Some compact cameras are small enough to fit in your handbag or pocket, but I still recommend purchasing a camera case. It will save your camera from unnecessary wear and tear.
What do you put in your camera bag? I place my camera, spare batteries and memory cards, a cleaning kit and any extra lenses or filters I want to take on the day into my camera bag.
Don't pack everything in your camera bag every time you go out to take photos. Travel as light as possible. Maybe purchase two camera bags - a large camera case and a smaller camera bag for those 'pack light' times.
Clean your camera bag occasionally. Dust can accumulate and could cause problems with your camera and equipment by accumulating on your lens.
Keep your camera away from luggage handlers! Most airlines allow one carry-on PLUS a personal item. A camera bag usually qualifies as your personal item.
What kinds of camera bags are there?
A weatherproof top loading shoulder camera bag is the best and most versatile option, because you can place the camera case on the ground and open the lid to retrieve your equipment.
The size of camera bag you purchase will depend on the size of your digital camera. If you have a larger camera with lots of accessories, consider purchasing a larger camera bag that has wheels. The wheels allow you to take your bag with you easily rather than lugging it around over your shoulder. Some bags with wheels can double as backpacks for when you're hiking.
If your digital camera is a small pocket model, a fanny pack for just your camera will work really well. Keep the pack over your stomach (rather than your lower back) if you're concerned about theft.
Purchasing a camera bag
When purchasing a new camera case, it's important to note the following:
- Avoid brand name camera bags. If you have a more expensive camera, try to purchase a camera bag that does not LOOK like a camera bag. Thieves are always on the lookout for bags that look like they contain valuable equipment and nothing says 'valuable inside' more than a camera case with a camera maker's brand plastered all around the outside. Purchase a camera case that's a little less conspicuous - they're usually less expensive as well.
- Think of the accessories you'll place in a camera bag before purchasing. Do you have any other equipment (such as a card reader) you might want to take with your camera? What about accessories you are thinking about purchasing in the near future?
- A camera bag with moveable padded inserts will be more versatile than one without because you can customize the inside of the camera bag to your particular camera and accessories.
- Buy a camera case with lots of pockets and zippered compartments. This way, you can store used digital camera batteries in one pocket and unused batteries in another. The same with your memory cards... I label my pockets with labels like "Batteries - Used" so I can quickly find the correct pocket while out and about.
- Watch out for the prices of camera cases (and other accessories) when purchasing a camera case at the same time as your camera. Many retailers lower the price of their cameras to compete, and increase their accessory prices to compensate.
David Peterson has a great love of photography and has created a series of free tips at http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/ to help digital photography users everywhere take better photos.