FOR THOSE LOOKING to pursue photography on a more serious level and add it as a potential income source, purchasing supporting equipment is essential to ensure you’re shooting the most optimal photos you can get. While many point-and-shoot cameras provide high resolution, print quality images, they don’t give you full flexibility that a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera or a Micro Four-Thirds camera offers.
And so, crossing into DSLR territory requires more gadgetry.
I know a handful of people who’ve gone into photography with good intentions only to have those dreams dashed by ever mounting costs of additional accessories.
That said, here are 10 relatively affordable items you can get now without taking too much of a financial hit.
Disclaimer – If you’re already wielding a $2,000 or higher pro-grade camera, some of these items may not apply to you. For example, filters for some of the lenses you may already have.
I do quite a bit of cold weather photography based here in Sweden and nothing zaps battery juice faster than an hour spent outdoors in sub zero degrees.
And by seamlessly switching out a dead battery for a fully-charged one, you can still focus on the task at hand and get those sweet shots. Having an extra battery or two is an important accessory I recommend to our MatadorU travel photography students.
So we’ve reviewed some pretty solid LowePro bags here on Matador and I highly recommend you invest in one of their heavy duty bags, but if you’re on a budget, you can certainly spend less than $50 on a good bag.
While I do have a LowePro camera backpack, I still carry my beat-up brown Vituri SLR bag which I bought from Walmart for $35 years ago. Now you can buy it for only $19.99!
Filters are like calibrated glass plates you attach to your lenses and they do some pre-processing of the image your camera’s sensor is about to record. So on a sunny day, polarizing filters can help reduce glares reflecting off surfaces.
Neutral Density (ND) filters give you that foamy feel to moving water you see in National Geographic landscape shots by increasing and extending exposure time, while warming/cooling filters help correct white balance.
Plus filters are usually the first to break when you drop your lens – and it will happen at some point – thereby protecting your lens.
A sturdy tripod will reward you in the long run – no question. But indestructible style tripods cost a couple hundred dollars, and like a pair of good fitting jeans, I can’t mentally get myself to buy one for over $50.
The company makes the widely popular twisty Gorillapod tripod which you can wrap around or stand on most surfaces to take a decent steady shot. And you can pick up their Gorillapod SLR-Zoom tripod for less than $50.
Wireless Remote Control
Once you’ve purchased an affordable tripod, pair it with a wireless remote control so you can trigger your camera’s shutter button without manually touching the camera. This tremendously reduces shakes and blur and you can get crisp low light shots.
Fisheye Extension Lens
Back when I bought my first DSLR – Nikon D40 – I wanted to play around with a fisheye lens but I wasn’t ready to fork out the cash for one 5 times the price of my camera body.
So I went poking around eBay, and found the Fisheye lens + Macro for Nikon D40 D40X 18-55mm for roughly $30.
It attaches to the front of your 18-55mm kit lens and allows you to take some very interesting warped shots similar to these ones below I shot in Oxford, UK.
While I don’t use it any more these days – due to an upgraded Nikon D300 camera setup – it was fun while it lasted.
External Storage Device
I can’t stress the importance of backing up your photographs enough, and for less than $50, you can buy a Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 250GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive to backup all those memorable photographs. It’s lightweight so you can carry it along on your travels without worrying too much about space or weight.
This may seem like a no-brainer and sometimes, you get cleaning kits complimentary with camera purchases. However if you don’t have one, definitely spend some money on a cleansing cloth, lens brush, dust blower, and some lens cleaning liquid.
Trust me, cleaning lenses with a shirt sleeve doesn’t work.
You can never carry too many memory cards, and having a couple 4G or 8G cards allows you to take as many photographs as you want without worrying about space. Plus spreading your photographs across multiple cards is a last ditch rudimentary backup process that also works – in case you lose a card or two.
Memory Card Travel Case
Once you’ve purchased a couple more memory cards, look into buying a sleek carrying case for them. There are tons of cases designed to fit your card type.
For example, the Lowepro PixelPak V1 Accessory Case allows you to customize its interior so you can hold up to 8 SD/MMC, XD or Mini SD memory cards within it – based on the type of memory your camera requires.
And at $10 a piece, you can grab four more cases if you want.
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