Let’s face it. Photography is an expensive undertaking. But it isn’t necessarily the case if you’re a beginner who bought a starter kit for a few hundred dollars.
However, as soon as your skills grow, you also outgrow your old gear. You then need to upgrade if you want to improve further.
You will discover a lot of equipment and accessories available that you think would be cool and useful to have. So you buy what you can afford.
Some purchases I made over the years proved to be indispensable, but several would be wasted investment.
I don’t want anyone to make the same mistakes I made, so I rounded up a list of 10 must-have digital camera accessories that no photographer should do without.
1. A Camera Bag with Extra Space
I highly recommend this, especially to those who just bought a new camera kit. With so many options out there, picking the right camera bag is no easy task.
Many people buy a compact bag because bigger ones are more expensive, and they don’t want to spend more after buying a high-end camera. Then in a few months, they realize they need more space for essential accessories and lenses, so they go back to the store and buy another one.
Naturally, you would want to protect your new investment, but you shouldn’t buy one that only fits your current kit. It has to be bigger if you later need more room for additional gear that you need to lug around.
I should know because I made the same blunder a couple of times. Back when I got my first DSLR kit, I also bought a small camera bag just big enough for the camera, batteries, and a couple of lenses.
My rationale wasn’t the expense. I didn’t want to carry a bulky bag. The bag itself wasn’t cheap, but it was too small to store more items that I needed later on.
I had no choice but to buy a bigger one that was way more expensive. That’s why you must purchase a big bag at the start, even if you still own fewer items.
The smaller bag was a sling bag, but I preferred a heftier backpack than a shoulder bag for the new one. I needed to accommodate a couple more lenses and my laptop, and it has more room to spare.
2. An Extra Battery or Two
When you buy a camera, it comes with a single battery. It’s absolutely necessary to buy another before you go on a trip or vacation. Although batteries are not cheap, three will give you some peace of mind.
Shooting in bursts for extended periods will drain your battery. It’s good to have one or two ready to finish the job. Moreover, freezing conditions are your battery’s bane, and they won’t last as long in cold temperatures.
3. A Sturdy Tripod
Another piece of equipment no serious photographer can do without is a high-quality tripod. It’s necessary during landscape, low-light, and night photography.
Never buy a cheap tripod that will only break within months. Those cheap ones are even prone to camera shake. They aren’t worth your time and money.
The tripod you will pick must be sturdy enough to hold heavy camera gear. You don’t want your DSLR ending up bouncing on the ground due to a flimsy tripod.
Gitzo manufactures the best ones, and they go from $400 to over $1000. Sometimes, they cost more than the camera, but a tripod is one of those essentials that you don’t want to skimp on.
The only downside, apart from the hefty price, is that they are more cumbersome and not easy to carry around. You can also purchase the legs and head separately.
4. A Remote Shutter Release
If you’re going to invest in a high-quality tripod, you have to fork over the extra money for a remote shutter release. Even if the tripod you’re using is well-made, using your hands can still cause unwanted camera shake.
It becomes more critical using slow shutter speeds, when the slightest vibration will ruin your picture. You will need a remote shutter release to ensure your setup is as still as possible when you fire that camera.
The best ones are wireless, which means absolutely no physical contact between you and the camera during shutter release. You should also get one with an exposure lock during bulb mode.
5. A Padded Neck Strap for Your DSLR or Mirrorless
When carrying a heavy camera with a big lens attached to it, it can be a literal pain in the neck. Unfortunately, most of the neck-straps that come standard with DSLR cameras can be quite uncomfortable.
I recommend that you get a padded neck strap to replace them. Something like the Op/Tech Pro Loop Strap is a godsend that I can’t do without.
It attached to my DSLR without a hitch and made it easier to hold and operate. I also didn’t notice any discomfort even after prolonged use.
You could also check out Black Rapid’s trendy R55 Strap.
6. Polarizing Filters
It’s a must for outdoors, mainly for architecture and landscape photographers. Polarizing filters help reduce overexposure of highlights (basically glare) on glass, rocks, foliage, or water. They can bring out the color of the sky and cloud details.
By lessening or eliminating harsh glare, polarizing filters increase the clarity of an image and make the surrounding scene more vivid. These filters are invaluable in removing glare during the shot, which can sometimes be impossible to do during post-production.
7. A Lens Cleaning Kit
Smudges, dust, and grime on your lens will affect the quality of images by making them look cloudy. It’s wise to have a lens cleaning kit within reach to keep the front and back elements of your lens as clean as possible.
There are many brands available, but you can try those from reputable companies like Zeiss and Nikon.
8. A Lens UV/Protection Filter
A lens protection filter is a must-buy for any of your lenses. Besides protecting a lens from the elements, they also help shield it from scratches or being damaged accidentally.
These filters also help keep the lens free from dust and dirt. You simply screw them on, and they are just as easy to remove and clean.
Some photographers complain that these filters will lessen the quality of their images. I’ve been using them for years, and image quality has never been an issue for me. Just make sure to buy some proven ones, and you should be fine.
9. Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
When it comes to getting rid of the dust on your camera gear, Giottos Rocket Blower will do an efficient and thorough job. It’s an essential tool to have in your bag, and it only costs around ten bucks.
Just squeeze it, and it will blow away any pesky dust particles from your lenses and camera sensor. It’s particularly handy when you’re on the road traveling.
10. An LCD Protector
You want that to buy a regular screen protector for the rear LCD even though it may already have a plastic protector that came with your DSLR. Dust and grime can get under that plastic protector and cause scratch marks on that LCD screen.
Scratches and other blemishes on your DSLR are going to reduce its resale value significantly, so you must protect it from the elements and keep it clean. The LCD protector helps a lot, but be sure to put the plastic one back on for extra protection.
So there you have it. These are ten accessories that have more than proven their worth in many years I have been using them. I was never disappointed in buying any of them.
Some may cost hundreds, while others would only set you back a few dollars. But the one thing they all have in common is being indispensable in my job as a photographer.