If you thought the art of photography was as simple as picking up a shiny new DSLR camera, then we’ve got news for you: it’s not. If you want to develop this hobby, you’re going to need a small but essential collection of camera accessories to take it to new heights.
While getting an extra set of lenses for your Nikon or Canon is a good start, if means little if you don’t know how to use them. You’ll want to make sure you pick up a protective camera bag, as well as lens cleaning kit, if you want to ensure your camera sticks around for a good five years.
Check out our recommendations for must-have camera accessories that will elevate your photography game in a snap.
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Lens cleaning kit
This is the first thing you should buy after you pick up a camera. If I see you breathing on your camera lens and then wiping it with your shirt, I will take your DSLR and hurl it into the ocean. This is not a joke.
Be sure to buy a lens cleaning kit that includes an air blower, cleaning pen and a microfibre cleaning cloth, and you’ll be able to take care of your camera properly.
We recommend: CamKix Professional Camera Cleaning ($16.99).
Spare memory cards and extra batteries
If you didn’t already get one when you bought your camera, a memory card is the second thing you should buy after a cleaning kit.
I wouldn’t even call these an accessory – they’re an essential component because it’s not like your camera has a built-in memory to store all of your happy snaps.
It’s also handy to have a few extra memory cards, so you can easily swap out a full one for an empty one. It’ll save you having to do an on-the-spot purge of older photos.
It can’t hurt to have an extra camera battery either. If your camera runs out of juice, you can easily chuck a fresh one in and keep shooting. It’s better to have some extras and not need them. Just make sure you’ve bought a camera battery that’s compatible with your DSLR.
We recommend: SanDisk Extreme Pro SD 64GB (now $25.56, down from $39).
If you’re going to be using your camera for filming, or plan on taking a lot of long exposure photos, a tripod is absolutely essential.
If you don’t think you need a tripod, you should still pick one up. It’s a handy tool and you never know when you’ll need to lock your camera down to shoot.
You can buy a decent tripod for fairly cheap these days – the centre pillar of this Neewer aluminum tripod can be removed to transform it into a monopod, giving you an extra shooting option.
There are some more heavy duty tripods out there, but those usually come with a higher price tag. Regardless, just make sure the tripod is lightweight. If you have to lug one around all day, you’ll definitely start to feel its presence after awhile.
We recommend: Neewer Portable Aluminum Alloy Camera 2-in-1 Tripod ($79.69).
Camera bag or backpack
Cameras are delicate machines. A nice camera bag should have enough space to store your DSLR, along with a couple of lenses and whatever other essential accessories you need, like a flash or spare batteries.
If you’re a real outdoorsy type who regularly braves the elements, having a weatherproof bag is a must too.
If you don’t need to lug around multiple lens and extra gear, a holster bag should be more than enough to keep your camera protected when you’re out and about.
When shooting in a low light space, an external flash will give you lighting that your camera’s built-in flash just can’t deliver. The difference in quality between the two types of flashes is night and day.
A hot-shoe flash will slide comfortably onto the top of your camera, while a wireless flash can be triggered remotely (there’s a good chance you can grab a flash that has both).
Grabbing multiple wireless flashes isn’t a bad idea either, as it’ll give you more versatility when setting up your lighting. You can keep one on your camera, while you can attach the other to a softbox.
A studio lighting kit
If you’re shooting in a particularly dark area, need an extra light source, or want to add in some different colours, a studio lighting kit can make a huge difference.
This is a bit different from your standard flash lighting and, depending on the kind of photos you actually shoot, your need for them might vary. But even something as simple as a LED ring light can help to drastically change how you shoot something by giving you a wider range of light variables to choose from.
LED lights also have a greater degree of portability compared to more traditional bulb lights, which makes carrying them around less of a hassle.
Lens hoods and filters
Plagued by lots of glare while shooting during the daytime? Just whack on a hood and your lens will get some much needed shade, which will help to cut down on any lens flaring and stray light. Just make sure the hood is the right fit, first.
Lens filters offer similar exposure assistance when it comes to controlling light levels. A UV filter will help reduce the amount of UV rays, while a neutral density filter will help you better reduce the amount of light entering your camera. Just make sure you’re grabbing the right-sized filter for your lens.
Filters can also offer an extra layer of protection, as it’ll stop your lens from getting dirty or scratched.