Every holiday season I face the same issue that many other photographers face: my loved ones want to get me photography-oriented presents but they have no idea what to get me. This problem is compounded by the fact that anything affordable that I can use in my photography I bought long ago, leaving only the big-ticket items left on my wish list. I don’t have Saudi royalty in my inner circle, so asking for that adorable new Leica or amazing new Zeiss lens is out of the question. So whats a photographer to do?
Sub-$100 Accessories every Photographer Needs
There are items we can all use in our photography. If you don’t have any of the items on the following list, you can add them to you holiday wish list knowing you will get something truly useful. Im not sponsored or compensated in any way by the companied mentioned here. I have purchased each of these items myself with my own money. All links are non-affiliate links.
$15 on amazon.com
I love these incredible handy and capable lens cleaning wipes. Each comes sealed in a durable paper packet that fits neatly into any camera bag. These are perfect for cleaning any lens, but they also handle smudged LCD screens, phones, tablets and eye glasses. They are made by Zeiss, so you know they are good. The box of 200 should last you the year.
$18 on amazon.com
Ive owned every memory card case out there and Ive settled on the Pelican for its no-nonsense, everything-proof construction. It will hold your delicate SD cards snugly in its foam interior while the plastic shell holds out water and dirt. I find the case fits well in bag or pocket and if I forget and send it through the laundry, my precious cards will escape unscathed.
$16 on amazon.com
This is one of those items that you don’t know you need until you have it. It folds down to the size of a CD and takes up very little space in your bag, yet the handy little Wetcott pops out to make the perfect shade for macro photography, portraiture and anything else where a small hand-held panel will help. In a pinch, the diffuser works well as a reflector as well, but you might as well ask for Westcotts wonderful 14-in white and silver, or gold and silver panels to be sure you have all of your bases covered.
$9 at amazon.com
If you don’t have a rocket blower, your life is filled with frustrating dust spots. These ingenious little puffers do a fantastic job of clearing dry debris from lens elements, camera mirrors and sensors. I have a large one at home, but in my bag I carry the small blower for quick field cleanings. I truly love it. Giottos is discontinuing the small size, so ask for one while you can.
$40 at amazon.com
I own an embarrassingly-large number of headlamps, but few have proven to be as dependable at the Petzl Tikka+. Its small, bright, and tough. There are cheaper LED headlamps out there, (and many much more expensive), but Petzl is an industry leader for a reason. The Tikka+ allows you hands-free light when you are digging around in your camera bag in the dark and it will light the way back to your car after an evening of shooting. Ive used mine to light paint objects and with its optional red light, I can even engage in astrophotography without ruining my night vision.
$6 at amazon.com
If you use flash in your photography, you probably own dozens of AA batteries. I have found the best way to keep my cells organized and handy is in the elegant and simple Storacell caddy. I prefer the 4-AA size as that is the right number of cells for my speedlites. I keep the fresh batteries positive end up in the caddy and the spent cells positive end down. I like the bright orange color because I can find them in the deep recesses of my bags. I own a lot of these little friends.
$50 at amazon.com
Few gadgets come along that are as simple and effective as the Platypod. I normally carry a tripod, but there are times when I either can’t use it or its way too much for the task at hand. Enter the Platypod plate with its and ? studs that make attaching a ballhead a breeze. The plate fits neatly into any bag and Ive found it so handy for holding my camera at ground level, on raised surfaces like tables, benches and even rocks. Ive also employed it to hold my off camera flash units. We are sponsored by Platypod, but I purchased mine before that relationship came about so I consider myself an unbiased and enthusiastic early adopter.
$60 at amazon.com
If you haven’t read my article on camera straps, it will set you straight on the best ways to sling your gear. I prefer the Peak Design Slide to all other straps. It brings a clean look, secure fastening and the detachability I desire in my straps. The Slide now comes in blue and red, which I wish was an option when I bought my strap last year. Oh well, maybe thats what Ill ask for this year!
$50 only at reallyrightstuff.com
In my article on multi-tools, I compared several brands and types of tools and the RRS MTX came out as my top choice for TSA-approved use. The MTX is a bunch of cool tools in a compact package which will allow you to repair most anything you use in photography. Mine goes with me everywhere. I also carry a Leatherman tool when I don’t need to fly.
In addition to these great accessories, photographers can always use more memory cards, batteries and round-trip tickets to locations of incredible beauty. I hope your holidays are filled with wonderful moments with friends and family.