So you have your fancy Digital SLR, DSLR or whatever name snazzy name you came up with for your camera and want to spruce it up with the best features. Anyone who has ever walked into a camera shop knows the options for camera accessories can be exciting, tempting, and overwhelming at the same time.
Because the possible accessories for most high end cameras are so fast, there are no clear instructions on exactly go with what. With certain accessories you need to really read the fine print to check that the accessory will work with your camera model, as well as that you have all the existing parts to make it work. Others on the other hand span many brands and can be picked up at anytime.
No matter what brand or model you have there are certain accessories that are pretty much must-haves for any active user, while others are nice to have perks you can add to your collection when the time is right.
Must-Have DSLR Accessories
Any old bag just won’t do and that’s why there are so many camera-specific bags on the market. These bags best protect your camera by securing it tightly. They also often provide compartments for other accessories, if you should have them. You have styles to choose from including backpacks, sling-bags, and shoulder bags and the best one for you will come down to personal preference of design. When in doubt opt for a larger rather than smaller bag that will accommodate your other accessories as you get them.
Camera pros can’t stress this enough: Extra batteries are necessities. Extra batteries don’t cost that much and the use you’ll get out of them is well worth the expense. (Pro Tip: If you plan on doing a lot of shooting in cold weather, carry two extra batteries. Cold weather burns through the life of camera batteries like no other.)
Microfiber Cloth & Lens Cleaning Solution
In case it hasn’t been stressed enough to you already, microfiber cloth is the only material you should use when working with sensitive optical equipment such as your lenses. Prioritize the cloth over the solution, the latter of which, as long as it is made for camera lenses, will work just fine. Often you can find both in what is called a lense cleaning kit.
Lens Protection Filter
Lenses are expensive, as you probably already found out, so protecting them is a no brainer. Filters are one extra piece of glass between the lenses and the outside world that help protect your lenses from accidental damage and make them easier to clean, especially lenses that protrude. Be sure to buy high quality filters, as some pros insist low-quality filters can damage image quality.
Pretty much a common sense item, but it can’t hurt to mention this one. You won’t accomplish much if you don’t have a storage card to keep the pictures on. Many cameras come with a memory card, but those cards aren’t always the best quality so it’s best to get your own and use the included one as a backup.
Nice-to-Have DSLR Accessories
Although they’re small screens, the LCD screens on DSLR cameras are still vulnerable to scratches and other damages. For re-sell value especially LCD screens are one of the first bonus accessories you should grab.
Padded Neck Strap
The neck straps that come with most cameras are simply uncomfortable, easily causing strain if not bruising with even light usage. Neck straps don’t cost much and will instantly make your shoots not only more comfortable, but also longer which increases the chances of snapping that perfect photo
Tripods will easily become a part of your standard shooting routine but picking up a high quality one is key. This is an object you’re trusting your expensive equipment with so pony up for a good one. Stick with trusted manufacturers and, at a minimum, ensure the tripod can hold at least twice the weight of your camera and lens.
External Flash Unit
The flashes that come with even high quality cameras simply don’t compare to what external flash units can do. These units let you bounce the flash off of walls and other objects to obtain more natural looking light and can extend the reach of the flash to illuminate subjects when there is nearly no available light. Some even come with gel packs that let you choose the color of light you want to shine on your subjects making them fun to experiment with both indoors and out.
The Bottom Line
You just , or at one point, spent a lot of money on a DSLR camera for many reasons but one of which was probably as an investment. Therefore it would be downright foolish to skimp on accessories that will help you avoid losing that investment. Most are low cost, and either make your photo shoots more comfortable or simply help you advance your skills as a photography pro.