9 Favorite Low-Cost Gadgets for dSLR Photography - dummies

By David D. Busch

Accessorizing your dSLR doesn’t need to be expensive. Here are ten cool gadgets that cost less than $100 and can save your bacon in times of need. (And who doesn’t appreciate a little bacon now and then?) You might keep most of these items in a small box in the trunk of my car — just in case.

  • Third-party vertical grip: The compact size of a non-pro dSLR camera may deter you from the extra encumbrance (and $200–$400 cost) of the vertical grip/battery packs many camera vendors offer. However, sometimes if you’re shooting a lot of vertical images or require extra juice without frequent battery changes. Purchase an inexpensive third-party grip for those occasions.

  • Sanyo XX Battery Powered by eneloop; 2500mAh High Capacity; and 4 Pack AA Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable batteries: In the rechargeable battery world, eneloops are a special (lower) case. These batteries keep 80 percent of their power when stored a year. At $17 for a four-pack, these cost no more than regular rechargeables.

  • Inexpensive dimmable LED video light: You can pay $35 for a video light panel, which more than compensates for the cheap plastic construction if you don’t want to pay big bucks for an accessory that you don’t use very often. This panel is big, bright, and comes with filters. Stuffed with Sanyo eneloops, it’s always ready to go, too.

  • Worldwide phone: Your mobile phone works only sporadically when you are overseas, and when it works, your carrier hits you with enormous usage charges. Get a $49 phone from Mobal that works in more than 170 countries. In each foreign land, it automatically seeks out a compatible carrier and works flawlessly anywhere there is coverage. Sure, you pay $1.95 a minute, but there are no other charges after you’ve paid for the phone.

  • Non-dSLR camera: The best camera is always the one you have with you. Most photographers don’t carry their dSLR everywhere they go, and your cell phone cameras can’t do everything your “main” shooter can do. So, keep an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera with zoom lens and lots of features in your vehicle at all times, just for those moments when a UFO lands in front of your car and wants to take a selfie with you.

  • Latex filter remover: Keep a 1-x-6-inch strip of stretchable latex (EMT supplies used as tourniquets). They are the perfect tool for gripping a recalcitrant filter that refuses to become detached from your lens.

  • Carson Minibrite PO-55: You can use this 5X magnifier as a flashlight, viewing tool, or sensor dust scope, and it costs less than $10. You can find it at Dslrguides.

  • Quick release plates: Keep extra tripod quick release plates in the most common form factors (Bogen and Arca-Swiss) available in your kit. You never know when you or a companion may need to attach a camera to a “foreign” tripod, so it’s always wise to have an extra plate to fit either configuration.

  • Index card model release: Have some model releases printed on both sides of a sturdy index card, and keep them close at hand. You can use longer, more formal model and property releases when working on a commercial project. But a pared-down, more informal model release tucked away in a corner of your camera bag can be useful — even if for nothing more than collecting names, addresses, and other information about subjects so you can mail/email them a photo. Google “index card model release,” and you can find commercial sources for these.