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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

When you first purchase a DSLR, it’s hard to know which accessories you really need, and which are a waste of money.

That’s a problem a reader of this blog faced recently, which caused her to email me and ask about Camera Bag Setups.

Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 14.57.59

It’s not a simple question to answer, so I’ve divided it up into three different price ranges, so I can hopefully appeal to as many people as possible.

The camera bag setup assumes that you already own a camera and a kit lens, so I don’t cover that in this post. If you need help choosing a camera, click here.

Here’s a selection of 10 camera bags to choose from, and a further 10 camera bags, specifically designed for women.

Here you can view the contents of my camera bag.

Before we get started, I should say that all of the links on this page will take you to the US version of Amazon as most of my visitors are US-based, and the lenses are Canon as Canon is a slightly more popular brand than Nikon or Pentax, etc..

[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]

Low Budget Camera Bag – $249.26

31vWjaeygDLLensPen NLP-1 – $5.79

This is one of the first accessories I ever bought for my camera, and it works an absolute treat.

It removes smudges and dust from your lenses, without the use of liquids. Essential.

Nikon 8072 Microfiber Cleaning Cloth – $5.95


The lens pen doesn’t work well on filters as it’s curved, so I usually carry a small lens cleaning cloth with me. This one from Nikon will attach nicely to your camera bag.

Giottos Medium Rocket Air Blaster – $8.66


Dust inside the sensor will have a very noticeable effect on your photos, as you’ll start to see black spots appear. You can remove these by blowing away the dust with this air blaster.

Hoya 52mm UV Filter – $14.99


I recommend everyone buys a UV filter for their camera, because although UV rays will have little effect on your photos, it does serve as a way to protect your lens. I’ve scratched my filter before, and I just threw it out.

That saved me over $1,000 on a ruined lens.

When it comes to buying filters, buy the best quality one you can afford. You don’t want your expensive glass looking through some cheap glass.

Here’s a guide. Make sure you buy the right size for your lens.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens – $110.00


To be entirely honest with you, it’s not an amazing lens, but for the price, you won’t find much like it. It will teach you all about aperture, shooting in low light, and shallow depth of field. It’s mostly plastic however, so they’re not that sturdy. My autofocus broke, but I was done with it by then. I believe the Nikon version is better quality.

Transcend 16GB Class 10 SD Card – $13.94


Fast memory cards are important as they will determine how many photos you can take in burst fire mode. Transcend are good quality, and well priced.

Try to replace them every 2-3 years (depending on how many photos you take) as they don’t last forever and you don’t want them to break on you.

Kata KT DL-N-3 Compact Messenger – $49.99


This is a small, low cost camera bag. It does’t store a whole lot, but it will hold everything I’ve listed above. Kata do great bags, so you can’t go too far wrong with any of theirs.

BlackRapid Metro Camera Strap – $39.95


Finally, the strap that came with your camera needs replacing. It’s not that they’re not good quality, it’s just that these shoulder straps are much more comfortable.

They also allow much faster access to your camera.

Low Budget Camera Bag Setup

Medium Budget Camera Bag – $874.35

From the previous bag:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens – $349.00

414bPv6x0HLThis lens is substantially better quality than the 50mm f/1.8, and it also has an aperture of f/1.4 which will allow two thirds more light in too.

It really is worth the extra cash if you can afford it.

Hoya 58mm Circular Polarizer Filter – $28.66

41-d1YlVtqLRemove glare, haze and reflections from your photos with a polarizing filter.

This is great for landscapes as it darkens the sky and removes the reflections from the foreground.

When it comes to buying filters, buy the best quality one you can afford. You don’t want your expensive glass looking through some cheap glass.

Here’s a guide. Make sure you buy the right size for your lens.

Canon Remote Switch RS60 E3 – $21.99

41QVWJJBECLThere are wireless remote options, but I don’t take many self portraits, so I prefer the wired option.

It allows me to take a photo without touching the camera, and this is important when taking long exposures as you will want to remove camera wobble.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash – $259.00


This is a great introduction flash as it’s cheap, but does the job very well. I have one in my arsenal, even though I typically use more powerful flashes now.

You can’t really go wrong with this one.

Stofen Omni-Bounce for Canon 430EX flash diffuser – $12.49

310ctMh3QTLDirect light from a flash can be very harsh, which is why I recommend purchasing a diffuser cup to go with it.

This will allow you to diffuse the light and make it much softer. It can also act as a small softbox when you point the flash upwards.

Dolica 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod and Ball Head Combo – $53.94

51blVx8sgkL._SL1000_My $300 tripod is the best accessory I own, but I understand that’s not in everyone budgets.

If you want a tripod, but you can’t afford to spend that much, I would suggest this tripod as a good starting point.

Case Logic SLR Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack – $59.99

613gxmzjUSL._SL1000_A slightly bigger bad than the one before so that you can hold the extra gear, and the tripod too. This has had some tremendous reviews on Amazon.

Medium Budget Camera Bag Setup

High Budget Camera Bag – $2,586.90

From the previous bag:

Transcend 32 GB Compact Flash Card 400X – $43.98

51kVgObnCzLIf you can afford a bag setup like this, you’ve probably got a more advanced camera, and they typically take CF cards, rather than SD. This is because they’re faster.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens – $764.95


There’s a ton of lenses I could recommend you purchase when you upgrade your kit lens, but this is a pretty safe bet. I personally own the Canon 24-70 f/2.8, but at nearly $2,000; it’s a lot more money.

If you’re going to upgrade your kit lens, I would recommend that you have a look at your favourite photos and see which focal length and aperture you used for each, and then choose a lens which best suits your requirements from that.

Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash – $499.00


This is Canon’s latest and most advanced flash. Not only does the flash head cover wide ranges of 20-200mm, but it’s extremely durable, and it now features radio transmitters.

That means that you can trigger your flash wirelessly, while it’s off-camera.

Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter – $295.00

71T5GNYDGsL._SL1500_This is how you control your new wireless flash off-camera. Rather than having to purchase radio transmitters and flashes, you can do both with the Canon 600EX flash, and this new transmitter.

Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce for Canon 600EX-RT Flash – $12.45

21OwC21EGeLDirect light from a flash can be very harsh, which is why I recommend purchasing a diffuser cup to go with it. This will allow you to diffuse the light and make it much softer.

It can also act as a small softbox when you point the flash upwards.

ExpoImaging ROGUEGELS – $29.95

41-H63hyfjLThese gels are pretty essential for anyone who uses a flash, because they will correct the colour balance of the light that you’re using.

For example, if you’re shooting indoors, under a tungsten light, your flash white balance is going to be very different to that of the room.

You use these filters to balance the light from your flash with the ambient light in the room.

You can also use creative gels for more interesting lighting.

Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap – $58.95

410P4oxSesLA slightly improved strap to the one listed previously, this strap is designed to handle more weight, and distribute it evenly across your shoulder, while still making the camera easy to access.

Lowepro Fastpack 350-Black – $127.71

41w6g6Su2KLThis bag is not only big enough to store everything you would likely want to carry, but it also allows for easy access when you’re on the go.

Manfrotto 190XPROB 3 Section Aluminum Pro Tripod – $169.88

71TS3Q+NZIL._SL1500_This tripod is the best accessory I own, but it’s not cheap. For the price, you only get the legs of the tripod. But they’re strong and sturdy, not too heavy, and very easy to use and put into awkward positions.

Manfrotto 324RC2 Joystick Head – $149.99

51VEXW6tesLThe joystick head is my tripod head of choice as I like to be able to make quick, and minor adjustments to my framing. You simple squeeze the handle, reposition, and let go.


What have I missed from this list that you include in your camera bag?

High Budget Camera Bag Setup
3 Essential Camera Bag Setups for Beginner Photographers

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Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photographer in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that we provide you with the best content from the most knowledgeable photographers in the world. Enjoy the site :)

  • Nancy Velez

    Just beginning to really learn about photography. Hubby has been doing it for a long time and is a great help. Experimenting for now. Thanks for this great information!