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Photographic Accessories

Hints & Tips

After purchasing your camera you will no doubt need some basic accessories to add to your camera. There are numerous accessories available to develop your camera, from lenses to memory cards. It would be advisable when purchasing your camera to research what accessories are available for the make and model of camera you are purchasing and what each of these items can be used for.

Each different photographer will require different accessories based on their own individual requirements and the type of photography that they will be undertaking. Professional and more serious photographers will require some essential accessories, such as a tripod and a camera bag, to assist them in getting the images that they require.

Before purchasing any additional accessories it would be an idea take your camera out and test it, when testing you will be able to identify what your needs are as you come across them and which accessories would be most useful for your requirements. After identifying what equipment you require then do some research into the different makes of accessories available and assess which would be right for you based on the quality, durability and price of the product.

Tripod

Every professional photographer will require a tripod to achieve images using long exposure shots, shots with slow shutter speeds or shots with low light situations. A tripod will provide a solid support for your camera and is a necessity to remove any camera shake.

Tripods are made out of many different materials and these continue to change with developments in technology. The heavier a tripod then the more stable the tripod will be, however consider that if you are travelling around to take photographs then you will have to carry a heavy tripod around! Tripods can be made from aluminium and lighter more expensive materials such as carbon fibre or titanium, plastic ones are also available however these are very lightweight and not as effective as some of the other models.

When purchasing a tripod you should look for one which has good construction and stability. When checking the stability of the tripod the legs should be fully extended. Check that the tripod can carry the weight of your camera and any extras, such as lenses, before purchasing.

Tripods are available to purchase in several different heights and you should consider what your needs are before purchasing. The height of the tripod can also be adjusted so check the maximum, minimum and folded heights and ensure that this works for you.

Attaching your camera to the tripod is done by a 'head' socket; there are two different types of head available so check that the tripod you purchase will fit your camera. The two different types of head that are available are pan and tilt heads or ball and socket heads, both have their own advantages and disadvantages and choice is down to your own preference and camera. Some tripods come with removable hands, some have fixed heads and some tripods come with none so the head will have to be purchased separately.

Lenses

The quality of the lens on your camera is critical when you are considering purchasing your camera; poor quality lenses can create poor quality photographs.

SLR cameras, both the digital and film format, have interchangeable lenses that can be altered to create different results. There are many types of lenses available with both manual and autofocus capabilities. The standard lens supplier with most SLR cameras is a 50mm lens; this lens is most beneficial when the image you wish to achieve is how the naked eye would see the scene. Macro lenses are used for close up shots, such as taking close up pictures of any subject. A zoom lens is a must have for all photographers. Wide angle lenses are useful if you wish to take pictures of landscapes, groups of people and any panoramic views.

Each camera manufacturer has its own lens mount, a Nikon lens may not fit onto another make of camera. This is why when choosing your camera initially that some thought should be put into which make of camera you will purchase. There are some independent manufacturers who produce lenses for a range of leading cameras.

Camera Bag

One of the most important accessories for any photographer will be their camera bag; the bag will protect the camera and possibly some of your camera accessories so it is important to choose carefully.

The camera bag will need to be chosen dependent upon the type of camera that you own, a small compact camera or a bulkier SLR with separate lenses that also need to be stored and protected. A bag that suits your camera and your needs is essential; an amateur using a compact camera will suit a smaller bag where as a more professional photographer who does outdoor photography will need a larger waterproof bag that can handle temperature extremes.

The camera should fit firmly inside the bag with no room for movement; too much room inside the bag could mean your camera could move around and damage your equipment. Consider the equipment that you will be carrying around as well, such as lenses and batteries, and choose a bag which has plenty of space to get all your necessary equipment in. If the camera bag you have purchased needs adjusting then foam liner can be added to the bag to adjust and customise the space in the bag.

Memory Card

A digital memory card is one of the most crucial accessories for your digital camera that you should invest in; this is what digital cameras use to store the images they have taken. Digital cameras may only store small amounts of pictures, if any at all within the camera hard drive; therefore investing in a good quality memory card will allow more images to be stored.

Memory card capacity is measured as the amount of data the card will hold in megabytes (MB). Memory cards can hold anywhere between one to hundreds of images depending on the size of the memory card, the megapixel rating of the digital camera and the image quality setting on the digital camera. A high megapixel camera will need a high capacity and high speed memory card otherwise it will run out of space. When the memory card is full, the user can delete images from the card or transfer them to a computer or storage device to free up space for more pictures.

Memory cards are produced and sold with differing speeds; the time it takes for the camera to store the image to memory card. The faster the speed of the memory card then the less time it takes for the image to be sent to the card and stored. Models with higher speeds tend to be more expensive and are favoured by more experienced photographers who take live action shots as it takes less time for the image to be sent to the card and so shot-to-shot time can be reduced.

Flash

The flash on a camera is used to minimise the shadow or darkness of an image when a picture is being taken. The flash produces a burst of artificial light to illuminate a scene. The term flash can refer to flash of light itself or to the electronic flash unit which discharges the flash of light.

Compact cameras tend to have flash units built directly into the camera, while more advanced cameras allow separate flash units to be mounted via a standardized accessory mount bracket often called a 'hot shot'. If purchasing a separate flash for your camera system then it is advisable to make sure that it is compatible with your camera.

Flashes can be used for a variety of reasons depending on the effects and type of image that you are trying to achieve but are mainly used to illuminate scenes that do not have available light to adequately expose the photograph.

In professional studio photography the flashes can take the form of a large stand alone unit. These units can be powered by special battery packs and synchronized with the camera by a cable or radio transmitter.