Photography equipment and accessories can vary greatly in quality and cost. If you are new to photography, it makes sense to not invest heavily into pro stuff till you know what kind of photography you are drawn towards. Don’t go and buy the Singh-Ray $300 filter for your kit lens only to find out that you really wanted to put it on a different lens that has a different front diameter. Photography is an expensive hobby, but pace yourself and upgrade slowly.

Here are some suggestions for some inexpensive accessories to get you started -

Filters

Filters are placed at the front of your lens. Different lenses have different diameters, so before you buy any filters, check out the diameter of your lens. Most kit lenses like the 18-55mm sold with Canon DSLRs have a 58mm diameter. If you plan to buy more lenses (with different diameters), you may end up buying the same filter for different diameters. If you want to buy the expensive, high quality filters the pros use, invest in the square filters. The square filters can be mounted on different diameter lenses using adapters. If you are just getting started, I’d recommend buying inexpensive round filters that fit the lens you have now.

UV Filter

If you haven’t already done so, you should buy a UV filter for each of your lenses. Functionally, the UV filter is supposed to block UV light from entering the camera, but in most cases the difference is not perceptible. However, it still plays a very important role; It protects your expensive lens from scratches. If you are going to scratch something, it’s better if it’s your $15 UV filter instead of your $500 lens. The only drawback of leaving the UV filter on the lens all the time is that with wide angle lenses like 18mm, if you have more than one filter on the lens, it could cause vignetting.

Circular Polarizer Filter

A polarizer filter is a lot like your sunglasses. It’s job is to cut down the polarized light from the sky making it darker. This will help you get blue skys and bring out the contrast with the clouds. You can also use it to make vegetation greener. These filters are must have for any landscape photographer and you want to buy this to fit your wide angle lens.

Neutral Density Filter

Neutral density filters or ND filters are filters that cut down the light of all colors equally. While shooting waterfalls or streams on a bright day, you will want to cut down the amount of light so that you can take a long exposure. Similarly, on a bright day, opening the aperture really wide to get a shallow depth of field can be tough because of too much light. The ND filters comes handy in such situations. With digital cameras, the ability to control the ISO means that you only need one such filter. A ND32 is a good filter to buy for now.

Graduated ND filter

The Graduated ND filters are like having a ND filter for half the photo but a plain glass on the bottom. They are very useful for landscape shots. In most daylight conditions, the sky is much brighter than the land below. This means that to capture the colors and details of the sky, you need a lower exposure than the land. The Graduated ND filter blocks some of the light from the sky while letting light from the land come through, so that the exposure needed for land and sky is the same.

Lens Cap Strap

When you are out there taking pictures, with all this expensive equipment to keep safe, the last thing you want to worry about is the lens cap. They are so easy to misplace and you don’t want to put your camera back in the bag without replacing the lens cap. These inexpensive lens cap straps are a must buy for any absent minded photographer.

Lens Hood

A lens hood helps block light coming in from the side. Direct light falling on the lens from the side can introduce flares and reduce contrast in your pictures. Additionally, the lens hood will protect your lens from damage since they protrude beyond the lens. A good lens hood can either be folded up or put on the lens in reverse direction for storage.

Tripod

Tripods come in very different prices. Eventually, as you buy heavy lenses and get into wildlife photography, you’ll want a very good quality tripod and head. Until then, I’d recommend spending some money on a cheap, light tripod. If you’re worried that you’ll outgrow your cheap tripod, don’t be. Good, stable tripods tend to be heavy and you’ll always want a light weight tripod you can carry around on family vacations or hikes.

Car Charger or Inverter

I usually buy a car charger or an inverter to charge my batteries on long camping trip. A lot of the car charger kits come with extra batteries. Having spare batteries is always a good idea if you are going to be clicking lots of photos or doing some time-lapse photography.

Flash Diffuser

Most people will tell you that using a flash is not a good idea. The reason is that the flash is a point source of light and casts harsh shadows. Using a flash diffuser, you can make the shadows softer. These flash diffusers are pretty inexpensive and a great addition to your kit.

Sensor Cleaning Kit

I would not recommend buying one of these. You’ve spent quite a bit on the Camera and the sensor is the most important part of it. It’s best to leave the sensor cleaning to the professionals. Most camera stores provide this service.

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