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18 must-have photography accessories

11 minute read

Good photography isn’t all about gear, but that doesn’t mean we photographers don’t want it all and want it now! Here are 18 must-have photography accessories, from the essential to the unusual.

Over recent weeks, we’ve written in-depth features on tripods and filters – those are the real essentials when it comes to photography accessories. If you’re looking for your very first purchases, that’s the place to start, as a tripod and a few filters will offer a much wider range of practical and creative benefits than anything below.

With that said, there are some essential items on this list that will certainly be of use to any photographer, as well as a few less-common accessories thrown in for good measure.

Camera bag

A good bag is essential, especially as you start to accumulate more gear or travel further afield. A trip into nature or a day on the streets isn’t going to be fun with your arms full of gear. More than that though, it keeps your gear safe and organised.

There’s a bag for every type of photographer, from small slings that can be used to discreetly carry the bare essentials, to 30l backpacks that can hold everything needed for days of trekking and photographing.

Many of today’s camera bags are packed with great designs to make our lives easier. A full review of this MindShift backpack can be found here

Camera strap

If you don’t want to carry any type of bag – even a small one – then carrying your camera on a strap is a viable option. Naturally, it doesn’t offer the protection and room for other gear that a bag does, but it offers the quickest access to your camera possible and it’s barely noticeable to carry.

Most cameras will come with a strap, but for looks, comfort and durability, it’s well worth investing in something a little more upmarket. You can pick up a very decent cord or leather camera strap for around £20.

Camera jacket

When it comes to carrying your kit, there is another way. If you want some capacity for gear but want more immediate access than most backpacks allow, a camera jacket or vest could be a great option. Many have just as much capacity as a camera bag, and you can carry your gear directly on your person.

Here’s editor Will testing a vest from Country Innovation in issue 72

Memory card holder

Really, a memory card is the most essential of photography accessories, so much so that it can barely be called an accessory. In a recent feature, we took an in-depth look into memory cards to help you understand exactly what you need and why.

It’s not uncommon to have a number of memory cards at any given time, different needs, different projects, for convenience or for reliability. In these cases, it’s important to keep your cards – and by extension, your photos – safe. The best way to do that is with a protective case. This is another inexpensive item that can really make a big difference in any photographer’s life.

Drone

Did you think drones were just for videography? Think again. The image quality of most drones these days is good enough for high-quality stills, and there’s always the option of getting a drone that allows you to mount your DSLR or mirrorless system.

Admittedly, drones tend to be expensive and they’re becoming increasingly difficult to use (as far as regulations are concerned), but the juice can be worth the squeeze. After all, the winning image from last year’s Royal Horticultural Society photographic competition was captured with a drone.

Speedlight

Flash photography isn’t for everyone, but undeniably, it does open a lot of doors. A full studio set-up is too niche to apply to most photographers, but a good speedlight is something else entirely. It’s portable, it’s quick and easy to use, and it’s actually not as expensive as you might think.

Of course, you can use a speedlight for portraits anywhere, but you can also use it to light your street scenes or the foreground of a night-time landscape, shoot high-key photography, isolate your subject on a black background and more. It’s much more diverse than most people would give it credit for, and it’s well worth a look.

This compact Hahnel speedlight retails for under £200. You can read our review here

Reflector

As a much cheaper – albeit less versatile – alternative to a light, a reflector offers a photographer some level of control over the light in their scene. If price is the ultimate deciding factor, then a reflector is a good choice, and that’s why it deserves a place among other more advanced photography accessories.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do a lot with a single light and a reflector when used in conjunction. One can be found online for under £10.

Power bank

For longer shoots, being prepared with some extra batteries is essential, but as another backstop, a power bank can be a great tool. If your camera allows in-camera charging, you should be able to plug a bank directly into your camera as you would from the mains. If you are charging this way, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use your camera while you do.

The other option is an external battery charger, and many of these can run from a USB as well as from the mains. This allows you to keep shooting while you charge, provided you have a spare battery to swap out.

A power bank is another reasonably costly accessory, but if it’s the difference between getting the shot you want or missing it due to a dead camera, it may be worth it. When buying, be aware that batteries have specific charging requirements and it’s advised that they’re met.

Teleconverter

A teleconverter isn’t as good as a real telephoto lens for a number of reasons, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be ruled out – it still has a lot going for it. It’s much cheaper and far more compact for a start.

For those who don’t know, briefly, a teleconverter attaches between your camera and your lens to increase focal length. For example, a 2x teleconverter would turn a 50mm standard lens into a 100mm telephoto. You can pick one up for under £200, though they can be significantly more expensive.

Most teleconverters are around the size of a wide-angle lens, making them a real space saver

Cleaning kit

We’re back in the territory of cheap but incredibly useful photography accessories. Camera cleaning kits come in all varieties, but typically include lens cloths, a brush, an air-blower, cleaning solution or wipes and sensor swabs.

Keeping your camera and lens free of dust and debris can make a big difference as far as the quality of your photos and longevity of you kit is concerned. They can cost anything from £5 to £30.

SSD

As you begin to take more and more photos, you’re going to need somewhere to store them. One of a number of options is a solid-state drive. SSDs come with different memory sizes, speeds and designs, so there are lots of options to choose from. As such, it’s easy to find one to suit your needs. SSDs range in price from under £30 to well into the thousands of pounds.

We tested this SSD from Lexar in issue 69, available to read here

Cloud storage

Cloud storage isn’t a physical thing, of course, but we’re including it in our list of photography accessories for good reason – it’s essential for maximum security. While physical storage is good, it’s simply not enough.

Physical drives can corrupt, and when they do, your photos can be irretrievably lost. Cloud storage, too, isn’t enough on its own if you really want to keep your photos safe. It’s best to use both if possible. You can find free cloud storage online, and plans can be rented monthly for as little as a few pounds.

Camera cover

Depending on how and where you shoot, and how much you trust whatever level of weather-sealing your camera has, you may never need any extra protection for your camera. But for most photographers, a cover goes a long way. You can find a basic rain sleeve for around £5, a more durable and effective weather cover from around £30 and even a completely waterproof case for not too much more.

Glass ball

We wrote a whole feature about glass ball photography with some great tips to get you inspired to try and help you succeed. It’s a great technique to try and it can spark some much-needed creativity. You can pick up a glass ball for much less than you might think – under £10 in many cases. That’s not a big price to pay for the opportunities it offers you.

A glass ball can be used in almost any type of photography, but is particularly effective for landscapes and street photography

Editing software

Like cloud storage, editing software isn’t something you can carry in your kit bag, but it is an essential in the realm of photography accessories. Purists will never touch their photos, but for the majority of us, at least a little bit of editing is part of the process.

Depending on your needs, the photo editing tools on your smartphone may be good enough, or for minor adjustments on your desktop, lots of free editing software is available online. For more serious needs, well-known software like Lightroom or Photoshop is a good go-to.

Camera wrap

A camera wrap is well worth having for its versatility alone. If you want to carry your camera loose in an ordinary bag, it offers some much-needed protection, and even in a camera bag, it can be used to protect other items such as lenses or personal items. Many even double as a lens cloth. At such low prices, you can’t really go wrong.

Lens warmer

If you shoot a lot at night or in colder daytime temperatures, you’ll be well aware of the perils of condensation. You take your lens out of your nice warm car, bag or pocket, it hits the cold air and suddenly the front element is covered in condensation. Things are even worse if it’s on the inside.

You can avoid all that hassle with an electronic lens warmer. Many will take power directly from your camera via USB, so no extra kit is needed. Falling around the £15 mark, it’s great value for money if you have a need for it.

Lens cap holder

How many lens caps have you lost? If the answer is ‘just about every one I’ve ever owned’, then a lens cap holder is just what you need. One end attaches to your camera, one end attaches to your lens cap, and that’s that. It’s beautifully simple. They also sell for just a few pounds.

And that rounds out our list! Is there an unusual photography accessory you think should have made the list? What are the essentials in your kit bag? Let us know on social media by using the handle @photonewspn.

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