Five must-have camera accessories

Carlton Boyce / 12 April 2016

When starting out with digital photography there are a few accessories that'll really help you get the most out of your camera.



The chances are that your camera will do a brilliant job for you straight out of the box. It’ll come with a strap, battery and possibly even a memory card, which is everything you need to start taking great photos.

However, the following five accessories will help you to make the most of your camera, helping take your photography to the next level.

Related: buying your first DSLR camera

Spare battery and memory card

The first accessories you buy should be a spare battery and memory card. I wouldn’t worry too much about buying a genuine battery from the camera maker; third-party versions are likely to be cheaper and just as reliable. Just make sure you buy from a reputable dealer or retailer who isn’t selling ultra-cheap Chinese-made copies that are unlikely to last.

A memory card, on the other hand, is a delicate and sophisticated piece of equipment and for that reason I always buy a brand name. SanDisk has always worked for me, but Kingston and Lexar are just as reputable. Just one tip: it’s better to buy two small capacity cards than one large one. That way you’ll have at least some of the photos if you lose one of them or it gets corrupted.

Tripod

A tripod is a nice thing to have when you are shooting in low light, such as evenings and indoors, and it’s essential when you are photographing at night.

The best tripods are heavy, sturdy things that will keep your camera steady no matter what the conditions. However, you wouldn’t want to carry a tripod like that very far, so you might like to consider a specialist travel tripod that is much smaller and lighter.

Finally, there are tabletop and flexible tripods that can be slipped into a pocket and will still do a fine job of stabilizing your camera during long exposures. This is especially important for smartphone cameras that need all the help they can get as the light fades.

Cost: £10-£150

Related: garden bird photography tips

Camera case or bag

Once you’ve got a camera plus spare batteries and memory cards to carry, you’ll start thinking about a bag to keep them all in.

Smaller bags from manufacturers like Kata and LowePro aren’t much bigger than the camera itself and have just enough room to keep the bare essentials together, while larger bags and cases from brands like Peli and Billingham will store tripods and spare lenses too.

Cost: £15-£200

U/V filter

Have you ever missed a shot because you’d forgotten to remove the lens cap? If so, you’re in good company as we’ve all done it and this is why the professionals don’t use a lens cap when they’re carrying a camera. Instead, they protect the surface of the lens with something called a U/V filter.

A U/V filter is simply a piece of glass that screws into the end of your lens and is designed to filter some of the U/V, or ultra violet, light. We, on the other hand, are going to use it as a sacrificial element; it will break instead of your lens if you bump your camera.

Cost: £10-£30

Camera strap

Every camera comes with a strap as standard, but I’d recommend buying a replacement for one of these three reasons.

  • High-end cameras often have the name of the camera emblazoned on it, which advertises the fact that you are walking around with an expensive piece of equipment to all and sundry. This is not a good idea.
  • Small cameras are often better carried on a wrist strap rather than the neck strap that they come with.
  • Some straps are just plain ugly and uncomfortable.

Cost: £5-£50

Cleaning cloth

Yes, you can wipe your lens with a tissue or the corner of your shirt, but you run the risk of scratching it over time. A proper lens cleaning cloth costs pennies and is worth every single one of them.

I buy them by the dozen and sprinkle them around my camera bag, coat pockets, and car to make sure I’ve always got one to hand.

Cost: pennies

Oh, and the one camera accessory you really don’t need is a selfie stick. Seriously, just don’t.

Visit our photography section for more on buying and using cameras.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.