Technically, to be a photographer, you just need a camera but there are a few gadgets that will make your photography life exponentially easier and many of them cost less than a few dollars. Here is my list of the eight accessories every photographer needs:
Technically, anything that reflects light is a reflector, but I’m talking about a dedicated piece of equipment. The reflectors I’m referring to are soft and fold in on themselves to save space. Most have five different options to allow you to manipulate the light at your location including the color and the intensity. A 22 inch round reflector retails for under $20 on Amazon and features all five common reflector colors and materials: gold, silver, translucent, black and white.
A Good Camera Bag
A camera bag is any bag in which you place your camera. A good camera bag is one that is built with enough ingenuity to really protect your gear and comfortable to wear at the same time. When looking for a camera bag, check out the strap. Look for straps that have rounded edges or padding that won’t dig into your neck and shoulder when you wear it. Check the inside, it should be well-padded with multiple sections to protect each piece while it’s in your bag. It's a bonus if the padded section can be removed and reconfigured to meet your individual needs.
A Bulb Blower
A bulb blower is a small tool made out of lightweight plastic that allows you to blow dust off your lens without pressing down with a cloth or brush and risking a scratch. I have my camera professionally cleaned and don’t recommend DIY cleaning ventures, but they can also be used to blow dust off your sensor and out of the inside of your camera.
A Lens Pen
A lens pen is nifty double ended tool that allows you to clean the outward facing parts of your lens. One end contains a brush that retracts into the body of the pen to keep it clean, this is used to brush debris from the lens. The other end is used to gently wipe any prints or smudges from the glass. These typically cost less than $10.
A remote shutter release
A remote shutter release allows you to control your shutter without actually touching your camera. There are a couple of different kinds, wired and wireless. If your camera body allows it, get a wireless one, they give you more options and save you the headache of untangling yet another cord.
Remote shutter releases are really handy for a number of situations. Need to take a self-portrait? Then a remote trigger release is the ideal accessory. Have you ever tried to take a family portrait using the timer? Even on a ten second delay you are dashing across the lawn trying to not only make it back to your spot but look happy and composed, it never ends well. With a remote trigger release you can stay in your spot and use those ten seconds to decide which side is your good side.
I also use my remote trigger release for shooting extended exposure photography and macro photography to decrease unwanted camera shake and blur.
Remote trigger releases are inexpensive. Some models can be found on Amazon for less than $10 and are well worth the cost.
The idea of a tripod can seem cumbersome; they can feel like excess baggage weighing you down. But if you want to move on from snapshots and really focus on composition they are essential.
Some compositions are only possible with a tripod, others are made easier and better by the aid of one. Time-lapse, extended exposures, and even macro photography are all enhanced by using one, because the movement created by even minimal handshake would be obvious the camera needs the stability only a tripod can provide. Many models are lightweight and come with bags so they can be worn across your back when not in use.
A comfortable strap
If you plan to wear your camera around your neck I recommend buying a comfortable strap. Many cameras come with straps, but these often dig in and cut into your neck due to the combined weight of your camera and lens. When looking for a camera strap look for a broader strap with a padded strap cover, one that will be comfortable and uncomplicated to maneuver. Look at the clips and make sure they will be strong enough to support your camera weight.
A rain cover
Sometimes, even those days the weatherman predicts will be cloudless end up being rainy and cold. Make sure you have a rain cover to protect your gear from the elements and get some interesting shots in all weather conditions. Rain covers are also helpful in situations where dust or snow could cause damage to your camera. Simple but effective rain sleeves for cameras range from $8-$20 and could save your camera from expensive damage.
What did we forget? What accessories can’t you live without?
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