Beyond the lens and the camera, a photographer’s kit bag usually has a series of other tools as well. We call them photo accessories. These are a wide mix of tools that make up that list. Lights, tripods, filters, diffusers, light meters, triggers – the list is practically unending. A lens and a camera will only get you so far. There will be moments when you will feel that you are missing bits and pieces and the results are not nearly where you would have wanted them to be.
Accessories are basically tools to fill out those missing pieces. These tools help you to improve your work and add that extra bit of detail or effect that brings the image up to a different level which would have been impossible without the accessory in question.
It is impossible, nay improbable to think that you would be needing all of the different accessories that are out there. It is the same thing as being able to use all different types of camera lenses or cameras. Most people end up using a dozen. Some more, some even less.
Which are the best photography accessories that you need? The sort of accessories that you would be looking to buy would depend on the type of photography that you do. Such as, a gimbal would only be used by someone shooting hand-held videos with a DSLR / mirrorless/action cam on a regular basis.
On the other hand, a professional portrait photographer, someone who shoots corporate headshots, portraits, weddings and so on, would love to have a backdrop. That said the photographer has to be a studio shooter because photography backdrops are only ever used inside studios. As a matter of fact, you would need more than one backdrop. At any given time a studio portrait shooter would have a black backdrop, a white one and at least two to three other which have either a pattern or are solid depending on the requirements of his/her jobs.
There are some accessories that are in general demand regardless of the type of photography one does or the level of his / her proficiency in photography. DSLR bags, for example, are one such accessory. You need a proper DSLR / mirrorless camera bag regardless of how many accessories you use or your proficiency level as a photographer. Even if it is a small bag one that accommodates only one camera body with an attached lens and maybe a couple of accessories, it is a necessary tool in order to travel with your photography gear.
Then again tripods are yet another accessory that is used by a lot of photographers irrespective of their genre and proficiency. It is strange to come across a photographer who does not use or have not used a tripod at some point in his / her career. Probably an underwater photographer or someone doing event photography on a full-time basis could be a couple of exceptions. But by and large everyone uses a tripod, even if it is a tiny tabletop tripod like the Gorillapod. Looking for a travel tripod of your own? We have you covered.
Memory cards are another such accessories. No matter what camera you use or the type of photography that you do, you will need memory cards to store your photos as you shoot them. Different cameras are compatible with different types of memory cards. But by and large SD, SDHC and the latest SDXC are the most sought-after ones.
There are a few parameters to keep an eye out for when buying SD cards and one of them is whether the card you are about to buy is compatible with your camera. Here is a small introduction to the nitty-gritty of buying memory cards for your DSLR.
Life wouldn’t be the same for a certain segment of photographers, without filters. Despite the fact that a growing breed of new photographers is more likely to use Photoshop and Lightroom filters than actual physical filters, these optical utilities refuse to fade away. They are still relevant in 2018 as much as they used to be decades ago.
Moreover, photographers from the older generation prefer to get it right in camera as much as possible. These are the photographers who continue to use filters and inculcate the benefits of these tools to the younger photographers they mentor. Here is an introduction to the most sought after and useful (and one not so useful) filters you can buy right now.
Speedlights are the most widely used external lighting tools in the photography world. They are cheap, easy to transport and pack and runs on rechargeable batteries making them one of the best photography accessories in the business. The use of rechargeable batteries means they are easy to set-up without the need for large battery packs or access to AC mains such as with normal continuous lights.
Additionally, they are very light which means you can even hand-hold them just in case you need some quick shots using a couple of speedlights. For extended shooting, you will need light stands or some way to set these up. If you are interested in buying one (or more) for your home studio or to boost your fledgling professional photography tool, then this tutorial on the secrets of buying an external flash is for you.
Some accessories, on the other hand, are for specialized shooting purposes only. We have named a couple above – gimbal and backdrop for example. A shotgun microphone is yet another sought-after special accessory. A shotgun microphone, especially the noise canceling ones, are designed for mainly outdoor shooting where there is a lot of ambient noise. They are particularly useful when working in windy conditions where a standard mic will pick up the howling sound of the wind. Then again your talents might be moving around in the scene and that warrant the use of a different type of mics – lavalier, which are wireless and therefore more suitable for this purposes. Check out our review of the best lavalier mics here.
In many ways, a hand-held external light meter may not sound like a specialized accessory for some photographers. And yet for other photographers, it is one of the best photography accessories they can hope to buy. This is because of the reliability in metering that these light meters are able to bring in. As the built-in light meter of most DSLRs tends to do a great job 8 out of 10 times most photographers never look to buy an external light meter.
The need for an external light meter is warranted when you are shooting with external lights. This is because that is when you have to be precise with the exposure settings of your camera as it needs to match with that of the output settings of your lights. That said there are a number of other situations when an external light meter is useful. Here is a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of an external light meter.