Spring is here and unlike this year’s over enthusiastic early-blooming daffodils, we want all photographers to be fully prepared for any outdoor adventures they may be going on over the coming months.
Below we have compiled an all-inclusive list of essential items for the outdoor photographer braving the elements to shoot in forests, up mountains, through valleys, or while being battered on the coast.
Outdoor camera bags
One of the most important accessories for any outdoor photographer is the bag or case that they use to carry their outdoor photography gear. Being able to walk, hike, or climb freely is essential, and so a specially designed outdoor camera backpack is normally preferable. There are many hundreds of bags to choose from, but here are a few that we think are perfect...
This bag can be bought in either a 20L or 30L version for under £130. It’s incredibly light, and will hold a small DSLR with a couple or lenses that can be accessed from a side hatch; meaning the bag does not have to be fully removed to access your camera. Its highly protective camera case is removable - just over half the interior is reserved for personal belongings (as opposed to camera equipment) and it comes with a trampoline mesh rear, allowing for good ventilation to your back. The water resistant fabric is backed up by a removable waterproof cover, and there is also an external tripod carrying strap (although these aren’t built for heavy or large tripods).
This outdoor photography backpack is a light, rugged option that is tailored towards hikers who need be able to access their equipment quickly.
Targeted at outdoor adventurers, for under £290, this bag caters not only for general outdoor photographers, but also the skiing, ice trekking, and mountain climbing outdoor photographer. With many strap systems that allow skis, helmets, walking sticks, tripods, and numerous other items to be attached to this bag, you should never be without what you need to get the best shot possible - whatever mountain you’re on.
The waterproof ‘wet-gear’ pocket with drainage holes allows shoes, ropes, or crampons etc. to be carried, with no risk of dampening your personal items in the small top pocket, or any outdoor camera gear in the large rear camera box at the back of the bag. Opening from the rear does mean the bag needs to be removed for access, however with it’s ‘Hypalon’ super tough, waterproof base, the bag can be set down in all manner of adverse conditions.
This bag is built for alpine adventurers and it really delivers.
Admittedly these are not backpacks, however when using smaller kit or quickly moving between town and countryside, these reasonably small shoulder bags are ideal. With wide, gripping straps, lots of pockets, and a weather resistant waxed canvas exterior, they are brilliantly tough and simple. There are not many extras or gadgets when it comes to Domke Rugged Wear products - just well designed, good quality waxed canvas bags with strong metal catches.
For a good quality bag that can be battered and beaten up, while still maintaining its quality feel, these are an ideal choice. They are also very unassuming and can easily be used as a normal day bag once the inserts are removed.
The next essential accessory for most outdoor photographers is a light but sturdy tripod. Again there are a huge amount of tripods to choose from, but below are the ones we would recommend for outdoor photographers. There are certain factors that will dictate which tripods are suitable for you and your equipment: if the tripod is made from Carbon Fibre (CF), it is going to be light and durable, however generally, tripods made from CF are a bit pricier than their aluminium rivals. Always remember to check how small a tripod can fold down, and also check the weight of your equipment before buying any tripod!
This tripod is light at just 1.67 kg (without the head) and also tough, due to its carbon fibre construction. It’s easy to set up with twist lock leg sections and can get nice and close to the ground with a 90° pivoting centre column and 4 selectable leg angles. The tripod can hold up to a whopping 6 kg and closes down to a mere 55 cm, making it easy to travel with. This combination is available for just £359.95.
The Manfrotto BEFREE Tripod is built for travel and can be yours for just £119. At only 40 cm long when folded, the tripod is easy to attach to a rucksack and also fits in carry on luggage when travelling by plane. The BEFREE can carry up to 4 kg of weight, and the folding system allows the legs to perfectly fold around the head.
At just £44, the PIXI EVO is one of the most reasonably priced, smallest, lightest options currently on the market. This table top tripod is just 20 cm long and can still support a whopping 2.5 kg. It can shoot in portrait mode, and with two different leg angles and a sliding leg length selector, images can be shot at ground level - perfect for landscape photographers trying to capture the real perspective of a scene. This tripod is great for any photographers wanting to really reduce the size and weight of their kit, cutting back to the bare minimum in order to explore further for longer.
Other equipment for outdoor photography
A lot of accessories are very personal to what and where you shoot. Below we have a list of reminders for the different outdoor photographers out there, in order to create your ideal kit bag.
Lenscoat create a whole range of camo lens covers and bags - a must have for all wildlife and birding photographers out there. For everybody else, these make great protectors - keeping your equipment in top condition even after wild adventures.
For those cameras without built-in GPS, a GPS plug in can be very useful. These are perfect for that long hike through the mountains, where you have those pictures of those lakes…that look similar…and you have no idea what they’re called or where they were taken. A GPS unit can make keywording and writing detailed descriptions of your images a breeze; although be aware they are frowned upon in a lot of safari locations due to poaching.
If you want to achieve any long exposures, or take photos of awkwardly placed wildlife, it’s worth keeping a remote in the outdoor kit bag just in case.
After photographing all day in the pouring rain, the last thing any photographer needs is a lost, damaged, or broken memory card. Use one of these specially built Peli Cases to keep your cards - and your hard work - safe from the elements!
Using that old cloth at the bottom of your bag to clean your lenses while out and about will just move the grit and grease around. Having this kit on hand allows for quick and effective cleaning while on the move.
Granted, these are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, for the really, really dedicated outdoor photographer, they do give a much needed layer of protection for any sudden downpours.
Lastly, in my personal experience there is one accessory that is invaluable in the field that no camera shops really sell – a hand towel. They’re great to just quickly dry off your camera after being out in the rain, and to throw on the ground/wall/rocks to give you a nice soft surface to place any equipment on that you need to set down; in fact I have found keeping one in my rucksack to be absolutely invaluable.
Obviously, there are hundreds of other outdoor photography accessories available across the market today, and building your ideal personal kit takes time. However, we hope this guide helps you towards finding your perfect outdoor photography kit.
So, if you want to buy outdoor photography equipment at competitive prices, or if you are looking for tips for outdoor photography, visit www.parkcameras.com, call our knowledgeable team on 01444 23 70 70, or send them an email to email@example.com.
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