We’d love to say that photography is all about your talent, vision, and creativity. However, that’s only part of the process. You also need the right equipment to get the best results. There’s a lot to consider when you first take up photography.
Once you’ve chosen your camera and lens, you’ll need some of the photography essentials to go alongside them. So, to save you time and make things easier, we’ve rounded up the best photography accessories for beginners.
A tripod stabilizes your camera and prevents your photos blurring as a result of shaky hands. Tripods are essential if you ever want to do low-light or long-exposure photography. Slower shutter speeds and smaller apertures also require a tripod.
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 is a beginner photography must-have. This mid-range tripod can be adjusted to multiple angles, has a 360-degree rotating head, and is made of lightweight aluminum, so it’s easy to carry around with you.
2. External Flash
If your camera has a built-in flash, turn it off and never use it again. In almost every situation, you want the light to point in from another direction than the camera itself. Even a few inches above or to the side of the camera can make a huge difference.
An external flash, like the YONGNUO YN560 IV, mounts to the top of your camera and, depending on what kind you get, can swivel or tilt to aim the light. For example, you can point it upwards and bounce the light off the ceiling to get downward shadows.
3. Flash Diffuser
A flash diffuser is a transparent cap that covers an external flash. Whereas direct flash lighting can be harsh and create hard and unsightly shadows, the diffuser scatters the light and softens shadows. However, keep in mind that it also weakens the light and shortens its travel distance.
You’ll need a diffuser designed to fit your specific flash model unless you get a larger softbox. Universal models like the Altura Photo Flash Diffuser are an attractive option, so long as the device is compatible with your camera.
4. Rechargeable Flash Batteries
AA batteries power most external flashes, and there’s nothing worse than pulling out your flash for a shoot and finding it dead. Ideally, you’d carry enough extra batteries to refill all of your flashes plus two backup sets. This is crucial as flashes require a lot of power and drain batteries in no time at all.
To save yourself money, and protect the environment, you should opt for rechargeable AA batteries. The Energizer Recharge Pro is a portable charging case for AA and AAA batteries that comes with four AA batteries included.
5. Additional Camera Batteries
Your DSLR likely uses a rechargeable battery, too. However, the manufacturer will have included their own unique power source rather than a standard AA battery. As such, you won’t be able to swap just any battery into your camera.
Before you head out, you should be sure to have replaceable pre-charged batteries ready to go. Units like the RAVPower NP-FW50 can recharge multiple batteries simultaneously, in this case for the Sony A6 range, and can be topped up on the go with a power bank thanks to the included USB port.
6. Gray Card
A gray card is a simple tool to ensure your shots get a consistent level of gray, white balance and exposure. When a digital camera meters light for exposure, it aims for 13 percent gray. You can purchase a 13 percent gray card, but you’ll also want an 18 percent card, as it takes reflected light into account. The Anwenk Grey Card, a collection of three color-calibrated cards, for example, is one of the best photography essentials for beginners.
These cards reduce the amount of time you have to spend adjusting exposure for each scene. You can also use the gray card to achieve proper white balance. At the start of every shoot, snap a normal shot of the gray card. When post-processing, you can use that gray as the basis for white balance, and apply those white balance settings to the rest of the shoot.
7. Camera Cleaning Kit
Even a single speck of dust on your lens can ruin your shots, so regular cleaning is essential. However, to prevent damage, you need to use sensitive tools and materials.
A camera cleaning kit is ideal for this and usually comes with everything you need to maintain your DSLR. We’d recommend the Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit, which is the best all-around DSLR cleaning kit available right now.
8. Alternative Lens
Many veteran photographers recommend that amateurs get the so-called nifty fifty 50mm lens, like the Canon EF 50mm Lens, but that advice has full-frame cameras in mind. If you have a cropped sensor, which is true for most entry-level and enthusiast cameras, you’ll want something closer to 30mm.
However, 50mm lenses are some of the cheapest lenses, while 30mm options can be pricey. When you’re just starting, you don’t need anything better than f/1.8. When you progress into a more experienced photographer, then you can upgrade to f/1.4 or even f/1.2.
9. Neutral Density Filters
A neutral density filter, like the K&F Concept Natural Density Filter, mounts onto a lens and reduces the amount of light coming in. This is fantastic for when you want to shoot in the sun with a wide aperture without a super-fast shutter speed. By artificially darkening the outdoors, you have more creative range.
Neutral density filters can also be graduated, with half of the filter being darker than the rest. This comes in handy for landscape photography in scenarios where you want to darken the bright sky without darkening the beautiful foreground. However, be sure to get a filter that matches the size of your lens.
10. Polarizing Filters
A polarizing filter mounts onto a lens and reduces the amount of light coming in from a specific direction. For example, if you’re getting a glare from the sun or your photo is being affected by glinting reflections on water, a polarizing filter will mitigate them.
This makes polarizing filters an essential purchase if you do a lot of nature photography. The AmazonBasics Circular Polarizer, for example, is a great value option. Although, make sure the polarizer has the same diameter as your lens threads.
11. Remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter release lets you snap shots on your camera without actually touching the body itself. It pairs extremely well with any kind of photography that requires a tripod, namely low-light and long-exposure shots.
But it’s also useful for when you want to photograph yourself, especially if you get a wireless one. The Neewer Shutter Release Remote Control is designed for Canon DSLRs and comes with an LCD screen, too. However, there are a variety of controls for each camera manufacturer.
12. Memory Cards
As you sharpen your photography skills, you’ll likely switch from JPEG to RAW shots. However, RAW images are far larger than standard photos, which means they also take up more storage space.
The last thing you want is to run out of space when you’re out shooting, so always keep several extra memory cards at hand. The SanDisk 128GB Extreme SDXC is an inexpensive option, so you could buy a couple so that you have some spare should the need arise.
13. Photography Bag
You’ll have noticed that photography requires a lot of accessories. In addition to your camera, you may have several flashes, lenses, filters, memory cards, and batteries.
A photography bag, like the Qipi Camera Bag, makes it easier to carry all your beginner photography essentials with you and keep them organized.
14. Bounce Reflectors
To improve results, especially as a professional, you can use a bounce reflector. These allow you to take existing light sources and redirect them onto the subject, perhaps to highlight certain features or soften shadows.
One of the best DSLR accessories for beginners, then, is the Neewer Photo Studio Lighting Reflector. This model comes with a stand, but check before you purchase other reflectors, as you may need an assistant or a reflector stand to hold it.
15. Flash Light Stand
When you first start, your flash will likely be mounted to your camera. However, as you progress your skills, you may want to install the flash on a stand, so you can position it anywhere and aim it for optimal results. For instance, the Neewer Heavy Duty Light Stand is an all-round excellent flash light stand.
16. Flash Umbrella or Softbox
A flash diffuser is a great place to get started, but you can level up with a shoot-through flash umbrella like the Emart Flash Umbrella Kit.
This turns your small flash unit into a significant light source. A softbox, on the other hand, is similar to an umbrella, but with less light spillage.
17. Flash Snoot
Another lighting accessory worth considering is the flash snoot. This is a flexible tube that fits over your flash unit, concentrating light in one specific direction.
This eliminates spillage, allowing you to light subjects in dark environments without residual light, for example. An affordable option is the Neewer Conical Snoot.
18. Camera Strap
Your camera probably came with a basic strap. However, over long periods, these can get quite uncomfortable or distribute the weight poorly. As a result, it’s better to invest in a proper strap as soon as you can.
This will help to balance the weight and minimize shoulder stress. The Peak Design Camera Strap, for example, helps carry loads up to 90kg.
19. Specialized Lenses
As you refine your skills, you’ll likely figure out the type of photography you enjoy, and different scenarios require different lenses. For example, if you want to shoot wildlife photography, best to invest in a telephoto lens. Live events? You’ll need a high-quality zoom.
If you own a Canon DSLR, you should consider the Big Mike’s Telephoto Lens. However, given lenses can often be as or more expensive than the camera unit itself, it’s best to research thoroughly before making a purchase.
20. Business Cards
As soon as you decide to go professional or semi-professional, business cards should be printed, ready to go, and carried with you at all times. You never know when an opportunity for business exposure might arise, and you’ll want to take advantage of every single one.
It’s an upfront investment, but a worthwhile one. However, if you don’t want to shell out for pre-printed options, opt for the Avery Ink-Jet Printer White Business Cards, and you can print your own at home. Ultimately, the cost is minimal when compared to the price of photography gear.
The Best Camera Accessories for Beginners
Capturing the perfect shot requires your skill and creativity. You can further improve your images by choosing the right gear for your needs as well. These photography essentials for beginners are a great place to start, but don’t rush out to buy them all in one go—you can purchase each as the need arises.
That said, you won’t always have your full camera setup with you when inspiration strikes. However, you can utilize your photography skills with your smartphone’s camera. Just be sure to install these essential smartphone photography apps before you head out.
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