10 Things That Should Always Be In Your Camera Bag: Packing Like a Pro

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No matter what you are going to shoot, you can't foresee the weather, right? Weather isn’t the only problematic aspect of photoshooting. Many other unexpected things can happen, therefore you must always go prepared. Aside from the obvious stuff – your camera, lens and flash – what else should you always pack and why?


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1. Blower

It is inexpensive and very useful piece of gear. Blowers are used for a variety of things, but mostly for cleaning the lens, sensor and hard-to-reach parts of your camera from large and loose dust particles. If you are shooting outside for longer period of time, bringing the blower with you is a smart thing to do.


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2. Lens cloth

Fingerprints on the front lens element is as common as it gets, but it can greatly affect the sharpness on the lens and create ghosting. Being able to clean your lens on the go is what you need the most, and doing it using your T-shirt isn't the way to go. By intuition everybody goes for “the T-shirt method”, but as any other thing exposed to the elements, the T-shirt can contain all sorts of particles which can damage your lens permanently. One grain of sand could be enough to ruin the front lens element. Lens cloth, on the other hand, is placed inside a pouch which will shield it from the elements and it will reduce the risk of getting ruined lens. Use the blower to push away the dust particles before cleaning your lens with the cloth.

3. Spare batteries

You can't know how long and how much you will shoot that day. Having charged camera batteries and flash batteries with you will make sure that you won't run out of juice and look like an amateur. Pros always bring spares.


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4. Spare SD/CF cards

Same as batteries, cards can get full or fail completely, so you will need spares, and lots of them. Ensuring that you are able to shoot for extended periods of time is always at your advantage. However, buying a ridiculously large SD card doesn't mean that you are covered. Few smaller and faster cards are always a better idea. The larger the SD/CF cards are the slower they get (or if you want as fast as the smaller counterparts you should have in mind that their prices grow exponentially). Therefore using couple smaller cards (8-16 gigs would do) is the cheaper, more efficient, and way safer.


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5. Camera cable

You won't even notice it but it can go a long way. Often certain cheap card readers won't read the cards you have and you will need to show some images on a PC screen. Every PC connected to the Internet will recognise your camera when connected to the cable that comes with it. It is a bit slower way to transfer/see images but it works and it’s safe.

6. Other cables

Off camera flash cable, also a tiny thing. They’re not taking up too much space but come handy if your remote triggers fail, or if you need off camera flash when you didn't intend to use it for some reason.

7. One of each spare caps

Lens caps are very easy to lose, so bringing one or two spare caps with you ensures that you won't leave a lens without it’s cap on, thus protects it.


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8. Filters, gels, diffusers

Maybe you won't need them but it is good to have them as an option. More often than not you are in a situation where you need to modify some light and/or filter some light out.


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9. Remote trigger and intervalometer

Usually they are both the same device. The wireless ones are really small so they aren't taking up any space. You can fit one in almost any empty space you have.

10. Empty plastic bags

One or two plastic bags with zippers often go a long way. In case of a storm they serve as great lens protectors from any dirty particles. Just put any lens inside which isn't weather sealed (or a camera body for that matter) and worry a bit less of elemental damage. Just make sure they are quality ones, with zippers that can take some beating. Bags are also useful for swapping lenses in harsh weather if you really need to.

This might look as too much stuff to put in one bag but if you are efficient in packing, one average bag that you would use for a photoshoot will easily fit all these things in one or two side pockets except the filters and SD/CF cards – put them in more secure pockets since you don't want them damaged.

If you think that I have overlooked something, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Author

Photographer who loves challenging and experimental photography and loves sharing his knowledge about it.

Wow! I had 8.5 out of the 10! I gave myself 1/2 point fir the sturdy plastic bag i use to store my rain poncho. I always find it helpful to also have a pad of paper or small spiral notebook and a pen. Then, if I need to take notes or get contact info on a subject, I can do so.

Here’s my 10 things list:
1) Water bottle (you may be out for hours away from any signs of civilisation, if you’re lucky)
2) Hip flask (with your choice of hip drink)
3) Flouro vest (these are like access all area passes)
4) Media card on lanyard (always helps to look official)
5) Lomo camera (You’re there to have fun, and what could be more fun than a lomo?)
6) Notepad and pen (In case anyone is watching, this makes you look like you’re working)
7) Monopod (No tourist or rubber-necker is going to lug one of these around, so people will think you are serious and supposed to be where ever you are that you’re not supposed to be)
8) Vegetate sandwiches (see point 1)
9) Competitor’s business cards (In case someone gets suspicious and demands your identity for some official complaint)
10) Your own business cards (in case someone wants to pay you for something)

#5 is unnecessary if you don’t cart around your laptop on every place you go.
#7 is unnecessary if you have #10. For the rare time you might lose a lens cap, a plastic bag will protect in a pinch.
#8 is superfluous with digital, except for a UV to protect your front element.
#9 is unnecessary if you don’t use remote devices.

I’d replace those with
1. Penlight
2. Monopod
3.Pen and notebook
4.business cards …real and fake lol

ha… im not sure of the difference between fake and real business cards at times especially mine?? 🙂

I would add a multi-purpose tool. I always carry a leatherman, which came in very handy at a wedding I was photographing. The projector that the venue was using for the engagement video malfunctioned and the guy who actually knew how to fix it had no tools. Imagine everyone’s surprise when the photographer pulls out a multipurpose tool and pen light to save the day! I think I got a few more refs just for being prepared!

Spare lens caps sounds over-cautious to me… A small flashlight is important for me plus a small utility knife or multi-tool and perhaps a length of para-chord or a para-chord bracelet. These may not be specifically related to photography but I’d definitely consider them essential support and emergency items.

A couple 30 gallon trash bags have saved me more than once. Changing lenses, placing a bag over entire camera/tripod setup and cutting out a lens hole, or in a downpour, the entire photo backpack slips into the bag and keeps my gear dry. They take up NO room and weigh nothing….

I have most of these things in my camera bag, even the competitors card, but when I am working the bag is the car, hotel, or cruise ship. I carry two identical cameras, one with a long lens and one with a wide angle, so no need for spare cards or batteries. The cameras hang from a Spyder holster and I can switch between them very quickly. Since I shoot a lot of panoramas the wide lens camera is mounted on a Panofix and a very short monopod.. I have lugged heavy equipment all around the world, now that I am 77 I find that I do better traveling light.

For togs like me using traditional large bags like the Billingham Safari/550, there is space in the bottom to place a folded waterproof jacket. Here in Blighty, it can be sun one minute, throwing it down next. I’ve just bought a Billingham Packington and I’ve managed to get a carefully folded mac in the big back pocket.

Great general list. Also some great suggestions. I’ll add tape to the list. Something like duct tape just in case. I’ve had shoe problems and the tape saved the day, but there are plenty of other chances to use it.

Some good points, I always have a LED torch which has an elasticised head strap to be hands free. I always have my gorilla pod strapped to the back of my bag.

The first thing into my bag, or more correctly my pocket, and I’d 100% essential is the X – rite colour checker passport. Without a guarantee of colour consistency I’d be completely lost these days. Once used, guessing just doesn’t come close. Literally

I also carry a small plastic container with q-tips, safety pins, Advil, hair pins, antacids, bandaids, small binder clips, clear nail polish and super glue. It’s amazing how often these things have been needed, especially at weddings.

Yeah I can imagine the amount of quick fixes a wedding photographer would need. That is a smart move.

wet wipes, nothing worse than sticky cameras after lunch, rain sleeve, microfibre cloths, e-book for the hours spent waiting around for clients to get their act together

Mighty Fixit Tape, a silicone tape that when stretched sticks to itself. Wrap tripod legs, temporarily attach a camera to a fence or tree, etc. No residue. Also a couple clothespins for holding a flower stalk still, or clipping a small lightweight reflector to something.

It all depends on the length of your camera shoot. A day hike is different than a three week journey. If I’m going for an afternoon, I don’t take lens caps (otherwise I do). Instead, I keep the plastic zip-lock baggies and a bunch of elastic bands. If I lose a cap, I put a baggie over the end of the lens and secure it in place with elastic band(s).

In cold weather I carry extra hand warming packs (shake & let them heat) and to keep batteries longer in cold weather, I strap hand warmers onto the outside of the battery case with elastic bands or gaffer’s tape. Makes your batteries last much longer in sub-zero weather. Substitute pencils for pens in cold weather – lead doesn’t freeze.

No gadget bag is complete without some extra-strength aspirin or tylenol (whatever you prefer to use). Nothing worse than having a headache or a twisted ankle in the field and no choice but to grit it out.

I carry a Swiss Army multi tool knife. Small but OOOOOOH so useful for minor repairs and other necessities.

Depending on location I take mosquito WIPES not SPRAY. That crap kills the rubber on your gear. Wipe it on backs of hands, not palms, and wherever else. I shoot nude models and grizzly bears so I also carry bear spray – may be necessary in both situations depending on whether or not your shots are flattering. (Grizzlies & nude women hate it when you get their bad side – although Grizzlies don’t hold the anger quite as long. )

Cheers

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