Amateur digital photographer’s toolkit
As enthusiastic as I am about digital photography, I’m hardly a professional. But I’m getting better—largely because I’ve finally stuffed the right collection of accessories into my camera bag. Maybe the following items will help you, too.
Extra Media Card My camera’s pixel count is high enough, and storage prices are low enough, that I’m now shooting uncompressed raw images. I’ve also learned about the wonders of bracketing to capture images at different exposures. This eats up memory in a big way. Don’t be caught with a camera that’s too full to capture the perfect image.
Lens Cloth Camera lenses get smudged. Stop by the local spectacles emporium and pick up a cloth for cleaning a dusty or smudgy lens.
Extra Batteries If you run out of space on your media card, you can always make room by dumping images you know you won’t want. But if your battery dies, there’s no such easy fix. No power on earth except a freshly charged spare will make your camera work again.
The Manual Because I’m a Mac user, I don’t generally read manuals. But my camera is a complex device, and having the manual is useful when I want to know how to make the camera jump through an obscure hoop.
Small Tripod I drink a lot of coffee and therefore don’t have the steadiest hands. If you’re like me, pick up a small tripod that you can pack in your pocket. When the light is low, you’ll be glad you did.
Card Reader When shooting in the field, I sometimes bring a laptop for previewing images. Having a card reader that plugs into my PowerBook’s PC Card slot is a godsend. Unlike using a USB cable strung from camera to computer, transferring images through a card doesn’t pull power from my camera’s battery. No PC Card slot on your laptop? A USB card reader works just as well.
Picture Rescue If your camera’s media card becomes confused or corrupted, you’ll need a utility to help retrieve your precious images. Prosoft Engineering’s Picture Rescue ($59) is the tool to use.
Tip of the month
Trim your Mail folder: I was running out of disk space on my PowerBook, and it occurred to me to look through my old Entourage mail to see if I could clean things up there.
When scrolling through my Sent Items folder, I realized that I had tons of old sent messages with attachments. Presumably, I have copies of all those attached files somewhere else, so I don’t really need them in Entourage. I sorted the Sent Items folder by Attachment, selected all the messages that had attachments, and then selected Message: Remove All Attachments.
To further trim Entourage’s database, I archived a lot of old mail into a new mailbox, dragged that mailbox to the desktop to create an .mbox file, backed that file up, and trashed the original mailbox in Entourage. Finally, I quit Entourage and relaunched it while holding down the option key. When the Database Utility appeared, I chose the option to compact the database. When the Database Utility finished, my database was a third less bloated than when I started.— Jack Stephens
[ Senior Editor Christopher Breen is the author of The iPod and iTunes Pocket Guide, second edition (Peachpit Press, 2006). ]