As you probably already know, photography isn't really “one tool fits all” kind of business. The amount of gear you’ll need in order to be able to do everything can be insanely high, thus the cost is high as well. Well, one way to cut down on the cost is to use things that have more than one purpose. Here are some suggestions of mine.
1. Gorillapod and Equivalents
I chose to mention Gorillapod since it is the most popular one. There are a few alternatives to the Gorillapod that will work just fine for many. Now why do I mention a gorillapod instead of a regular tripod? Well for example, let’s say you are set to shoot some portrait in a dense forest, and you want to use 3 speedlights for all of that but you’re set on a different location. You will drag 3 chunky and heavy tripods with you? Gorillapod like tripods are better solution, since they are smaller – they weigh around 200 grams – and they are flexible, so you can use the trees to attach the tripods to them and attach the light to the tripod. Apart from this, they can hold your camera, or a flag, or a reflector, even an umbrella if the wind is not too strong. Really, they can hold pretty much anything you can attach to them which makes it really useful tool to have.
Photo by nan palmero
2. Step Down/Up Rings and Universal Square Filter Holder
Lens filters are quite common. The only issue with them is that a single filter may not be compatible with all your lenses as different lenses have different filter diameters. For example, getting a circular polarizer filter for 72mm, limits you to use it on 72mm filter diameter lenses or less with step down ring. Step down rings are useful, but it can take some fiddling until you stack the right amount of rings in order to use one filter on all lenses. For people with 2-3 lenses this might not be an issue, however, if you have more lenses the square filter holder might be a better solution, especially if you use more than one ND filter often, since changing between filters is faster than unscrewing/screwing in regular ones.
Photo by scalespeeder
3. Rechargeable AA Batteries
My love towards those things is rapidly increasing, to be honest. The more you use them, the more you see the power of having something cheap that will save you when needed. Besides your flash, AA batteries can power up your camera, even most of the sliders that are automated. Quality rechargeable AA batteries have more than 500 recharge cycles, which makes it the cheapest and the most portable option out there. Yes, they might not hold that much power as lithium ion batteries, but on the other hand they are cheaper than the lithium ion ones by quite a bit. Having your speedlights powered by AA batteries is good, since they have been standard for decades now and that won’t change anytime soon, which can’t be said for lithium ion batteries which come in all different shapes and sizes and there is usually one battery type per device, which is bad. I’m not saying to throw the lithium batteries away, just saying that having AA as backup is a good and cheap solution. I’ve changed all AA batteries to rechargeable ones in my house. It saves money in the long run and is environmentally friendly. Why not use it then?
Photo by Matthias Rhomberg
It is obvious, they reflect light, and that is their purpose. But most photographers I know don’t really utilize their reflectors to their full potential. They are used to using them just as a means to bounce back some fill light. But in tricky scenarios, the back side (covered one) can be used as a flag. If your umbrella is broken, you can use the reflector as a main source of light, shoot the light directly in the reflector in order to bounce it back as a softer light. You can use the gold reflector instead of a gel to add some warmth to your flash. And at the end of the day, you can use the reflector at home for more subtle and dimmed light.
Photo by stephcarter
5. 12V to 110V (220V) Inverter
So you are going on a trip and you run out of batteries. What can you do? You can’t go to cafes looking for sockets to charge your batteries and such. That is where the inverter, converter, adapter – call it as you will – comes handy. You plug it in your car and you can recharge your batteries while driving. As simple as that. There are even chargers that have this integrated, made specially for cars, but it is way simpler just to get one of these if you have many different chargers since it is cheaper way to do so.
So, which one of these do you already use?