Camera Accessory Buying Guide for 2016

This posting will be about what accessories Santa should bring you for your camera, including tripods, filters and other fun accessories!

1) BUYING A TRIPOD
You’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on camera equipment, so it’s not a good idea to go cheap with what you’re going to use to support it.

The brand that I recommend is MANFROTTO. They are well built, sturdy, and easy to use. They are not the cheapest, but are worth the extra money. You will also need to buy a tripod head. These are the models I recommend:

MANFROTTO 055PRO $300 LEGS ONLY WITH QUICK RELEASE BALL HEAD $400

MANFROTTO 190 PRO  $250 LEGS ONLY WITH QUICK RELEASE BALL HEADHEAD $300+ BEST BUY or AMAZON 

MANFROTTO 290 $350 WITH QUICK RELEASE BALL HEAD

The 055 is sturdier, heavy, and taller than the 190/290PRO. Both models allow you to remove the middle pole and mount it upside down or horizontally.
If money is not a factor, look at the same models made from CARBON(055 CXor the 190 CX). They are twice as expensive but since they are made from carbon they are lighter weight and just as sturdy.

The Manfrotto BeFree tripods are pretty popular and great for travelling…but they really aren’t as heavy and sturdy as the others.

WHY YOU NEED TO SPEND THE MONEY ON THE TRIPOD

A good tripod will last decades for most photographers. So while paying $400 is a lot…it really breaks down to $20-$40 a year, which isn’t really that bad. Some people spend more than that on a coffee every month. That seems like a good investment for something that will help keep your camera steady and give you years of awesome sharp images.

TRIPOD HEAD


There are a variety of options for tripods heads. The one to AVOID is the panning head…that is for shooting video, sucks for taking photographs!!

Manfrotto 494RC2 Quick Release Ball Head $100
Manfrotto 494 Ball Head $80
Manfrotto 222 Joystick(with quick release) $140
Manfrotto 327 Grip Action head $230
For the extra $15, buy the 494RC2, which has a plate that stays on your camera and allows you to quickly attach and detach it from the tripod.
The joystick is the coolest head available. To move it, you grip the joystick and let it go when it’s positioned where you want. The 327 is similar but is a bit more compact.

If you decide to go with a cheaper brand, here’s what you should look for:

NO PLASTIC-buy metal or carbon, plastic isn’t heavy enough.
SEPARATE LEGS-if the legs are attached, tripod cannot go very low
PORTABILITY-make sure it’s not too heavy or long to carry easily
HEIGHT-you want it to reach at least eye level without using the middle
column
EASE OF USE-it should be easy to set up and adjust
TRIPOD HEAD-don’t get the panning heads, they are made for smooth panning
with video cameras and are terrible for photography

A newer brand that some of my students have used is Vanguard. It’s a nice tripod for the price, but I would get the one that comes with it for a ballhead.

DO NOT GET SUCKERED INTO BUYING A MONOPOD!!!! Monopods are only good for supporting large lenses, not keeping the camera steady! If you have a big 100-400 or 200-500, by all means, get the monopod!

2) FILTERS

polarizer

Everyone should have a POLARIZER. It makes your skies look blue instead of a washed out cyan mess; improves overall color and contrast; gets rid of glare and reflections. Just take a look at the photo comparisons below…if you still don’t think you need a polarizer, you need your head examined!! 🙂

polarizercompare

Obviously you don’t want to buy a polarizer for every lens you own, so buy the size to fit the largest one, then get adapters to make them fit the smaller lenses.

Other useful filters include a neutral density, which help cut out light and will allow you to use slower shutter speeds under bright light to get interesting photos like this:

waterblur
There is a really cool one out there that allows you to adjust the darkness in one filter instead of having to get a set of different strengths.  Like this one. But they can get expensive!

3) OTHER STUFF

REMOTE CONTROLS

Having a remote is a must for your camera. It will allow you to
1) Take family or travel pictures and get in the photo. Most photographers have lots of photos of their friends and family, but are never in the photos.
2) Ensure sharp photos at all times, as you won’t have to touch the camera to take the photograph. Even being on a super heavy duty expensive manfrotto tripod won’t guarantee you won’t get shake from pushing down on the button.

You’ll have to check your manual to see what models are available for your camera. There are two types, wired and wireless. Wireless is the preferred, as you can usually stand anywhere and trigger the camera. But they can be more expensive than the regular wired one.

This is one accessory that I really suggest you buy the one made for your camera by the company that made your camera (Nikon, Canon, etc)
I’ve seen more than a few “all brand” remotes just plain not work properly.

Here’s the full list of buying guides

CAMERA BUYING GUIDE
LENS BUYING GUIDE
FLASH AND FLASH ACCESSORY GUIDE
TRIPOD AND CAMERA ACCESSORY GUIDE
FUN STUFF TO BUY FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER


MORE TIPS BELOW!

I hope you find these tips useful!
If so, it would be awesome if you would check out my LearnPhoto365 Photography Assignment Generator Apps on the app store and the Google Play store, a unique photography app that’s meant to inspire you to take great photos!

Perfect for anyone taking part in a Photo 365 challenge, there are over a hundred individual assignments and hundreds of thousands of potential random ones. Versions available for iPhone/iPod and iPad, including free versions so you can try them out! Full details, including reviews and tour videos of the apps can be found at www.learnphoto.ca/apps Even if you only download the free version that would help get it up the app store lists!


 

WHERE TO BUY
I am a big fan of buying local when possible, for a few reasons.

1) You are supporting a local business
2) If you have any problems, the local people are usually easier to deal with. Buying from an out of province/country dealer, if there is a problem, you will most likely have to pay to ship it back to them. There could also be warranty issues if buying from another country

if you are in Saint John, Future Shop is your best bet as they have brought in more equipment since Applebys closed down…in Fredericton, head to Harvey Studios. (Tell them Noel sent you!) or Ivan’s in Moncton.

If you want to buy online, Henrys in Toronto(also Halifax) is a great store that I’ve dealt with personally and for the Telegraph and had no issues with. Also Vistek.

Avoid buying from ebay, unless it is from a reputable dealer. I’ve seen lots of “great deals” where you seem like you are getting a whole lot of extras…but in reality, it’s a bunch of extra crap. bad lenses, crappy tripods, no name brand memory cards…not worth it.

If buying something off Kijiji or craiglist, make sure you try it out. If the seller won’t let you try it out, that’s a good warning sign…

Once you’ve bought a new camera, check out some of my photography courses so you can use it to it’s fullest potential! More info can be found at www.learnphoto.ca, on contact Noel at noel@noelchenier.ca

 

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Noel Chenier

———-
Photographer and teacher
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