The best camera accessories are not necessarily big, expensive or complicated. A new camera or a new lens are not the only way to try something new in photography, or to get better at the things you love shooting. Tripods, filters, memory cards and camera bags are everyday essentials that are just as important.
The fact is there's an incredible world of photographic gear to explore, and if you're just getting started in photography (and even if you're an old hand), you may not be aware of everything that's out there to make your photography easier and better.
For example, what about lighting? The best LED panels have enough power to replace a flashgun and they are perfect for video. Do you use any camera filters for creative effects? Does your tripod offer rock-solid support and have a head that allows you to execute smooth panning movements?
If you shoot video as well as stills, did you know that the best gimbals can stabilize your camera for truly smooth, professional looking footage, or that the best microphones can transform your audio quality.
We've compiled a list of some of the best camera accessories around right now, and also done the work of finding you the best deals too. Everything from supports to bags, lights to memory cards and filters is here, and we've divided the article into different categories to make it easier to get ideas and find out more.
The best camera accessories in 2021
Tripods and supports
Every photographer needs a tripod. Not for every shot maybe, but for night shots, time-lapses, long-exposure seascapes, macro shots and more, a tripod will give you pin-sharp shots and a stability you can't get from handheld exposures. A regular tripod will give you good stability at an affordable price, while a travel tripod will pack down small for easy portability.
Every photographer needs a tripod, and this Manfrotto is one of the best all rounders in this price bracket. The four-section Manfrotto 190XPro4 ball head kit (MK190XPro4-BHQ2) is a full-sized tripod that reaches a lofty operating height of 175cm, yet shrinks to a fairly modest folded height of 57cm.
Read more: Best tripods for photographers
The Peak Design travel tripod is not exactly cheap, but its design is a revelation. It folds down really small but opens out to provide a good working height and excellent stability. There are clever design touches everywhere, from the ultra-compact ball head to the smartphone clamp tucked away in the center column.
Read more: Peak Design Travel Tripod review
You can buy tripods and heads separately, and if you are looking to upgrade your tripod head, the Manfrotto's XPRO ball head is a great choice. The magnesium construction is rated to support 10kg, with grease-free polymer housing for exceptionally smooth movement, even with a lot of friction applied. The XPRO ball head can be specced with several mounting plate designs, including an Arca-Swiss compatible Top Lock system.
Read more: Best ball heads for tripods
Vanguard’s baby three-way head weighs just 680g. The rated maximum payload is a modest 5kg, with only two locking handles, with a selector that allows you to set the longitudinal tilt handle to lock only the tilt axis, or both tilt and pan simultaneously. It’s a neat trick that works well. Up top is a traditional Arca-Swiss style QR system.
Read more: Best 3-way pan and tilt tripod heads
Sometimes a mini-tripod is all you need, and they are so easy to pack in any camera bag. Manfrotto’s Pixi mini tripods have been with us for several years, but this Evo version steps things up with its extendable two-section legs. The ball head itself is of a usefully large size for a mini tripod and it clamps securely. It can also tilt through 90-degrees into portrait orientation.
Read more: Best mini table top tripods
Monopods are super-useful for supporting heavy telephoto lenses or just for a little added camera support for slower shutter speeds. Made from durable and lightweight carbon fiber, Benro’s Adventure MAD38C is also equipped with a round, vari-angle, rubberised foot. Quick-flip leg locks for its four leg sections make the monopod fast to deploy and simple to pack down.
Read more: Best monopods
For smooth run and gun style video with a smartphone, you need a stabilised gimbal. The Osmo Mobile's spring-loaded clamp effortlessly accommodates even the largest phones, and its gimbal arm can rotate through 90 degrees for seamless switching between landscape and portrait orientation. You can choose between modes like Walk and Sport to adjust the intensity of the stabilisation. There’s even an option called Active Track, whereby the gimbal will automatically track a moving subject for you, with customizable tracking sensitivity.
Read more: Best gimbals for smartphones and cameras
Smartphones are easy to carry but tricky to grip and support – but the Photogrip does both. It’s a spring-loaded grip that opens wide enough to fit even a fat smartphone and clamps around it securely, while in the base is a tripod socket for a regular tripod or the tiny pocket tripod included in the kit – you can also use this with the legs folded in as a camera grip. In the top is a Bluetooth shutter button that’s actually built into a tiny remote you can slide out to fire the shutter remotely!
Read more: Best camera phone tripods and supports
Maybe you don’t need more than a metre of selfie stick in your life – but on the other hand, maybe you do? The Andoer 54-inch selfie stick is quite a whopper when fully extended, but it does retract to a pleasingly short 18.5cm. All this girth makes it one of the heavier selfie sticks you can get, weighing more than half a kilo, but there’s a hell of a lot of functionality. It’s compatible with smartphones, action cameras and smaller cameras, and there’s also a handy Bluetooth remote that comes included. It also converts into a handy mini desktop tripod! Versatility really is the name of the game here.
• Read more: Best selfie sticks
Camera bags and straps
You've got all the gear, so now you need something to carry it around with that keeps it protected and accessible all at the same time. Or maybe you prefer a strap to a bag? Here's a selection of camera-carrying options:
The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is a bit of an icon in the world of camera messenger bag design. It looks as smart as a briefcase, but it packs in as much camera gear as any regular shoulder bag. There are so many clever design touches it's hard to take them all in straight away. So is it the best bag ever? Nearly, but not quite, though it has enough style to work as an office/commuting bag too.
The Lowepro backpack can be easily modified for all kinds of scenarios. The Velcro dividers inside can be moved to accommodate specific gear (including a drone) or dumped in favour of open space, while the rear-opening lid contains a zipped compartment for a 13-inch laptop. However, the real genius is the front’s succession of loops that can be used to attach accessories such as a neoprene flash holder, a tripod toe-cup and straps, and a phone case, making this a truly versatile camera backpack.
Read more: Best camera backpacks
Camera holsters are really handy for carrying a single camera and lens combo, and this Think Tank holster is packed with clever features and comes in no fewer than seven different sizes, to suit everything from a medium-sized CSC right up to a pro-style SLR with a 150-600mm super-telephoto zoom attached. The 10 model here has a removable strap, a grab handle on the top, plus an over-sized belt loop which has a Velcro fastening so it’s easy to attach to a belt or other strap. A slip-over rain cover is also supplied.
Read more: Best camera holsters
A sling, shoulder and neck strap in one, the Slide exudes quality with a seatbelt-style strap and premium fittings, which include clever quick-release buttons to detach the strap. The Peak Design is neither small to pack away nor cheap to buy, but he materials, attachments and adjustments are brilliantly designed.
Read more: Best camera straps
Sometimes you need to supplement the ambient light with a little lighting of your own, either for creative effect or just because it's too dark to shoot otherwise. Here are some lighting options for both photographers and videographers, whether you need light that's big and powerful or small and portable.
You can buy a dedicated flash from your camera's maker, but the Hähnel Modus 600RT flashgun matches or beats the features of camera manufacturers’ own-brand flagship models, but at a fraction of the price. Three different options are available, so you can buy the flashgun on its own, or as a wireless kit that includes a hotshoe mounting Viper RF (Radio Frequency) transmitter. There’s also a pro kit that comprises two flashguns and a Viper trigger, enabling the versatility of dual-flash lighting setups – and power comes from a lithium-ion cell for high capacity and fast recycle times.
Read more: Best external flash/strobe
Continuous LED lighting has become ever more practical as camera ISOs get higher and lenses get faster, and the NEO II is a great choice for those creatives who are likely to shoot stills photography one day and video footage the next. You can use it inside via a mains plug, or take it outdoors thanks to 6x AA batteries. The battery life is impressive, with Rotolight stating the NEO II is capable of 1.5 hours continuous output at max power or a whopping 85,000 full power flashes/ With an adjustable colour temperature of 3150-6300K, videographers can use the NEO II to deliver warm or cool light (or a mix of both) onto the subject.
Read more: Best LED lights for photography and video
Looking for a traditional studio lighting setup that includes everything you will need? The Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 To Go is a range-topping kit that includes a pair of 400Ws flash heads, sturdy stands, a 66cm square softbox, a 56cm octagonal softbox, and a translucent deflector that enables a beauty dish effect. Elegant and intuitive, the push-button control panel offers easy adjustment of power output through a 5-stop range, in 1/10th stop increments. Selecting proportional, full, low and no modelling lamp output is similarly simple, using a conventional 100W bulb. An auto-sensing cooling fan is built into the head.
Read more: Best studio lighting kits
If you need to photograph small objects for your online shop or auction sites, a light tent is perfect. The ePhotomaker is a collapsible diffuser panel on one side and a collapsible reflector on the other, tied at the top and spanned by a white fabric sheet that forms a seamless back/base. The design means you can use just a single light – a regular desk lamp is suggested – shone through the diffusion side of the tent, with the reflector creating a fill light on the opposite side of your subject.
Read more: Best light tents for photography
Reflectors are super-simple tools for bouncing light back on to your subject. They are so simple that, for occasional use, it’s difficult to justify splashing out on a premium product over a budget model. Phottix’s keenly-priced EasyHold even has a pair of handles for easier positioning. A double sided, reversible cover gives you a traditional selection of gold, silver, white and black colour options.
Read more: Best reflectors
Photo editing software has revolutionized the creative effects we can apply to photos on our computers, tablets and smartphones, but there are still some things only a physical camera filter can do, and here are some examples.
Polarizers are perfect for intensifying blue skies and subduing reflections off glass, water, painted or glossy surfaces. The Hoya PRO1 Digital Circular PL polarizer is a great option for photographers looking for something slightly cheaper that's still great quality. This filter is Digital Multi-Coated (DMC) to reduce lens flare and ghosting caused by reflections, making it an effective option for shooting bodies of water. It also features a Low Profile Frame (LPF), which consists of an ultra-thin filter frame that will help to avoid vignetting on wide-angle lenses. Usefully, this filter can also hold a lens cap too.
Read more: Best polarizing filters
Graduated filters are a standard tool for landscape photographers, who frequently need to reduce the intensity of bright skies. Lee’s grads are made from polycarbonate resin rather than optical glass, and Lee claims this makes it easier to dye the tinted portion, resulting in a more accurate density across the filter and greater precision when controlling the transition line. This filter set comprises three densities - 1, 2 and 3 stops - so they'll cater for a wide variety of lighting conditions – and come with a choice of transitions (soft, medium, hard and extra hard).
Read more: Best ND grad filters
ND filters are used to reduce the amount of light passing through the lens, to allow ultra-long exposures which blur water and skies in landscape shots. Cokin’s Nuances Extreme ND filters come in 6-stop and 10-stop densities, which is an ideal choice for long exposure photography. They can also be had in three sizes: P-size (84x100mm), Z-Pro (100x100mm), and X-Pro (130x130mm).
Read more: Best ND filters
Variable ND filters are used mostly by videographers, who need to control the amount of light without changing the shutter speed or altering the lens aperture – both will change the 'look' of the footage. With its ND2-ND400 density range, Marumi’s filter enables between one and eight stops of light reduction.
Read more: Best variable ND filters for video
Astrophotograhy is difficult near to centers of population because of the light pollution from artificial lighting. This filter aims to deliver more clarity, contrast and natural looking colors when shooting at night in urban areas, this double threaded K&F Concept branded round filter features double-sided nano coating to help stop yellow and orange wavelengths of light from entering the lens.
Some filters attach directly to the lens's filter thread, but most are designed to fit square filter holders where they can be used in combination. Filter holders come in different sizes, but 100mm is the most common. The LEE100 Holder is one of the best and features a multi-function locking dial that not only securely locks the holder in place, but also locks the angle of the filter holder to protect your composition.
Read more: Best filter holders
Almost any camera phone or camera can shoot video these days, but to get the best results you need to be using the right accessories. Here are some gadgets and add-ons to take your video to the next level.
Video isn't just about video! You need good quality audio too, which almost always means using an external microphone. The VideoMic Go is at the affordab le end of the spectrum and mounts onto a hotshoe, with an effective shockmount to reduce handling noise. It's fuelled by plug-in power from the camera's mic socket, so doesn't need a battery, and it comes with a foam windscreen to reduce wind noise.
Read more: Best microphones for video
You don't have to use an external microphone when recording video – you can use a separate audio recorder and merge the audio with the video later. The Olympus LS-P4 is small and lightweight, enabling users of small compact cameras to still mount it on the hotshoe and connect the audio recorder to the camera. Users have 8GB of internal storage, but if that’s not enough, you can pop in a Micro SD card (up to 32GB). The LS-P4 enables users to plug in a lav mic for interview situations, or you can use the built-in three-microphone system.
Read more: Best audio recorders for video
There will be times when transporting a bigger LED light around is simply not an option and in these situations, the Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 could well prove to be your saviour. The tiny light can attach to the hotshoe mount of your camera and can be controlled over Bluetooth by your iOS smartphone. Eight LED lights produce illumination of 550 LUX (at 1 metre), making the Manfrotto unit suitable for vlogs or product videography.
Read more: Best video lights
If you shoot run and gun style video, you will almost certainly need a gimbal. DJI's Ronin-SC has been specifically designed for mirrorless camera setups up to 2kg in total weight. That’s plenty for a camera like a Canon EOS R or Fujifilm X-T3, but it’s best to steer clear of bulky and heavy lenses, as these can be tough and sometimes impossible to balance properly. Each axis can be individually locked, making initial balancing much easier, and, and the SC folds surprisingly compact.
Read more: Best gimbals for video
Serious filmmakers will need a bigger tripod, but for vlogging, a smaller tripod like this Manfrotto may be all you need. The BeFree Live Lever-Lock tripod kit uses three-section aluminum legs that are clamped down using lever locks. There is a different version available using twist-lock legs, too. And even a lighter carbon fiber version but that costs significantly more.
Read more: Best video tripods
For serious video work it's likely you'll need a bigger screen than the monitor on the back of the camera and higher-powered capture and storage capabilities. The Atomos Ninja V is the new standard in on-the-go external monitors that double up as video recorders. It’s particularly suited to videographers, with support for 4K capture at up to 60fps, ProRes HQ, 422, DNxHR to name a few codecs.
Read more: Best on-camera monitors and recorders
You need a way of storing your digital images and video, both in your camera during capture, on your computer or while you're travelling from one location to another. Here are some of our top recommendations.
There are A LOT of SD cards on the market, but we think this one offers a great combination of speed, capacity and affordability. This SanDisk comes in capacities ranging from 32GB to a staggering 1TB and an impressive UHS Speed Class 3 rating. However, the most impressive aspect of the Extreme PRO SDXC card is its write speeds of up to 90MB/s, which allows your camera to handle rapid-fire sequential shooting in both JPEG and RAW with ease and also makes it suitable for 4K video capture.
Read more: Best memory cards
CFexpress is the latest, best and fastest memory card format, and SanDisk has hit the ground running with its new Extreme Pro CFexpress cards. These offer the kind of transfer speeds up to a frankly astonishing 1700MB/s read and up to 1400 MB/s write. The card format is being rapidly adopted by high-end cameras, such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mk III, Nikon D6, Nikon Z6 and Z7, as well as the Panasonic Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R. We're confident we'll be seeing a lot more of this fantastic format in the future, with prices continuing to fall as a result.
Read more: Best memory cards
Portable hard drives are perfect for storing images and video when you are on the move, and for boosting the often limited capacity of a laptop computer. This latest WD My Passport design comes in black, white, red, blue, orange and yellow colour options. It’s about as light and compact as a conventional portable hard drive gets. Value is the My Passport’s biggest selling point, with the 4TB version being especially enticing thanks to its incredible price per gigabyte.
Read more: Best portable hard drives
Portable SSDs are much more expensive than regular hard drives, but they are also smaller and lighter and WAY faster. This is not SanDisk's top-of-the-range portable SSD - that honour currently goes to the Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2, but this cheaper non-Pro version is still the one to go for. That's because almost no computer currently available can fully exploit the extra speed offered by the Extreme Pro, so in real-world use it's barely faster than this SSD. Capacities come in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB, but it's the 500GB option that makes most sense unless you definitely need more space, as prices pretty much double in line with capacity.
• See also The best portable SSDs
If you just need a backup or storage disk for your desktop computer, you don't need to pay a fortune. Seagate's no-frills desktop hard drive comes in capacities from 4TB to 16TB, with the 6TB and 8TB options currently being best value and spacious enough for around 1.6 million JPEG images. The drive's fast USB 3.0 connection gives you speed as well as easy plug-and-play compatibility with most computers. Just bear in mind the included USB Type-A cable may need a cheap adapter to convert it to a Type-C plug that'll fit a modern MacBook.
Read more: Best external desktop drives
NAS drives make your images available online via your own private Internet connection. Some NAS drives can be intimidating, but the beauty of the WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra is how easy it is to set up and use, with no unnecessary or confusing initial settings to navigate. The My Cloud EX2 Ultra is already equipped with hard drives, so there are no unpleasant extra costs to be incurred. The deals we've got are for the base 4TB capacity, which is plenty for most users, but you can spec up to 16TB of space if you're a heavy user. The built-in software allows you to use the drive as an FTP server, and the drive can also be set to make automatic backups.
Read more: Best NAS drives
As photographers and videographers, we spend half as much time in front of our computers as we do behind the camera! Here are some kit suggestions to make this computing time faster, more effective and more efficient.
Macbooks are expensive compared to Windows laptops, but once you factor in the hardware you get, the difference is not as high as it seems. The 16-inch MacBook Pro can be specced up to incredible levels, with RAM up to 64GB and storage up to 8TB. But do this and the price rockets into the stratosphere. We reckon the best value is to go for the 2.3GHz 8-core Core i9 processor with 32GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and Radeon 5500M graphics with 4GB VRAM. Should you need additional storage, it can be purchased more cost-effectively by getting one of the best portable SSDs.
Read more: Best laptops for photo editing
If you thought Macbooks were expensive, just wait until you properly spec up a Windows laptop for video! Nevertheless, if you’ve got a lot of cash to invest, the Acer ConceptD line is a series of laptops and desktops that have been fine-tuned for designers and editors. Specifically, the ConceptD 7-series laptop has gaming laptop power but it's also ideal for color grading, as its 4K UHD display covers 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut, and its color fidelity is Pantone validated, with a color accuracy of Delta E <2. With the latest hexa-core i7 internals from Intel, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and up to 32GB RAM, whether you’re processing out Full HD or 4K footage, Acer’s Concept D should make short work of it.
Read more: Best laptops for video editing
Your monitor is how you judge the color, contrast and sharpness of your images as you edit them, so it has to be good. This BenQ screen has a 27-inch panel size with a 4K UHD native resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. It also boasts the usual 10-bit color depth, equivalent to more than a billion colours. Factory preset sRGB and Adobe RGB modes are available, along with an HDR mode. BenQ claims 100% coverage of the sRGB range and an impressive 99% for Adobe RGB. Palette Master Element calibration software comes with the monitor, to maintain optimum colour accuracy. Other supplied extras include a hotkey puck control dial for easily switching between sRGB, Adobe RGB and advanced B&W display modes.
Read more: Best monitors for photo editing
Dell produces several excellent monitors for video editing, but the U3219Q offers the best value of them all. This 31.5-inch panel can display 99% of the sRGB color space, but more importantly for video, there's 99% Rec. 709 coverage and 95% DCI-P3 coverage - the latter being exceptional for a 4K screen at this price point. Factory color calibration ensures a Delta-E accuracy of less than 2 and the monitor is capable of displaying HDR content as it just meets the 400cd/m2 brightness needed for HDR playback.
Read more: Best monitors for video editing
The best monitors come with their own calibration systems, but for other monitors you might need a separate calibration tool. SpyderX is the successor to Datacolor’s popular Spyder5 monitor calibrator series and uses a brand new lens-based sensor system rather than the old honeycomb baffle on the Spyder5. The result is a claimed increase in calibration accuracy, especially in the lightest and darkest image regions, and a sub-2-minute calibration time, making this the fastest Spyder calibrator ever.
Read more: Best monitor calibration tools
Every computer needs a mouse (unless you are happy with your laptop's trackpad), so you might as well make it a good one! The MX Master is the flagship of Logitech's office mouse range, with a highly ergonomic sculpted shape and twin thumb buttons placed directly beneath a secondary thumb-operated scroll wheel. The primary scroll wheel uses Logitech's clever MagSpeed Electromagnetic scrolling to provide precision when rotated slowly, or hyper-fast scrolling when flicked at speed. A 4000DPI laser sensor gives supreme pointer precision.
Read more: Best mouse for photo and video editing
If a mouse seems an unnatural way to paint selections and strokes, consider using a graphics tablet instead. The Wacom One was launched right at the start of 2020, and is the best all-round entry-level graphics tablet that Wacom has ever produced. With a 13-inch surface area, it is a long way for being the biggest graphics tablet you can get – but that does mean that this is an peripheral you can take along with your laptop when away from the home or office. Built-in feet allow you to place the surface at a slight angle, if you don't want it flat on your desk.
Read more: Best drawing tablets
As a photographer, you can rely on online print services, or you can make your own prints yourself with a photo printer like this one. The Pro-100S uses dye rather than pigment inks, aiming for exceptionally smooth output on glossy paper. The Pro-100S is well suited to creating black & white photo prints as well as color output, with the inclusion of grey and light grey cartridges.
Read more: Best photo printers
If you still like to shoot film, or you've got drawers full of old slides and negatives, you'll need a film scanner that can do them justice. The OpticFilm 8200i SE costs more than the company's 8100 model but has in infra red scanning channel for dust removal – highly recommended! There is also a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai available, a flagship model that adds color calibration software into the package, that is useful for color transparency scanning - albeit at a higher cost.
Read more: Best film scanners
We all know when we need to upgrade our kit, but what about our software? You may already have what you need, but if you're still trying to find the perfect program, here are some ideas.
Adobe’s decision to make Photoshop CC a subscription-only product remains controversial, but for just $9.99 per month you get access to both Photoshop and Lightroom, and you can cancel your subscription if you change your mind. Photoshop is slick, powerful and constantly improving, and despite its reputation for complexity, Photoshop actually offers a very clean, slick interface.
Read more: Best photo editing software