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The essential gear

Sep. 12, 2009 - 03:01PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 12, 2009 - 03:01PM  |  
Canon Powershot D10
Canon Powershot D10 ()
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Canon Powershot G11 ()

Ready to start snapping? If you have aspirations for National Geographic covers, you can spend thousands, but if you're just trying to capture the moment, it doesn't take a lot to get started. Every kit should have a few basics:

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Ready to start snapping? If you have aspirations for National Geographic covers, you can spend thousands, but if you're just trying to capture the moment, it doesn't take a lot to get started. Every kit should have a few basics:

* A small tripod will help to grab cool shots in low light.

* A screw-on "UV" filter will clear up hazy skies and also protect the lens from damage.

* An extra battery or two will ensure you don't miss the moment when power for recharges is in short supply.

* A large paintbrush from the hardware store to clean off dust.

* Lens-cleaning cloth or paper. Alpine Innovations makes a great mini microfiber cloth/stuff sack called Spudz Ultra that can attach to your camera strap.

That perfect shot will be only a memory if your camera can't survive the wear and tear of deployment. Here are some options that will keep you clicking:

Under $400

Stuff a Canon PowerShot D10 (street price: $315) into one of your magazine pouches and you'll be good to go for just about anything a deployment might throw at you. The new line is billed as "waterproof, freezeproof and shockproof." A-series PowerShots start cheaper at $130 and enjoy the benefit of running on standard, easy-to-find AA batteries.

$500+

Canon's PowerShot G11 (street price: $498), the latest in their proven "prosumer" G-series line, packs a lot of photographic punch in a little body. An optical stabilizer helps ensure crisp shots. For an extra $200, wrap it in waterproofing armor to rugged-ize it against desert dust and other elements.

$1000+

Nikon's D3x (street price: $7,300) is the professional's choice because it's fast, reliable and can take a beating. Save thousands by downgrading to the D300 (street price: $1,250) or even the D90 (street price: $900), which also shoots HD video. But look to spend hundreds, even thousands, more on an endless supply of lenses and flashes.

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