Gear doesn’t define a photographer, but there’s no denying that the right tools can make your workflow run more smoothly. Today’s camera brands are smarter than ever, and keeping up with the “latest and greatest” gear can feel overwhelming, but the truth is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to fill your camera bag. Thanks to companies like BorrowLenses and Lensrentals and shops like MPB.com and KEH Camera, it’s never been easier to rent or buy used equipment.
For professional photographers, even just a few key accessories can make a world of difference. We rounded up this quick list of filters, tripods, clips, lenses, and more to add to your collection. Whenever possible, we recommend supporting your local camera shop, as they’ll often share personalized tips and tricks for using your new gear.
This pen-shaped lens cleaner is a handy solution to problems ranging from fingerprints to dust spots. It’s small, so you can bring it everywhere, and it comes with a retractable brush. If you want a safe, long-lasting, easy-to-use lens clearer, this non-liquid tool is the way to go.
Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case ($19.99)
This water-resistant case, which stores 12 SD cards, 6 miniSD cards, and 6 microSD cards, is a go-to for many photographers, including adventurers like Emily and Berty Mandagie. “This little case keeps memory cards safe, secure, and in one place,” The Mandagies explain. “Pro Tip: When Berty has filled a card, he’ll flip it over in the case to signify it’s been used and needs to be uploaded later.”
Manfrotto Super Clamp ($28.56)
The fine art travel and architecture photographer Peter Stewart once called this affordable tool his “secret weapon,” and it’s easy to see why. For cityscape and urban photographers, it’s a portable alternative to a bulky tripod setup; simply latch the clamp onto a railing, and you’re good to go.
MagMod Standard Gel Set ($29.95)
This standard gel set, to be used with the MagMod flash modifier system, allows you to color or correct your lighting. You can use the full CTO gel to mimic the appearance of the sunlight during the magic hour.
Sans Beast Recollect Camera Strap ($39)
This vegan camera strap merges style, stability, and comfort. It’s also made with the brand’s “patent alligator emboss vegan Eco polyurethane”—a flexible and resilient material made without animal products—so you can look good while doing good.
Peak Design Capture Camera Clip ($69.95)
This small but mighty clip has two parts: a metal clip that clamps to any backpack strap or bag, plus an Arca tripod-compatible plate that screws into the bottom of your camera. “[It is] a very secure and convenient way to carry your camera,” the travel photographer Tomas Havel reports. “I always have instant access. It works with a GoPro too.”
Water housing by AquaTech Imaging Solutions are trusted by pro photographers including 500px Ambassadors Chun Chau and Kalle Lundholm, but what you might not know is that they offer housing for iPhones as well. The AxisGO is the best waterproof iPhone housing out there, and it’s fun and easy to use, whether you’re taking underwater selfies or riding waves with surfers.
Lume Cube 2.0 Waterproof LED ($89.95)
Lume Cube lighting is trusted by pros everywhere, including 500px Ambassador Jovana Rikalo. Their lights are known for portability, and this one is no exception. It’s small and compact (just 1.6” tall!) but packs a lot of power, offering 1.5-hour battery life at 100% brightness.
HoodLoupe Outdoor Loupe ($89.99)
This magnification loupe has been used by legendary travel photographers like Elia Locardi to examine details in the field. It goes around your neck, and you can place it over your LCD to review your focus or histogram.
Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer ($94.99)
This mobile printer from Fujifilm lets you easily (and quickly) print wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet. The prints are high-resolution, and you can add text or custom filters for a personalized touch.
Ilford Obscura Pinhole Kit ($99.95)
This kit from Ilford Photo has everything you need to get started with medium-format film, including an entry-level 4×5” pinhole camera, 10 sheets of DELTA 100 Professional film, and 20 sheets of Multigrade RC Deluxe paper. It’s a perfect way to reconnect with photography’s roots while creating unique, one-of-a-kind images.
These hand-held prismatic camera filters can be used to produce creative effects in-camera, from soft reflections to surreal rainbows. Fractals also offers tutorials on their website to help you get the most out of their award-winning filters.
Lensbaby Sweet 50 Optic ($119.95)
If you’re familiar with the dreamy, ethereal work of the fine art photographer Hengki Lee, you might know that he’s also a brand ambassador for Lensbaby. Lensbaby lenses are known for helping artists create unusual, otherworldly effects in-camera, and the Sweet 50 is a classic choice for its sharp sweet spot of focus and dreamy, moody blur.
Polar Pro Quartzline Polarizer ($119.99)
This polarizing filter reduces reflections and glare while bringing out more vivid, saturated colors. These filters are known for their rugged durability, which might be why they’re a go-to among fearless adventure photographers like Chris Burkard, who took them on an expedition to Iceland.
Moment Macro 10x Lens ($119.99)
Moment lenses are the gold-standard when it comes to mobile lenses, and this one is perfect for macro photography in the field, at home, or in your backyard. Use it to capture small details and fine textures using only your phone.
Haida Red Diamond reverse-graduated neutral density filter ($159.95)
Haida Red Diamond filters are must-haves for master landscape photographers like Gary Bhaztara, who is an ambassador for the brand. This one can be used to darken skies at sunrise and sunset while leaving the rest of the exposure untouched.
Manfrotto 190go! M-series tripods ($199-$535)
These tripods are famous for being lightweight, compact, fast, and versatile while also providing security and stability. All models can be found in aluminum or carbon fiber. “This tripod allows me to be as creative as I want with its 90° column,” 500x Ambassador Julia Wimmerlin says. “It would have never been possible for me to take this self-portrait if it wasn’t for that expandable column that literally allowed me ‘to look down on myself.’”
PGYTECH OneMo Backpack ($199.90)
This two-in-one bag has room for almost anything you can imagine: cameras, lenses, drones, your laptop, stabilizers, and more. It’s also the bag of choice for 500px Ambassador Tristan Zhou, who says, “This bag has everything I wished for [in] a camera bag: it’s stylish, versatile, [and] has tons of space. I have used so many different camera bags in my life, and this one stands out the most.”
NiSi Natural-Night Filter ($212)
You’ll find NiSi filters in the camera bags of adventure and landscape photographers at the top of their game, including Marco Grassi. This one reduces light pollution so you can create high-quality photos of the night sky. If you buy several of NiSi’s offerings, check out this all-in-one case ($69) while you’re at it.
Ars-Imago ‘Lab-Box 2’ Module Kit ($219)
If you don’t already know about Photodom, it’s a fantastic new camera store in Brooklyn. They have everything from film to used cameras to photobooks, and they process film and make prints. You can spend hours browsing the shop, but among the coolest offerings on their site is the LAB-BOX, a multi-format tank that’ll allow you to develop your film without a darkroom or changing bag.
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