Friday, August 1, 2008

Five must-have photo accessories


By Anne Violette

Sometimes, all it takes to make a perfect picture is the right tools. In this era of fancy SLR digital cameras and high-tech gadgets, it has become easier to achieve a high quality image. Whether you take a great photo by mere accident or with full intention is moot point. However, there are certain accessories which can increase the chances of taking "accidentally" awesome pictures.

My camera bag is full of gadgets and accessories. Some I have never used. I purchased certain camera gear based on recommendations of eager sales people at the equipment store. Of course, their job is to up-sell customers, since many of them work on commission.

My biggest waste of money

Of those minimally-used gadgets, the biggest waste of money is the extra battery pack for my high-end digital SLR Canon. I have never used it. Not even once. It does look extremely cool when it is attached to the bottom of the camera. It makes it bigger and more impressive in appearance. When you have a bigger camera, people think you are a better photographer. That's the only bright side of owning the battery pack.

On the dark side (and the reason I have never used it) -- the thing is heavy. Battery packs typically hold eight extra batteries (or 3 with digital), but think of all that extra weight to carry. It's also a pain to screw it on and off the camera when you want to add a flash bracket or certain other features. Furthermore, the battery pack isn't cheap, at about $300+ bucks.

Might as well kiss that money goodbye!

A simpler solution is to just buy a couple of extra batteries. They are light, easy to load and they last a long time if you keep them all fresh and charged for at least 8 hours before the shoot. Quite honestly, one battery lasts throughout the duration of an entire event, such as a wedding or Bar Mitzvah. One battery easily snaps at least 600 frames, maybe more.

Very rarely did I run out of juice, but when I did, there was another battery in my bag that was freshly charged, so I was back in the game within seconds. The point is not to waste your money on this useless gadget, the monster battery pack, unless you are trying to build your forearm muscles. If that's the case, I would suggest spending that $300 bucks on a gym membership instead.

That being said, I do have at least five frequently-used accessories that I really love. This is the proverbial bag of tricks that will make customers wonder and that will keep them coming back with referrals. I will share these with you. Most of these are simple gadgets that are not expensive and will be well worth your investment.