While most photographers aren't necessarily fashionistas, but it's important to have the right accessories for any digital camera. Expanding a camera bag with new accessories doesn't have to be expensive though. In fact, there are plenty of useful photo tools that cost less than $20. And many accessories are as versatile for compact cameras as they are for DSLRs. We've put together a handful of extras that will improve your shooting experience without burning a hole in your wallet.
Giottos Rocket Air Blower
($7.99 with free shipping, a low by $4)
Sometimes you need a quick burst of air to rid your lens, camera, or filter of dust or dirt (a brush works, too; see the Lenspen below). The best product to clean up extraneous bits of dust, dirt, sand, or anything else that has attached itself to your camera or lens is a simple, low tech device like Giottos Rocket Air Blower. (Stay away from canned air though, as the can may unexpectedly spit out liquid propellant, particularly if the can is tilted.) With this air blower, simply point the nozzle at the offending bits of dust, squeeze the bulb, and you're done. This gadget is is designed so that it doesn't "inhale" any dust when the bulb is released, either. Unlike other bulb blowers, the Giottos Rocket Air Blower has fins similar to a rocket ship, so it rests upright and it won't roll away. It's a great complement to the Lenspen and/or a micro fiber cloth.
Lenspen NLP-1 Cleaning System
($6.80 with free shipping, a low by $1)
Dust, dirt, and smudges on your lens can ruin a photo, so it's important to check your lens (front and back, if it's an interchangeable one) before you start shooting. The aforementioned air blower is great. And so are micro fiber cloths, but with a cloth, you'll want to brush off the debris first, otherwise you risk scratching the lens. Lenspen is a great product and wildly popular camera accessory. Its shape has been redesigned, but the function remains the same: a retractable brush at one end and a special carbon pad at the other. Just slide the soft brush out to use it on any part of your camera (except the sensor!), and then you can use the other end to clean off smudges on the lens and LCD. Lenspen is an efficient and affordable cleaning tool that should be in every photographer's camera bag.
Hoodman HoodEYE Eye Cup
($18.99 with free shipping, a low by $1)
The eyepiece on your DSLR may be comfortable, but many are relatively shallow and let extraneous light in from the sides. The Hoodman HoodEye Cup is designed to replace the standard eye cup: Just slide the old one off and slide the HoodmanEYE over the camera's eye cup rails. The HoodmanEYE is deep and sculptured to fit comfortably when looking through the viewfinder of any DSLR. It also helps keep the photographer's nose farther away from the LCD, so it doesn't press directly onto the monitor (which is not only uncomfortable but smudges the screen). What's more, this eye cup can be rotated for left-eye shooters.
Joby GorillaPod Original Mini Flex Tripod
($14.95 with free shipping, a low by $2)
Joby's GorillaPod looks like a toy — and it is pretty fun to use — but this bendable little tripod is actually the perfect combination of form and function. Wrap it around a tree limb or fence rail to shoot from an unexpected angle. Or set it on all three legs on a flat (or uneven) surface like a regular tripod. Available in eight cool colors, the GorillaPd uses a quick-release clip allowing for quick transitions between tripod and handheld shooting. It measures 5.9" x 1.2" x 1.2" and weighs only 1.6 oz., so it's easy to stash in your camera bag or even a pocket. Designed to support cameras weighing up to 11.5 oz., the original GorillaPod is perfect for capturing videos and slow shutter speed still images with compact models. For heavier cameras, look for higher-capacity Gorillapod models.
Think Tank SD Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Carrier
($15.75 with free shipping, a low by $4)
It's so easy to lose those tiny SD cards most digital cameras use these days, and while you can slip an extra card into a pocket or your camera bag, chances are pretty good that you'll spend way too much time trying to fish out the right card when you need it. Think Tank Photo's SD Pixel Pocket Rocket can help avoid these situations.
This compact accessory has nine see-through pockets to store your SD cards; make it easy on yourself to determine which are available and which are empty by creating a method to their storage i.e. face the empty ones and full ones in opposite directions. The SD Pixel Pocket Rocket folds neatly to a compact 4.5" x 2.5" and seals securely with Velcro. There's a compartment for your business cards and a lanyard, too, so you can clip this organizer to a belt loop or inside your camera bag for easy access. Pixel Pocket Rockets are also available for Compact Flash and CF/SD cards.
Westcott 14" Westcott Illuminator Reflector Panel
($13.90 with free shipping, a low by $3)
Sometimes the light is just right for capturing an image but, often, shadows are cast. And these can become rather problematic when photographing people. Enter the portable reflector — a small, lightweight accessory that can be used to redirect light onto a subject. Westcott offers a number of reflectors, including the 14" Silver/White reflector that, as the name implies, is white on one side (for softer reflections) and silver on the other (for adding a bit of pizzazz.) The reflector can be handheld and collapses to about 5.7" x 5.7" x 1.3" — small enough to slip into a camera bag. It comes with its own nylon carrying case, too. Westcott also offers a 14" diffuser and reflectors with Silver/Gold and Sunlight/Silver surfaces to help create the right lighting for any image.
While these gear options are certainly budget-friendly, you can also find camera tools in items that are laying around the house already. For example, a small flashlight can help shed light on the dark interior of your camera bag when you're looking for a small item, and the micro fiber cloth you use to clean your glasses will work equally well on a lens. Or perhaps you already own a small pouch or drawstring bag that will work to keep your smaller accessories in one place. Check around, you may be surprised at the useful camera accessories you find. (A hidden $20 bill in the couch will score you at least one of these great photography helpers, too.)
Front page photo credit: Wolfewithan
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