Photographic Accessories

Alright, you have your new DSLR and lens in hand and you are ready to start making accessory purchases.  Accessories are designed to help you deal with your gear or perhaps give you additional options.  There are so many out there that it can be a daunting task to try and figure out what to get.  This post will be broken up into two sections.  Section 1 is a list of items that I would consider must haves and Section 2 is all about what is great to have but not 100% necessary.  I will provide a link to the gear that I use.  What I use is certainly not the only option but I have found that it works great for me.  If you have specific question about what you should buy contact me and I will help you out.

Section 1:  Must have Items.

Gear

  • Tripod:  Don’t skimp on the tripod and head because you will just buy another one on down the road.
  • Camera Strap:  The strap that comes with the camera is simply not a good strap.  It will do the job but your neck will suffer for this short coming.  I would recommend something like the Black Rapids “R Strap”.  It keeps the weight over your shoulder and puts the camera in a comfortable place with a good range of motion.
  • Camera Bag:  This is something that you will have to work on to find the right one for you.  I know my wife accuses me of being a member of the “bag of the month” club.  I am always in search of the next best camera bag.  These also depend on what types of photography you want to do.
  • External Flash Unit:  If your camera is equipped with a pop up flash never use that to actually light a subject.  It is tiny and will produces…  well, terrible images.  A larger external flash unit placed on top of your camera will not do much better but it is a start and you can bounce the flash around the room by repositioning the head.  This is a great item to have though when a high ISO isn’t enough.  The additional accessories you could use for this will be listed in Section 2.
  • Lens, and Sensor Cleaning Materials:  You will always find it necessary to clean both your lenses and your sensor.  ***Disclaimer***.  Do not clean your sensor until you watch a video or have someone show you how.  It isn’t difficult but there are some do’s and don’ts.
  • Hand Held Flashlight:  You just never know when you need one of these.  You can use them to find something you have dropped in the dark, shine it on your subject so that you can focus in low light, light your subject in a pinch, and/or use it to paint in light for long exposures.  Plus they help you see where you are going in the dark.

Software

  • Adobe Lightroom 4:  This is an absolute must have accessory.  It is a very powerful editing, sorting, and organization program designed increase the speed in which you can process images.  Trust me there will be a lot of images to process once you get going.  Sure, there are other programs out there but none are as supported and embraced by the industry as Lightroom 4.  In my opinion it is flat out better than your other options.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements (not necessary if you have full version of Photoshop CS6):  I list this because I think you should have something to do a little more heavy lifting than Lightroom can provide.  This isn’t something you will use all the time but it is something you will need if you want to clone out items etc..  The full version of Photoshop CS6 is significantly more powerful but most of what you would need can be done with Elements and it is MUCH cheaper.

Section 2:  Great to Have

Gear

  • External Flash Unit(s):  More than one is a good thing to have.  Now, get that thing off your camera!
  • Pocket Wizards:  Pocket Wizards now make off camera remote flash trigger units that work with Canon’s eTTL and Nikon’s iTTL (both the same thing with different names).
  • Remote Trigger:  This is often a corded device that is attached to your camera that will allow you to trigger the shutter without touching the camera.  This is great for longer shutter speeds as you do not introduce any vibrations into the camera.  They do make wireless ones as well.

Software

  • Adobe Photoshop CS6:  This is the most powerful photo editing program you can get right now.  Chances are it will be for a good bit of time.  This is where you can do a lot of “heavy lifting” with cloning, layers, masking, and if you are spunky even 3D.  CS6 even has some basic video editing now.
  • Nik Software Plug-in Suite:  Nik Software, for now anyway, is among the top for plug-ins.  It is something you should have on your list because much of what you do in Photoshop can be done quicker and easier by using the plug-in for Photoshop.  You can get that same plug-in for Lightroom as well.  The reason I made the comment “for now” is because they were bought by Google and who knows what will happen now.