5 Camera Accessories You Actually Can’t Live Without


Check Out This List of Five Accessories to Help Your Photography

In theory, you could survive without these camera accessories, but as photographers, there are some things which are just plain “necessary”.

Back when I was a new photographer, I was mainly focused on purchasing crucial pieces of gear rather than investing in accessories, because let's face it – the budget when you're starting out only stretches so far.

However, from what I can see, quite a lot of people do the same – even those with lots more money to throw at photography.

best dslr camera accessories
Image by Snufkin

In reality, camera accessories aren’t something you should leave as a last purchase. Actually, to be honest, you’ll probably need them a lot sooner than you expect, and once you have them you’ll realize that you should have gotten them even earlier than you did!

Without further ado, let's look at what specific accessories should you focus on to begin with

1. A Battery Grip

Photo by 600D

Besides the fact that you can have two batteries instead of one, the battery grip contributes so much more to the way you handle your camera. Most battery grips have double controls, allowing you to change almost all of the settings directly in the grip (many now have a built in intervalometer, bulb timer, IR shutter release and so forth) which is very useful when shooting in portrait mode.

So the grip allows you to have two batteries and to be able to shoot naturally in portrait mode with almost all controls being on the tip of your fingers.

But what about the grip when you are shooting in landscape mode? Don't panic!

A little test.

If your camera doesn’t have a battery grip attached to it, grab a hold of it and see if all of your fingers can fit in the standard grip.

If you are using some of the entry level cameras this is a common issue. You won’t feel it at first, but when you start using the camera more you’ll notice that the muscles surrounding your fingers and palm will start aching.

From my personal experience, at first I thought I needed more practice but turns out it is the geometry of the finger position that causes the discomfort, so definitely something you'll want to be aware of.

However, when you attach a battery grip, you can fit all fingers in both grips, thus providing for more ergonomic hand position and reducing the strain on the finger muscles because you are now using all your fingers and the palm to hold the camera.

Naturally, this varies according to your hand size!

Additionally, the battery grip can take a different drawer which can hold 6 AA batteries instead of the regular two battery packs, therefore in an emergency, there is a quick fix.

2. Air Blower & Lenspen

Photo by Keith Williamson

Even when our cameras are stored away properly in normal dry and dust-free conditions, dust STILL manages to creep into our gear – lenses, camera bodies and of course, sensors! Using a blower whenever you take your lens out of your bag is a good habit to get into.

This means a quick 1-second habit will reduce dust build up and future problems a) for your gear maintenance and b) your picture quality. Don't neglect keeping your sensor uber-clean, it's such a quick process of blowing off dust it will feel effortless!

Also use the air blower to remove any particles from the grooves of the lens, particularly when you've been shooting outdoors or somewhere dusty – this saves storing the dust back in your bag.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ensure you've read your camera's manual before cleaning the sensor. Be wary that it can happen where you accidentally blow dust onto the sensor itself, or just make it no better than when you started cleaning.

Photo by Michele M. F.

The Lenspen is something I thoroughly recommend for ALL photographers – pros and amateurs alike. Every one of us has at some point quickly grabbed the underneath of our t-shirt and given the lens glass a quick rub. Am I right?

Well, with a Lenspen you can ensure your lens stays clean and smear free. And for UNDER $9, why wouldn't you have one – especially because you'll probably use it almost everytime you have your gear out!

3. Spirit Level

Photo by Guwashi999

Ok, this one's more for landscape and architectural photographers. But the practicality-to-cost ratio is quite phenomenal!

These of course, ensure your camera is level when mounted on a tripod (I realize a lot of tripods have these built in). They mount on the flash hot shoe and can be picked up for less than $3.

If it's unlikely you'll use one, think, it's almost worth buying one to have as a “just in case” moment for a buddy photographer in need! We care about one another.

4. Rapid Straps

Photo by Amie Fedora

I’m going to refer to the custom camera straps (which have better functionality than the default ones you get from the manufacturer) as rapid straps due to the different design than the original straps.

There are several different brands, each with different pros and cons between them, but we aren’t going to head off down that rabbit hole. It's personal and we're all different!

At the end of the day, you'll be the one who decides which brand is the best for you, essentially, the things you need to know about straps of this kind is that they disperse weight better, and they let you shoot easier since they don’t interfere with your hand movement.

Bear in mind that some of them have friction brakes which will slow down the fall of the camera in case you drop it, at least until it reaches the height of your hip.

That way any attachment (such as flash) will suffer less damage due to the sudden movements. Additionally, if you shoot with two bodies, there are straps like these which keep the two cameras at both sides of your body, thus making everything much simpler – this is becoming quite necessary for Wedding Photographers.

5. Remote Shutter Release

Photo by Pete

Usually a trivial and undervalued accessory, but there should be at least one in your bag at all times. Whether it is wired or wireless (though I prefer wireless since it is more compact and there are no cables to worry about) it is something you need to have at all times.

You never know when it would come in handy (even if it's for a simple selfie with your significant other). The remote control will be a life saver when it comes to things like releasing the shutter without having any vibrations by the mechanical action of pressing the button or at times when you want to do a self-portrait.

Particularly useful for long-exposure photography.


These accessories I consider really are a “must” for photographers and yes, there are more but some I'd consider more “essential” than others. What are the accessories which you can’t live without? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Further Resources

Further Learning

How are your post production skills when it comes to some simple (but often essential) retouching?
Well, we have a fantastic Adobe Lightroom guide here to get all the essential retouching skills, without the hassle!

About Author

Photographer who loves challenging and experimental photography and loves sharing his knowledge about it.

Great post. Lucky enough to have been asked to start doing some photography by work so learning on their time! Love the tip on the air blower, like you said no one I’d have thought of.

Slightly off topic question, hope that’s OK? Do you know of any Photoshop training providers in London. I can get budget from my boss for one or, at a push, two days of training. Sorry to bother you but thought that you might have heard of someone who is good?

Adobe has authorized training centers that they provide a directory for… I’ve filtered Photoshop + London for you, but you could change the filter if you’re outside or in greater London….

You can probably pick a few and then cross-check against yelp for how good they are.
I’d also recommend Lynda.com – they have great online resources.
Hope that helps 🙂

I agree with some of your article

1. Rocket Blower
2. Remote Shutter (I though use a flash trigger instead, kind of a 2 in 1 thing.
3. Black Rapid Cross Shot strap. Far more comfortable and better staying power than the classic BR straps. Good for all bodies large and small
4. Lens papers instead of Lenspens, I get better results!
5. Leica microfiber cloth…it’s just sooo buttery.

Hmm – don’t agree:

– Grips make cameras bigger and heavier. Neither is not “essential” accessory.

– Air blower & lens pen. Maybe, but obsessing about dust is unlikely to make you a better photographer.

– Spirit level? If you take most of your shirts using an eye level viewfinder then you need an in built level (as many mirrorless cameras provide). An external level is only any use on a tripod and many trips have their own level built in.

– Black Rapid straps. Maybe essential if you car around a D810 plus 70-200/2.8. But many of us don’t and there are plenty of other strap options besides Black Rapid.

– Remote release – agreed, but the self timer might suffice for many.

Now, what about some real essentials:

– Flash
– Tripod
– ND filters, polariser filters
– A decent bag

Agree with your final 4 items Paul, but it’s always interesting to compare notes.

If I may, an important point re the blower: always hold the camera body or lens surface being blown – upside down – so that any dust being blown around will fall out and down rather than just being moved…

Good article… I have a built in level on my camera which seems to suffice and don’t have a battery grip, but would like to try one out for the ergonomics. Have the other stuff.

RapidStrap enables me to carry my camera everywhere and it never feels in the way.
Remote release is great to have – lost mine recently and really miss it.
Love my air blower. Essential for cleaning off lenses, getting dust off of mirror inside camera, etc.

Re #3, I used the hotshoe-mounted spirit level for the first time some 25 years ago, and it needed immediately a safety string tied to the “foot” not in use, so I wouldn’t lose it, also to find it easier in the bag.
And second, I filed off the four sharp corners. This made it less “aggresive” to other things in the bag, and more “friendly” to the bag’s net pocket. Nowadays I just superglue the spirit level to the camera(s). You can buy a batch of ten for less than $2 off eBay… see the link:

Re #4, If you use standard straps, maybe you’ll find this interesting:

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