Last Updated on 11/15/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
Photography accessories are there to be embraced, enjoyed, and used to take your images to the next level.
Whether you are buying your first camera this holiday season, or if you have been a photographer for many years, one thing to know is that photography accessories such as filters, tripods, and flashes are there to make our lives as photographers easier. They enable use to get the images we want, and they can help save us a ton of time when it comes to producing and processing our images.
The more we embrace these photography accessories the better our work will be. Many photographers who are just starting out can be intimidated by the sheer amount of accessories available, and in all honesty not all of them are worthwhile. But the photography accessories we have listed below are true game changers because of their uses, build quality, and their affordable prices. Let’s take a look at five, game changing photography accessories every photographer should own and use.
Neewer Complete ND and Graduated Filter Kit
A lot of photographers have never used ND filters which is a shame because they are a game changer. What are ND and graduated Filters? Basically they act as sunglasses for your lenses. They come in various strengths with each of them stopping more light from hitting your sensor as they get darker. With ND filters you can slow your cameras shutter speed so that you can capture beautiful long exposures during daylight hours. Graduated filters darken only one part of your image, which is perfect high contrast situations (think bright sky, dark landscape). This Neewer kit has a full set of both ND and graduated filters, and the best part is the insanely low price.
In our review we said:
“We all completely understand the difference between great glass and mediocre glass, and know that you won’t be able to create as great images straight out of the camera as you can with better glass and paying for a much higher premium overall. However, you’d be incredibly shocked if I told you that you were really, really wrong.”
Neewer are known for creating pretty high quality items for low prices, and this kit is no exception to that rule. With this kit you will get 8 ND filters (full ND2, ND4, ND8, and ND16, and graduated G.ND2 G.ND4 G.N8 G.ND16), 9 metal adapter rings (49mm/52mm/55mm/58mm/62mm/67mm/72mm/77mm/82mm), two filter holders, two square lens hoods, and a bag to keep that will help keep the entire kit together.
The low price of this kit probably has you wondering if these filters affect image quality. We can tell you: you have nothing to worry about. They just work. Flawlessly. If you really want to take your images to the next level, this filter kit is one of the game changing photography accessories you can’t afford to miss out on.
Buy now: ($20.99)
Pro Tip: When you’re out and about in the field getting your images you need to make sure your gear is protected from the elements, especially now that we are heading into winter and the snow storms it can bring us. Pack a few waterproof weather covers in your camera bag and use them to protect your camera and lenses if you get caught in a storm. These are amazing photography accessories that everyone should carry with them.
Yongnuo 560 III Radio Flash
If you’re considering a career as a portrait photographer, or even if you just plan on taking the odd picture of friends and family, you’ll be amazed at the difference a quality flash can make to your images. We often say that to get the best possible image and sharpness out of any lens, you have to use a flash. That is entirely true, and the Yongnuo 560 III is one of the best places to start.
In our review we said:
“The Yongnuo 560 III should dispel a lot of myths. Not only is it affordable and well built, but it also is a killer deal overall. For significantly less than what all the big players offer, you’re getting a flash with radio transmission built in.”
So many photographers are scared of flash photography, and there really is no need to be. The best time to start using external lighting is when you first start practicing photography, but if you have been putting it off and feel now is the time to start, this flash will serve you well. The Yongnuo 560 III is a fully manual flash, meaning you will need to set your parameters (power, and focal range) manually, but don’t let this put you off. While automatic flash systems such as TTL are great, being able to fully control the light will take your work to even greater heights.
The Yonguo 560 is easy to use, more than powerful enough, has power steps from 1/1 to 1/128, fantastic build quality, and a large digital display on the back. This Yongnuo flash also has a built in radio transmitter so if you want to use this flash off camera in a soft box, just purchase the wireless flash controller (for your camera brand) and add a whole different feel and look to your images. This Yognuo 560 III flash is a game changer, and a must have when it comes to photography accessories.
Buy now: ($59.91)
Pro Tip: Using flash and external lighting can really take your images to the next level, but learning how to use flash can take some time. Make things a little easier on yourself by using guides and tutorials such as the Master Lighting Guide To Flash Photography. You’ll be creating jaw dropping images with your new flash in no time.
Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Reflector
Adding external lighting into your workflow is one thing, but being able to control the light in order to do what you want it to do is another. If you’re not quite ready to use softboxes and other larger light modifiers there are other photography accessories that can help you control light easily and efficiently.
In our review we said:
“The build quality is really amazing here. It bends and warps into various shapes and then can fold down pretty flat to be stored into a backpack or messenger bag. That’s a really awesome part of it.”
Light from your flash will be hard unless you modify it in some way, and this is where accessories like the Flashbender come in. Spreading the light from a flash over a large reflective surface will make the light become softer, shadows won’t be so hard, and the light will be much more even, which is exactly what you want if you’re shooting portraits. The Rogue Flashbender 2XL is a light modifier that will do all of those things, and the great thing is that it’s easy to use and simply requires you to attach it to your flash with a velcro strap.
The Flashbender 2XL is bendable and easy to modify, which means you have lots of control over where the light from your flash will fall on your subject. If you need a light modifier that is lightweight, doesn’t require a light stand, and is incredibly affordable, then the Rogue Photographic Flashbender 2XL is for you.
Buy now: ($59.95)
Pro Tip: One thing is for sure, without SD cards we would be dead in the water. They are our lifeblood, but as amazing as these digital marvels are, they can fail. Make sure you have enough SD cards in your camera bag to cover any issue that might crop up such as corrupted data, cards that won’t read, or leaving home without one in your camera. The simple, affordable SD card is perhaps one of the biggest game changing photography accessories ever made.
Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Tripod
As cameras become more advanced with features like in-body image stabilization, many wonder whether the need for tripods is diminishing. We can tell you though, without a shadow of a doubt, that the simple tripod is still one of the biggest game changers when it comes to photography. Manfrotto has been making quality tripods for years, and the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel tripod is another gem that the Italian manufacturer has produced.
In our review we said:
“There’s a whole lot of praise to be given to the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod. It’s sturdy, well built, nice to the touch, lightweight for travel, and gives photographers a whole lot of what they need at a fair price.”
Whether you’re an aspiring landscape photographer, or a studio-based portrait photographer, you’re going to need a tripod regardless of camera or lens image stabilization. Technology fails, you’re human, and you’re going to move and potentially ruin your shot: that’s just a fact. But the simple tripod will just sit there and do it’s thing. Tripods can be counted on time and time again.
The Manfrotto BeFree Compact weighs just over 3lbs and is built very well. The Aluminum alloy body is capable of being abused a fair amount, which is what’s needed if you plan on hiking unforgiving trails. The Manfrotto BeFree can hold 8.8lbs of equipment, has a maximum height of 56.6 inches, and folds up to an easily manageable 15.75 inches. The included ball head is easy to use, and employs a two-way locking system which makes sure your gear stays nice and secure.
The Manfrotto BeFree is a tripod that will serve first time tripod users, and experienced photographers well. For under $150 you’re going to get a sturdy, reliable tripod that will help you create beautiful long exposures, or tack sharp portraits. The humble tripod is one of the best photography accessories any photographer can own.
Buy now: ($142.93)
Pro Tip: Long exposure photography can be absolutely breathtaking. From streaking car taillights at night, to beautiful flowing waterfalls that look dreamy and other worldly, long exposure images always catch the eye. If you’re not sure how to get started with this genre of photography then this guide is for you. Learn how to set up your camera, and understand the gear you’ll need to capture some of these breathtaking images yourself.
Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD
One thing we all need to do as photographers is protect our work, and one of the best ways to do this is to make backups of all of our RAW and edited files. The My Passport Wireless external SSD is a little expensive, but having the ability to back up your SD cards (which do fail) while out in the field without a computer is game changing.
In our review we said:
“The My Passport Wireless SSD is a unit that we can highly recommend to photographers, videographers, and other creatives who need to backup and access their data while on the go and in locations not conducive to bringing/using a laptop.”
Having the ability to take a SD card out of your camera, then being able to plug it in to a battery powered SSD to backup your images without a computer is liberating. The My Passport Wireless is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB variants. The internal battery is capable of being used non-stop for up to 10 hours, and transfer speeds from SD cards to the drive can hit 65MB/s with a single push of a button. The drive is rugged and can survive a drop from a height of 3.2 feet, even when it’s being used. When you get back to your computer and hook it up via the USB 3.0 connector, your files will transfer up to 390MB/s.
The My Passport Wireless SSD gives you piece of mind when you’re away from the studio or office, it’s easy to use, and durable enough to withstand bumps and bangs. When it comes to photography accessories, this one may not be able to improve your images like a filter or flash can, but it can store and protect your work, and that is invaluable.
Buy now: (from $191.99)