6 Must-Have Digital Camera Accessories

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6 Must-Have Digital Camera Accessories

A digital camera is a camera that takes photographs or videos by recording the images on an electronic image sensor (EIS). Like the traditional film camera, a digital camera typically uses a lens, diaphragm, and shutter to create an image - unlike a traditional film camera, the image pickup device on a digital camera is electronic, and the images may not only be displayed on screen immediately after creation, but can also be stored on a memory card. Some digital cameras can not only store videos with sound on this memory card, but can also perform basic image editing. In order to get the best out of any piece of equipment, it may be advisable to purchase a series of accessories that will enhance its functionality.

1. Memory Cards

Buying a spare memory card will expand the number of images and videos that can be created in a single session, but memory cards come in a number of formats, so it is important to determine which type is suitable for a specific camera.

Secure Digital ( SD Memory Cards )

This is the most commonly used secure flash memory card and is compatible with the majority of camera brands.

Secure Digital High Capacity Cards (SDHC)

SD cards were originally only available with a maximum of 2GB, so the SDHC was created to increase storage capacity to a maximum of 32GB. Although these cards may physically fit a camera, if the camera was produced pre-SDHC, it may not recognise the card.

Secure Digital 'Xtra Capacity' (SDXC )

These cards have a maximum capacity of 2TB but, again, if the camera was produced prior to the SDXC, it may not recognise the technology. Not only that, but any computer that will be used to upload any images must also have specific compatibility to SDXC.

Micro Secure Digital Cards (Micro SD)

Although now commonly used for mobile phones and GPS units, the Micro SD is still compatible with some digital camera brands.

Multi Media Cards (MMC)

MMC cards look the same as an SD card but do not have the access lock. They are often used as an alternative to SD cards.

Compact Flash (CF Memory Cards)

These cards have a high storage capacity and fast processing times. Often used by professional photographers due to their ability to store large image files.

2. Memory Card Readers

Although some computers come with built in memory card slots, a memory card reader is a useful way to upload images to a computer. A multi-memory card reader, however, is a one-stop piece of equipment that can read the memory cards for a variety of devices. Rather than carrying the individual USB cables for each piece of equipment (i.e. mobile phone, video camera, and digital camera etc.), a multi-memory card reader can act as a facilitator for upload between the devices, and some even have their own memory capability and act as a USB flash drive.

3. Physical Support Systems

Sometimes the smallest hand movements can damage a picture, and although there are cameras with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), purchasing some form of support system to guarantee no shake may be the only way to guarantee perfect focus.

Tripods

With three legs, adjustable height, and a platform to attach a camera to, a tripod is a good solution for stabilising a shot. Full-size tripods can be quite bulky, so - if size is an issue - consider investing in a mini-pod which can sit on a table or any other raised surface.

Monopod

Popular with sports photographers who may need to relocate rapidly to follow play, a monopod has only one leg rather than three so is more easily manoeuvrable and portable.

Gorillapod

Made up of a series of flexible ball joints, a gorillapod is exceptionally malleable. By the nature of its construction, the 'limbs' can be wrapped around any solid support - such as trees, banisters or fences - to provide solid support.

Monsterpod

A monsterpod has a viscoelastic polymer base which will stick to most vertical or horizontal surfaces in order to provide camera stability.

4. Lenses

The lens which is typically provided with a new camera is generally sufficient for every-day photography. If, however, the camera has been bought second-hand, then it may be advisable to consider purchasing a lens suitable to the style of photography planned as certain types of lenses are considered more appropriate to certain styles.

Standard lens

A standard digital camera lens has a focal length of roughly 50mm, which is ideal for portraiture, particularly as these lenses typically allow the creation of a shallow field depth.

Super zoom lens

These lenses have a wide focal range, from approximately 28mm to 300mm, and can span from wide-angle to telephoto. Many contain image stabilisation and are perfect for travel photography.

Wide angle zoom lens

Typically covering a focal range of either 12mm to 24mm, or 16mm to 35mm, a wide angle zoom lens is suitable for any wide-angle view, such as landscapes.

Telephoto zoom lens

A telephoto zoom lens is recommended for any photography that requires fast shutter speeds. With a focal range of between 100mm and 400mm, these lenses are ideal for sports photography and, due to the need to maintain distance without damaging the potential shot, wildlife photography.

Macro lens

Most commonly used in nature photography, a macro lens allows a closer focus than a more conventional lens, maintaining a high optical quality during near shots.

Tilt and shift lens

Useful in architectural photography, a tilt-and-shift lens corrects the effects of converging verticals.

Fisheye lens

Commonly used for landscape photography, fisheye lenses have an extremely wide view but deliberately distort the image to create the 'fisheye' effect. Available in two styles, they are either circular - which creates a circular image within a frame - or full frame - where the image literally fills the whole frame.

5. Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries are arguably the most important digital camera accessory as the very nature of digital photography is extremely power hungry. In order to maximise battery life, if the camera has a viewfinder, shoot with the LCD screen switched off and use the viewfinder to compose the shot. Additionally, if possible, wait until the session is over before reviewing the shots as, again, it uses the LCD screen which will drain the power source. A good option for extending a session is to purchase rechargeable batteries and keep them to hand so that they may be easily replaced, but there are also rechargers available that can be plugged into a vehicle's cigarette lighter for recharging on the move.

NiMh

Heavier and slower to charge, NiMh batteries are nevertheless more durable and have a longer working life than Li-Ion batteries. The higher the rating the higher the power capacity, so aim for anything over 2000mAh, and let them fully discharge before recharging to achieve a maximum lifespan.

Li-Ion

Many manufacturers recommend Li-Ion batteries which are light and are more rapidly charged and discharged. They are also less affected by the 'memory effect' when recharged before full discharge has been achieved. They are, however, less durable than NiMh batteries - particularly in extremely hot or cold temperatures.

6. Screen Protectors

Made from a thin, clear, polyurethane film that is applied to the display screen of any camera, a screen protector guards against dirt, fingerprints, gouging, and scratching.
All screen protectors guard against every day wear and tear, but a number offer extra optical features such as glare protection, high contrast, improved colour and clarity, multi-layers, bubble-free application processes, and better scratch resistance.

Conclusion

A digital camera takes photographs by storing any shot or image on an EIS. Some digital cameras, however, not only perform this basic function, but can also undertake elementary image editing. Accessories may extend and enhance functionality of a digital camera, so although some computers have an in-built memory card slot, the purchase of a memory card reader, for example, may provide a useful addition to the process of uploading image files. Sometimes barely perceptible hand movements may ruin a shot, so having some sort of support system, such as a tripod or monopod, close to hand may be wise, and a lens specific to the genre may well enhance the ultimate result. In order to extend the duration of any session, it is recommended that rechargeable batteries should also be kept nearby.

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