October 29, 2020 0 Comments
By Andy Biggs with help from the Gura Gear Pro Team
We strive to make the ultimate camera backpacks, but of course, when you’re on location, what’s in the bag is just as important. The Pro Team and I spend days and weeks at a time out in nature. Naturally, we have a lot to say about our gear and decided to put together this list of the 10 best nature photography accessories. Some of these are directly related to photography, but I also wanted to include some less conventional items that have really come in handy when I’m out on photography trips. Think you already have the ultimate loadout? Read on. You might be surprised.
We’ve all been there, thinking “Is TSA going to take this from me?” or worse yet accidentally leaving our old multi-tool in our bag just to have it confiscated. On top of that frustration is the risk of not being able to do any needed adjustments or repairs. My favorite TSA compliant multi-tool is this one from SmallRig.
Weighing in at only 55 grams, it’ll barely make a dent in your weight allowance and still has a solid metal construction that provides the perfect balance of lightweight and build quality.
It has eight foldout bits that correspond nicely to most DJI, Zhiyun, and other camera accessories which makes it an even greater asset for videographers. All of this comes in an attractive Swiss army knife-like form factor.
I spend a lot of time on photography trips that can go on for several weeks in remote areas so having a mishap with my glasses can be a real setback. The Mega Pro Driver Kit has the bits I need to work on my glasses in a smart compact form factor at about the same size and dimensions as an average ink pen.
The driver kit features four bits (two on each end) that are the perfect size to work on many small electronics as well.
There’s no shortage of 3rd party options when you’re looking for a camera battery charger, but our head and shoulders favorite one is this Duo Charger from Watson. You’ll notice a running theme here at Gura Gear is our love for versatility, compactness, and weight savings, which this handy accessory provides all of.
Their Duo Charger is compatible with voltages worldwide and is AC powered for fast charging. The killer feature here though is its interchangeable plates. Simply swap out the plates, and it can charge batteries from another camera system. This versatility makes it a game-changer for those of us who shoot and carry multiple systems as well as those who use lighting devices powered by other camera batteries. Watson sells plates for Canon, Sony, Leica, Fuji, Nikon, and GoPro. No matter your loadout, you can probably use this one device to charge all of your camera batteries.
Staking out and waiting for the perfect shot means nature photographers are often going to be out in the early mornings or late at night. During those times, we’re going to need a little illumination and a headlamp is the perfect hands free solution.
My favorite is this one from BioLite, which has both a white light and a red light. The red light is great for not blinding yourself so your eyes can more quickly stay adjusted to the dark environment.
Additionally, it has 200 lumens of output and is rechargeable via Micro-USB
When traveling abroad, an international power adapter is essential. I prefer simple all-in-one adapter blocks like this one over the kits that have multiple prongs to keep up with. Its simpler design saves crucial space and doesn’t create the opportunity to lose pieces.
When you’re not using it to deal with adapting power outlets, you can simply use it for its USB charging as well. I haven’t found a major difference among any of the ones I’ve come across over the years so a nice compact one like this one from Amazon Essentials is the way I’d go.
Data backup and redundancy is absolutely essential on important shoots. Offloading data to a hard drive for years meant needing to carry a laptop on my trips and maybe even in the field.
Then, Gnar Box came along and changed everything. Their latest model, the Gnar Box 2.0 SSD has super-fast data transfers (390 MBPS), two USB-C ports, and capacity options up to 1 terabyte. It also has a rugged military spec design and mobile apps with Frame.io and Dropbox integration to aid in cloud backup.
The only minor gripe is that on the device itself, it only has an SD card slot. In order to offload XQD, CF, or CFast card data, you’ll need to use a separate card reader and connect it via USB-C. However, to maintain its compact design and appeal to the largest number of photographers, I understand the design choice.
As useful of a product as the last entry is, I still agree with Scott Stulberg’s recommendation to bring enough memory cards on trips that you don’t have to offload them. After all, devices fail and the more redundancy, you can build into your workflow, the less likely you’ll be to lose an important shot.
Additionally, we’re all human and make mistakes. Ever grabbed your camera and left excited for a day of shooting only to realize you left your card on your desk from the last backup session? I won’t name names, but a couple of us have. Having a few extras in your bag will help to ensure your trips go smoothly and that you don’t waste time doubling back to grab a memory card you left behind.
There are a ton of variables that go into what memory card is the right one, but an interesting resource is this website that will tell you the fastest memory card your camera body can fully utilize so you don’t waste money on unneeded speed or features.
You got the decisive moment you waited and waited for, but you get home, open up your files, and notice a GIANT PIECE OF DUST or a SMUDGE was on your lens. It’s happened to all of us and if it hasn’t, then count yourself lucky.
This handy little accessory could save you hours or days in post-processing and could even mean the difference between a usable and unusable image. I happen to use this one from Nikon, but they’re all basically similar enough. It has two sides; one is a liquid-free-compound treated chamois to remove more stubborn dust, smudges, and fingerprints. The other side is a soft brush for more gentle dust removal.
Lastly, it’s not only great for camera lenses but all other optics including telescopes and binoculars.
You can never have too many lens cloths stashed away. Clearly, we prefer Gura Gear branded ones!
Battery Banks have so many uses including making sure your camera doesn’t cut out during that stunning time-lapse you set up. Our favorite one is the PowerCore III Elite 25600 from Anker. The capacity, as the name suggests, is a massive 25,600mAh, which comes in just slightly under the FAA restriction. That provides enough juice to recharge a 13 inch MacBook Pro 1.5 times, which it does quite quickly from its 60-watt USB-C Port. The other two USB (Type - A) ports each output 18 watts.
If you travel with a laptop, you’ll be able to appreciate that the included very compact power brick outputs 65 watts saving you the need to carry your larger dedicated laptop brick. The other benefit of the 65-watt brick is that despite this pack’s massive capacity, you can fully charge it in 3 hours.
And there you have it, our 10 best accessories that we think all nature photographers would benefit from having in their camera bag.
Think we missed something? Comment below with something you always keep in your camera bag that didn’t make the list. We’d love to know.
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I love to photograph the Salton Sea area. I am so drawn to things that are discarded and in decay and this place certainly is one of them. It’s as if one day I might see it’s miraculous resurrection and I will have images to tell it’s dilapidated history.