photographic experience. A lot of these accessories are redundant and aimed more at getting photographers' hard-earned cash than improving their photography.

Two camera bags

Camera bags are a useful photography accessory, but not every gadget in the shops is useful or necessary

However, there are a few things that you'll definitely not want to leave home without. In fact, there are at least five. These are things that might not come with the camera you buy but that you'll almost certainly want to take out every time you go shoot. They'll help create crisper, sharper shots, help you to expose your scene correctly without the need for editing software to correct clipping, and allow you to shoot for longer.

Bring Your Tripod

One of the most, if not the most important piece of kit to bring alongside your camera and lens is probably the tripod. Overlooked by the amateur, this device is incredibly useful and versatile. In the first instance, it keeps your camera nice and steady. That's great for shooting in low light or at night when exposure times tend to creep up in order to capture a bright enough shot. However, it's also perfect for shooting in the middle of the day for two reasons.

Tripod set up in forest

A tripod will help keep your camera steady and allow you to fine-tune composition.

If you're shooting outside in the day, you might think that a fast shutter speed is all you need, hence you'd be inclined to leave the tripod at home (or in the shop), but in order to get high-quality images devoid of noise, you'll want to maintain you ISO as low as possible, roughly ISO 50 or 100. If combined with a narrow aperture, you're probably going to need a long shutter speed to compensate for this lack of sensitivity and rate of light capture, respectively. With a tripod, you'll have no trouble keeping things sharp during these longer exposures.

Another reason for using a tripod is that it opens up possibilities of doing video shoots and making basic video moves, such as panning and tilting. It affords the opportunity to fine-tune composition by holding the camera steady, in position, for small adjustments without losing the composition as you might shooting handheld. It's also easier to use the rear LCD, as your two free hands can now cover it with a loupe or a blanket/coat when reviewing images.

Remember the Filters

Imagine rocking up to a gorgeous vista, with stunning light and billowing clouds, only to get home and realize you've overexposed the much brighter sky in order to get a good balance on the foreground. Well, this is where filters will make all the difference. It might be an idea to try bracketing, whereby you take a series of images of the scene, each with different exposure values in order to attain good exposures for all portions of the scene, but then you have to process it in editing software later.

It's much easier to avoid overexposure in the first place by using filters at the source while capturing. For example, a graduated neutral density filter in the example above would likely solve the issue of exposure balancing.

Pack Spare Batteries

Spare camera battery

A spare battery or two will help you shoot for longer, especially when you've forgotten to fully charge your main battery or the power is accidentally left on during transport.

It never hurts to have a spare battery or two to extend your shooting time when on location, especially if you're going more than 10 minutes from home or if you're on a job. Just make sure they're fully charged. It's the worst feeling to have traveled all day to a destination only to find out the battery has died. It may be tempting to think that you'll just make sure the one battery you have is fully charged before leaving, but that won't be any good when you accidentally knock the on button when putting it in the bag. Spare, fully charged batteries are a must.

Stock Up on Spare Memory Cards

Spare SD memory card

Although memory cards these days have high capacity, it's a good idea to take some spares in case of corruption or forgetting to empty them before leaving the house.

Memory card capacity is getting enormous now, and we can routinely fit thousands of images on our cards without the need for formatting. So then, it's important to take spare cards with you when you go out, in case you forget to empty them after your last import. I've been guilty of that. I finish a long three-day shoot, do the edits, and then crash for the weekend. Then, I head out on Monday for a little walk around the local English village for some shots and realize I have about three shots left and my spare cards are at home. 

Carry Your Camera Bag

Woman carrying camera bag

Not only will taking a camera bag make it easier to transport photography kit, but it protects it from the weather and other problems such as sand and dust

The camera bag, as well as being a useful way to carry your kit when traveling around is actually a safety device. It protects the camera, lens, and other accessories from inclement weather, including rain, snow, cold temperatures, and other problems such as dust and sand. Not only that, but it's better to pack your kit away and head to the next location than it is to simply carry it in your hand. You're more likely to damage the camera and lens if you accidentally trip up or fall, as I found out a little while back. The camera bag will pad and protect the equipment but also give you the ability to use both hands when hiking up hills, scrambling over rocks, or doing anything else that requires a little more dexterity.

Anything Else?

Whenever I'm out with photographer friends of mine, I always discover something new. Whether it's a balaclava that doubles as a camera cover in the rain or a squeaky toy to get a pet or baby's attention, there's always more to learn. These are my top five must-have pieces of kit that I wouldn't leave home without. What would yours be? Leave me a message in the comments below.

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Previous comments
Anthony Higgins's picture

An alan wrench is handy for tightening the tripod bracket or tripod legs. A small camel hair brush in a usb pouch attached to neck strap. I always keep the neck strap attached and often put it around my neck while attaching or detaching the camera from tripod, especially on uneven rocks at the side of a river. I don't buy the argument for wind blowing the strap around. I'd hold it like horse reins if it was that windy for fear of the camera blowing over. I usually keep a cable release in the bag. (Wondering how I'll be flamed for this post.)

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

Is this serious?
Or is this written like that on purpose to generate clicks?

So the 5 tipps are: battery, memory card, camera bag, filter and tripod?

Let me guess the four tipps on a road trip are: wheels on you car, gas in your tank, food in your stomache, money in your pocket?

What a waste of time.

Malcolm Wright's picture

Damn, we forgot the camera body and lenses..

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

Of course i forgot, no one told me!!!11

Malcolm Wright's picture

Tripods are must haves for long exposure work on a set up without any image stabilisation. If you're using a set up that has good image stabilisation either in lens, in body or even both, then the times when you'll need a tripod reduces. In fact for very long exposure work (where you'd probably need ND filters) the recommendation is to switch off image stabilisation.
That's a bit bye the bye, perhaps the first thing you shouldn't leave home without is a little forethought and planning as to what you might expect to photograph, where ever it is you are going, in order to minimise the amount of stuff to take and cut out what you're unlikely to need.
Then hopefully you can travel light, arrive refreshed, take many photos and leave happy.
I don't own a graduated ND filter as both my camera systems are set up to show under/over exposed areas on their LCD screens which enables me to tweak the apperture, shutter and if need be iso settings to eliminate/minimise them without the need for one. That's a DSLR system in live view and a mirrorless system ability.

Sanders Antony's picture

always carry a microfiber cloth and clean your lens