The 9 Best Camera Accessories to Buy in 2018

If you're a budding photographer, be sure to pick up these essentials

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So you’ve got your fancy new camera, what’s next? The addition of a few accessories can make a big difference in how you use it, whether it’s a filter or flash for taking better shots, a strap or bag to make carrying it easier or even a portable printer to make sharing your shots quick and simple no matter where you happen to be at the time.

Photography’s an expensive hobby, though, and it’s easy to spend a lot of money on this kind of gear without getting much benefit. We’ve focused on the best-value options across a wide range of categories, tracking down quality products that do a good job without blowing a hole in your budget.

So no matter what type of camera you’re using, if you’re looking to get more serious about your photography, we’ve found the best accessory options to help you do it.

Our Top Picks

Best UV Lens Filter: Hoya DMC Pro1 UV Filter

While ultraviolet lens filters are designed, as the name suggests, to cut out UV light, most people use them as a cheap insurance policy for their expensive lenses. After all, if you’re going to inevitably get dust, sand or salt water on your camera, would you rather it hit a filter that costs a few tens of dollars​ or a lens that cost several hundred?

The Hoya filter strikes a good balance between price and quality, cutting out glare and lens flare and protecting your valuable glass without costing a fortune. The black frame and lens rim reduces reflections, while the ultra-thin profile does a better job of avoiding vignetting than similarly-priced models.

The filters are also designed to accommodate a lens cap, for extra protection. Just be sure to buy the model that matches the size of your lens.

Best Camera Cleaning Kit: Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit

Even the most careful camera owner can’t keep dust away from the sensor or smudges off the lens forever, and that’s especially true when shooting in harsh environments. A good cleaning kit doesn’t have to cost much​ and helps keep your gear, and your photos, in top condition.

This lightweight Altura kit covers all the basic requirements, with a squeezable air blower, lens cleaning pen and brush, sensor cleaning swabs and a small bottle of cleaning solution, plus a pack of tissue paper and a microfiber cloth.

Available in two slightly different versions for APC-C and full frame sensors, everything fits neatly inside the included hard case, so you can keep it ready to go in your camera bag at all times.

Best Budget Tripod: Slik Pro 700DX

While it’s possible to pick up generic tripods for under $50, you’ll need to pay a little more to get something worth buying. Not too much more, though, if you go for Slik’s Pro 700DX.

With this model, Slik has cut out extra features to focus on the things that matter most: stability, reliability and adjustability. The titanium alloy legs can handle a load of up to 22 pounds, keeping the camera stable and minimizing vibrations and movement during long exposure shots.

The legs and center column adjust to give a maximum height of over six feet and a minimum of 15 inches for shooting close to the ground, and satisfied customers report zero signs of wear and tear, even after several years of consistent use.

The only downside is that at over five pounds, the 700DX isn’t the lightest of tripods. It’s that extra weight that keeps it stable, of course, but is something to bear in mind for travel or back-country hikes.

Best Card Reader: Kingston USB 3.0 Multi-Card Reader

As laptops get ever thinner, manufacturers have stripped away many of the ports and sockets that used to come as standard. Built-in card readers haven’t been spared, with even many professional-grade machines no longer including them.

While you can usually connect your camera to your laptop via Wi-Fi or cable, it’s often a fiddly process, with slow transfer speeds. For a better experience, pick up this inexpensive Kingston USB 3.0 multi-card reader instead.

Supporting all major card types, including SD, microSD and Compact Flash, it reliably transfers files at UHS-II speeds, which is more than can be said for much of the competition. Highly-portable and able to transfer files to and from multiple cards at once, the reader is backed by a two-year manufacturers warranty.

Best Portable Photo Printer: Canon SELPHY CP1300

With most images only being shared online, and the rise of cloud printing services, dedicated photo printers have become a dying breed. There’s still something special about physical photos, though, and if you miss the glory days of Polaroid and want to print your pictures on the go, take a look at Canon’s SELPHY CP1300.

Depending on the paper you use, the CP1300 can print shots up to 4" x 6", in square or rectangular formats. You can print directly from memory cards, USB sticks and Apple devices, while the companion app adds options for Android and social media.

The built-in display makes it easy to select, edit or print your favorite shots, and with the paper both water-resistant and rated to last up to a century, it’s not going to fade and fall apart after a few years.

With a relatively low price and running costs, good print quality, and a size and weight that’s easily suitable for a day bag, this is our portable photo printer pick.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best portable photo printers

Best Camera Bag: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Photography is one of those hobbies that once you get serious about it, you’ll start accumulating extra gear. Add some lenses, memory cards, filters, and spare batteries, and all of a sudden you need a good bag to carry everything around in.

While you can get by with a standard daypack for a while, you’re better off with something designed with photographers in mind. Peak Design makes a small range of high-quality photography-focused bags, with the Everyday Backpack being one of the best and most versatile.

The 20-liter capacity is enough to hold plenty of camera gear, plus other bits and pieces such as a laptop, spare clothing and snacks. There’s also a larger, 30-liter version if needed. It’s highly-adjustable to get the perfect fit for a range of body sizes, with comfortable yet durable straps and fabric.

The zips are strong and reliable, the internal compartments are well-laid out and configurable, and overall, it’s just a top-quality camera bag that will suit almost any photographer.

Check out our other reviews of the best camera cases and bags available on the market today.

BlackRapid Breathe Cross Shot Camera Strap

If you’re serious about your photography, it’s time to stop using the cheap strap that came with your camera. BlackRapid has been making quality camera straps for many years, and its Breathe Cross Shot model is ideal for most photographers.

Rather than leaving your camera hanging awkwardly around your neck, the Breathe Cross Shot locks it into place solidly on your hip. Adjustable for length, the non-slip shoulder pad and 44-pound load rating ensure it won’t give way under pressure.

When it’s time to take a shot, simply slide the camera up the strap and lift the viewfinder to your eye, then drop it back into place when you’re done. It’s just a far better experience than using standard straps, and the ideal way of keeping your camera easily and safely accessible while on the move.

Check out our guide to the best camera straps you can buy today. 

Best Polarizing Filter: Hoya PRO1 Circular Polarizer

Bright, sunny conditions are great for going to the beach, but less so for taking photos. Glare and washed-out skies are a big problem, especially when shooting over water or snow, or if you’re aiming anywhere near the sun. That’s where polarizing lenses come in.

The Hoya PRO1 is an affordable, high-quality circular polarizer, with minimal vignetting and solid construction. Just as with sunglasses, the polarized glass in the filter adjusts the direction of the light that hits it. Twisting the filter changes the angle, darkening or lightening the scene.

Skies become a deeper shade of blue, while reflections are noticeably diminished. Once the sun goes down or you get back inside, the Hoya PRO1 unscrews quickly and easily from the front of the lens. If you shoot plenty of outdoor photos, you’ll want to pick one up in an appropriate size for your camera.

Best Entry-Level Flash: Neewer TT560

While some cameras have a basic inbuilt flash, you’ll never find pro photographers using them. A proper external flash is the way to go, since it puts out far more light, is flexible about where you aim it and saves your camera battery by using its own power.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to see whether an external flash is useful for you, with good entry-level options available on a budget. The best of those is the Neewer TT560, which works with a wide range of cameras, has eight different light intensities to choose from and allows for plenty of horizontal and vertical rotation.

A white flash diffuser is included, allowing for less harsh lighting conditions, and the digital display makes it easy to select the right settings. It can act as a secondary unit to your regular flash, with the ability to connect external battery packs to get through the day even if it’s firing all the time.

If you’re looking to get better photos in a wide range of conditions (not just low-light), this flash is a wise investment.