Photography / Buying Guide

40 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Camera Bag

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I have some odds and ends in my camera bag; stuff I think is useful and necessary. I wondered what other photographers around B&H carried in their well-worn camera bags, and surveyed the crowd. Photographers at B&H span many genres of the art and, as such, what I got from each one was different.

I got some great food for thought and added some items to my B&H wish list!

  1. Rite in The Rain All Weather Spiral Notebook – For notes.

  1. Alpine Hearing Protection Multi-Pack Earplugs – For hearing conservation.

  1. Sunscreen – My dermatologist said, “If you are walking around outside without using a flashlight, you need to be wearing sunscreen.”

  1. Lip Balm – Chapped lips are bad.

  1. Fenix LD12-G2 Flashlight + Extra AA Battery – Always good to have a small one handy for when your larger ones die on you.

  1. Zeiss Lens Wipes – Keep your optics clean.

  1. Lens Pen – Ditto.

  1. Motrin – Vitamin M.

  1. Garmin eTrex 10 GPS – Try not to get lost.

  1. Disposable Latex Gloves – Keeps your hands clean, and allows you to change halogen bulbs.

  1. Power Receptacle Tester – Use before you plug in your expensive lighting gear.

  1. SPARK 3-To-2 Prong Grounding Adapters – A must for using power in older homes and buildings.

  1. Leatherman Micra or Wingman – Multi-tool for multi-purposes.

  1. Toupee Tape – I don’t wear one, but I was told it is great for lapel microphones and adhering gels to lights.

  1. Carson PO-55 5x MiniBrite Pocket Magnifier – Multiple uses.

  1. Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker – Write something. Label something.

  1. Gaffer Tape – 1" Black stored in Film Canister – Gaffer tape is one of your best friends.

  1. Spare pair of eyeglasses – Only if you wear eyeglasses.

  1. Eyeglass repair kit – For your eyeglasses and lots of other repairs.

  1. Midland HH50 Pocket Weather Alert Radio – Be prepared!

  1. Monocular – For scouting.

  1. Emergency Cell Phone – Unlocked!!

  1. Make-up kits / perfume – One B&H photographer hands these out to young girls when photographing in impoverished locales.

  1. Polaroid Z2300 Instant Digital Camera – Great for giving an instant “gift” to portrait subjects.

  1. Dryer Lint in a Film Canister – Great for starting fires in survival situations.

  1.  Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter – For igniting #25.

  1. Binder clips – Multi-purpose.

  1. Silica gel packs – Do not eat.

  1. First Aid Kit in Pelican 1010 – For life’s little accidents.

  1. Lectrosonics Mini Flathead/Phillips Screwdriver – For repairs/adjustments.

  1. Film Canister with $5 in quarters – You never know when you might want to play a video game, shoot a game of pool, or feed a parking meter.

  1.  Vello Three-Axis Hot Shoe Bubble Level or Vello Two-Axis Hot Shoe Bubble Level – Keep on the level.

  1. Three 1-gallon sealing plastic bags – For storage.

  1. Water bottle – Stay hydrated.

  1. Delta 1 “A” Grip Clamp – Multi-purpose.

  1. Cable ties and/or Touch Fastener Straps – Keep your gear shipshape.

  1. Snacks – Yum.

  1. Knife – Multi-purpose.

  1. Fisher Bullet Space Pen – Pressurized ink to write at any angle, or in outer space.

  1. Business cards – Quicker than finding a napkin to write down your contact information.

What do you carry in your camera bag? Let us know in the Comments section below!

Discussion 169

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You might also consider a climbing harness, rope, and a helmet.

Nice additions, Jonathan! Thanks!

Whistle/Boat Can Horn ( can be used to scarce away bears/ alert rescuers if you need help.

Balloons/panels {yellow} can be blown up and tied to rock or tree branch in the event you get lost or hurt and need help. 

Nylon cord=50 ft

Raingear/large garbage bags to protect gear.

Small Mirror+ Can be used to signal your location .

Hey jose,

Great additions to the list. Thank you! Safety first!

Yellow Caution Barricade Tape. A great way to keep overzealous parents and family away from certain situations where they would otherwise damage equipment or interfere with your work. It works great!

Good idea, Tomblvd! Thanks for sharing!

I know now what to get for christmas!

This list will definitely fill up most wish lists, Joshua! Thanks for reading!

A rusty shank for stabbing cannon users 

That is a new one! Thanks, jhon! I will add it to the list! Thanks for reading!

*canon... 

Yep, Canon users, too.

I got a jagged piece of plastic for those Nikkon people...

I keep an extra battery and some lens cleaning supplies. I usually don't go far enough into the woods to get lost.

Hey Ken,

Good tips! Thanks for reading and sharing. You are smart to not go far enough to get lost!

Color Checker Passport

Nice addition, Brian! Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for reading!

How big is this camera bag?!?!?! And some of this stuff sounds like you're going to spend a week in a war zone. 

It is a pretty big bag, Mundstrom. It has wheels and an engine attached!

Thanks for reading!

I carry in my little Lowepro 150 Instant Messenger on nature trails:

* Either a small multitool with a tiny set of pliers or that orange Victorinox tool (optional item)

* Battery power bank with two ports: 1A and 2A as well as an LED flashlight (and its USB cable)

* A small roll of medical tape, hand tearable

* An emergency cookie or some candies

* A carabiner and lanyard

* Some tissues

If it's a crosscountry hike we also carry hiking sticks.

These days we also carry a backpack with water bottles, fruit and snacks, binoculars, a small towel, mosquito repellant, etc. One or two small flashlights if we're staying overnight (at an enclosed campsite complete with tents having attached bathrooms) and more food and water.

Hey dokopter!

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing. I wonder what our firewall blocked on your "An emergency ****** or some candies" bullet! 

I am sure it was something salacious and crude. Just kidding!

Thanks for reading!

I haven't read all the comments, but I keep

Allen wrench to tighten tripod legs or etc.

I try to have at least one plastic grocery bag from Safeway or Kroger or etc.  This in addition to a ziploc or two.  They may not be in my camera bag but travel with me in some pocket.  A bag from a store like Microcenter is sturdier but may be overkill  :)
 

I will add that I have a couple ND filters as well.

This idea might be a little off topic compared to the other helpful miscellaneous items suggested, but I have found ND useful on the odd ocassion.  I have used them to increase exposure time to 'erase' people from images.  There are other ways to get rid of people and the filters haven't always worked for me, but it is an item to consider and determine if it will be helpful.

On the other hand, plastic bags are always useful !

More good stuff, Tan68!

Thanks, again, for reading!

Hey Tan68,

Good tips! I don't think these are redundant! Thanks for reading!

I have in mine Camera Bag; Extra Batteries; Eye Glass Kit; Ring Flash; Business Cards; Small Flashlights; Battery Chargers(3) for Camera; Rain Gear for Camera; Tool Kit; 4 Sets of Ear Plugs; 2 small Digital Cameras; Pens; Markers; Paper; Table Tri-Pod; 3 extra batteries for camera Grip; Credentials; Off Camera Flash Cord; Flash Battery Pack; 6 Lens; cannon D40; Small Cleaning Kit !!

Good stuff, Jeff! I have some of those in my bag too!

Thanks for reading!

Never thought of business cards, but after reading this I threw some in my bag and handed out one that very day. Thanks!

One thing I would add is a small old fashioned compass. Cell phones die, but a compass can get you back to civilization. 

Awesome, Britney! I am glad the article helped!

The compass is a good idea. I actually have a tiny magnetic compass on a tether hanging from the strap of my bag. I picked it up in Europe to help navigate city streets as I didn't have overseas data on my phone. It has been very helpful as you can use it on a travel map to help orientate yourself. Thanks for the tip and thanks for reading!

Always and especially with your list: two strong, trained assistants to transport!

Ha! Yes, I should add that to the list, John! Thanks for reading!

Interesting list, I can see how each of those might be useful in certain situations. Though I'm guessing you don't carry all of that all the time?

The only thing I can think of that I occasionally carry in my bag if I'm out hiking with my gear is bear spray. Though if you're flying be sure to put it in a checked bag, and check local laws where you're going.

Another thing, not my idea but I stole it from a local photographer. Is those instant cold compresses you get for first aid kits. Previously mentioned photographer gave a pair to a groom that was burning up in his suit.

Hey Tmurphy,

I definitely don't carry all of this! This list was a compilation of ideas from a handful of shooters. 

Thanks for the tips on the cool packs and the bear spray! And, thanks for reading!

One needs to be mindful of when that short nature photo walk becomes an actual hike into a back country area and requires greater preparation.

The hiker part of me includes a map of where I'm going, a compass, hat, proper footwear, fresh socks, rain gear, extra layers of clothing in case it gets colder.  Many of the non-photography items listed such as sunblock, bug spray, swiss army knife, etc, are recommended items to bring on a hike.

Hey Roger,

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing!

Also, as we used to say in the Coast Guard, "File a 'float plan,'" even when hiking. Let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to be back, so that, if for some reason something happens, search and rescue forces will know where to start looking for you!

Thanks for reading!

I carry the mini-multi-purpose knife with the pliers head, screw drivers, and the usual blades and file.  I gave-up one to the New Zealand TSA before the 3" max blade length rule and very recently with the Hong Kong TSA which has a blanket rule of "No carry-on Multi-Purpose Knife, period!!!"  Hong Kong TSA says it should be in your checked-in luggage.  They won't take my argument that it has passed thru airport securities in U.S., Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Manila.  I buy them regularly now (for replacements) when I find the best ones.  They are not all alike.  It occurs to me now that the knives I had to give-up are the best ones.  Makes you wonder?

Hey GT!

Yeah, it is tough to carry these things on airplanes these days! There is no common sense to a lot of these regulations, in my opinion. You cannot bring tiny multi-tools, but a heavy carbon fiber tripod with a 5 lb head on it is totally acceptable! 

Feeling your pain, friend! Fly safe and thanks for reading!

l or 2 garbage bag liners for compact garbage bins. They are thick & sturdy -I use for ground protectin when I don't want to be covered in mud or stickers or whatever icky stuff I'm in.

Great tip, Sue! Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading the B&H blog!

So where do you put the camera?  :)

Hey Alan,

Ha! Good question.

The camera hangs around your neck because there is no room in your camera bag! Thanks for reading!

I shot alot of weddings so, I have some "bridal survival" items in my bag; small sewing kit, stain remover pen, wipes, superglue, safety pins and bobby pins. 

Hi B! Great idea. The hero to the bride is a hero to us all! Thanks for reading and thanks for the awesome ideas!

Matches in an Altoid tin, hand sanitizer( not only for hands, it can start a fire, sooth a bite) , a microfiber towel in a small ziplock, handiwipes ( alcohol in them, again fire starter), small grip hairclips to hold tender plants away ,  tiny bungie cord,mylar blanket, cyalume stick

Hey Cherie,

Great stuff here! Thank you! Space blankets and glow sticks are super smart. Thanks for reading and sharing your ideas!

My husband used to roll his eyes at all the stuff I carry when I'm shooting on site.  Then he came to a few shoot with me as my assistant. Now he loves my rolling tool box as much as I do!  I don't ever shoot alone and my assistant drags a rolling tool box and/or a trolly with the stuff in it.  I never travel far from my vehicle as I live with severe chronic pain. Ease of movement for my equipment and having equipment that makes shooting as comfortable and easy as possible is vital.  I'd rather bring extra stuff that will move the tree branch out of my way than contort myself to get around it and pay for it for ages.  
Since I photograph lots of kids and families I also carry stickers, bubbles, lightweight plastic drop cloth sheeting with scissors (to tuck under people on damp or filthy ground), a little whisk broom to clean off rocks, and love my huge twisty-tie type holders for adjusting a tree branch out of my way a bit.

All in all, it depends on what sort of shooting you do and your personal situation.  If you're hiking 20 miles and shooting wildlife clearly you don't needs the same things you'd need if you're indoors shooting a wedding!  If these don't apply to you then just keep scrolling.

Hey tilly_sue!

Nice to have a husband as an assistant! I am sure his back appreciates the rolling tool box as well!

Great tips! I love the bubble idea. Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading!

Interesting post! I hope all these things won't distract you from taking photos - which is my priority :-)

I went through some comments, I'm not sure if someone already mentioned hands disinfectant gel: I always bring it with me and I think it can be very useful. 

Definitely don't forget to pack a camera too!

I'm a big fan of soap and water when it is available! Seems like all the people at work with hand sanitizer on their desks are always out sick!

I carry the hoodman hood loupe so I can see the picture better on the LCD display in bright sunlight.

Bug repellant, although I now hear there is an app for that, I have not tried it yet.

Hey Taryn,

Good tip, thanks for sharing! A bug repellent app? Checking for it now!

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