I (Brent) have been an avid photographer for many years and have been asked to review dozens of photography accessories and various gear over the past handful of years. I definitely have my opinions, having tested so much gear. These are my favorite accessories that I think you guys will love.
Flashes are an amazing way to step up your photography. There is so much you can do when you add some lighting to your photography. I am going to recommend a pretty basic set up here that will be great for beginning photographers, but it is still the gear I used because, despite being very affordable, it is very dependable gear.
For flashes, I recommend the Yongnuo YN-560IV . It is best to have two or three of these, but you can start with one if you are on a budget. These are a great alternative to the much more expensive name-brand flashes, but work just as well. The build quality leaves a bit to be desired, but I have found them to work great, just don’t drop them much.
The perfect tool to pair with your new flashes is the Yongnuo 560-TX Trigger. This trigger allows you to control all your flashes, including their settings from your camera’s hot shoe. It is hugely convenient and well worth the low price.
Once you are using flashes, you will need something to modify the light to make it soft and complimentary. The light modifier goes over the flash. The cheapest light modifier to start with is a white umbrella. My favorite is this umbrella from Westcott. You can find cheaper ones, but this one is only $20 and better quality than the cheap ones. Just don’t make the mistake I did with my first flash years ago, get this cheap bracket to hold your umbrella. Check out my review.
If you want a step up from the umbrella, you need to get a soft box. I have about 6 of them sitting in my closet, but ninety percent of the time I opt for the Impact Hexi Softbox. It is a great softbox, easy to use and has a nice pistol grip so an assistant can easily hold it for you. Check out my review here.
Once you are using flashes off camera, you will need a light stand. I have used a handful from cheap flimsy ones to expensive models. My favorite is still the awesome Savage Drop Light Stand. It is super convenient, sturdy and goes up plenty high. It is also a decent value at around $100. You can check out my review here.
Ninety percent of my shooting is landscape or travel. For landscape shooting, you have to have a decent set of filters. The only filters I use religiously are the circular polarizer (CPL) and the Neutral Density (ND).
The CPL cuts reflection and enriches some colors like blue. It is great for shooting saturated or wet scenes where reflections can dull the colors more than you release. ND filters are basically sun glasses for your lens to cut out light and allow you to create longer exposures. ND filters come in different strengths and are designated primarily by how many stops of light they cut out. My favorite is the ND1000, which cuts out ten stops of light, which makes for fun long exposures that are minutes long for dreamy seascapes and light trails. Lighter ND filters are also great for capturing moving water like seashores and waterfalls.
There are a lot of good filter companies, but it can be tough to find ones that are decently priced, good build quality, and don’t have a harsh color cast. My favorite by far come from Luzid filters. You can check out a more in-depth review here.
If you use filters at all, I highly recommend getting the Filter Nest Mini from Mindshift Gear. It makes carrying filters so much easier and saves a lot of space. It is easily one of my most indispensable pieces of gear.
An L bracket is one of the best investments you can make. It is so cheap, but everyone underestimates how awesome it is to easily switch to vertical orientation on a tripod without any hassle. I use a great L bracket from Leofoto. It is a great value with good build quality and good functionality. Check out my full review.
You will have to clean your lens when you are out shooting. A LOT. There are two things I carry with me all the time. Lens cloths and the Lenspen. Check out my review of the Lenspen.
Memory cards are not all created equal. You learn that as soon as you have a cheap card fail on you. While you don’t need to spend hundreds on a card, you need to get a good one. I use the SanDisk Extreme Pro brand most often.
There are some companies making a strong attack on Adobe, but I still think Lightroom and Photoshop offer the best bang right now. I wish they would do something about the speed, but the creative cloud is still the best option for most photographers.
I have tested and reviewed most of the top calibrators by the best brands. The i1 Display Pro is my favorite calibrator. See my review here.
The Thinguma is something I was skeptical on since it didn’t seem like much for $20, but it has been invaluable to me. It acts as an allen wrench and screwdriver, and fits conveniently on a keychain without adding a bunch of bulk or weight. I use it all the time to tighten my tripod, tighten my ball head, attach and detach my L bracket, mounting plates, etc. It is seriously a life saver as it is impossible to always have these tools with you all the time unless you have a much better memory than I or if you have something on your keychain like this.