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Photography accessories – the options are endless: cases, lenses, filters, diffusers, etc., etc. Of the multitude of accessories out there, we find that some are necessary – and others are simply taking up room in the camera bag. The Gear Patrol crew gets a lot of experience behind the lens, and we have sifted through many of the photo accoutrements out there.

The following list of gear contains items that we feel will actually make a difference in your photography…

Neck Strap

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #1

tech-strap-11OEM straps are typically non-padded and made of irritating fabric, so a neck-strap upgrade is key – if you are not comfortable carrying an SLR, then it will most likely stay at home. Op/Tech USA manufactures many different styles of straps, with the Pro Loop Strap being a great choice. The strap is made from neoprene, and acts as a shock absorber when carrying an SLR with a long lens. A non-slip fabric on the underside keeps your camera in place when slung around the shoulder.

Buy Now: $16

Camera Bag

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #2

crumpler-bag-1A padded camera bag is a must when hauling an SLR around – it protects your investment, and makes room for extra lenses and other paraphernalia. Crumpler makes a well-designed line of bags that don’t look like camera bags, which comes in handy for a bit of stealth. You don’t necessarily want a bag that screams “hey look, I have $3,000 worth of camera gear in this sack!” The “Five Million Dollar Home” bag has enough room for an SLR with a lens attached, a spare lens, an external flash, and plenty of pockets for batteries and spare Compact Flash cards. Available in five colors.

Buy Now: $80

Dust Blower

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #3

rocket-blower-1Dust is attracted to lenses and filters like a magnet, as well as your camera’s sensor. So a dust removal device is vital to good photos – canned air works well, but is expensive and bulky. The Giottos Rocket-air Blower is the solution: durable, powerful, and easy to use. Just a couple blasts sends dust flying. The rocket-shaped base keeps it upright, and an air valve keeps dust from collecting inside it. Available in small, medium, and large.

Buy Now: $9-$13

Polarizer Filter

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #4

polarizer-1A polarizer is a great solution to reduce reflections on glass and other shiny objects, while simultaneously deepening blue skies and intensifying color saturation. B+W makes a great polarizer, as does Hoya, and Heliopan. Higher quality polarizers will have coatings on the glass to reduce reflections, and to repel dirt and scratches. Priced according to filter diameter; for example a 58mm B+W Multi-Coated Polarizer is $90.

Buy Now: $50-$180

Tripod and Ballhead

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #5

tripodA tripod is crucial when taking photos in low light or when tack-sharp focus is desired. There are many configurations out there, but carbon fiber tripods are extremely sturdy and lightweight. Top it off with a multi-adjustable ball head and you have a rig that can’t be beat – the ball head allows the camera to be firmly attached to the tripod with near-infinite adjustability. Feisol makes a well engineered, reasonably priced line of carbon-fiber tripods and ball heads such as their top-of-the-line CT-3472LV tripod with a leveling base that makes it easy to get shots lined up properly, and their durable CB-70D ball head. Feisol tripods are available in several sizes.

Buy Now: $210-$599 | Ballheads: $109-$239

Audio Adapter for Video

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #6

beachtek-2The emergence of HD video capability on some DSLRs is great news – shoot video and stills in one package. And, the ability to shoot video through the multitude lenses available for DSLRs makes it easier to get professional results. What could be better? Well, the on-camera audio could use some flexibility in most cases. DSLRs are typically limited to using an internal mic, or an external one via mini-plug. BeachTek offers an ingenious solution – the DXA-5Da audio for video adapter that not only allows for the use of professional mics with XLR connectors, but features a stereo LCD meter to show audio signal strength, a headphone amp, and it disables the automatic gain control built into the camera. The “AGC” in DSLRs can cause swings in the audio level, and can generate a bit of hiss in the background – both are purged with the DXA-5Da. Works best with high-sensitivity microphones. Available for the Canon 5D MK II and Panasonic DMC-GH1, and can be used with camcorders as well

Buy Now: $329

White Balance Lens Cap

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #7

white-balance-cap-2Getting the correct white balance on a DSLR can occasionally be challenging, and not everyone wants to take a white balance reading off of a grey card. The solution? A white balance lens cap. Having to correct for white balance for dozens of photos can get tedious – simply pop the lens cap onto your lens, set your camera to custom white balance mode, fire off a shot, and the result is a great looking WB profile for warmer and more vivid photos. As a bonus, it can be left on-camera and serve as a lens cap – one less item to carry. Prices range depending on lens diameter.

Buy Now: $45-$65

Low Light Capable Lens

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #8

lensTaking photos in natural light can give stunning results, especially when the light gets low.

Many standard “kit” zoom lenses that often come packaged with DSLRs can not handle low light situations very well, yet an alternative is a lens of f/1.8 aperture, such as the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G, or an even more light-capable f/1.4 aperture like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. Most camera manufacturers offer fixed lenses in these aperture ranges, they are relatively inexpensive to boot.

Buy Now: Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ($200) | Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM ($344)

External Hard Drive

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #9

guardian-maximus-ext-driveProtecting those photos that you have worked so hard to get is crucial – so back them up with an external drive. For that extra sense of security, go with a RAID-1 set up. Two drive “mirror” each other, i.e., both drives get the same data in real-time so there are two copies of the same information in case one drive fails. Newer Technology makes a great one – the Guardian Maximus “Quad Interface”. This black box offers connectivity via Firewire 800/400, USB 2.0, and eSATA ports. Available as an “add your own drives” kit, or preloaded with a range of drives from 300GB + 300GB up to 2TB + 2 TB.

Buy Now: $220-$750

Spare Battery

10 Essential DSLR Camera Accessories #10

nikon-en-el3e_frontRunning out of juice while shooting photos is frustrating. All DSLRs and many point and shoot-style cameras use proprietary batteries – yes, they are expensive, but bite the bullet and buy one… trust us, you will need it someday. Batteries such as the Canon BP511A battery for a 40D, or the Nikon EN-EL3e battery for a D700 are both approximately $39-$45.

Buy Now: Nikon ($39) | Canon ($45)