DSLR accessories

Top ten DSLR accessories

DSLR accessoriesProfessional photographer Brett Turner shares his thoughts about the top ten accessories every digital single lens reflex camera user should own.

1) Ultra Violet filter

An Ultra Violet filter cuts out some haze and blue scattered light. More importantly, it helps keep the front optic from getting scratched or sprayed with mist. Think of an UV filter as cheap insurance. Even if you only have a kit lens, it may cost from $100.00 to $500.00 to replace. You can spend between $5.00 and $100.00 for a UV filter. Don’t go too cheap; buy one in the $30.00 to $70.00 range.

2) Micro fiber cloth

Don’t clean the lenses with liquid if you can at all avoid it. Liquid will seep into a lens and eventually cause internal fog.  Wipe a lens gently with a dry, quality micro fiber cloth. If a smudge doesn’t easily come off, fog the lenses with your breath and try again.

3) Blower

Many photographers like the Giotto’s Rocket Air Blower, available most places where cameras are sold. A light puff should be enough to clear any lint from a camera and lens. Don’t use canned air sold for computers. Canned air will leave a light, often oily, residue of the propellant used in the can. Also sometimes canned air is strong enough to drive lint deep into the internal parts of a camera and lens.

4) 50mm 1.8 lens

What a 50mm 1.8 lens allows is an inexpensive way to get a really wide aperture and not sacrifice sharpness or lens quality.  Remember that a wide aperture (low f numbers 1.2, 1.8, 2.8) will allow you to get good results in low light such as indoors without using flash. It also allows for truly narrow depth of field. If I could only have one lens, it would be a 50 1.8, possibly the lowest cost lens you will ever buy.

5) Dedicated external flash

If you don’t have light, you don’t have a photo. Some people don’t like to use a flash and you will hear them say, “I am a natural light shooter.” This is okay if you want to limit your options. Use whatever light you can to get the photo. An external flash has many benefits.

I love flash. I carry three external flashes in my bag all of the time and usually have more in my truck. I recommend a dedicated flash made by the manufacturer of your DSLR. There are cheaper flashes but think for a moment.

You probably spent a lot of money for a camera. Why consider buying an inexpensive flash with an unknown trigger voltage that may fry it?! Modern cameras are very sophisticated lighting calculators. When camera and flash communicate properly, you will get results unheard of just 10 years ago. The advantages of buying a top quality flash starts with ease of use. It will work well the first time and every time thereafter.

Look for a flash with a bounce and swivel head. With additional accessories, a flash can be used off camera wirelessly and give you options to expand later.

About the author

Brett Turner

Brett Turner is the owner of Brett Turner Photography of Watkinsville, Georgia. His diverse portfolio includes weddings, family portraits, school portraits, church photo directories, corporate advertising, events, and nature photography.

For the past 15 years, Brett has served markets in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, always delivering high standards both artistically and in service to clients.

9 Comments

  • William, I am returning to photography and the advent of digital SLR’s and was looking for a list to see what had changed and what was still necessary. Thank you for your input; I went to many other sites looking for a useful list and was about to give up when I found yours. It is practical and informative. Good job! I found it to be exactly what I was looking for.

  • William,

    You are absolutely correct that the UV filter is redundant and the lowest quality piece of glass in the system. However on each lens other than my fisheye I have a UV filter. A hood cannot always prevent the front optic from being scratched. Everyone’s needs are different, for me it is still worth that little bit of extra insurance. If you shoot directly into a light source it is more likely to cause a reflection. The better ones do mitigate this some, the best idea is to remove it for those photos. I did recommend to get the best the budget allows. I also have hoods for all of my lenses and not only are they good bumpers but they also reduce lens flare. I should have recommended them.(I do have more than 10 Items in my camera bag)
    Thanks

  • Brett, thanks for this great little list. I’ve recommended it to several friends beginning in photography.

    The only point I disagree on is the UV filter. Most dSLRs have built in UV (and IR) filters over the sensor – so the glass filter is not needed for that.

    I would suggest a lens hood over a UV filter. It reduces scattered light and lens flares much more effectively that a UV filter. It also is a great protective accessory. I’ve dropped a lens from 3ft onto hard cement and the rubber lens hood I had attached saved it. A UV filter wouldn’t have absorbed the blow like the hood.

    Finally, if you pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for a nice lens with perfectly tuned glass optics, why would you put another cheap $30 low-quality piece of glass in front of it? When shooting at really open apertures (like f/1.8) I’ve seen a UV filter cause upside ghost reflections from bright light sources. Buying more expensive multi-coated UV filters supposedly helps reduce those, but why not save the $$$ and just leave the darn thing off? That completely eliminates that negative side effect of a UV filter.

    I agree with your other 9 suggestions and thank you again for putting together this list.

  • The difference between 1.2 and 1.5 means nothing in this case. In fact many flashes have ports to attach accessory high voltage battery packs in the range of 200-350v. The mah ratings may be over stated however I can say from long experience that the batteries I wrote about give much faster recycle times and longer life. So far no damage to any of my flashes. Thanks for reading.

  • Rechargable AA’s are usually 1.2V, which is actually lower voltage than Alkalines, at 1.5V.

    Also, the mAh claims on rechargables are almost universally overstated.

  • In the article I said not to use a flash with an unknown trigger voltage.   Modern digital cameras do not support high voltage coming from the flash.  Most are only rated at 5 to 12 volts.  Many third party, and older flashes have trigger voltages between 250 and 300 volts.   This will ruin a digital camera almost instantly.   If you don’t know the voltage of a flash ask the manufacturer or test the voltage with a multi-meter.   As for the batteries; the ones I recommend have the same voltage as normal AA batteries, 1.5 volts.   The difference is the MAH rating. This refers to the number of mili amps per hour.  This simply allows the battery to deliver the power quicker and last longer.  These batteries are available anywhere batteries are sold and are not only safe but universally recommended for high drain devices.  As to using an unsafe higher voltage battery, none exist in the AA size that most flashes take.   However the camera manufactures do sell high voltage external battery packs.  These allow the fastest recycling time but will eventually shorten the life of the flash.

  • You suggest not using 3rd party flashes as it will “fry” your camera yet you say use batteries with double the output power than recommended? Please explain. It is not true that the only batteries you should be using that are double is the holding capacity, not the output?

  • Take a look at the Hoodman loop. The Hoodman Hoodloupe 3 is a small viewer for reviewing images on the back of the camera in bright light. It resembles an old keychain slide viewer (which might work just as well if you can find one and cut off the slide holder part). It covers the lcd (up to a 3 inch screen) to block light and reflections and has a small lens to allow you to focus on the screen at such a close distance. It is the best solution for confirming focus or exposure especially if you work out doors a great deal.

  • The article about the 10 accessories for the dslr was interesting, but there’s something lacking.  There is no “hood” for the what I will call the “ground glass image”. Film cameras from pre-WW2 Kine-Exactas or Rolleflexes, through early Pentaxes set their viewfinders up in such a way that the image was protected from the sun. Digital cameras with other than the straight optical finder just have an unprotected image on the camera back. Is there a solution?