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With 2019 rapidly approaching, now is a great time to evaluate your photography kit, identify the things that need to be replaced or added, and set about taking your photography game to the next level.
If you're like me, though, you have a long, long list of things you want to buy but not enough money to do so.
With a limited budget, what should you replace in your photography kit?
Here's a few top ideas...
Must-Have Photography Accessories: Get a Better Camera Strap
If you're still rocking the camera strap that came with your camera, a better camera strap should be your top priority for upgrading in the new year.
I have a Nikon D850, and you'd think that spending all that money on that camera would mean it would come with a really good camera strap. You'd be wrong, though, because like all factory camera straps, the one that came with my D850 was crap.
Fortunately, there are tons of options for upgrading your camera strap to something that's more comfortable and more functional.
For several months now, I've been using a HiiGuy camera strap on my D850, and it has made a world of difference in my comfort level.
What I appreciate about this strap is that it's highly adjustable, so I can really extend the strap to accommodate my bigger body, and then when my wife has my camera, she can cinch it up and carry the camera in total comfort as well.
This strap has a big shoulder pad as well, so the weight of my camera is more evenly distributed over a larger surface area.
Not only does that help keep shoulder fatigue at bay, but the silicone coating on the underside of the pad also helps keep the strap in place on my shoulder.
The shoulder pad even has a zippered pocket that's perfect for stashing an extra battery or memory cards!
The strap is incredibly strong, too.
It's made of high-end materials so that you get a strap that's not just comfortable, but is durable and can hold a bunch of weight.
That's thanks in large part to the upgraded metal fittings that give you a strong, secure connection between your camera and the strap.
Even better, despite all these fancy features, the HiiGuy camera strap is less than $30.00. That's a steal if you ask me!
Seriously...I was skeptical when I first bought this strap given its low price point.
But I have been pleasantly surprised at how functional, comfortable, and durable this thing is. If you need a new strap, this is one of the best camera straps out there!
Upgrade Your Lens With a Quality Circular Polarizer
I shoot a lot of landscapes, which means I use a circular polarizer a lot.
What's great about polarizing filters is that they're so versatile and can improve so many different aspects of your photos.
On the one hand, polarizing filters reduce atmospheric haze, so distant elements - like the mountains in the background of the photo above - appear cleaner and crisper.
On the other hand, these filters boost the contrast in the sky, so the blue atmosphere has a more saturated tone while any clouds appear brighter and whiter.
Additionally, circular polarizing filters reduce glare off of non-metallic surfaces, that way you can take photos that actually allow you to see into the water instead of featuring a blinding glare off the water's surface.
For me, that's an important element because I shoot a lot of scenes at the beach, so minimizing glare off the ocean is a necessity.
Truly - if you shoot a lot of landscapes and don't have a polarizing filter, you need one for the new year!
There's plenty of filters out there you can try, but if you want a solid combination of performance and price, it's hard to go wrong with a Kenko polarizer.
Kenko filters are the top-selling filters in Japan for a reason - they are meticulously crafted using assai precision optical glass that gives you clear, sharp results.
What's more, these filters are stain-resistant and oil-resistant, so smudges from your fingers will have a much more difficult time sticking to the lens glass.
Better still, Kenko makes these filters with an ultra-low profile housing so they can be used with wide-angle lenses without fear of vignetting. They come in a wide range of sizes, too, from 37mm up to 82mm.
Kenko has really thought of it all with these filters, and with a low price, they're a great (and inexpensive!) addition to your kit.
2019 is the Year to Upgrade Your Camera Bag
Another must-have photography accessory you should strongly consider getting in 2019 is a better camera bag.
Like your camera strap, a good camera bag is essential for maximizing comfort and functionality.
Continuing with the theme of products that I use and love, I highly recommend adding a Holdfast Fundy Streetwise bag to your kit in the coming year.
What's so great about this bag is the incredible functionality it provides you.
It has dedicated interior pockets to keep your camera and lenses separate from one another to prevent damage. The padded interior helps in that regard as well.
The interior divider is removable too, so you can totally customize the interior space for your specific needs.
The exterior of the bag is crafted of leather and waxed canvas, so not only does it look like a million bucks, but it's also water-resistant.
The stitching on the bag is incredible as well, and shows a commitment to craftsmanship that's indicative of a bag that will last you a good, long while.
I've had a million different bags over the years, and most of them have been just okay. Not this one though...
If you want a bag that's durable, functional, and versatile, look no further than this bad boy!
Along with a better camera strap and a great circular polarizing filter, an upgraded bag will get you started on the right foot in 2019.