What do you buy for your camera as an accessory? What do you really need? What do you hint at that friends or family might be the best photography gifts? What is a helpful gift for a photography lover or a new camera user?
Today’s Pet Parade is aimed at those of you who may have a DSLR camera and are curious about other basic equipment you can step up to when you feel your confidence growing. Or to add to your Amazon Wishlist for that useful Gift card.
These are selected as gifts for beginner photographers keen to get going now, learning on the way, and acquiring extra equipment later.
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5 Great DSLR Camera Accessories
A Good Memory Card
For clarity, you need to know that there are two types of memory card. The SDHC and the SDXC, I will introduce them below. The SDHC is the card you will use as an aspiring Walter Chandoa or Cartier-Bresson. With a limited budget, these card(s) makes it a great gift for photographer types at all levels (because we always run out of space).
- SDHC Secure Digital High Capacity cards are memory cards that store up to 32GB.
- SDXC Secure Digital Extended Capacity cards store over 32GB. [Note: Some new cameras will only let you shoot video using this type of storage card but for photos SDHC is fine.]
I have an SDHC memory card in my Canon 1300D and it works just fine when I take pictures at the cat cafe, or at home in my garden. You will not need an SDXC card as a new photographer but you might need more than one SDHC if you take a lot of pictures.
TIP: If your computer doesn’t have a slot for your card then you might need a card reader.
A ‘Nifty Fifty’ Lens
What is a nifty fifty lens? It sounds fancy, expensive and way out of your budget – right? Not so. In fact, it is the one lens I want for Christmas, Valentine’s Day AND my Birthday. Let me explain why it will be useful to a cat photographer. Its proper label is a 50mm f1.8 (or 1.4.or 1.2) lens.
This is one of the coolest photography gifts because, as a cat photographer, you want pin-sharp pictures and they often need to be close-ups to capture an eye, whiskers or ear furnishings. Aiming for this kind of closeup gives you the fuzzy ‘depth of field’ I discuss in my beginner’s post.
This shallow depth of field allows you to focus on the one thing you want to capture, your cat(s) and softly diffuses the background. The lens also allows you to make good use of ‘manual focus’ (see your camera manual) to focus on very specific points like an exquisite cat’s eye, or super sharp fur texture.
The one thing you can’t do with a 50mm is Zoom
No zoom takes some getting used to. Even as a beginner with a kit lens you easily become accustomed to supporting your camera and adjusting your lens so you zoom into or away from your cat quickly and easily.
With a fixed lens, you have to think more about how you will compose your shot. You may need to literally step closer to your cat to do what your kit lens and its useful zoom did.
A Camera Cleaning Set
It won’t surprise you to know that your camera, whatever its price, is a highly specialised piece of equipment. It needs to be kept clean and tidy or your cat photos will take a nosedive in quality. You really do need to get rid of that cat noseprint before you take any more photographs.
If you are desperate you may use your spectacle lens cleaner but this is not recommended for regular use.
A kit may include:
- A Rocket Air Blaster for gentle hands-free camera lens cleaning,
- Anti-Static Gloves (so you don’t attract dust).
- Cleaning Brush
- A Lens Cleaning Pen
- Tissues and/or Cloths
This definitely comes into the gifts for photographers under $20.
A Reflector Set
If you are like me, you wondered what on earth you would do with a reflector, or a set of reflectors, when taking photos of your cats. I had to find out because every pro seems to have them.
A reflector, it seems, can be really useful for softening or removing the shadows that make a black cat so difficult to photograph. A soft glow can add just enough light back on to your cat to make its fur shine and the shadows diminish. Just how much you need extra light you need comes with experience, but a reflector can make a difference if your cat usually appears as a spectral black blob in your photographs.
Reflectors often come in sets and are another piece of photographic kit I thought might be expensive, but are surprisingly cheap. Silver, gold and white are most common, and having a set of reflectors can be useful for different fur colours and lighting situations.
- I hope the Amazon display block gives you an idea of the range of reflector colours available.
A larger reflector gives softer light so you can experiment with a rectangle of white card, then try a larger sheet of card (A2 or A1 size) so see the impact before investing in a (more convenient) foldable reflector.
If you need a modestly priced piece of equipment to try out, I hope I have given you a few ideas of beginner must-have’s for improving your photographs even more.
Which one would you like to receive as a gift?
Update from The Canadian Cats Blog
Everyone here with joins the Sunday Selfies will know Shoko, Budd and Tyebe. Their mum Jean is in hospital and there is a blog update from dad Bill. Please drop by and send good wishes. I know he will make are she passes them on.