Essential accessories: Batteries, memory cards and bags
OTHER PARTS OF THE SERIES SO FAR:
Essential kit for your Canon T2i/550D if you’re on a budget:
Part 1: Basic lenses
Part 3: Depth of Field, Aperture & ND filters
ADDED March 26, 2010:
Finally, several replacement batteries have popped up on eBay, all of them significantly cheaper than the original LP-E8. I can tell you out of experience that many of the replacement batteries are comparable with the original regarding their capacity. I just ordered four of those cheap ones because I consider my 550D my “budget setup” and therefore I rather invest in good glass than expensive batteries 🙂
But hey, don’t blame me if they aren’t as good as the originals! Haven’t tested them yet … will post an update once I have them. I’m thinking: Even if they’re only half as good as the original, I paid one-fifth of the price!!
Here’s the more expensive original:
I covered the most basic HDSLR “accessories”, lenses, last time. Of course, without a lens you just can’t shoot anything, it’s as simple as that. That’s why I tried to skim the surface of this somewhat infinite subject first. Today I cover the really boring “support gear” of equal or at least similar importance: batteries, memory cards and bags.
Most of you might think this is obvious, but I got a lot of questions from keen amateurs regarding this simple topic: how many batteries should you own?
Shooting video on DSLRs is really draining the batteries extremely fast, that’s simply because these cameras are still only partially thought of as video cameras by the manufacturers, at their heart they are still meant for stills. And in normal stills mode, you don’t need the LiveView monitor – traditional photographers still use the viewfinder, which lets you look right trough the lens through a mirror (therefore, this eats up very little battery).
When shooting video, you have to use the LiveView Mode, because the flipped-up mirror inside the camera is blocking the view through the viewfinder.
(If you are confused now and need even more explanation, check out this Wikipedia article that explains everything much better than I can.)
So the LiveView monitor of course needs a lot of power and the battery drains fast when you have it on all the time. I recommend getting at least 3 batteries for a start – one in the camera, one ready and one in the charger at all times. If you are out and about a lot and don’t have a chance of recharging, I would say 5 batteries are very recommendable.
The Rebel T2i / 550D uses a new type of battery that is not compatible with the 5Dmk2 or the 7D. It is unfortunately so new that you are currently forced to buy the original Canon LP-E8 battery. Considerably cheaper compatible batteries were already announced, but it might take some weeks for those to hit the market. Be sure to check back here when they do, I of course will provide a link. Compatible batteries are typically not as good as the originals, but quite often it still pays off buying them because they are so much cheaper. (And you can buy more for the same amount of money.)
Next up are memory cards. Same as with the batteries, you don’t want to run out of memory in the field. So get enough SD cards for your Rebel T2i / 550D.
As opposed to the 5Dmk2 and the 7D, this camera uses SD cards only. It can digest SD, SDHC and the new SDXC cards which can theoretically hold up to 2 TB (but that is still far, far away). It takes SDHC cards with a maximum of 32 GB.
The cards you get have to be fast in order to be able to save the constant data stream of video right away. So get only cards that have “Class 6” written on them. I can personally recommend the Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6 cards as I have been using them day in and day out with my Sony EX3 (using a SDHC card adapter). Haven’t had a problem with any of them so far. I wouldn’t use any cards smaller than 16 GB – when shooting video, those cards will fill up really fast! There’s space for about 48 minutes of 1080p video on one 16GB card (4 chunks of the maximum clip length of 12 minutes, 4GB each).
SanDisk Ultra II are also great, both 16GB and 32 GB versions are available. I used a lower capacity card at first that worked fine for me, although they are classified as Class 4, which is supposedly too slow for 1080p – but it wasn’t. I cannot guarantee you they will perform as good as Class 6 cards and I wouldn’t recommend using them continuously in a professional environment, but they worked for me for the brief time I used them when starting to shoot my short “FEBRUARY”.
SanDisk also has higher-performance cards on offer, SanDisk Extreme, which are sure to perform extraordinarily well but cost quite a bit more. Transcend also has Class 10 cards on offer, but they cost only half as much as the SanDisk cards of the same size cost! (See Amazon links right below.)
On a typical shooting day – this really varies extremely due the circumstances or the subject matter – I shoot between 1 and 5 hours of footage. So if you get around three to five 16GB cards for a start, you are on the safe side if you plan on shooting without having to offload your cards several times a day.
I don’t want to talk about camera bags too much, because there are obvious choices. I’ve worked as a photographer’s assistant for years and know lots of these DSLR bags from carrying them around all the time. Which one is the right one for you depends entirely on your needs of course:
This Lowepro Fastback 250 is great if want to have access to your camera fast and you don’t want to carry it around your neck all the time.
Mini bags like this one or this one are great if you don’t want to carry much more than the camera and one or two additional lenses and some batteries.
For normal carrying around, check out this Nikon backpack that I really like, or this other one from Lowepro. It’s so slim you won’t even notice you’re wearing it!
So that’s all about these basic but really essential accessories. Next time I will talk about ND filters and after that, audio recording will be on the agenda!
If you want to keep up to date all the time, please follow me on twitter and/or send me your questions!
Thanks so much for posting this info, I enjoy reading your blog! This is great stuff and so helpful for a novice. I’ve been shooting on the HV30 for the last two years so I’m going from tape to SD Cards. Are you keeping all of your footage after you download it and edit it? If so, would you mind recommending some storage options?
Thanks for this info. I just picked up a T2i and this is exactly what I need. I’m on a tight budget.
Maybe a post on accessories for great video. I would love to make budget music videos for local bands.
@frank B Thanks for the links !
Thank you for all the info.
I have a quick question about batteries: How many minutes of video can you approximately shoot on one battery?
This will help me decide how many extra batteries I’ll need.
I look forward to the next one.
Oh and theres a new 550D forum/website out. Seems similar to hv20.com. But yeah its 550d.co.uk.
Seems empty, so we better start bombarding it. lol
hey man nice!
got a bag and a extra battery (for starters)
cam is on it’s way … monday or tuesday …
i’m curious and will have a test run how long batteries and SD card’s will last in the real world … what was your experience on your test-shoot ?
I have been eagerly awaiting this camera since the day it was announced. I caught your February footage as soon as it was released, and was blown away at what this little camera can do. Thanks for getting it out there for all to see!
I’m curious on this post. You mention using Sandisk Ultra II cards. Why do you recommend these over Sandisk Extreme? The Ultra II are rated as Class 4, which isn’t fast enough. I realize Sandisk also labels them as being 15 MB/S, which in theory should qualify them for Class 10 status.
In your experience have you found the Ultra II to be fast enough for full 1080P 30 fps video? If so, I’d love to know for sure. Any speed tests you’ve done, or that you could point me to?
I have one 32GB Sandisk Extreme Class 10 on order, and if Ultra II will work well for half the price of the Extreme, I may get those instead when I order more cards.
Thanks, and keep up the great work!
I just wanted to thank Nino so much for this blog. I’m very very new to DSLR (got my first, the T2i, this week) and know next to nothing. This blog has been a godsend. I’m curious tho: since it comes with 18-55 MM lens, why do you recommend the 50 mm in your basic lens article?
Nicolas, I’m in the same boat as you. Just bought the T2i and I’m diving right in for all the info I can find. I’ve heard having the kit lens is great for resale value and for a backup.
As far as finding the one lens for all, you may be disappointed. I think you should look into 2-3 different lenses. Ask yourself what kind of shots are most important to you and what is your budget. Then go from there.
Check out this site. You’ll be on it for days. This is Part III. Lenses. A
Also YouTube has been good to me. Like this….
….and get crazy with the creative modes. M, AV, Tv..
Thanks for your blog posts. Just added two memory cards and batteries to my arsenal. 🙂
thanks for these great posts, nino! i want to purchase the 550 in the next few months and your infos really are a great help when it comes to accessories and gear. i also love your short film, it look gorgeous!
looking forward to future entries on 500d gear!
by the way, could i ask you something regarding the hardware used for cutting the hd video files? i have a macbook pro 2,33ghz core2duo with 3gb ram – i want to use fcs for cutting my 1080p files taken from the 550. is this hardware good enough for 1080p? or will it take years to even render 5 minutes on the fly? 😉
Nino, help me! 🙂 What tripod does you advice to buy for 550D? Budget – about 100$. I’m buying it tomorrow.
Velbon DV 7000 is probably up your alley. It seems to get very good reviews by all who use it, and it is less than $100. Seems quite sturdy, and has a “reliable” head.
I am still debating, I might just go with the cheaper Velbon 607. It is lighter than the 7000, which suits me, and has the same head as the 7000. I’ve been doing a lot of research and for the money, it seems you can’t go wrong with these 2 tripods. (For the Money)
Here you are a vendor on eBay who sell compatible LPE8 batteries
I have 2 Lexar 8GB class 4 in my 550D and capture video with no problems.
Nino, did you get a chance to try out the batteries you ordered yet? I’m wondering which ones I should buy … thx for your help!
Where can i find a relatively cheap external microphone for the 550d?
I am thinking about using an Olympus recorder: http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-WS-500-Digital-Recorder-Silver/dp/B00264TQRG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1274307402&sr=8-1
or an wired mic: http://www.amazon.com/Technica-ATR-3350-Omnidirectional-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B002HJ9PTO/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=ICM7JW1E76ALI&colid=3FS6GG8568H7N
to record audio from the T2i
Any thoughts on the viability of this?
Nino, really enjoying and benefitting from the wealth of knowledge on your blog. About to buy a 550 here in Hong Kong (taking advantage of the no sales tax!) and I had 2 questions. Shooting for the american (NTSC) market, it won’t matter if I have the T2i or the 550 right? Both can switch between NTSC and PAL?
And a final word on memory cards, would I be fine w/ class 6? Or do you really recommend the class 10 cards?
This is a great a very useful blog, Nino, well done! I’m seriously thinking of investing in one of these cameras, but my only hesitation at the moment is the impossibility of using the viewfinder to shoot video (because of the lifted mirror as you mentioned) This makes shooting and focusing outdoors much more difficult, because the LCD isn’t very visible in bright light. I hear you can buy these add-on and expensive focus finders. Have you any thoughts on those? Or should I just go around with a black sheet over my head 🙂 ?
Great site Nino! Thanks a lot for all the effort you put into helping those that want to learn about this camera and how to use it to start shooting videos/films/movies.
I have a questions regarding lenses of course 🙂
I am looking into buying the best standard lenses money can buy for this camera and I am still not sure which one that would be…
thanks again for your help!
i have a question about image stabilization (IS). is it a must have on your lens? how significant is it the effect on DSLR video?
did you manage to find a battery pack not original and cheaper than the original but comparable in performance?
Regarding camera bags, I use Pelican cases. I used a 1300 for my t2i and 2 kit lenses (people thought it was my lunchbox), but now that I have Camtroll, and external monitor and hardware for video I upgraded to a Pelican 1500 (xl briefcase size). I’m waiting for the photographer’s lid (ordered) so I have a place for batteries and other little things.
These watertight cases have foam that you can pull out to make a custom fit for your devices, come with a lifetime warranty, and cost around 50-100. They have holes for a padlock too (I bought a Master sesame lock with an integrated cable, I’ve locked my case to desks at college when and left it behind). I feel safe putting the case in the trunk, but I don’t put my MacBook Pro in a messenger bag in there.
I do not like camera bags. Especially ones that have brand names on them. They scream “steal me” to people. These cases are a less flashy, but are noticed by people who know what a Pelican case is. I should spray paint them to make them less attractive, but like the look of the cases.
thanks for your kindly information shared with us, it’s helpful.
Regarding for the memory card, I just viewed a lucky draw action from a named Renice to win some memory card, include SD Card, CF Card, USB3.0 SSDs, easy to participate in and i have tried. So here shared with everybody here, Follow @Renice_tech on twitter and re-twit message http://goo.gl/o9we1A