What’s Your Must Have Photo Accessory?

I was chatting with a friend the other day about their new camera and they asked me what they should really buy next to improve their photos.  They had just purchase a Nikon D90 and loved the camera but they were anxious to start improving their photography beyond just a camera and a kit lens.  I’m sure that a lot of you quickly thought that a new lens is definitely a must to get better photos but I say, not so fast.  This is not an easy question to answer until some more information is available.  There are a couple of questions that will really define which piece of gear will be of benefit.  Just saying that a new lens will help might be true, but what if the lens that they have covers the desired range that they want for now.

What if they want to take pictures at parties or maybe portraits?  The 18-55mm lens that comes with most cameras has an effective focal length of about 70mm on a full frame camera.  That’s a pretty decent lens length for portraits.  But what about that pop-up flash?  Maybe it should be replaced with a decent speed light.  The built in flash on most DSLR cameras is, at best, only good for fill light.  With no ability to point it anywhere but directly at the subject makes it incapable of providing any decent or flattering light.  Start bouncing light off a ceiling or a wall and you now have the ability to add shape and dimension and take a decent photo of a person.

Maybe what they want is to take great landscape photos in which case a good tripod would be their best investment.  VR lenses aren’t going to cut it when you want to take low ISO, high F-Stop photographs at sunrise or sunset.  Having a great tripod is probably one of the most important accessories for providing tack-sharp images in these situations.

There are a lot of other options as well but that’s where today’s poll comes in.  Let me know what you think is the most important, “gotta have” accessory for your digital camera.

By the way, my recommendation was a SB-900 Speedlight. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Comments

  1. I think the must-have accessory it really depends what sort of photography you want to do…so it’s difficult to narrow it down to a single accessory ;-)

  2. I think for most entry level photographers looking to upgrade, go for the flash. Most are looking to enhance their everyday social media (and family) pictures anyway. Plus its rather affordable for the immediate difference it can make. Then…..go for the fast glass.

  3. Disappointing that you would push getting such an expensive Speedlight. Without a doubt, the SB-600 will take care of at least 95% of the person’s needs, at half the cost. They only have a D90, do they really need a pro-level Speedlight to go with it?

    • Kent,
      I actually did suggest the SB-600 to start but my friend was blown away by the possibilities of the wireless capabilities of the SB-900. Also, the added power and zoom range of the SB-900 put them over the top. I don’t always suggest the most expensive gear but I do like to give options.

        • Larry makes some greaat points and, as he should, he picked the solution that was right for him. Unfortunately my friend with the D90 has no built in commander feature like the D70, which I think is a serious mistake by Nikon. Whenever anyone contemplates buying a new piece of gear they should always assess their needs first and then match a products features to see if they will fill the bill.

          Thanks for pointing out Larry’s article.

  4. I love my Wimberley Tripod Head (Version II). I used to have another tripod head that I liked but the first time I tried the Wimberley, I was sold and knew I needed to have one. The Wimberley head makes photography fun! I can move my camera into any position with one finger and it stays there. It’s amazing! It’s my absolute favorite necessity… oh, did I say necessity? I meant accessory!

    Julie Roggow

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