If you’re new to photography, the sheer amount of accessory options might overwhelm you. At some point you will ask yourself: should I buy this specific item? how much bang for the buck am I going to get? and: which of the five straps / filters / etc. options is the best? Now, I’ve tried many different products over time and here are some small accessories that made it permanently into my photography bag:
If you’re into landscape photography like I am, you might know about blown out skies. It’s a common problem every photographer faces at some point in time: the foreground in your shot is exposed correctly, whereas the sky is too bright and looks dull. Now, I’m a big fan of “getting it right in the camera”, but there’s also another reason for using a graduated filter: if the sky gets blown out too much, there’s no way you could recover the lost details in post processing. That’s why I use a soft-edge graduated ND filter with a Cokin P holder that screws right onto my lens. You’ll find a great explanation of how to use this kind of filter on the Singh Ray Blog. Note: I’m using an EVA Molded 24 Capacity CD/DVD Case to carry my Singh-Ray filters around and to keep them from breaking.
Getting the white balance right in camera will keep you from doing a whole lot of color adjustment during post processing. Practicing landscape photography means you’ll have enough time to carefully adjust all relevant camera settings. And this also includes white balance. My favorite accessory for getting the right white balance is a small item that’s called “ExpoDisc”. You simply place the disc in front of your lens and follow your camera’s custom white balance procedure as described in your camera’s manual. This process won’t take more than 15 seconds and I actually find it much more convenient than holding a grey card in front of your camera and adjusting the white balance later. More about ExpoDisc (including with / without images) over at Ken Rockwell.
This camera strap attaches to the tripod socket of your camera. It is worn diagonally across your body and makes your camera hang upside down at your hip or back. The moment you decide to take a shot, you can quickly raise the camera to eye level by sliding it along the strap. This is extremely useful if you’re doing street photography while you’re traveling. And it’s comfortable: on my last trip to Budapest, I carried a 70–200 mm Canon lens attached to a 7D around my shoulder for hours. The foam padding of the shoulder pad is thick; the black nylon of the strap sturdy. I only worry about the plastic bumpers on the strap that keep your camera from swinging. They might be the first parts that break on this otherwise great product. If you want more information about this specific item, please read the in-depth review at Digital Photography School.