Whenever you see a striking image it’s often the camera and lens that gets all the credit, but we all know that many other peripheral items are crucial for day-to-day shooting.
From the strap you use to carry your camera comfortably to hard drives on which you store years' worth of creations, accessories are the supporting players that we can’t do without.
Here, we’ve gone through the recent issues of Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus and Digital Photographer magazines to find the gear that's impressed us the most, and also added some longstanding favourites that will make your shooting, editing and image management easier.
1. Kenko KE-NAHDAFN DG 12/20/36mm Adapters
Macro shooting without the expense of a dedicated macro lens
Fittings: Canon EF/EF-S, Nikon F, Sony A
Getting close to your subjects doesn’t have to mean you need to buy a macro lens, which is usually a hefty investment. This longstanding alternative from Kenko, which is available for Canon, Sony and Nikon users, increases the distance between the camera and lens, which forces the latter to focus closer for increased magnification.
2. Tinxi Hot Shoe Two Axis Triple Bubble Spirit Level
Super cheap but super useful for getting those horizons level
Fits: any camera with a standard hot shoe
Save yourself time correcting wonky images with this two-axis bubble spirit level, which will tell you when the camera is perfectly level both vertically and horizontally. It's great for landscape photographers but the fact that it weighs next to nothing means that anyone using a tripod can just leave it mounted at all times.
3. JJC L-S2 Lens Cap Keeper
Never lose your lens cap or worry about it collecting lint in your pocket
Fits: Conventional DSLR and mirrorless lenses (albeit with some exceptions)
Hands up anyone who’s ever lost a lens cap? This clever accessory attaches the cap to the barrel through a length of elastic so you’ll never lose it again. The keeper’s attachment is universal and is designed to fit any DSLR or CSC, although it works better with wider lenses where it can get more purchase.
4. Hoya Pro1 Digital UV Filter
Low-profile frame and multi coatings promise to keep images aberration free
Sizes: 37mm, 39mm, 40.5mm, 46mm, 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm
Hoya has a rich heritage when it comes to making filters and this UV filter serves a double purpose. Not only does it filter out the UV rays that can leave images taken in certain conditions hazy, but it also protects the front element from dust and scratches.
5. Cokin Gradual ND Kit with Holder
This bargain filter and holder collection is ideal for balancing landscapes
Contents: Gradual ND2 filter (P121L) with hard-edged transition; Gradual ND4 filter (P121M) with hard-edged transition; Gradual ND8 filter (P121S) with soft-edged transition; P-Series filter holder (M size)
The winner of Digital Camera's Best on Test, Great Value and Gold Awards – all within a single group test – Cokin’s Gradual ND Kit is an excellent choice for those wishing to step up their landscape photography without breaking the bank. Comprising of a P-series holder that fits on the front of your lens, plus three ND filters, each with a different effect, this kit will help you balance the exposure in a scene from top to bottom. Just make sure to grab an adapter ring that'll fit your specific lens too.
6. Lensbaby Spark
A fun, affordable alternative to a standard 50mm lens
Mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F
If you’re looking for a great accessory to add something different to your images, say hello to the Lensbaby Spark. This manual-focus 50mm lens creates a sweet spot of focus while blurring the rest of the frame for an arty effect. By moving the front of the lens with your fingers you can position the sweet spot to line up with your subject, leaving the rest dreamily soft. It takes some practice, but it's a whole heap of fun.
7. i1 Display Pro
Essential for accurate image editing, the i1 Display Pro makes calibration a cinch
Works with: LED, Plasma, RG Phosphor, OLED & Wide Gamut devices among others
If you need to edit your images you need to know what you're working on looks as it should, and the i1 Display Pro makes sure this is the case. It profiles your equipment before performing any necessary calibration to make output completely accurate, and it will even take ambient light into consideration too. The wizard-based interface means it's usable by anyone too.
8. Datacolor SpyderCube
Use this clever cube at the start of your shoot to save you processing time later
Features: Black trap, chrome ball, black side, white side and 18% grey panel
Pop the SpyderCube in your frame and you'll be given a reference for a whole lot more than just white balance. The chrome ball provides a catchlight for overexposed areas, while the black trap defines absolute black, and the white and black sides respectively provide shadow and highlight references in relation to these. Add to that an 18% grey patch, and you have everything you need for perfect, pain-free white balance and exposure adjustment.