There seems to be many beginners in photography, who enthusiastically buy a mirrorless or DSLR-camera, use it intensively for two weeks, and then never touch it again. Yet some people manage to truly make photography into a passion from the very start, and they go on to enjoy it for years and years.
I believe a core deciding factor for which of these you become, is how good your experience is during the first few weeks with the camera. Furthermore, I believe that the experience is often decided by what kind of accessories you have. In this article I am listing six accessories I believe should be among the first you purchase. Most of them are cheaper than you might expect, especially if you are brave enough to purchase third-party versions.
1. Two (or More) Extra Batteries
Everyone seems to recommend you to get extra batteries for your camera, even if you aren't a professional photographer. At first, I ignored this advice, thinking that I seldom use up one whole battery in a single session anyway. After a few incidents, I learned that it's not always about whether you are using up your battery, but often you simply forget to charge it overnight, and go on to miss great photo opportunities the next day.
Get yourself at least two extra batteries, that you always keep with you, fully charged. It gives great peace of mind knowing that 99 things might be stopping you from taking great photos, but an empty battery will never be one. If you feel that extra original batteries from your camera manufacturer is too expensive, I agree. There are good third party brands, that might only hold their charge 80% as well as the originals, but that instead give you a lot more battery for the money. I like the brand Jupio and I use their batteries for all my cameras.
2. Proper Multi-Battery Charger
If you follow my advice and get a couple of extra camera batteries, you need to always have at least some of them charged. Otherwise the whole point with having many batteries will fail. The easiest way to make this happen is to have a dedicated, multi-slot, battery charger. A lot of cameras these days come without dedicated battery chargers – the manufacturer expects you to charge your battery when it sits inside your camera. If you have several batteries, charging all of them then requires a sequence of steps with hours of waiting in between. This will cause you to forget to charge all batteries from time to time.
Instead, get a proper charger with at least two charging slots. When you get home from a photography session, just put your batteries in your dedicated charger, and you will always have at least a couple of fully charged extra batteries.
3. High Quality Easy-Snap Camera Strap
Even the most expensive cameras come with pretty bad camera straps. If you use heavy lenses, or often want to detach the camera strap, the strap that came with your camera will not cut it. I recommend investing some money in a camera strap with a "quick release" function, so that you can attach and detach the camera strap in just a second, with a click on each side of the camera. I use the popular Peak Design Slide strap. It is very convenient, very high quality, and definitely worth the hefty price tag.
4. Battery Grip
In the smartphone-centric times we live in, we tend to take a lot of vertical photos. A minor annoyance is that it is always somewhat uncomfortable to hold the camera to the side, as you have to twist your arm a bit to reach the shutter release button.
Once I tried a camera with a vertical grip (also known as a battery grip) the first time, I never went back. Battery grips make vertical shots more convenient to take, and of course they double your battery life as well.
You can often get them for cheap, if you accept a brand like Meike. Just make sure that the grip has all the controls you tend to use, and that they are placed in a sensible way, so that you don't have to fumble around for buttons. For battery grips in particular, I haven't been very happy with third party versions from companies like Meike, and the next one I buy will probably be an original one from my camera manufacturer.
5. A Nifty-Fifty Lens
It takes a lot of time to learn proper composition and to use good light in creative ways, and I think most people grow tired of photography before they learn these things. But if you have a fast prime lens, you can take more professional looking photos using another, much easier, tactic: beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds.
I am sure that if more people tried a cheap but good prime lens, like a 50mm f/1.8, they would keep their interest in photography for longer. A cheap nifty-fifty lens is great value for money, and you could always buy it used. That way you can later sell it for the same amount you bought it for, in case you didn't like it. It is a great first step towards exploring the wonderful world of camera lenses that exist beyond kit-zooms.
6. A Soft and Compact Camera Case
Another thing that you really need, but that is never shipped with your camera, is some kind of soft case so that can bring the camera outside your house. Many good photos are never taken because you leave your camera at home, and the risk for this increases if you don't have a good case to keep it in.
I like compact and slim cases that you can quickly zip around your camera, and then keep in a larger bag, such as you backpack. Then you can always carry your camera with you, no matter what bag you are using for the day.
About the author
Micael Widell is a photography enthusiast based in Stockholm, Sweden. He loves photography, and runs a YouTube channel with tutorials, lens reviews and photography inspiration. You can also find him as @mwroll on Instagram and 500px.
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