A camera bag can hold a lot of things. It is suitable for a camera and lenses, but also for other things that may or may not be useful for your photography. Sometimes there are too many things that seem essential at first, but are not used at all. How many things have you collected in your camera bag?
Depending on its size, a camera bag usually contains one or two cameras and a set of lenses. If you use flash for your photography, the content will also have a few flashes, light modifiers, and things to let you put a flash somewhere, maybe even the Frio Hold system, which I recently reviewed here on Fstoppers.
When talking about camera bags, we often only mention the camera gear inside. It’s about taking the necessary lenses with you and leaving things at home that you don’t need for that particular shoot. There’s no reason to have a macro lens in your bag if you’re only shooting portraits, unless your macro lens doubles as a portrait lens, of course. Another example is a long telephoto lens, which has little use for portraits. On the other hand, leave a 50mm or 85mm lens at home if you plan to shoot landscapes. A zoom will do just fine.
Lenses and cameras are often stored in the main compartment of a camera bag. However, most camera bags have plenty of extra pockets for storing small items. These pockets can hold a lot of stuff, and it’s all too easy to fill them with all sorts of accessories that might or might not be useful.
What accessories do you take with you?
There are a few items that are wise to carry with you. Put one or more spare batteries and a few extra memory cards in your camera bag. After all, you don’t want to run out of power or storage space. If your lens needs to be wiped down, a microfiber cloth can save the day.
But is it really necessary to also carry a battery charger? Or a card reader? Or a set of rubber band loops for rubber balls? Or a bunch of different types of USB cables? Over time, you may have gathered a lot of small items into the spare pockets of your camera bag, thinking they might come in handy one day.
Some items may be added to your bag because you only needed them once, while others may be bought on a whim. It’s too easy to keep these things in the little pocket of your bag, even if you hardly ever use them. With lots of little pockets, a lot will be added over time.
What I found in my bag
Recently I bought a new camera backpack for my travels. I needed a large bag that could hold a change of clothes and a lunch. After receiving the new bag, I completely emptied the old one. I was surprised how many accessories there were inside. I put a few in the bag because I thought they would be handy to have on hand when needed. The following accessories I found tucked away in my old camera bag, collected over the years:
- Three carabiners (two sizes)
- Different charging cables (Lightning, USB-C and micro-USB cable)
- Power cable for a battery charger (without the charger)
- Some lens and camera caps
- Nodal slide
- angle finder
- Velcro straps
- Elastic cable ties and elastic ball loops
- Four microfiber cloths
- AAA batteries (even some used ones)
- Eneloop AA batteries
- Allen hex keys of different sizes
- Some camera batteries
- Spare memory cards (even a few CF cards that I no longer use)
- Spare Arca-Swiss camera plate
- Two reverse lens rings (two sizes)
- Small empty accessory bag
- Trigger Trap Cable and Adapter
- A few pens that no longer wrote
- A tactical flashlight and a small Maglite
- small cold shoe spirit level bubble
- Business cards
- Rain cover for my camera
- A few shower caps (which can also be used as an emergency rain cover)
- safety reflective vest
- Op-Tech Camera Strap
Some of these things can be considered essential in one way or another. I have already mentioned spare batteries and memory cards. Other items on the list that I use regularly include the carabiner, flashlight, rain cover, safety reflective vest, and a nodal slide.
But the other things I rarely, if ever, use. A cold spirit level bubble is not necessary as the camera now has a built-in horizon level. The Trigger Trap can no longer be used because my phone does not have a 3.5mm jack. The angle viewfinder is redundant due to a tilted LCD screen.
Take only what you need with you
I removed a lot of accessories that once seemed essential but turned out to be redundant. Many camera bags have enough storage space to hold all of these items without any problems, but they do take up space. And while most accessories don’t have much weight, together it all adds up.
I have seen bags in my workshops and on my travels loaded with all sorts of accessories. Some were carrying a bag that weighed nearly 20 kilograms and was bulging on all sides. I would advise everyone to take a good look at the things you have in your camera bag. Ask yourself if you really need the accessories you have in there. If you haven’t used something the year before, you probably never will.
What do you carry with you?
Have you checked your camera bag lately? What kind of accessories do you take with you when you go out photographing? Be honest and ask yourself if you really need all of these things.
Maybe you would like to share the accessories that you find essential for your photography, the things that you always have in your camera bag. I look forward to reading about them in the comments below.