A camera bag can carry a lot of stuff. It fits a camera and lenses, but also other things that may or may not be helpful for your photography. Sometimes, there’s too much stuff that seems to be essential at first, but isn’t used at all. How many things have you collected in your camera bag?
Depending on its size, a camera bag typically holds one or two cameras and a set of lenses. If you use flash for your photography, the content will also have a couple of flashes, light modifiers, and items that allow you to place a flash somewhere, perhaps even the Frio Hold system, which I reviewed recently here on Fstoppers.
When camera bags are discussed, we often only mention the camera equipment inside. It’s about taking the necessary lenses with you and leaving the things you don’t need for that particular shoot at home. There is no reason to have a macro lens in your bag if you only shoot portraits, unless you macro lens doubles as a portrait lens, of course. Another example is a long telelens, which has no real use for portraits. On the other hand, leave a 50mm or 85mm lens at home if you’re going to shoot landscapes. A zoom lens will do nicely.
The lenses and cameras are often stored in the main compartment of a camera bag. However, most camera bags have a lot of additional pockets to store small items. These pockets can hold a lot of things, and it’s way too easy to fill them with all sorts of accessories that might or might not come in handy.
What Accessories Do You Carry With You?
There are a few items that are wise to take with you. Put one or more spare batteries and some 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 a wipe, a microfiber lens cloth can save the day.
But is it really necessary to take a battery charger with you also? Or a card reader? Or a set of elastic bungee ball loops? Or a bunch of different types of USB cables? Over time, you might have gathered a lot of small items in the spare pockets of your camera bag, thinking they may come in handy someday.
Some items may be added to your bag because you needed them a single time, while others are perhaps bought on a whim. It’s too easy to keep these things in the small pocket of your bag, even though you almost never use them. With a lot of small pockets, a lot of stuff 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 carry some spare clothing and lunch as well. After I received the new bag, I emptied the old one completely. I was surprised how many accessories there were inside. Some I put in the bag because I thought they would be handy to have available if needed. The following accessories I found stored in my old camera bag, gathered through the years:
- Three carabiners (two sizes)
- Different charging cables (Lightning cable, USB-C, and micro-USB)
- Power cable for a battery charger (without the charger)
- A few lens and camera caps
- Nodal slide
- Angle finder
- Velcro straps
- Elastic cable ties and elastic bungee ball loops
- Four microfiber cloths
- AAA batteries (even some used ones)
- AA Eneloop batteries
- Different size Allen hex keys
- A couple of camera batteries
- Spare memory cards (even a few CF cards I don’t use anymore)
- Spare Arca-Swiss camera plate
- Two lens reverse rings (two sizes)
- Small empty accessory bag
- Trigger Trap cable and adapter
- A couple of pens that didn’t write anymore
- One tactical flashlight and one small Maglite
- Small cold shoe spirit level bubble
- Business cards
- Rain cover for my camera
- A few shower caps (which also can be used as a emergency rain cover)
- Safety reflective vest
- Op-Tech camera strap
Some of these things can be considered essential one way or another. I already mentioned spare batteries and memory cards. Other things in the list I do use on a regular basis, like the carabiner, flashlight, rain cover, safety reflective vest, and a nodal slide.
But the other things I rarely ever use, if ever. A cold shoe spirit level bubble is unnecessary because the camera now has a built-in horizon level. The Trigger Trap cannot be used anymore since my phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm plug. The angle finder is redundant due to a tilted LCD screen.
Only Take With You What You Need
I removed a lot of accessories that once seemed to be essential but turned out to be redundant. Many camera bags have enough storage space to hold al these items without any problem, but they do take up space. And although most accessories don’t have a lot of weight, together, it all adds up.
I’ve seen bags during my workshops and travels that were loaded with all sorts of accessories. Some were carrying a bag that weighed almost 20 kilograms and bulged on every side. 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 didn’t use something in the previous year, you probably never will.
What Do You Carry With You?
Have you checked your camera bag lately? What kind of accessories do you carry with you when you go out photographing? Be honest, and ask yourself if you really need all those things.
Perhaps you would like to share which accessories you find essential for your photography, things you have available in your camera bag at all times. I’m looking forward reading about them in the comments below.