Accessories

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From Back Packs to Window Clamps, a wide array of accessories help to make good images.

Back Packs A backpack-type camera bag will hold a lot of equipment.  The one at right is holding a 400mm lens, two additional lenses, 2 camera bodies, a flash, and some other equipment.  Foam-padded dividers, held in place by velcro, separate and protect the components. Disadvantage?  I'd hard to get to the equipment when its on your back.  Advantage? You can carry a lot of equipment a long way.
Batteries Always have extra batteries with you, both for the camera and for the flash.  Photo batteries are becoming more common in drugstores and grocery stores, but they still aren't as common as regular flashlight batteries.
Battery Packs Because camera batteries are so expensive, and because modern cameras use so much energy, battery packs are useful accessories.  The one at right uses 4 AA batteries, which are widely available.  It can also use rechargeable batteries.  The battery pack itself forms a vertical grip with its own shutter release, making the camera easier to hold in a vertical position.
Camera Holsters The holster-type camera bag has much to recommend it.  It can be worn on a belt or harness, or carried by its own shoulder strap.  These models can also be attached to the hip belt of the backpack-type camera bag (above) or the fanny pack (below).  The larger one at the right will hold a professional SLR with a 400mm lense and 1.4x extender attached and ready to shoot.  The smaller one will hold a similar camera body and 1 100-300mm zoom.
Camera Manuals Don't forget your manuals.  Modern cameras are complicated enough that everyone needs a refresher now and then.  In addition to the camera manual, you may want to purchase an aftermarket book on your camera for a perspective slightly different than the manufacturer's.  If the manual is small, you can carry it in your camera bag (wrapped in a ziplock bag); if it is larger you may want to photocopy key pages.
Camera Strap Forget that thin, woven-fabric, tie-it-on the camera strap that came with your camera.  Get a good neoprene camera strap that cushions the neck, absorbs both shock and sweat, and which has a quick release (blue arrows) for when the strap is just getting in the way.
Fanny Pack The fanny pack-style camera bag is a good way to go into the field with an intermediate load of equipment.  This bag is shown with a camera body (and attached lens), two additional lenses, and a flash.  It has a shoulder strap for stability and comes with an integral waterproof cover (stored in a pocket underneath) and a detachable backpack.  You can also mount camera holster cases to this fanny pack's belt.
Flash Extenders Flash Extenders attach to a flash unit and focus the light beam more tightly.  This works well with telephoto lenses which have a narrower angle of view.  A flash extender allows the flash to be used with a telephoto lens at a greater distance.  The Fresnel lens on  the front also makes a great firestarter in survival situations. Also available are Flash Diffusers (not shown) which adapt a flash to work with wide-angle lenses.
Focusing Screens Some cameras allow you to interchange the focusing screen mounted above the camera's mirror.  The two shown here are particularly helpful in composition.  The top one has a grid used to make sure the camera is level and that the subject is properly framed.  The lower one has scales useful for determining magnification ratios in macro or microscopic work.
Gray Card A gray card is very useful for metering.  If you carry it in the field, be sure to protect it with plastic.  Your skin will do in a pinch.
Lens Bags Smaller than the fanny pack shown above, this lens pack mounts to a belt/harness system (along with the camera holsters shown above).  It holds 3 medium-sized lenses, or, as shown here, 2 lenses and a flash.  Used in combo with one or two holsters, it is a light way to carry a smaller complement of equipment into the field.
Lens Cloths Special lens cleaning cloth can be used to remove fingerprints and some spots from multicoated lenses.  The cloths can be washed and reused.  They are much more effective than handkerchiefs or the tail of your shirt.  For instructions on using them, click here.
Lens Pens At the bottom of this lens pen is a brush used to remove dust and grit from a lens; at the top is a tip of a special rubber compound that can safely polish away grease and spots on multicoated lenses.  For instructions on using it, click here.
Loupes Loupes are used on the light table to examine slides and negatives.   They vary in magnification; 8x is about the larges that can view a whole slide at once.  The plastic base sits right on the slide; this model has a scale at the bottom for measuring.
Macro Slider Macro sliders (focusing rails) allow you to more easily position the camera when doing close up work on a tripod or a copystand. The two knobs allow you to move the camera towards or away from the subject (to help focus) or laterally (to help compose).  The movements are much more precise and controllable than the adjustments of most tripods or ball heads.
Pocket Bouncer The pocket bouncer clips on to your flash and bounces the light towards the subject.  This diffuses harsh flash light.  It does mean you will have to be closer to your subject, however.
Reflectors Reflectors are used to bounce light back into areas of heavy shade.  A bit unwieldy in the field, but still useful.  These models fold into small pockets for easy carrying; the one that is open shoes a gold face that "warms" the reflected light.
Remote Shutter Releases Remote shutter releases allow you to fire the shutter without jarring the camera.  The one on the left also has timer and intervalometer functions built into it.  The small unit in the center is an infrared wireless remote.  Longer range radio-controlled releases are also available.
Tripods A good tripod is an essential for photography, especially telephoto work.  Tripods can also be useful for macro work, as the tripod to the right illustrates.  All things being equal, get the heaviest tripod you can carry (although there are a few very sturdy, light tripods on the market).
Viewers There are a number of accessories for the viewfinder.  Not shown are diopter inserts which match your prescription and allow you to see the viewfinder without glasses.  Pictured here is an angle finder, useful when the camera is in an awkward position (near the ground or on a microscope).  The unit in the middle is an adapter, and the unit to the right is a magnifier that clips into the adapter and magnifies the central part of the viewfinder.
Waterproof Cases Waterproof cases are useful for underwater camera gear (which, one assumes, will be used near water).  They are also good for carrying "normal" gear near water, or as nearly indestructible cases for airline or backcountry travel.  Some models are lined with "pluck and fit" foam, others have fabric camera bags inside.  

Hint:  When traveling, encase your waterproof camera bag in an old duffle bag as a disguise.

Window Mounts Cars make excellent blinds for observing wildlife; window mounts such as the one shown here make it easier to hold the camera steady.  The clamp on the bottom fits over the glass of the window.  Mounted on the clamp  is a ball head; it swivels to allow the camera to be aimed quickly; then the ball head is locked by turning a single knob.  On top of the ball head is a quick release plate.  It latches onto a reciprocal plate mounted on the bottom of a camera or lens and allows the camera or lens to be quickly mounted or removed from the ball head.  Ball heads are often commonly used on tripods.