Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Ok, so last year you had a camera for Christmas, and you have spent the last 12 months smashing that your Instagram and improving every-time you go out and take pictures. You may have been thinking then recently 'How can I improve my photography?' - I did, and I wish I had read this article before I went and blew a load of money on stuff I didn't need. If you want some tips on how to make the right choice, check out my Top Three Tips for Purchasing Photography Equipment.
So, to help you on your way I thought I'd put together my Top 6 Camera Accessories that will help you improve your photography game!
TripodsThey come in so many different sizes and shapes (usually with three legs), and that means they come in a range of prices, from cheap to just plain stupid prices - I have to say that unless you have an endless pit of money, some of the brands out there have some tripods that are not worth the money - believe me, there is a good balance. But before I give you a few options, here are a few ideas about how owning one will improve the pictures you take.
Reduce camera shake is the primary reason you need one. Reduce camera shake, especially when taking pictures at slow shutter speeds. This means that you don't have to crank up ISO to get a faster shutter speed too, meaning you get cleaner, less grainy pictures. Check out my 'Making sense of your camera settings' infographic here!
Take amazing panoramicThere are more reasons than just eliminating camera shake; you can create some powerful panoramics with a steady tripod. Many photo-editing apps have the ability to stitch pictures together. Make it easier by keeping all your pictures lined up next to each other nice and straight and you'll get some lovely pano's!
Vlogging Yep, I went there. Use a smaller tripod for a better way of handling your camera when vlogging. Check out Casey Neistats's set up here.
TimelapseOnce you have learned how timelapse works, you're gonna want to try it. But here's one I prepared earlier...
Which tripod to buy? I personally now stick with Manfrotto. I have spent too much money on cheap tripods in my time that many consider it a crime. So, depending on your budget, choose one of these two... Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod with Hybrid Head or the Manfrotto 190XPRO Aluminium 4 Section Tripod with Horizontal Column
Yes, a one-legged tripod!
But you have just told me I need a tripod!!!
Damn, right, you do. But for some, a tripod might be a bit cumbersome for travelling. There are some great travel tripods out there, but I personally feel even the best ones are bit flimsy.
Sometimes though, you don't need a full-on tripod set-up, but you do need a bit of stability - hence the monopod.
These are great when you're taking pictures of fast-moving sport or wildlife. They're super compact; they'll fit in pretty much any bag!
Which one should I buy?
Again, I'm sticking with what I know. This Manfrotto monopod is a great balance between cost and quality... https://amzn.to/2PkyuQm
Probably the first accessory you realised you needed when you purchased your camera.
This tiny little thing is so important. I see so many photographers use cheap cards because they think they're saving money. Just wait until that cheap card fails on you during a wedding ceremony. You'll literally cack your pants.
I know that buying a more expensive one won't stop you having that problem, but it reduces it.
So, what should I be looking for in a good memory card?
Ok, there are two cards to consider seriously. Some cameras take only one; some take both. Have a look at the options first...
These memory cards come in two different sizes, microSD and SD. For this article, we'll focus on the full-size SD card. They come in all sorts of sizes, from 1GB all the way to 128GB - some manufacturers are releasing 256GB and even 512GB, I think that's too much. Why have all those important pictures on one card!? Spread them out! I take 6x32GB cards to a wedding and change regularly, even if the card isn't full. I usually change after every event, getting ready, the ceremony, the official posed portraits etc...
Ok, you have got the size you need, now the speed. Faster the better. Essentially, the manufacturers market the fasted speed available for that card, so typically they will say things like,
The reality is, that speed is the read speed - you want to look at the write speed! In this case, and it's the favourite card I use, the read speed is 90, but the write speed is 60mb/s. That matters. You can check out the cards I use here.
Pretty much the same points as above, however, you'll notice that the speed of these is much faster! If your camera takes these, don't scrimp! You'll be pleased you didn't! I often find if I only use my CF card, I have little to no buffering!
Ok, you have a £2k setup, and you want to throw it all in a cheap bag? No, don't.
I spent a fortune on bags. You'll never really be happy with a single choice, so I have opted for a two-bag solution: a rucksack and messenger bag.
The rucksack I use is great for carrying lots of gear for a distance, and the messenger is great for more run and gun assignments. I also use a leather messenger for when I'm just out and about. Here are the options I use;
This is perfect for carrying everything.
My run and gun solution, I LOVE this bag.
One word - Polarising lens.
Ok, that's two. But seriously, the first filter you need is a polariser. The idea of a polarizer is to cut down on the reflections in your scene, darken brighter areas of the picture and suppress glare!
There are a few more options for you to consider, like neutral density filters, but today, this article is to inform you of what you need NOW! Get yourself one of these... Just note, the filter size of your lens and your filter must match!
I hope you find something amongst all these options helpful to you? Each of the links does give a small amount of commission, but all the products I have suggested I have personally and would recommend them, I think it's important you know that.
Let me know if you get any of these or if you have your own top tips!