Must Have Accessories for your Photography

If you recently purchased a dSLR camera kit and are new to this type of photography, there are some accessories that you should definitely consider adding to your photographic arsenal.

Filters – It used to be that photographers would need to carry a large collection of filters to achieve specialized effects in their images.  There were filters for portraiture and black and white and a slew of others purposes.  Most of those effects can now be easily reproduced using a graphics program such as Photoshop.  The one thing that really has yet to be duplicated are the results that you get from a polarizing filter.  Not only can a polarizer give you those deep blue skies that look so great in landscape shots, but they are also key in eliminating reflections from glass and other reflective surfaces.  If you buy just one filter, make it a polarizer.

Flash Unit – Most built-in pop-up flash systems are under powered and offer very limited potential for lighting your subject.  A good hotshoe mounted flash is a necessity if you want to take your flash photography to the next level.  Most camera manufacturers have dedicated flash units that “talk” to the camera and help dial in their power to match your exposure settings.  They also have the ability to swivel and raise the head of the flash so that you can control the direction that the light travels, thereby giving you options such as bouncing the light off a wall or ceiling to give your flash shots a softer and more natural look.

Tripods – Whether you will be shooting landscapes or people or architecture, you will need a good tripod along the way.  One of the best ways to improve your images is to make sure that they are tack sharp and this is done by using a tripod.  You don’t need to spend a king’s ransom but you should make sure that it is large enough to support your camera.  Consider buying one that employs a quick-release head so that if you want to grab some quick candid shots, you can flip a lever and quickly release the camera and keep shooting.  They can just as easily be clipped back on the tripod when needed.

Camera Bags – This seems like a no-brainer but, as someone that has a closet full of bags, I can tell you that there is no perfect solution for carrying your gear.  When selecting a bag, consider how you will use it.  Is it just going to sit in the closet at home and keep your camera protected or are you going to want something that travels well.  If you are traveling, do you want something that is big and bulky but holds all of your gear or do you want to have great mobility.  How do you want to move it from place to place, shoulder strap, backpack, handle, wheels, or belt?  You may actually put in more time selecting your camera bag then you did your camera.

Cleaning Supplies – This is something that a lot of folks don’t consider, that is until they need to clean a lens and are stuck using their t-shirt.  You should carry a lens quality cleaning cloth that is made to gently clean the glass of your lens without scratching the lens coating.  You should also consider a blower like the Giottos Air Rocket blower that will help clean dust from your camera.

Photography, like any other hobby, can be a financial blackhole.  The more you learn, the more you will want to invest in accessories and gear that will help you take your pursuit to the next level.  I didn’t even talk about lenses, batteries, memory cards, software, and a host of other items that could/should be added to your gadget bag.  The key is to be aware that owning a camera and lens will probably not satisfy your photographic needs and you should plan accordingly.


  1. I can vouch for the advice on filters for protecting lenses but I see too many people without them. Every lens I’ve ever owned has been fitted with at least a UV or skylight filter simply for protection. I noticed at the weekend that the filter on the front of my main Sigma telephoto lens is sporting a scuff type scratch. I have no idea how it got there but there it is. Replacing the filter will be a fraction of the cost of repairing the lens, not to mention the hassle of being without it while it’s away being repaired.

  2. I’d also like to add in picking up a Lens Pen. Multi-coated filters can be a pain to clean in the field and I’ve found that my Nikon Lens Pen was the best $10 that I’ve spent in awhile.

  3. Great stuff Jeff!

    I’m putting together a photographer’s “key chain”.
    For many years I’ve had clipped inside my camera bag, a key chain with very small but potentially vital “shoot saving” pieces of equipment:

    1/4-20 to 3/8″ Brass Tripod Bushing
    PC Tip Conditioner
    Mini Leatherman Tool
    Small LED Flashlight
    Mini WhiBal Card (White Balance)

    All of these tiny tools (except the WhiBal card) have literally saved a shoot for me in the past. I’m going to put a few “key chains” together and give them to photographer friends as Christmas gifts. If I get a really good response maybe I’ll package them and sell them on eBay.

    Jeff and other Photographers, is there any other small tool that would fit on a “key chain”, that you would add to this list?

  4. Dave,
    I have a small microfiber cloth called a Spudz which folds into its own pouch and has a clip already attached. It would probably be perfect for the keychain. I keep a couple of them clipped to my camera bag.

  5. Mike,
    That is a great tip about the Lens Pen. You can buy them in any camera store and they get things like grease and smears off of a lens better than anything I have ever seen, including lens cleaning fluid. There was some rumor when these first came out that the carbon in the cleaning end would remove the lens coatings over time but this has been disproved and, as you stated, they are being sold by companies such as Nikon, Carl Zeiss, and Fuji. I doubt they would put their name on something that would damage their own products. Lens Pens RULE!

  6. I would add that spare batteries are the key essential not covered here.


  7. Just wanted to thank you for this article. I have pointed readers of my blog here in a posting I did about grading myself on how well I am doing in these areas.

  8. the best Telephoto lens that i have used on an SLR is the Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8 lens. Best image quality ever.~;-


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