It is easy to get
lost in the sea of camera accessories that photographers use.
I will try to summarize what items are useful in my bag and
which are not.
Photoshop has greatly
reduced the need for filters on the camera. I can't say that
I mess with many of them. The only filter that I wholeheartedly
recommend is the polarizing filter.
I have a Nikon circular
polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are not cheap. It takes
a good manufacturer to build a polarizing filter that does
not introduce a color cast in your images. I have had great
sucess with the Nikon version. The Nikon polarizing filter
also offers a front element that is larger in diameter than
most - this helps to avoid vignetting.
Most people think
the greatest need for a polarizing filter is to reduce reflections
on surfaces like glass, or a lake. this can be handy, but
the main effect I am after is for more saturated colors. A
polarizing filter makes colors more saturated and vivid. It
is especially handy for a bright sky. When you are out in
the middle of the day trying to capture pictures in the wrong
light, the polarizing filter can help to cut through haze
and make the sky more vivid and bright blue. It can be a good
effect and has helped many of my pictures.
The newest filters
in my bag are two neutral
density graduated filters from Hitech. I have the 0.6
soft and the 0.9 hard, both in the 85mm width that will fit
in a standard Cokin P type holder. I hope to have example
pictures posted and a full description of these filters in
the near future. (example
pictures are now up on my ND instructional page.) I am
very excited to the possibilities opened up with this product
and hope they help me to deal with high contrast lighting
A good tripod and
head is a great investment in photography. If you buy a good
version it will often be in use for longer than your digital
SLR, so invest wisely.
If I was buying
today, I would look at the Bogen Manfrotto 3001BN or the Gitzo
Explorer G2220. Everyone seems to lust after the carbon
fiber models with the sole advantage being lighter weight.
You should go to a store and heft the carbon and aluminum
versions side by side and decide if the carbon model is worth
doubling the price.
My previous tripos
was a cheapie Velbon. Not a great tripod, but it was much
better than no tripod, which is what I see most people trying
to get by with. I have currently purchased a new Gitzo Explorer
G2220 and I use it as my main tripod.
The contenders that
I have considered for a head are the Markins M10, Really Right
Stuff (RRS) BH-40, and the Arca Swiss B1. I finally purchased
the Really Right
Stuff BH-40 a few weeks ago and am getting used to it.
It is a wonderful tool that is highly recommended.
The standard for
quick release system is the Arca Swiss type and I would not
consider any head or other equipment that was not compatible
with the Arca Swiss type quick release. I currently use a
Really Right Stuff plate on my Nikon FE2.