You bought your DSLR or ILC maybe around a year ago, and you’ve taken some great pictures. Now, the company whom you love has announced a newer, shinier, prettier upgrade and you’re suddenly starting to feel like you need to upgrade again. Don’t worry, this isn’t an Apple product. In fact, there are other ways to upgrade your camera now. Keep in mind that interchangeable lens cameras come with different accessories, lenses and all to make your images seem like they’re just as awesome as the first day you took the camera out of the box.
Your camera perhaps came with a lens or two. One of the ways to continue to ensure that you take better pictures is to change lenses. New lenses can give you a new viewpoint through your camera and make your mind reframe the world in a whole new way.
One of the most popular options is known as the “nifty fifty”. This essentially equates to a fast aperture 50mm lens or the equivalent of a 50mm field of view coupled with a fast aperture. These lenses are usually quite affordable and they’re beloved by so many people. The 50mm focal length closely mimics what the human eye sees, and so taking pictures literally becomes second nature when one is attached to your camera. Plus, the faster aperture can give you what many call the “Bokeh effect.” This is when you have one subject sharply in focus and the rest of the image is super blurry. It’s beautiful when done correctly, and it’s very simple to achieve.
There’s more than that though. If you love photographing wildlife, you can also opt for a super telephoto zoom lens, which can double as a lens for shooting your kid’s sports game.
Want to get into macro shooting? You may want to consider either a macro lens or a a macro adapter of some sort. We explain all that here in How To: Macro Photography Made Easy.
Like that tilt-shift effect that you can get in Instagram? Well, you may want to consider a Lensbaby Composer Pro or a Sweet 35 optic. You’ll be able to get much better pictures organically with a dedicated optic than you will with any software rendering.
Another way to get better images is to add extra light to your images where and when you need it. Your camera’s pop-up flash (if it has one) is an option, but it isn’t usually the best despite the fact that camera manufacturers have done a lot of work to improve their performance over the years.
There are five main types of lights you can get:
- Direct flash: this is a small flash that points directly toward your subject and perhaps also a little bit upward. They are affordable, but can be tough to use in order to achieve premium image quality.
- Affordable bounce flashes: many companies call these speedlites or speedlights. The heads of these flashes can tilt, zoom, swivel, pivot, and do things that some gymnasts aren’t even capable of doing. They have more than enough flash output for most users.
- Higher end bounce flashes: These are the speedlites and speedlights used by many professional photographers to achieve extremely creative looks. They can be pricey.
- Monolights: These are flashes/strobes that need to be mounted onto a stand. They are extremely powerful and vary in prices. Professional photoshoots are done with these.
- Constant lights: these are the easiest types of lights to work with. They can either be an LED panel that mounts into your camera’s hot shoe, or they can be a giant floodlamp with a large umbrella on a stand. They are typically very affordable and a favorite of videographers.
There is your camera’s stock strap, and then there are others designed for various other uses and needs.
- Padded Camera Straps: These are essentially the straps that come with your camera, but designed with a different type of material and with more padding with extra comfort.
- Sling Straps: These are straps that allow the camera to hang down by your side and give you quick access to your camera whenever you need it. Be careful though, because your camera can swing around a lot.
- Wrist straps: Wrist straps are for those of us that keep our cameras in our hands most of the time. The only real downside is that if you need to use your camera hand, you’ll need to remove your camera from the hand for a bit.
There are many options that you can use to get more stable images. Different types of photographers also try and look at various products to find the one that’s right for them and their needs. For example, landscape photographers often need good tripods with spikes on the end of them. However, studio photographers will need tripods with rubberized feet so they don’t move.
Sports photographers opt for monopods instead: this gives you most of the stability of a tripod with a ton of flexibility and versatility.
For users that want to get even more creative with their angles, consider Gorillapods. These tripods have flexible legs and can attach your camera onto nearly any surface. Best of all, they can be used for other things later on. We’ve been known to sometimes mount speedlites on them and place them in various places in a photo just for fun.
Many people sometimes choose to get into night photography or long exposures. These people also don’t always want to crank their camera’s ISOs up all the way. So in order to do this, you’ll need a tripod of some sort. And if you want to get even more into it, you’ll also even want to consider an intervalometer/remote cable shutter release. With these, you’ll have your essential kit to documenting the night sky and all that happens in it.
Consider these options before you spring for that next camera. Also keep in mind that even if you want to get a new camera sometime down the line, you can use all the accessories we mentioned here later on. Think of it as future-proofing yourself.