Top 8 Must-Haves for your DSLR Camera

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Since I often get asked about my DSLR camera, lenses, and equipment I thought Black Friday would be a great time to share my answers so you can take advantage of all those deals out there.  Many of these deals can be found online so you don’t even have to leave your couch… or your pajamas.  I’m planning to be in my pajamas.  Plus I have a few tricks up my sleeve to make sure you get the BEST deals on cameras and equipment out there– right in time for Santa to place it under your tree.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

I’m definitely not a professional, so don’t let the lingo turn you away.  I traded in my point-and-shoot for the DSLR in 2009, and have been shooting on auto pretty much ever since– in fact, most of the photos on this blog were taken in auto.  I’ve started playing with the manual settings over the past few months and hope to shoot mostly in manual from here on out.  In other words, don’t let the DSLR scare you.  There’s a learning curve but if I can do it anyone can!

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

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First of all, if you plan on buying any camera equipment online be sure to sign up for ebates.  Not only will you get a $10 gift card just for signing up but you’ll get perks like 8% cash back from stores like Kohls and Amazon (for a limited time at Amazon, so jump on that!)  They have almost all the stores where you probably already shop, so it’s very much worth it– especially for big purchases like Black Friday shopping.  Ahem.

1.  The Basics: A Camera

My camera is a basic Nikon D3000, the latest version of which is the Nikon D3200.  It’s a great DSLR for starting out, it has all the functions you want and is very highly rated.  Most deals you’ll see will involve a kit lens (18-55mm).  The kit lens is okay for when you first start out, but you’ll want to add onto it as you learn because you’ll find it has limits.  Canon is another great camera.  I’ve heard there’s not much difference, you either are a Canon person or a Nikon person and rarely switch.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

2.  Camera Lenses

People often think that if you have a fancy camera you can take fancy photos.  Not true– it’s more about the lenses than the camera body itself.  Okay, and mostly it’s about the person behind the camera but having a great lens is half the battle.  The kit lens is good for learning the ropes but you’ll quickly outgrow it.

There’s two types of lenses.  Prime, or fixed, lenses have one depth of field– they don’t zoom in and out.  Zoom lenses can zoom in and out through various depths.  A favorite of mine is the 50mm f/1.8 lens.  It’s called the ‘nifty fifty’ because it’s versatile and has a very low price point compared to other lenses, but it is fixed, which means it won’t zoom.  You’ll also need to focus it yourself, which is kinda hard for me and my bad eyesight.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

The 35mm f/1.8 lens has great ratings, also fixed, but it autofocuses– BONUS!

The next lens on my list is a Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens or the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens.  Any suggestions? I’m going to try them out at the camera store but would LOVE to hear your favorites.

3.  Tripod + Remote

If the light is low, your camera lens will need to ‘stay open’ longer to get more light.  This means your photos will be grainy or blurry unless you steady your camera on a lightweight tripod— and ideally, also use a wireless remote so you don’t move the camera when you press the button.  Both will also come in handy when taking selfies of your family, too!  Or selfies of your mirrors.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

The good news is they aren’t expensive and make a world of difference in your photos– the tripod is about $30 and the remote about $10.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

4.  External Flash

This is on my Christmas list this year for sure: an under-$40 external camera flash like this Neewer Flash Speedlight which fits both Nikon and Canons.  If you’re a new photographer, here’s a tip: USING A FLASH IS THE DEVIL.  I’ve actually not used my camera’s flash in years.  Of course, that causes issues at nighttime or in dark interior shots.  That’s where the external flash comes in handy.  It bounces your camera’s flash off the ceiling which softens a harsh flash.  Here’s an example of a photo taken with a flash and one with an external flash bouncing off the ceiling.


8 Must Have Camera Accessories
WITH AN EXTERNAL FLASH BOUNCING OFF THE CEILING: 8 Must Have Camera Accessories{source: Digital Camera World}

5.  White Balance Cards

If you really want your white balance to be perfect, these cards work well for setting your camera’s settings or even for comparison when post editing.  They may not be a ‘must-have’ for everyday, but if you’re a blogger and trying to get better photos white balance cards will really help.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

6.  Eye-Fi Card

This little Eye-Fi Card automatically and wirelessly uploads photos from your camera to your computer. It has changed the way I upload photos and even how I blog, to say the least.  It’s WONDERFUL.  Whenever I’m in my house or the moment I walk through the door it will automatically upload my pictures to my laptop.  It only uploads the new photos, but keeps the old photos on your camera until you hit ‘delete’.  This has saved me HOURS upon HOURS, plus it’s cordless.  WIN.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

7.  Camera Bag

Now that you have all your equipment, it’s time to carry it around in style.  My JoTotes bag goes with me everywhere I travel.  I adore the color and it fits my camera and lenses beautifully.  Can you spot the JoTote here?

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

Yes. The organized one.  You can find the my bag (Missy Mint) plus many more styles and colors on the JoTotes website.

8 Must Have Camera Accessories

8.  Shoot Fly Shoot Photography and Photoshop Classes

I purchased the Shoot FLY Shoot video series after Haven 2012 and have yet to watch it, but I’ve heard RAVE reviews from fellow bloggers.  It’s sitting there waiting for me, and my goal is to watch the whole thing over Christmas break.  Kevin and Josh teach you not to fear the M (Manual), and explain the basics and beyond in an easy to understand manner.  It’s photography training classes for visual learners– and I’m not sure about you, but I read my camera’s manual inside and out about 40 times (which, I hate to break it to you, but you really do need to do that) and still need someone to SHOW me how it works.

The unofficial last item on the list is post-editing software.  Truthfully, I still just use Picmonkey or iPhoto for post-editing.  Someday when my kids are both in school and I can find a few extra hours I’ll take a class on how to use Photoshop and then enter a world of bliss.  Until then, I put my hands over my ears and sing “lalalalalalala” every time the term ‘Photoshop’ or ‘Lightroom’ or ‘Elements’ comes into the conversation.  Someday.  SOMEDAY.

I’ll be sharing the best deals I can find on cameras and accessories today on Facebook so be sure to follow along if you want the scoop!  And for great photography tips I’m pinning the best to my Photography board on Pinterest.

Who’s looking for a new DSLR camera under the tree?  Which accessories, add-ons, and lenses did I miss?

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