Buyer's Guide 2007: Digital Camera Accessories Matter!
The right selection of gear will make shooting easier and more successful
Many accessories can help make your shooting life easier and your photos better. From camera bags, photo backpacks and cases to tripods, batteries and more, here are a few important ones.
Carrying Your Gear
It's great to have a lot of photo gear, but it brings up the question of how to take the items you need to where you need them.
Camera bags are the most common method of transport. Bags let you keep your gear together and carry it easily. Things to look for are protection for the gear (closed-cell foam, ballistic nylon and waterproof fabric are pluses), ease of carrying (how it feels with the strap slung across your shoulder, how easy it is to lift out of the car trunk), and how well the interior can be configured for your equipment. Some photographers have two bags: a larger one to transport everything and a smaller one to carry just the items they need when traveling light.
Photo backpacks offer the advantages of carrying more gear more easily and leaving both arms free. Some photo backpacks have a compartment for a laptop computer, which is handy for the ever-growing number of digital photographers who like to take a computer everywhere they go. The main drawback of photo backpacks is that with most, you have to remove the pack to get at your gear. One exception is Tenba's Shootout series, with its QuickAccess pockets.
Photo vests are convenient for smaller items, such as memory cards, film, filters, compact lenses and "pocket" cameras. Vests are great if you have a lot of these items to carry, but you'll still need a bag if you intend to carry large lenses or an additional camera body.
Waist packs, hip packs and belt packs provide easy access to gear, but be sure to balance the gear around your body-packing a waist pack so most of the weight is on one hip can result in leg or back strain.
Hard cases provide good impact protection, and larger ones will hold a lot of gear. Cases are great for shipping gear to locations, but not as convenient as bags once in the field. If you do a lot of traveling, hard cases with wheels are a lot easier to move around smooth surfaces like airport parking lots.