Gizmodo Camera Buying Guide 2014: Our Favourite Upgrades, Accessories And Add-Ons

Gizmodo Camera Buying Guide 2014: Our Favourite Upgrades, Accessories And Add-Ons
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If you already have a camera, there are plenty of ways you can make it better. Any camera on the market today can be upgraded, kitted out with extras, or improved — here are a few of our favourites.

An Extra Battery Or Two

Running out of power when you’re about to take that World Photography Award-winning photo — and I know, because it happens to me all the time — is an extremely annoying occurence.

Your camera may as well be a paperweight while its battery recharges, and that’s not exactly a speedy process. If you can avoid that, do it — and you can do that by picking up an extra battery and keeping them on a rolling recharge. In fact, why not buy two just in case you forget?

An External Electronic Viewfinder

If you own a basic mirrorless digital camera, chances are it doesn’t have an integrated electronic viewfinder. Composing photos with the rear LCD screen is fine, especially if you have an articulated screen and you’re taking photos over your head or at waist level, but if you want to get in close or if you want to get back to basics, an add-on electronic viewfinder can lift your game massively. Personally, I’d never use a camera if I couldn’t use a viewfinder, so an add-on is mandatory for me. (Of course, if you have a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with an internal viewfinder already, you’re sorted.)

A Lens Adapter

One of the best things about buying a mirrorless camera is that since they’re so slim — there’s no bulky mirror box inside to take up space — you’re able to attach a huge range of legacy lenses from the last 50-odd years of photography. Buy a lens adapter for your Sony a7s and attach a $5000 Leica prime lens. Buy a lens adapter for your Olympus and attach an old telephoto. Buy any of a dozen different adapters and open up your existing camera to a new world of lenses. If you have newer lenses, you can keep your through-the-lens metering and autofocus with an in-brand specialised adapter.

A Spare Lens And Body Cap

While losing a lens cap in the heat of the moment isn’t the biggest deal — especially if you have a filter already installed — it can be a pain later cleaning off all of the dust and smudges that will inevitably appear on that lens’s front element. Picking up a cheap extra lens cap is a good idea just for safety’s sake.

If you change lenses regularly, a spare rear lens cap or camera body cap is almost a necessity — those things disappear like nobody’s business.

A New Lens Or Two

It might seem obvious, but switching from one lens to another can massively improve your photos if you’re trying to capture a specific kind of image. A dedicated telephoto prime lens will always give you a more attractive, more detailed portrait than your kit zoom lens, with smoother out-of-focus bokeh that will make you seem like a pro to all your friends.

You could pick up a more compact prime, a versatile long-range superzoom, or any of a hundred different weird and wonderful lenses.

An External Flash

If you’re shooting a lot indoors, or if you want to take fancy modeling or glamour shots, an almost mandatory upgrade for your camera should be an external flash unit, replacing the weedy pop-up on your camera body. A good external flash can be aimed and bounced, so you don’t get that deer-in-the-headlights look to your photos, and can modulate its full-power output to reduce the incidence of ugly shadows. If you do pick up a flash, also consider a diffuser that will give you beautifully even lighting and cut out any harsh reflections and hot-spots.

A Sturdy Camera Strap Or Sling

Dropping your camera is an expensive mistake. So don’t make it — if you don’t already have a strap on your camera, get one on there and protect your investment — both the camera itself and its equally expensive lenses — from accidental damage.

You can upgrade your existing camera strap to a quick-access setup like BlackRapid‘s sling or harness systems, or step up your fashion game with a designer strap like those from DSPTCH and other boutique sling-makers.

A Couple Of Spare Memory Cards

Running out of storage space while you’re shooting is a pain purely because it means you have to go back through your just-shot snaps and delete what could be gold. More than that, though, having a spare memory card or two gives you some extra redundancy, and if your camera has dual memory card slots means you can back up your photos on the fly. Even if your camera only has a single slot, swapping out a card in the middle of shooting ensures that some accidental quirk doesn’t corrupt it and destroy your hours of hard work.

UV And Circular Polarising Lens Filters

Lens filters not only protect your expensive lens’ front element from dust and scratches, but they can do a hell of a lot to improve your landscape photography. Grab a UV haze filter to get better blues in your skies and horizons, or grab a circular polariser to cut out reflections and get better colour saturation.

Even a simple clear protection filter can be the difference between a $50 repair job and a $1500 one.