Well, now that we’ve finished the shopping list articles on camera features, I thought now would be a good time to mention a few accessories that are a good idea to buy. For those of you who (like me) can’t afford everything, I’ll be mentioning the importance of each item. That way, you can see what to buy now, and what to ask for when making a wish list.
Importance ratings scale is from 1 to 3, with 3 being the most importance.
If you can only afford one accessory, this is the one to get. Keep in mind that camera accessories pile up quickly. I started with a small bag, which had room for my camera, power supply, extra tapes, etc. As I acquired more equipment, I moved to a larger bag, which I have yet to outgrow. Just buy something affordable but not junky, remembering that this is your expensive camera that this bag is protecting. You want a fairly sturdy bag, with moveable dividers inside being a huge plus. It wouldn’t hurt to have plenty of pockets, either.
Most cameras ship with puny hour long batteries. Try shooting a whole day outdoors with that. Get the biggest battery you can afford. Oh, and make sure it fits your camera. Batteries are not standard. Don’t be surprised if the battery pack adds quite a bit of weight to your camera. If you don’t plan on filming outside away from electricity for hours on end, this isn’t as important.
Unless you’re trying to make a fashion statement with shaky video, a tripod is a must. I won’t say it’s impossible to learn to shoot steady video without a tripod, but I will say it’s pretty tough. Buy a tripod with locking axes, allowing you to tilt independently of panning, and so on. You really don’t want to be trying to make a nice pan, only to discover that the tripod head tilted upwards while you moved it.
Lens Cleaning Kit
Dust and hair on your camera lens makes for pretty nasty looking video. It is possible to prolong the time in between cleanings by keeping the lens cap on, but eventually, you’ll want a lens cleaning kit. Mine has a small bottle of cleaner and some cleaning tissues. I’m not sure if all kits are like mine, so yours may be a bit different.
Recording Head Cleaner Tape
A cleaning tape looks like a regular mini DV tape, but don’t try to record onto it! This tape is quite special. Eventually, your camera’s recording heads will get dirty, which in turn ruins any video you shoot with the dirty heads.
These five accessories are probably the most basic and important things you can buy for your camera. My cleaning tape and lens cleaner stay in my camera bag, which carries my camera, where the bigger battery is stored. I bring the camera bag (filled with all that stuff) and tripod to every shoot I do.