30 Things Every Photographer Needs

By Adrienne McIlvaine
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Interested in photography? The smartphone era has certainly made it easier than ever to take beautiful, well-composed photos almost anywhere, but if you really want to take your pics to the next level, don’t settle for simply using your phone.

Serious players have a whole world of filters, lenses and high-quality cameras to explore. To make getting started a little easier, we’ve rounded up a list of must-have accessories and equipment you’ll need to kickstart your new photography hobby or career.

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All-in-One Compact DSLR

Sony Alpha a6000 Digital Camera with Accessories

If you’re not quite ready to jump into the world of bulky DSLR cameras, the Sony Alpha a6000 digital camera is a compact, easy-to-use model that is perfect for novices and pros alike. It’s designed to capture crystal-clear images in most types of light and comes with everything you need to start taking photos right out of the box.

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The small, lightweight camera body features a powerful 24.3 megapixel Exmor sensor that delivers bright colors and crisp textures, and the built-in, full HD 1920x1080 video camera does a great job tracking and capturing fast-moving images. The camera has a tilt, WYSIWYG viewfinder, seven customizable buttons and an ultrafast autofocus. The accessories bundle includes a 64GB memory card, tripod and polarizing lens filter.

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Travel Light

AmazonBasics DSLR Holster Carrying Case

If you’re heading out on a hike or a picnic and don’t feel like hauling around your full camera setup, this AmazonBasics DSLR holster case offers a lightweight, convenient alternative. It delivers quick access to your camera and accessories when inspiration strikes, while keeping everything safe and secure.

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Made of durable canvas, the case features a padded, adjustable shoulder strap that can be worn over the shoulder and slung across the body — messenger bag style. The padded interior includes dividers to keep the camera safely suspended and can accommodate cameras with zoom lenses attached (up to 110 mm). Multiple exterior pockets hold memory cards, extra batteries and more.

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The Benchmark for DSLR Cameras

Nikon D850 FX-Format DSLR Body

Nikon has long been the preferred brand of professional photographers and knowledgeable hobbyists, and the D850 FX DSLR model combines high resolution with incredible speed to deliver rich, sharp photos. Although it weighs just a few pounds, the D850 is a high-performance camera that can do just about anything.

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In-camera features like ultra-accurate autofocus, 4K time-lapse video mode and improved subject tracking make it easier than ever to capture the moment. The 45.7 megapixels really pop on the tilt viewfinder, which lets you quickly see what you’ve just captured, and the powerful EXSPEED processor and low ISO ensure textures and colors shine in even the lowest light.

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All-Purpose Lens

Nikon AF-S FX-Format DSLR 50MM Lens

Compatible with all Nikon FX DSLR cameras, this AF-S 50 mm lens delivers rich, consistent color and beautifully blended, shallow depth of field in just about any light setting. It’s ideally suited for indoor and outdoor shots, portraits, casual settings and so much more.

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The 50 mm focal length has a superfast aperture speed that captures dynamic action and color, even in the lowest light. It’s small enough to carry on hikes, road trips and picnics. You can quickly adjust between manual and autofocus by turning the focus ring, but this model does not have a zoom function.

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The Multitasker

Peak Design 3-in-1 Slide Camera Strap

When you’re out taking photos, the last thing you want to worry about is your camera strap. The Peak Design slide strap can be worn three different ways — across the body, around the neck and over the shoulder — to keep your camera securely within reach for the next great photo.

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The webbed strap can hold the bulkiest cameras — up to 200 pounds! — and has an internal padding system that keeps you comfortable all day long. Two aluminum, quick-pull adjusters allow you to find your perfect length and fit, and the unique Anchor Link system works with both third-party and Peak Design tripod plates or L-brackets.

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Steady Now

Victiv 72” Aluminum Camera Tripod

Even if you’re not into studio or portrait photography, every photographer should have a tripod. The Victiv aluminum tripod is both easy to travel with and a cinch to set up. Its lightweight, aluminum alloy structure is designed to handle long exposures and quick camera setups in even the toughest conditions.

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At its full height, the tripod stands a towering 72 inches tall, so you can always find the right height for your photos, and a smooth, 360-degree swivel head lets you track the action as it happens. Quick-release plates make it easy to swap out cameras, and the entire tripod converts to a monopod in seconds.

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Get the Balance Right

Lightdow 12”x12” White Balance Reflector

Ask any photographer about the most stressful part of taking a photo, and the response usually includes "Getting the lighting right." There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing exposure issues ruined your perfectly composed photograph, which is why the Lightdow white balance reflector should be a key part of any photographer’s supply kit.

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Using a white balance card helps you select the proper exposure for different lighting conditions, resulting in clearer, sharper images. The thin, flexible disc has a gray side and a white side and comes with a pouch for easy storage. It’s ideal for portraits, weddings, parties or anywhere with challenging light.

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Professional Retouching at Your Fingertips

VEIKK A30 Graphic Drawing Tablet

Once you’ve taken a photo, the next step is to edit it, and this small but powerful graphic drawing tablet from VEIKK has everything you need to digitally retouch with ease. It’s compatible with both Mac computers and PCs and features both a customizable touchpad and a pressure-sensitive pen, so you can find the perfect workflow.

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The oversized, touch-sensitive touchpad measures 10 inches by 6 inches and lets you zoom, crop and perform other editing functions with ease. You can even set your own multi-touch shortcuts for faster editing. There’s also a radial dial and several programmable hot keys for extra functionality. And don’t worry about recharging the included pen or scrambling for batteries — it’s completely passive!

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Always Be Prepared

Nikon EN-El3e Rechargeable Battery

Just like a phone junkie wouldn’t leave the house without an extra phone battery, no photographer should go anywhere without a backup battery, such as the rechargeable Nikon EN-EI3e. Spending all day using high-performance settings can quickly drain your camera, so it’s essential to have a replacement to ensure you never miss a moment.

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This lithium ion battery can withstand hundreds of charges and is designed for use with D200, D300, D700 and D800 DSLR cameras. It fits in most accessory pouches and compartments with ease. Keep a few on hand so you always have one ready to go.

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A Studio Essential

Emart 8.5’x10’ Photo Backdrop Stand

If you’re into portrait or studio photography, a photo backdrop stand is essential. The Emart stand comes with everything you need to start taking professional-quality studio shots. The portable system can be used both indoors and outdoors and comes with its own case for easy travel and storage.

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The frame, which consists of a telescoping crossbar and adjustable side supports, reaches a maximum height of 10 feet and is grounded by two 20-pound sandbags. Heavy-duty spring clamps hold your backdrop or sheet in place, ensuring a smooth, even finish for a perfect photo every time.

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Get Up Close and Personal

11. Nikon AF-S FX 28-300MM Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

This high-performance Nikon zoom lens is compatible with all FX-format DSLRs and offers an all-in-one solution to capturing sharp, detail-rich photos at any distance. The 10.7X zoom range means you won’t have to keep changing lenses for every distance, and the in-camera stabilization helps your pictures look crystal clear.

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Handy features include a Silent Wave Motor that helps the lens stay quiet when autofocusing and a zoom lock switch that keeps the lens at its minimum focal length for safe transport. You can capture incredibly sharp and detailed colors and images, thanks to shutter speeds up to four times slower than most standard zoom lenses.

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For the All-Day Photo Shoot

Vivitar Photo Camera Backpack Case

If you’ve got a full day of hiking planned, you need something to carry all your camera equipment, but you probably don’t want to lug around a bulky camera bag. This slim, stylish Vivitar camera backpack is ideal for photographers on the go, thanks to a thoughtfully designed interior that holds everything you need and more.

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The entire backpack measures just 16 inches by 11 inches by 6 inches and is made of durable nylon material. The padded interior dividers are completely customizable and hold your DSLR camera, multiple lenses, extra batteries and more. Store your tripod in the side compartment and use the multiple exterior pockets for a cleaning kit, memory cards and other small accessories.

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The Storage Solution

WD 1TB My Book External Hard Drive

You’ve got hundreds — maybe even thousands — of photos taking up space on your computer, slowing everything down. It’s time to invest in an external hard drive, such as the My Book 1TB drive from Western Digital. The massive storage capacity is enough to handle even the heaviest workloads, and it comes packed with features that make it an ideal addition to your AV setup.

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Not only does it hold all your videos and photos, but you can also hook it up to your TV, Blu-ray player or game console and use it to stream your photos and videos directly from the drive. It comes with both USB 2.0 and eSATA inputs for connecting to compatible DVRs for extended storage.

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Never Lose a Photo

SanDisk Extreme 64GB Memory Card

Even though it’s the smallest accessory in your photography kit, a memory card is definitely the most essential. This high-performance memory card from SanDisk holds up to 64GB of photos and videos and is capable of handling superfast shutter speeds and sharp 4K video with ease.

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The card is designed to withstand shocks, bumps, bad weather and just about anything else. It’s ideal for recording superfast burst photography and delivering smooth 4K video of your latest adventure. When it’s time to transfer everything, you won’t have to wait forever, either. The card delivers transfer speeds of up to 150 mb/s.

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Get the Perfect Light

Neewer 43” Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflectors

They may look like the latest in cool club decorations, but these collapsible, multi-disc light reflectors are actually an essential part of any photographer’s kit. These Neewer reflector discs can completely change the look and feel of a photo by reflecting light in a variety of warm and cool tones and can be used both in-studio and outdoors.

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Each disc measures 43 inches across and is encased in a thin, flexible steel frame that fits easily into the included carrying case for travel and storage. The set includes discs in translucent, black, silver, white and gold that are compatible with any standard reflector holder.

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For Quick and Easy Photos

Progo Wireless Remote Shutter Release for Canon

Ever look at a perfectly composed or incredibly detailed up-close picture and wonder how the photographer did it? The secret is a remote shutter release, such as the Progo wireless remote shutter that works with Canon T, Powershot and Eos models. It’s so easy to use you won’t believe the possibilities.

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The remote plugs into the camera and lets you manually control the shutter from up to 3 feet away. Just press the button halfway to autofocus and set the shutter speed, and then press all the way to take the picture. It’s ideal for situations when you don’t want to touch the camera, like in macro and time lapse photography.

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Snap a Magical Moment

40-Piece Unicorn Photo Booth Props

Every family has a "photo guru" — someone with a camera other than their smartphone — who serves as the designated party photographer. Next time you’re called upon to document a birthday party or graduation, pack some fun photo booth props, like this whimsical unicorn photo prop set, to liven things up.

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Photo booth props are a great way to get candid shots from people who wouldn’t normally enjoy taking photos, and they make for lively, spontaneous group shots. These props are made from high-quality card stock and require some assembly to attach them to the wooden dowels (adhesive included).

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Keep Your Camera Secure

Peak Design Capture Camera Clip

If you’re an active or outdoor photographer, you want easy access to your camera without carrying a heavy bag or fumbling with a strap. The Peak Design capture camera clip is designed to attach to any strap and offers quick, easy access when you need it.

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The clip plate is made of an incredibly strong aluminum alloy base that can hold up to 200 pounds, so you never have to compromise on your choice of lens. The stylish, anodized finish offers increased durability and a smooth feel, and a redundant safety lock means you won’t have to worry about accidental release.

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The Perfect Keepsake

Zoview Self-Stick Photo Album

If you’ve been the family photographer for years, then turn your hard work into a lovely keepsake with the Zoview self-stick photo album that protects your photos from dust, moisture and other damaging elements. The hard paper stock features a clear overlay and a self-adhesive that holds everything in place.

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The leather-cover album measures a generous 13 inches by 13.2 inches and includes 40 12.8-inch by 10.8-inch pages (refills sold separately) that can hold multiple photos, certificates, letters and more. The paper is PVC- and emissions-free, which is important to preserve the long-term durability of your photos.

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The Pro Photographer Trick

Optickle Photography Prism

If you’re looking to add a little something extra to your photos, an Optickle photography prism adds a gorgeous rainbow flare that looks like an IRL Instagram effect. The triangular prism is made of high-quality optical glass that adds a dazzling look to nature photos, portraits and other photos.

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The 6-inch long prism is super lightweight and portable and comes with a drawstring travel pouch for safekeeping in a camera bag or backpack. The flat edges make it easy to stand on tables, windows or any flat surface to maximize its reflective properties.

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Make Every Picture Perfect

Altura Photo Universal Flash Diffuser

For a soft, even look to portraits, headshots, food photography and other images, the Altura universal flash diffuser is a must-have addition to any mobile or studio setup. The diffuser eliminates harsh shadows and uneven lighting with its high-quality filter and reflective silver interior lining, giving your photos a professional look every time.

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It quickly attaches to any camera with a standard shoe mount and has a rubberized grip for an even more secure fit. The 6-inch by 5-inch size is compatible with most flashes, and an internal, elastic Velcro strap secures it to the flash head. When you’re done, the diffuser collapses for easy storage and comes with its own carry pouch.

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The Quick Fix Essential

Mini Gaffer Tape Rolls 4-Pack

You’ve got an important shoot today, and you’re running around setting up the studio when you realize the string lighting hanging on your backdrop keeps falling. Meet your new best friend — mini gaffer tape! Stronger than duct tape and infinitely more useful, this handy home improvement staple should be in every photographer’s bag.

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Gaffer tape is easily torn by hand and doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue, so it’s ideal for securing lights, cables, backdrops and other hanging items. Plus, it’s non-reflective, so it won’t show up if you’re using a flash. Keep a roll stashed in your camera bag for emergency situations or for marking distances when setting up a shot.

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Charge It Up

Eastshine Universal Battery Charger

Most flashes use AA batteries, so if you’re staring down a special event like a graduation or wedding, chances are your flash won’t make it to the end. It’s always a good idea to keep a few rechargeable batteries with you, and the Eastshine universal battery charger is a great one to have on hand.

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It’s compatible with almost every major rechargeable battery brand, and it has an LCD display that indicates how long the cycle will take and notifies you when it’s complete. The slim dock is fully compliant with all major safety regulations and safeguards against overcharging, overheating and short-circuiting.

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Experiment with Filters

Hoya Digital Filter Kit II

Adding a filter to your camera lets you experiment with your photos in a whole new way, and this Hoya digital filter kit comes with three easy-to-attach glass filters that decrease light reflection, making your photos brighter, sharper and cleaner than ever before.

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The kit comes in a range of sizes that fit 49 mm to 77 mm lenses. The UV(c) filter protects your lens from dust, mites and other irritants, while the polarization filter helps reduce light glare off snow, water and other reflective surfaces. Use the NDX8 filter on especially sunny days to help lock down your shutter speed.

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Protect Your Gear

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster

It may not look like much, but the simple Giottos Rocket Air Blaster can make all the difference in your next photo session. It’s designed to remove dust, mites and other debris from your camera equipment and lenses to ensure a clear, undistorted image.

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The extra-long nozzle is perfect for getting into tiny cracks and crevices in lenses and filters. Simply point the nozzle and squeeze the rubber bulb to blast away tiny particles without scratching or damaging your equipment. A one-way safety valve prevents air from being sucked back in and blown out.

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Keep It Clean

VSGO Sensor Cleaning Kit

Just as important as keeping your lenses and filters clean is making sure the delicate sensors that power your camera are free of dust and other irritants. The sensor cleaning kit from VSGO is manufactured in a clean room to decrease the risk of contamination and comes with everything you need for a dozen worry-free cleanings.

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Each of the sensor swabs is individually packaged and vacuum sealed, so they’re completely lint-free. The 24 mm swabs have a super soft, flexible head that evenly distributes pressure across the frame, and the 15 ml cleaner contains pure water for a streak-free finish that won’t damage the sensor coating.

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Brush Up

LensPen

Perfect for busy photographers or for quick touch-ups between deep cleanings, the LensPen offers a quick, portable way to clean your camera and accessories. Its slim design fits easily into camera bags and backpacks, and a twist cap activator fills the retractable brush with a patented carbon compound.

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The ergonomic design fits comfortably into the palm of your hand for a natural grip, and the brush head features super soft natural fibers that won’t scratch or damage your equipment. And the best part? Because the cleaning compound is contained within the brush, there’s no extra cleaning fluids to carry or spillage to worry about.

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Be Flexible

Fotopro uFO Flexible Camera Stand

With a flexible design that lets you take pictures just about anywhere, the Fotopro uFO camera stand is great for exploring new environments and settings that aren’t suitable for a traditional tripod. Its small size belies its strength — it supports everything from smartphones and point-and-shoots to small-lens DSLRs with ease.

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The camera stand’s legs feature a patent-pending bendable design that holds tight and never loses its shape. Use it as a selfie stick or experiment with new angles by wrapping it around fences, poles — it’s up to you! It weighs less than a pound for easy travel and storage and can support up to twice that weight.

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A Convenient Cleaning Solution

Zeiss Lens Wipes

Whether you’re cleaning a $2,000 lens or your old point-and-shoot, Zeiss lens wipes offer a convenient way to clean and protect your gear on the go. They’re individually-wrapped for a dust-free clean, and the cleaning solution contains no ammonia or artificial fragrance.

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Each wipe measures 5 inches by 6 inches and safely removes oil, dust, grease, fingerprints and other contaminants from your lenses and camera gear. (They’re also great for glasses and computer screens!) Stash a couple in your camera bag and in the car so you always have them on hand in emergencies.

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The Universal Card Reader

Transcend Card Reader

This small but mighty card reader from Transcend quickly and efficiently transfers photos and videos from your memory card to your computer or tablet, so you can start enjoying (and editing) your efforts without delay. It supports all major memory cards and features a superfast USB 3.1 connection as well as backwards 2.0 compatibility.

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Measuring just 56 mm in length, this card reader fits into a camera bag with ease and is also configured to read microSD cards. An indicator light lets you know when a card has been inserted and is transferring data. The reader also supports standard SD and security functions.

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