- Kenko Puro Circular Polarizer - This filter helps reduce glare, improve contrast in the sky, and reduces atmospheric haze for improved landscape photos. Prices start at around $15.00.
- Kenko Variable ND Filter - A neutral density filter blocks a certain degree of light from entering the lens, thus allowing you to use a much slower shutter speed when shooting in daytime conditions. This enables you to blur water, cloud movement, and so forth. Variable ND filters are circular and screw onto the lens, and are adjustable by turning the filter in its housing. This one filter is like having a whole set of ND filters in your bag. Prices start at around $240.00, which is a bargain when compared to other filter sets that are double or triple that price.
Photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
When you are on a budget or just getting started, stretching that hard-earned dollar as far as you can, can be the difference between not having enough photography gear and sliding on through...
Of course, you don't just want to slide by with the bare minimum, but you also don't want to spend a ton of money.
That's where this list comes in.
Below, I've outlined some of my favorite budget-friendly photography accessories. Whether you're a beginner, enthusiast, or a pro, this gear will work hard for you without busting your budget.
Cheap Camera Accessory: Filters
If you're been in the photography game for any amount of time, you know that a lot of the best gear is also very expensive.
Good filters, by and large, can set you back hundreds of dollars. That's a big hit to your budget after buying a camera, a lens or two, a tripod, and other accessories.
You can save money without sacrificing quality by getting Kenko filters, though.
Kenko has two must-have filters for your kit:
Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera Strap
One of the top accessories you need to buy to upgrade your kit is a better camera strap.
Though some straps cost hundreds of dollars, there are excellent budget options out there.
The HiiGuy Camera Strap is a great example of affordability and functionality.
It has a big, comfy shoulder pad to soften the weight of the load you're carrying. There's even a zippered compartment to keep your spare memory cards!
The strap is highly adjustable, too - I'm over six feet tall and I can adjust this strap perfectly, as can my wife, who's barely over five feet tall.
What's more, this strap is high-grade metal components, so it can support a great deal of weight. I used it to tote my Nikon D-850 with an L-bracket and a 70-200mm zoom lens attached around Boston last fall, and never once did I think the strap wasn't up to the task.
Better still, HiiGuy throws in some swag with the strap, including a microfiber cleaning cloth, a memory card case, an eBook, and a 3-year warranty.
Best of all, this strap retails for under $30!
Cheap Camera Accessory: Tripod
Tripods can be among the most expensive photography accessories - some are in excess of $1,500!
But when you're on a budget, that's simply out of the question, and a good, solid, affordable tripod is needed.
The Vanguard Espod CX 204AP fits the bill with loads of features at a great price.
This tripod weighs just 2.2 pounds, even with the included pan/tilt head attached. It folds down to 20.7-inches, so it's easy to pack away in your bag, too.
It's got 4-section legs that extend the tripod to a height of 61-inches, quick-flip leg locks that make deploying the tripod a quick task, and a central column anti-shock ring to dampen vibrations that cause blurry photos.
You get all that for about $71.50!
Cheap Camera Accessory: Editing Software
Okay, so editing software is probably something that will stay at home (but hey, bring your laptop and find some free WiFi and you can edit on the go!).
If you've looking into getting something like Photoshop or Lightroom, it can certainly be sticker shock.
Though many companies have moved to the monthly fee-based model, one that still offers its (really good) product for a one-time fee is Skylum.
Their Luminar 3 software has all the bells and whistles you could want in an editor, and then some.
The well-designed and intuitive UI is easy to use and puts all the controls you need to make beautiful edits right at your fingertips.
Luminar 3 has a library feature, so you can sort, organize, and rate your images quickly and easily. It also has presets (called "Looks," shown above) that apply a range of edits to your images automatically. They're a great way to get the editing process started.
Luminar 3 also uses AI to make editing simpler and easier. In fact, their Accent AI filter applies about a dozen edits to the photo, so you can literally drastically improve the quality of your images in mere seconds. The AI Sky Enhancer (shown above) brings contrast and definition to otherwise plain Jane skies.
It's software that's easy to use for beginners, yet has all the tools that veteran photographers need and want to edit their photos.
It's only $69, too, so of all the affordable photography accessories you can buy, Luminar 3 is one of the best-priced.
Cheap Camera Accessory: Lenses
Photo by yipengge via iStock
If there's anything you DON'T want to skimp on, it's the lenses you use.
Cheap lenses often produce cheap-looking results that aren't quite sharp, have ghosting, show vignetting, and so forth.
That means investing in the best glass you can afford is the way to go.
To save money, you can buy a better lens at a lower price by buying a used lens.
When buying used, where you get it is as important as what you're buying.
I use Lensfinder to buy and sell lenses, and it's been an awesome experience every time.
Lensfinder was built by photographers, for photographers, so the platform speaks to your specific needs.
You don't have to sift through all sorts of unrelated products like you do on eBay, and there's no scams like you often find on Craigslist.
Just enter the details of the lens you want (a 50mm f/1.8 is a great, inexpensive choice!), search the listings, find what you need, and proceed with buying it.
Everything is taken care of right on the Lensfinder platform, from product searches to communicating with sellers to leaving feedback.
And it's less expensive than paying all those eBay fees. Nice!
Cheap Camera Accessory: Cleaning Kit
It's shocking how many photographers don't clean their camera and lenses on a regular basis.
It's not a task that needs to be done weekly, by any means, but every few months, for sure.
You can pick up a good cleaning kit on the cheap with all the tools you need.
Look for a kit like the one shown above that includes a cleaning pen, a lens brush, an air blower, and lens-cleaning cloths.
This one also includes three microfiber cloths and a refillable plastic spray bottle.
Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera Bag
Of course, you need something to carry all your new accessories in, and a good, solid backpack is a great choice.
Like any other photography gear, you want to get something that's well-made and durable, but without breaking the bank.
The Vanguard VEO 42 backpack is a comfortable bag to carry thanks to the heavily padded shoulder straps.
You can fit a ton of gear in this thing as well - a mirrorless camera with a lens attached, 1-2 additional lenses, spare batteries and memory cards, a flash, a tripod, and a 13-inch laptop, too.
Vanguard has made it easy to get your gear out of the bag with a bottom access panel that makes swapping out your gear a quick task.
This bag is even convertible. Just remove the padded camera insert and you have a regular backpack that you can use for school books, clothes for a weekend trip, and so forth.
Best of all, this bag is just $49!
Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera
I know a camera isn't a camera accessory, but I still wanted to offer a recommendation for an inexpensive camera.
I've used the Sony Alpha a6300 for years now, and it has proven to be an excellent little camera.
It's mirrorless, so it's small and lightweight and easy to carry.
It's got a 24-megapixel sensor, an astounding 425-point autofocus system, and a water-resistant body.
Add to that a 2.36-million dot OLED viewfinder, 4K UHD video capabilities, WiFi, and NFC, and you have the makings of a highly capable little camera.
Brand new, these things go for about $750 for the body only, but if you buy used, you can pick one up in like-new condition for about $644 at MPB. That's not bad at all!