Raise your photography game without destroying your bank balance. Tracy Calder and 15 photographers share their favourite inexpensive accessories for under £30

Accessories under £30

OpTech Rainsleeve

l £7.95 (pack of 2) l www.wexphotovideo.com

‘These lightweight sleeves are great for protecting your camera from dust and rain showers. Essentially, they’re clear plastic bags with an opening for a tripod (or a hand) and an opening for a lens. A toggle is used to tighten the plastic around the lens. Unexpectedly, for something at this price point, there is an eyepiece opening that adapts to most viewfinders – this allows you to see through the lens, not through a piece of plastic.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Pocket Colour Wheel

l £3 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘When I’m planning a flat lay arrangement, or perhaps some garden photography, I will often refer to an artist’s colour wheel to assess the impact one colour will have over another. Having a basic understanding of colour psychology can really help to elevate a composition. Colours that contrast strongly can bring energy and vitality, for example.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Hama Lens Cleaning Pen

l £15 l uk.hama.com

‘One item I find invaluable in my camera bag is a lens cleaning pen. It has a retractable brush at one end which is useful for brushing away dirt particles from my camera, lens or filter without scratching. At the other end is a soft “nib” which can safely remove smudges and marks once you have removed any dust. I’ve used this gadget many times to remove smears on my lens or filter after it has rained, or when I’ve had sand blown at my camera.’

Lucie Averill, www.lucieaverillphotography.co.uk

Winsor & Newton Cotman Brush Wallet

l £24.95 (set of 6) l www.cassart.co.uk

‘Whether I’m photographing on location or in my home studio (otherwise known as the loft) I find a set of artist’s paintbrushes invaluable. When you’re shooting close-ups, any stray dust, pollen or dirt looms large in the final picture. I’m not a big fan of sitting in front of the computer for hours, so I try to “clean up” as best as possible before releasing the shutter.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Tether Tools TetherPro USB 3.0 to Micro-B Cable

l From £22 l www.colorconfidence.com

‘It’s not the most exciting accessory, but a cable that allows you to connect your camera to the USB port on your computer (without an adapter or dongle) is undeniably useful. The cables from Tether Tools have long been enjoyed by photographers because they allow fast and reliable transfers. (Part of their appeal is also the flashy orange colour, although you can buy a black version too.)’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Neewer Rubber-coated Metal Camera Lens Filter Remover

l £13.50 (2 pack) l www.amazon.co.uk

‘I can’t be the only one who after some overly zealous tightening has managed to get a filter stuck to the front of my lens. Luckily, keeping one of these lightweight metal wrenches in my bag has saved the day on more than one occasion. You can even use two wrenches to remove filters stuck to each other.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Interfit softbox

l From £26.99 l www.interfitphoto.co.uk

‘My Interfit softbox is indispensable. When shooting with flash out on location this lightweight flatpack softbox can easily be tied to a camera bag, and the effect from it transforms my portraits by providing a diffused soft light. (I actually have the 80x80cm version which is £31.99 but the 60x60cm comes in at under £30!)’

Claire Gillo, www.clairegillo.com

LEE Filters Adapter Rings

l From £24 l www.leefilters.com

‘I permanently keep LEE adapter rings and lens caps on all of my wideangle lenses so that I can quickly and efficiently attach my filter holder. As a result, there’s no need to constantly attach or unscrew adapter rings when using a filter system. The rings help to speed up the process, and yet they only cost a few pounds.’

Ross Hoddinott, www.rosshoddinott.co.uk

Photo Boards

l From £20 l www.photoboards.org

‘These handy backdrops are 1:1 replicas of designs created or collected by photographer Lyndsey James. Her source materials range from peeling paint to metal and old bits of wood. Each design is printed on PVC board before shadow depth is added to enhance the true-to-life appearance. I often flip the boards over and use the plain white background for flat lay arrangements.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Bostik Blu Tack

l £1.79 l www.viking-direct.co.uk

‘We all know Blu Tack has hundreds of uses, from sticking posters to walls to removing fluff from clothing, but, personally, I like to use it for holding down objects when I’m arranging a still life. A small ball under the uneven base of a jug, for example, can be all that’s needed to level things up.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

A&A Supplies Builders Bag

l £9 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘I often carry a plastic sheet or a builder’s rubble bag. When I’m out photographing landscapes, I put my camera bag on the sheet or bag to stop it getting wet or muddy. It’s ideal on a wet day or on a sandy beach and the like. I would also like to put in a good word for the LightTrac app. I use this app to calculate the sun’s position in relation to my chosen location.’

Sarah Howard, www.sarahhowardphotography.com

Atmosphere Aerosol

l £16.99 l www.theunusualgiftcompany.com

‘The Atmosphere Aerosol gives another option for boudoir and portrait shoots when the natural light is either a little lacklustre or needs something to catch it. The fine smoke, which lingers for a long time, gives a sense of depth in an otherwise flat scene. I purchased the version with added trigger to make life easier.’

Jeff Horne, www.boudoirbyjeffhorne.co.uk

Giottos Rocket Air Blower

l £13.50 l www.wexphotovideo.com

‘Perfect for blowing loose dust and dirt off lenses and sensors, this rocket-shaped air blower is also great for cleaning computer keyboards. It delivers a powerful, focused jet of air and features a valve that prevents it from breathing in dust and blowing it back on to your equipment. The rocket design means it can also stand up on its own.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

PhotoPills Smartphone App

l £7.26 ($9.99) l www.photopills.com

‘Whether you shoot landscapes, architecture or star trails, the PhotoPills app is great for planning a photography trip so that you are always in the right place at the right time. Once you’ve decided where you want the sun/moon to be, you can use the app to share this information with other people, which is ideal if you are working on a team project.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Phoetya Stainless Steel Clothes Pegs

l £11.99 (pack of 30) l www.amazon.co.uk

‘These clips are essential because they’re capable of holding the smallest of things in place, especially fabric, which is ideal for maternity and newborn photographers like me. The clips are also strong and easy enough to hide or remove in post-production.’

Tianna Williams, www.tiannajwilliamsphotography.co.uk

ZEISS Lens Wipes

l £13 (pack of 200) l www.amazon.co.uk

‘I’m quite a minimalist photographer and like to travel as light as possible – often I will just go out with my phone and no other equipment, but I always have at least two or three Zeiss lens wipes in a pocket as they are great for cleaning everything from my phone screen (usually after I’ve dropped my phone in the mud) to camera screens and lenses. I bulk buy boxes of 200, which work out good value as a box lasts a long time.’

Jane Simmonds, www.janesimmonds.co.uk

Wildlife Watching Supplies C14 Standard Double Bean Bag (unfilled)

l £25 l www.wildlifewatchingsupplies.co.uk

‘Beanbags from Wildlife Watching Supplies are made of proofed brushed polycotton material which grips and moulds to the shape of your camera and lens and prevents slippage on surfaces like car windowsills, rocks and fence posts – just some of the reasons why I love them. You can buy the bags filled or unfilled, with or without liners, and some versions come with a detachable carrying strap.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Rotolight Lionheart AA NiMH Rechargeable Batteries by Powerex Pro

l £24 (for 6) l www.rotolight.com

‘I bought these 2700mAh rechargeable AA NiMH batteries because they are recommended for use in the Rotolight NEO 2, but their high capacity makes them suitable for a wide range of high-drain applications, including powering a flashgun, another LED light or anything else that takes AA batteries.’

Angela Nicholson, www.squeezymedia.com

Camera Hot Shoe 3 Axis Spirit Bubble Level

l £4.99 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘Bright and easy to see, a hot shoe spirit level is often quicker to use than calling up an electronic version on your camera. This version is a simple cube with three phials. It’s particularly good for keeping the camera level when shooting panoramas.’

Jeremy Walker, www.jeremywalker.co.uk

GorillaPod Starter Kit

l £27.50 l www.joby.com

‘Unbelievably, the original GorillaPod has been around for 15 years now! This extremely versatile mini tripod has flexible legs that can wrap around all manner of things, from branches to handrails. The Starter Kit has a universal smartphone clamp, GoPro mount and torch mount. It also boasts a quick release plate, extending its use tenfold.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Manfrotto Pixi Tripod

l £24 l www.manfrotto.com

‘It might be designed to hold cameras, but I regularly use my Pixi Mini Tripod to support my Manfrotto Lumimuse LED light – now sadly discontinued. The Pixi has a push button locking mechanism that enables you to position and lock the ball head in one swift movement and it’s capable of holding devices weighing up to 1kg.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Color Wheel Artist’s View Catcher

l £9.28 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘This portable tool enables you to assess the potential of a composition – from square to panoramic format – before you reach for the camera. Essentially, it’s a piece of plastic with an adjustable aperture, but the hole in the sliding element can be used for comparing values, making it popular with painters as well as photographers.’

Lizzie Shepherd, www.lizzieshepherd.com

Ohuhu Premium Thick Kneeling Pad

l £12 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘The one thing I would never be without for my kind of macro work is a simple garden kneeling pad to protect my knees and help keep them dry, particularly during wetter months. There are plenty of pads on the market, but a basic foam version like that produced by Marksman or Ohuhu is ideal.’

Barry Webb, www.barrywebbimages.co.uk

BUBM Double Layer Travel Gear Organiser

l £17 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘I’m always shoving cables, memory cards and notebooks into corners of my camera bag and then watching them tumble to the ground when I pull out my camera and lenses. Recently, however, I’ve become more organised after buying a padded wallet. This one is made of waterproof nylon and has 19 elastic loops to hold everything in place.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Godox LED64 Video Light

l £21 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘I’m a big fan of the Godox LED64, which provides bright continuous light. It’s perfect for macro photography and for direction lighting on roosting insects at dawn, dusk and beyond. It really is indispensable. The Godox LED64 fits almost all DSLRs and camcorders and can be powered by AA batteries or a DC supply.’

Andrew Fusek Peters, www.andrewfusekpeters.com

Lastolite Reflector (30cm)

l £15 l www.manfrotto.com

‘A reflector is invaluable on sunny days for balancing out the light falling on a flower. I hold the reflector on the opposite side from the sunlight to push some light back into the shadowed side of the plant. The gold side gives a warmer, brighter light than the silver one. Although bigger reflectors are available, the small one is easier for manoeuvring between flowers.’

Sue Bishop, www.suebishop.co.uk

Peak Design Anchor Links

l £15 l www.peakdesign.com

‘I’ve got a camera strap I love, but if I want to remove it to stop it flapping about in the wind when my camera is on a tripod, I have to go through the irritating process of detaching the strap from the camera body. These Anchor Links, however, allow me to detach the strap easily and quickly. Peak Design also produces an excellent Cuff Camera Wrist Strap.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

Belle Vous K9 Prisms

l £20 (4 pack) l www.amazon.co.uk

‘While I haven’t used them personally, I’ve seen some wonderfully creative work produced using prisms. Photography is primarily about noticing, manipulating and capturing light, so playing with a set of prisms is sure to result in unique and interesting images. You can buy them in sets of various shapes and sizes, but the Belle Vous K9 (4 pack) looks like good value for money.’

Tracy Calder, Instagram @tracy_calder_photo

EcoTools Shower Cap and Storage Case

l £11 l www.ecotools.com

‘I find a shower cap to be a very useful and budget-friendly item to keep in my kit bag. It allows me to leave my camera in position on the tripod in the heaviest of downpours. Because it’s so easy to remove from my gear I’m always ready to shoot as soon as the rain stops, helping me to capture the breaking light.’

Daragh Muldowney, www.dulraphotography.com

Zeltauto Men’s Thinsulate Fingerless Gloves

l £13 l www.amazon.co.uk

‘My mitts and cotton gloves are essential for winter. You can’t take a photo if you can’t feel your fingers. Exposed digits are a wildlife photographer’s nightmare and these “convertible” fingerless mittens (my “marsupial” mitts) paired with cotton gloves (which I use as liners) are like sleeping bags for the fingers. The liners take the chill off the exposed shutter finger and add an extra layer to the hand. I actually use Tog24 mitts, but I think they may well be discontinued, so these are a good alternative.’

Rob Cottle, www.robcottle.co.uk

Further reading

Our best-buy accessories

Best photography accessories under £100