Photography isn’t a cheap hobby. In fact, it’s one of those sectors where just adding the word ‘photography’ to a product instantly doubles its cost!
Sometimes the cost of a kit is justified and unavoidable, such as when buying a specialist lens or a camera. Not every new photography purchase has to break the bank though. It’s possible to enhance your photography with a potentially game-changing accessory even on a really tight budget!
This list features 9 photography accessories that don’t make your bank account weep, and some can provide a gateway into a whole new genre of photography that you hadn’t even considered!
Portable 5-in-1 Reflector
Lighting setups for portrait and studio photographers can often run into the thousands. However, this humble accessory would do the job just fine.
You can find so many of this on Amazon or eBay.
The 5-in-1 reflector is for redirecting, or ‘bouncing’ light into specific areas within your frame. Reflector fills in deep shadow areas in a portrait or macro shot.
Some portable reflectors has five different surfaces that can be changed to alter the warmth and strength of the reflected light. It also folds down to 49cm x 49cm and is light enough to take on an expedition!
Macro Extension Tubes
Macro photography is notoriously expensive to get in to due to the specialist lenses required. Spending hundreds on a lens when you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy it definitely puts a lot of people off. That’s where these come in.
Macro extension tubes fit between any of your current lenses and the camera body. It increases the distance between the rear lens element and the camera sensor to effectively give your lens macro capabilities. The different lengths of tube provide different levels of magnification. Macro extensions have electrical contacts to preserve all the autofocus and metering capabilities.
Unlike a macro lens, you will be limited to only macro photography when these are attached – The maximum focusing distance will be reduced substantially.
They do, however, offer a cheap gateway into the often unseen world of macro photography, and at around 10% of the cost of a dedicated macro lens you have to expect some trade-offs! If it turns out you enjoy using them you can go on to buy a dedicated macro lens. However, don’t throw the extension tubes away yet. They can be used on macro lenses to give great level of magnification.
Camera Rain Cover
Shooting in bad weather often yields excellent images rife with drama and originality. But, your gear can take a battering in these extreme conditions.
Some professional level DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras is completely weather sealed. Despite that, you still have the problem of keeping the rain off your lens. For those without weather sealed camera bodies and lenses, protection for your gear is an absolute must in these situations.
Photography Light Tent / Softbox
This is a really fun little accessory that can provide you with hours of entertainment, not to mention it can actually be used in a professional photography sense too!
Light tent and softbox is an open-sided cube of translucent plastic with an LED light strip attached. It can be used for all sorts of photography when you’re stuck in the house. It comes with a reversible backdrop so you can have either a white or black background. You simply have to place your subject inside and get shooting!
Many photographers use this sort of accessory for product photography where you need a clean and defined background. It’s perfect for those of you who photograph small products and have no need for a large studio setup.
Hotshoe Spirit Bubble
Do you know one of the main mistakes that beginners make in landscape and nature photography? Crooked horizons.
Nothing ruins a photograph quite like an uneven horizon when it’s unintentional. It’s one of those things that you can’t unsee after you’ve noticed it. Of course, it’s very easy to correct this in post-processing, but in doing so you are forced to crop parts of your image out. It’s preferable to just get it right in camera. Prevention is always better than needing a cure.
Some camera models do come with an in-built spirit level that you can bring up on your LCD screen, but I’ve found that even then it’s more intuitive to just use one of these dirt cheap camera accessories. This is simply a tiny spirit bubble that slots into the flash hotshoe of your camera. This allows you to ensure the camera is completely level before you press the shutter. There really is no excuse not to get one or two of these.
Op/Tech Camera Strap
If you’ve never considered changing from the manufacturer supplied and branded strap that was shipped with your camera you probably don’t realize just how inconvenient and uncomfortable they are.
The advantages are numerous – It’s more comfortable for starts, and the over the shoulder design means the camera rests on your hip rather than bouncing off your chest. It also has a handy quick release, which is great when you’re using a tripod and don’t want the strap flapping about in the wind.
Circular Polarizing Filter
Lens filters have been around in the photography world for decades, and there’s a reason they persist to this day despite all the post-processing techniques available to us: They can completely transform an image, and some of the effects aren’t easily replicated in the digital darkroom.
The polarizing filter is perhaps the most transformative and most difficult to replicate in post-processing, and it’s one filter that many photographers never leave the house without. As the name suggests, it drastically reduces the amount of polarized light hitting your lens, and that results in deeper blues in the sky, reduced glare on water and metal, and decreased atmospheric haze.
Camera Cleaning Kit
Even if you take all the precautions possible with your kit, the chances are at some point it’s going to need a good clean. After all, if you’re not pushing the limits of your equipment you’re missing out on some great opportunities.
But with all that precisely manufactured glass and metal it can be daunting to even think about touching it. Get yourself a lens cleaning kit, follow these instructions, and you don’t have to worry at all!
This comes with an air blower, a fine lens brush, a lens pen, cleaning fluid, and microfibre cloths. They are best used in that order. The blower removes any big particles without having to apply pressure and risk scratching the glass. The brush gets into the edges and removes dirt there, before the lens pen is applied to loosen any smears and general dirt. You then finish off with a microfibre cloth lightly dampened with lens cleaning solution, and you’re good to go!
This is another one of those photography accessories that can be a complete game changer. If you’ve ever considered taking a tripod out on a shoot with you but opted out due to the weight, size and inconvenience then this is for you!
The gorillapod is a tiny, lightweight tripod that can be easily carried in a normal bag. That in itself is enough of a sell for most, but the real beauty in the gorillapod is the ball-jointed legs.
These bendy legs allow you to basically attach is to anything. You can wrap it around railings or tree branches to get that unique viewpoint or perspective, or you can simply use it as a mini tripod. It’s fantastic for city shoots, where many of the popular tourist attractions don’t allow tripods but don’t bat an eyelid at this diminutive little accessory. It’s also great for vloggers and videographers filming B-roll footage or timelapses.
If you need more filters to add to your kit, Taming Light Photography has an array of ND filters you will love. Useful and effective for creating amazing landscape photogrphy images!