Enthusiastic photographers can spend hours perusing photography accessories. But beyond lenses, memory cards, tripods and other essentials, there’s plenty of other gear that will come in equally handy, whether you’re shooting in a home studio, out hiking in the wild or traveling the world. Here are eight items that can save your butt in a photo emergency or simply help realize your vision.
Fenix LD15R USB Rechargeable Flashlight
Flashlights are essential for photographers for a few obvious reasons — walking at night, locating stuff in your gear bag — but also some not-so-obvious reasons. You can use them to “light paint” a subject when shooting in the dark, by using a long exposure and illuminating the scene by carefully passing a flashlight’s beam over it. But you don’t always want the brightest torch you can get. In fact, sometimes ultra-dim light works best. This variable-output light from Fenix has a wide range, from just three lumens up to 500. Its lower settings can help you dial in your shot faster, and also preserve your night-vision in the process. Plus, its right-angle head means you can set it on a surface to illuminate your work area or scene.
Leatherman Style PS
A good multi-tool will help you tend to assorted gear dramas or otherwise come to your rescue in countless other ways. If you travel a lot, avoid surprise confiscation by keeping one that’s TSA-friendly in your bag. This compact and lightweight Leatherman has the essentials — pliers, wire cutter, screwdriver and tweezers — but while it doesn’t have a knife, it does have a pair of tiny scissors, which can be used in a pinch in knife-like ways, such as when opening the box holding the new lens you picked up on the fly.
ProTapes Pro Gaff Adhesive Tape
Gaffer tape is far better than duct tape in general — it’s easy to cut and leaves no residue behind — and it’s the only tape photographers use. Pros use it for everything from securing light cables to positioning props, but even enthusiast shooters will benefit by keeping it handy, whether as a backup while suctioning a GoPro to your car window or an impromptu hack for moving tree branches out of the way. Stick a three-inch roll in your car, a two-inch roll in your camera bag, and a one-inch roll in your backpack.
Petzl Djinn Axess Carabiner
Carabiners can be surprisingly useful beyond rock climbing — and particularly so for shooters. If you’re out hiking around with your camera you can use a dual combo like the Djinn to harness your backpack around a branch, or secure a tripod on a precarious ledge. No knot-tying skills necessary.
Rainwear is an obvious essential for photographers who plan on doing a lot of work outside, but don’t forget the boots. Even if it’s blue sky, you may need to hike through some mud or shallow ponds in pursuit of the perfect shot. A pair of these classic Barbour Wellies kept in your trunk will ensure your feet are bone-dry at the end of your expedition.
Arkadia Supply Sea to Sky Pack
Camera gear can be heavy and cumbersome, so when photographers travel they tend to use heavy-duty camera bags. But when you reach your destination, that leaves you without an easy, handy way to go out for a quick excursion without huffing a massive camera bag. A packable backpack can be a perfect backup. This waterproof, 5.5-ounce pack compresses down into a bag the size of a softball, and at 24-liters will fit your camera, an extra lens, your wallet or a water bottle. You won’t carry too much or too little.
NoCry Professional Knee Pads
If you take all your photos at eye-level, you’re not doing it right. You have to explore angles by getting up high or down low. The problem with shooting something from a low angle, though, is that your knees will take a beating, especially if you’re down there for a while or shooting from rough terrain, such as rocks or tree roots out in the woods. Wet terrain can be similarly annoying, and all of these will deter you from getting where you need to get the shot. So keep an inexpensive pair of kneepads in your trunk or camera kit. The pro-grade pads from NoCry are lightweight, secure and feature both a plastic shell and gel-packed pads.
EcoReco S5 Scooter
Okay, this won’t fit in your camera bag, but definitely your trunk. Say you arrive at an event you’ll be shooting all day—car race, music festival, parade—but you have to park in the boonies and drag your gear in. An electric scooter will be a lifesaver. Fast, fun, and smart, it will easily quadruple the amount of ground you can cover while seeking different perspectives or subjects. This affordable model from EcoReco can go up to 20 miles on each charge at up to 20 mph. It also includes a gadget mount for your smartphone or action camera.
Uline Black Hi-Vis Deluxe Safety Vest
If you’re out shooting in busy areas — or in the dark, or near traffic or in the rain — it helps to be visible. This black mesh vest includes reflective strips that will make you pop out in the vehicle headlights, without drawing too much attention to yourself otherwise. It also has two inside and four outside pockets so you can stash filters, car keys, and your phone.
Pacsafe 85L Backpack and Bag Protector
Camera gear is expensive. Really expensive. Protect it on the road with this clever, virtually indestructible mesh wrap, which encloses bags between 55 and 85 liters and is slash-resistant. Use it to secure your gear to a tree while camping, your car on a road trip, or even the train station bench you need to doze on between adventures. Rest easy knowing your expensive equipment will still be there when you wake up.
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