Camera gear is notoriously expensive, but there are some cheap photography accessories out there. Here are 10 affordable gadgets that you should seriously consider adding to your camera bag, no matter what kind of photography you do. They can help make your photoshoots run smoother and your workflow more effective.
1. Camera cleaning supplies
No matter how careful you are with your camera gear, it is bound to get dirty. Thus, it is essential to always have your camera and lens cleaning supplies on hand. Luckily, these items are pretty cheap, so there’s no excuse for not having them around. Here are a few cleaning tools in particular:
- Lens cloth: microfiber cleaning cloths remove dust and smudges from filters and the front of your lens.
- Rocket blower: also known as a bulb blower, use this rubber device to blow the dust off your camera sensor and the front of your lens. If using it on your camera sensor, be sure to point your camera downward so the dust will fall to the ground.
- Lens pen: these have a similar function to lens cloths, but they are easier to keep clean and target problem areas.
- Lens cleaning liquid: when a lens cloth or pen isn’t doing the trick, cleaning liquid will often give you the best results.
2. Rain sleeve
Even though many cameras and lenses are touted as weather-resistant, it’s still a good idea to carry rain gear with you. This is helpful not only for downpours but for shooting in other wet conditions such as riding on a boat or sitting in the first row at Sea World.
There are all kinds of rain cover options out there, including regular plastic shopping bags and Ziplock bags.
If you have a relatively small camera, a DIY home version might be just fine. But for those with larger cameras and lenses, it’s best to invest in dedicated camera rain sleeves, such as these made by OP/TECH. They are pretty cheap and reusable, and they have custom sizes to better fit your camera setup than what a regular plastic shopping bag can offer.
3. Foldable reflector
No matter what kind of photography you do, you should own a reflector. These flexible devices are great for adding a kiss of light to any scene. Reflectors come in many sizes and shapes.
The most versatile ones are 5-in-1, offering white, silver, gold, black, and translucent surfaces.
The latter surface is one that I use often to filter light and make it softer. This is where the LED flashlight can come into play if you filter its light via the translucent part of the reflector. Size-wise, reflectors can be pocket-sized, or human-sized. Get the size that makes the most sense to you or stock up on multiple ones.
4. Bubble leveler
Although many cameras have built-in digital levelers, sometimes it is easier to have a physical bubble leveler that you can always refer to. These cheap bubble levelers fit on the cold shoe mount of your camera and help you get a straight and level shot.
As an added bonus, you can also use these to level other items such as prints of your pictures when mounting them to a wall.
5. Battery holder
Most photographers have several spare batteries for their cameras. But do you have a method for keeping your batteries organized? If not, you need a battery holder. Think Tank makes battery holders for different capacities, such as 4 spare batteries or 2. They even have one for AA batteries. When I use these battery holders, I put them in facing the same way and replace them upside down as they drain and need to be recharged. That way, I know not only where all of my batteries are, but which ones need to be charged.
6. Memory card wallet
Similar to battery holders, it’s also a good idea to have a memory card wallet.
When I first started out in photography, I was a staunch believer in having as few memory cards as possible so that I didn’t accidentally misplace them. While this might be an okay practice for some, the truth is that camera file sizes keep getting larger. That means you’ll likely need to carry more memory cards.
If you use more than one memory card, you should have a system for keeping them organized. That’s where a memory card wallet is helpful. Use them not only to keep track of your cards, but also to know which ones are empty, and which are full (i.e. by turning them upside down when full).
7. Silver Sharpie
Have you ever noticed that a lot of camera gear tends to be black in color? Everything from batteries and memory cards, to camera bodies and lenses, they all seem to be the same color. This can make it tricky for labeling them with your name or indicators to tell them apart. Enter the silver Sharpie.
This is one of those tools I never knew I needed until I started using it. The main thing I use it for is to write my name and a unique number on each of my memory cards. I have 13 of them, so I need a way to tell them apart. I do the same for my camera batteries, external hard drives, and all kinds of items.
8. LED flashlight
This is an item that is so small and easy to slip in your camera bag that you might as well carry one. Portable light sources have a variety of uses, namely helping you find gear in your camera bag in dark lighting scenarios. Flashlights can also help you make a creative image via light painting, or adding a bit of extra light to a scene, especially when paired with the next item on the list.
9. External battery pack
These last two items might be arguable in terms of their “cheapness,” but they have a relatively low investment price considering how long they can last. An external battery pack is especially helpful today since many modern cameras can be charged via USB input.
You can also juice up your cell phone on the go, which is probably very helpful for photography since there are many smartphone camera apps out there to help you take better photos.
I’m a fan of Anker battery packs, such as the Anker PowerCore 10000, which goes for about $30.00 USD. I’ve owned the previous version of this battery pack for over 5 years, and it is still going strong.
10. Joby Gorillapod
These flexible tripods have been around forever and they are still incredibly useful. Think of those awkward places where a regular tripod won’t quite fit, and the Gorillapod is your answer for anchoring your camera to grab those unique shots.
Admittedly, Gorillapods aren’t the cheapest accessories out there, but it does depend on which size you buy. Smaller Gorillapods (for smaller cameras) can go for under $30 USD, but the larger ones will go for upwards of $40 USD. This may seem cheap to you, or it may seem expensive.
Either way, know that these Gorillapods are built to last. I have one that is over 7 years old and it still holds up both my Canon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras just fine.
Over To You
There you have it – 10 (relatively) cheap camera accessories that all photographers should have.
Would you add any items to this list? Let me know in the comments below!