If youâ€™ve ever set yourself a budget for a new camera and blown it, donâ€™t feel bad. (You could blame your professional/enthusiast friend for forgetting to tell you actually). The reason most people end up overspending on a new DSLR is not because the salesman conned them into buying all the odds and ends, but because they never knew they needed them in the first place. You are not just buying an DSLR camera, you are buying a DSLR system.
This is more or less similar to moving from dollar-a-stick instant coffee packets to boutique fully manual espresso machines – suddenly one has to take into consideration water temperature, jet pressure, bean weight, roasting time, etc. Similarly, having a DSLR requires a little more of everything to get you really going. Some a little more time, some a little more money. But its worth it if you make the right move from the start that will benefit you in the long run. This article will focus on a number of camera accessories you would need to get you started on a DSLR system and some considerations when shopping around.
Well a good camera bag is essential when you have a camera thatâ€™s that big compared to your old point-and-shoot (PnS) that you could fit into your pocket or handbag. While going into detail will take a whole article by itself, simply put, a good camera bag is one that you find useful. Not because someone else has one or that person said its good, but because you with your own lifestyle find that bag an absolute fit for you.
Bags range from easy sling bags, full backpacks, or even stylish handbag-looking ones. The most important trait of a good bag is its durability. Bags are meant to protect your gear, so a lightly padded one defeats the purpose. A simple indication of a bagâ€™s general quality is its zips which should be weighty and easily zipped, and its stitching which should utilize thick thread with consistent spacing while double or even triple seams are a good plus! Oh and pockets…lots of â€˜em.
Camera shops will try to get you to consider a lens protector. Â Donâ€™t pass it by. Get one! Lens protectors are essential because those detachable lenses are more prone to knocks and scratches. Your lens is probably the part least prone to depreciation so taking good care of the lens glass should ensure a good resale value in the future and a lack of trips to the service centre in the mean time. If you do not have the budget for it, those â€œquadruple diamond coated, super titanium-magnesium rimmedâ€ ones are only a luxury, but do stick to trusted brands like B&W, Hoya, Lee, Heliopan, and Tiffen. Iâ€™d pick their budget lines over an unknown brandâ€™s premium line any day.
Hereâ€™s one area I have made many mistakes in the past. I have bought numerous RM50 tripods that kept breaking because of the quality (or lack of) and realized that from the start I could have invested in a proper one and saved me all that hassle and added cost. Plus they function better. Stay away from cheap plastic ones and get a good metal one. Weight can be an issue, so there are some high-end lightweight titanium ones but only if you can really afford it. Things to look out for are screw and bolt quality and shaft gaps. The more in squeaks and jiggles it has, the more you should avoid it.
Another thing to remember about camera support is having a good ballhead. A good friend of mine once said that, even if tripods fail you, good ballheads never do. Get a good quality ballhead and you’re good to go.
Do your neck a favour and ditch that cheap nylon strap that came with the camera. Get yourself a good third-party one (like Matin or Optech) that is made out of neoprene which acts as a weight reducer and shock absorber. Comfort is a big plus especially on long day trips, so definitely make sure you donâ€™t skim on this. Also, if you are looking for a detachable strap, an obvious point will be to make sure the clips are well made. Iâ€™ve never heard of neoprene straps tearing before (unless you used it to tow a car) so I can assure you that common fears about its softness are unfounded.
Most cleaning kits comprise a blower, microfibre cloth, a fine soft brush and some cleaning fluid. DSLRs have more moving parts, buttons, grooves and gaps than PnS cameras so ensuring the camera is clean takes a little more effort here. The blower is especially important if you have more than one lens as dust will interfere with photo quality and mechanism movement. But a little caution here, do not clean the actual sensor or mirror yourself. Leave that to your service centre.
Storage Box / Dehumidifier
Now DSLRs are prone to mould and fungus if not carefully maintained because of the way they are constructed. Especially in Malaysia where its hot and humid, buildup on lenses and camera mirrors and sensors can be a big problem. You can get purpose-built dry boxes but a cheaper solution would be a calcium-chloride container (thatâ€™s a Thirsty Hippo to you and me) and a good air-tight box. Hereâ€™s my article about a DIY dry box – http://goo.gl/IdxRn
Article courtesy of Christopher Sam
Chris writes for Top Gear Malaysia magazine every now and then.Â Absolutely passionate about cars. Spends most of his time now in car detailing as well as Â freelance photographing