Being a photographer can be very rewarding. Part of the joy many photographers get comes from learning new ways to do things or new things to do. Some of those things may require additional tools.
We also might make our current methods easier with certain specific tools. Here are the top 29 best DSLR accessories you didn’t know you needed.
Upgrading or adding lenses to your gear kit may also come to mind, but we have other articles covering many different types of lenses.
Top 29 Best DSLR Accessories (You Didn’t Know You Needed) In 2023
1. A Sturdy Tripod
We’ll start here. A tripod is one of the most valuable tools any photographer can have.
Many current cameras and lenses have excellent image stabilization or vibration reduction built into them, so a tripod might not seem very necessary.
A tripod in today’s digital photography world will open up more than long exposures.
It is one of the best DSLR accessories for virtually any photographer. They are definitely still needed for the best results with longer shutter speeds.
Using one also lets us make great HDR images, panoramas, and other special tricks such as ghosting out unwanted scene elements. Video recording is also enhanced by the extra stability.
2. Electronic Flash
Step up from the camera’s built-in flash to give you more reach, more versatility, and more options.
Built-in flashes are included on cameras from basic and entry-level all the way through to models that professionals use. While extremely convenient, they are limited in range.
A quality on-camera auxiliary flash unit will interface with your camera’s functions while giving greater range and often adding extra features.
Most of the major camera brands are covered by third-party flash manufacturers.
3. High-quality Protective Filter
Whether amateur or pro, we have a lot invested in our gear. Protecting a lens during use is a good idea.
One way to protect the front element of a lens is with a rigid lens hood, which we will discuss later.
One of the best DSLR accessories is an optically neutral filter for the front of your lens.
You don’t want just any old piece of clear glass. Modern lenses are extremely well corrected against problems such as flare or internal reflections.
It would make sense to use a filter that doesn’t lower the overall image quality of the lens. This UV filter from Tiffen is an example of a quality protective filter.
You will find that some lenses have deeply recessed front elements. Adding a filter to that type of lens may increase the chances of distracting lens flare.
Additionally, ultra-wide-angle lenses may not have any way of mounting front filters due to the shape of the front element.
4. Rigid Lens Hood
Rigid lens hoods have two important roles they can play.
One: Lens hoods block extraneous light from falling on the front element of your lens.
This helps reduce lens flare which in turn makes for better, more viewable images. Unless lens flare is a creative effect you are trying, then go for it.
Two: Having one on your lens provides an impact barrier. Mishaps can ruin a lens; a lens hood can sometimes absorb the energy of an impact.
Any object that could scratch the lens will not have as much of a chance of actually reaching the glass.
A popular type of rigid lens hood is the petal style.
5. Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth
Smudges and oils left by fingerprints on a lens can seriously degrade image quality.
But, you don’t want to use just any old thing to clean your lens. Things we think are not ok, like facial tissues or a shirt, can damage the coating on the lens.
Microfiber cloths are the best DSLR accessories to use for lens cleaning.
Unlike a facial tissue or article of clothing, microfiber cloths have nothing added like a lotion nor do they have abrasiveness.
That tee shirt may feel soft, but it can end up damaging the front element.
Be careful to remove loose dirt or sand before wiping your lens. Here are the ones I use for my cameras.
6. Camera Bag
The best DSLR accessories make photography easier and more enjoyable. A well-designed camera bag is a joy to use.
If you have only recently stepped up to DSLR photography, you probably have the bag that came as part of the camera and lens kit you purchased.
Once you start adding other items to your gear, that bag starts showing limits. In addition to needing more room for your stuff, having it arranged for easy access may be important.
Three basic types of camera bags could fill your needs. Shoulder bags, holster or belt bags, and backpacks.
Shoulder bags may be large or small and typically their interior can be accessed while wearing it. This makes them great for events or situations where you will be changing lenses often.
Holster bags are especially well suited for the same types of situations, but generally, don’t hold as much gear as a shoulder bag.
Photo backpacks hold a lot of gear. Transporting several lenses, a couple of cameras, and some other DSLR accessories can be uncomfortable with single strap bags. A photo backpack eases transport by distributing the weight.
7. Card Reader
Among the best DSLR accessories are tools that are primarily meant for computers.
A card reader will allow you to import your image files from the card to a file or program on your computer.
While you can transfer files directly from the camera, that requires a cord, and then you have to change cards in the camera if you filled up a couple of cards or more.
However, a card reader makes it easier to load those files, especially if you have multiple cards full of images.
Importantly, a large job, a vacation, several videos, or HDR can quickly fill up several cards.
8. Sling Strap
Have you ever seen someone hold a DSLR without a strap? Looks weird, doesn’t it?
However, the straps that come standard with most cameras is usually thin and somewhat uncomfortable.
Replacement straps offer things like being wider and using strong but comfortable material. This is all good.
Sling straps take usability a step farther than standard styles. Many photographers who try sling straps consider them among the best DSLR accessories available.
One may wonder why this style of strap isn’t standard for larger DSLRs.
9. Bubble Spirit Level
Anyone who shoots panoramas, real estate, architecture, or any ultra-wide-angle lens photography will benefit from a spirit level.
Most fit in the camera hot shoe and have two bubbles for orienting the camera along two or three axis. Levels provide a quick and simple way to ensure that camera is level.
Why is leveling so important?
In wide-angle or panoramic photography, to keep lines straight and natural appearing.
10. Wireless Remote Release
Instead of setting the self-timer and running into the group pose, use a wireless remote release.
Other scenarios include; studio photography, pet photography, and infant and toddler portraits, among other things.
Instead of messing with the delay of a timer or using a long cord, going wireless gives you the freedom to move around.
Some releases even have a short-timer built into them, for those self-portrait poses you’ve been wanting to try. Click the button, and then hide the remote!
Since many of the brands have proprietary connectors for their remote triggering, be sure to order the correct one for your own camera brand and model.
11. Bean Bag
Everyone remembers Uncle Bob and that huge bean bag chair in the game room. Smaller versions of bean bags are used as one of the best DSLR accessories.
Conforming to virtually any shape, a small bean bag can provide just the right amount of support for long heavy lenses or for a moderately long exposure when you can’t carry your tripod.
These can also do double duty as a wrist support for when you are at your computer, using your image processing programs.
12. Memory Card Wallet
Instead of digging through a pile of memory cards in the bottom of your bag, keep them safe and clean and easy to access in their own memory cardholder.
Soft or hard, holding 6, 8, or more cards, this small accessory will keep you more organized.
Some will also protect the cards from electrical shock, water damage, and shell or causing damage.
13. Crystal Ball
Yeah, we wish we had a crystal ball to tell us what camera and lens to buy or what job to bid on. This small glass sphere is valuable for creative imaging.
Set up the sphere so that the intended subject is reflected inside it, focus on the image, and reap the rewards of this fantastically fun tool.
A tree ornament might also be usable in this way.
14. Rain Shield
Despite having weather sealing on many prosumer and pro-level cameras, using a rain sleeve offers a higher level of protection from rain, snow, or blowing dust and sand.
Of course, if your camera has little or no sealing, then a rain cover is invaluable for shooting in slightly inclement weather.
Only good for moderate weather, you won’t want to trust your camera to this in a downpour or a sandstorm.
15. Blower Brush
Once you’ve come in from that windy day on the beach or in the desert, you’ll want to clean your camera.
Before using lens wipes or a microfiber cloth, brush off and blow off the dirt and sand.
Canned air is popular for cleaning computer keyboards, but it isn’t a good idea for camera cleaning.
The air comes out too hard and it can carry traces of the propellent. Either one of these can cause damage to your camera or lens if used in a sensitive area.
The blower brush provides a lower energy push of air as well as a soft brush that is gentle on photographic equipment.
16. Color Flashlight
Red flashlights have long been used by backyard amateur astronomers to find and operate controls when under the dark skies.
The reason is that they don’t want to ruin adjusted night vision with a bright blast of white light. Red light preserves night vision better.
Photographers in similarly dark conditions are benefited by preserving dark-adapted eyesight.
Many cameras have LCDs that display the settings, but finding the controls can be cumbersome.
Finding and operating accessories such as the tripod is also aided by using the light.
Additionally, a flashlight with multiple colors is useful for light painting using long exposures. Light painting is a lot of fun, there are multiple ways to add interesting content to night images.
17. Quick Release
Since a tripod is near the top of the list of best DSLR accessories, anything to make using one easier to use qualifies as another great accessory.
Quick releases work by mounting one part of it to the tripod, and the other part of it to the camera or lens.
If you use multiple cameras or large lenses, you can have a mounting plate on each one.
Then, you quickly change cameras and lenses on the tripod or rapidly transition from hand-holding the camera to using it on a tripod.
Many tripods have a quick release system built into them, you can add a quick release to any camera support platform or tripod.
18. Collapsible Reflector
Light control is central to photographic excellence. The difference between a snapshot and a great photo can be as simple as a collapsible reflector, especially with regards to portraits.
Reflectors like this are easy to carry since they collapse to a very compact size.
The best reflectors for photographic use often include several different colors. Silver can cool down a scene while gold adds warmth, and white is neutral.
19. Video Stabilizing Grip
Since most new DSLRs have video capabilities, using those features will give photographers the opportunity to branch out into videography.
In addition, embrace your inner cinematographer by making the best use of video functions.
A very important accessory for videography is a grip. Holding your camera for video will involve using live view on the rear LCD screen. This is not the best stance for smooth recordings.
Stabilizing grips provide a more natural hand position for videos that are enjoyable to view.
However, a gimbal stabilizer adds even more stabilization but these are quite a bit more expensive.
20. White Balance Disc
Digital cameras allow us to record images and videos with accurate white balance. White balance is controlled by the color temperature of light.
Many of the better DSLRs have a feature that fine-tunes the white balance for whatever lighting condition we’re shooting or filming under.
A simple way to use that camera function is aided by using a white balance disc in front of the camera lens.
This results in colors looking natural and proper in the final image or recording. This is the white balance disc I’m currently using.
21. Display Calibrator
Since we’re on the subject of recording colors more accurately, let’s look at the other end of advanced photography and videography, processing files on our computer.
In order to adjust the final result to correct white balance, calibrating our computer screen display is required.
Otherwise, when we send out our images or videos to others, especially paying clients, the colors might not be correctly rendered.
22. LED Light Panel
Since we’re using our DSLR video features, we might as well get the best use of them.
A compact, battery-powered, on-camera LED light panel is one of the best DSLR accessories we can find.
A continuous and portable light source such as this is usable for still photography and video.
Used for still photography, portraits, nature close-ups, or product photos, on-camera lighting can sometimes make the difference between getting a good shot or not.
23. Polarizing Filter
Light is interesting and complex. Controlling it well is vital for excellent images. Light reflects and refracts in predictable ways.
A polarizing filter can remove reflections from glass, water, and plant leaves, as well as the contrast lowering light scattering from the atmosphere.
In addition, when you use a polarizer, colors are enhanced, too.
When looking for a polarizer filter, take note of the two main types. Linear polarizers are usable on many older cameras, but most newer and current cameras require circular polarizers.
For more information, you can see my post on the best lens filter manufacturers.
24. Portable Hard Drives
DSLR sensor megapixels keep going up. An APS-C sensor of 24.2mp can produce a digital file in 14 bit RAW up to 40MB.
Full frame sensors in the 45mp range make even larger files, sizes of 80MB to 100MB possible. HD video files might be several GBs in size.
Our computer hard drives can only hold so much. Having multiple programs for all our different processes also takes up valuable hard drive space.
So, the best DSLR accessories included portable hard drives for image and video storage.
These auxiliary hard drives are among the most necessary extra things for serious photographers to obtain.
In digital photography, these hard drives are our modern photo albums and slide sheets. Stored properly, our digital files are both very safe and handily accessible.
For those times when using or carrying a full tripod is difficult, but you still need stabilizing support for your camera and lens, a monopod is often the best solution.
Find one with a ball and socket head and a quick-release system for the ultimate flexibility.
Especially useful for sports and nature photography, many situations could be improved by making good use of one.
Any time you need just a little bit more stability than you can achieve handheld, monopods are simple and convenient.
Essentially it’s a stick you mount your camera on, so you could also use it for overhead shots by adding a wireless remote release. Some nature photographers double their monopods as walking sticks.
To learn more about monopods, see my best monopods guide here!
We’re specifically in video mode with these best DSLR accessories. DSLR audio capabilities are also becoming more advanced with every new model.
Every camera with a video mode has a microphone built into the camera, but those mics are small by necessity.
Incorporating an external microphone provides better audio for our video recordings.
On-camera cardioid microphones that fit in the hot shoe or on a grip are a simple and effective tool to obtain great audio.
Wireless lavalier mics are another good option, though they are generally more expensive and a little more involved to operate.
27. Light Tent
At some point, you will probably find yourself taking images of small products. Social media marketplaces and Amazon are avenues many people use to sell things.
Posting items online to sell requires a good picture. For pleasing photos of these items, a light tent is often the best tool for the job.
Light tents fill the frame with soft light, allowing you to show clear views of the item.
Especially handy for photographing small shiny objects such as jewelry or personal electronics, most light tents are portable and stored compactly.
28. High Capacity Memory Card
Running out of film may not bother us anymore, but running out of recording space on low-capacity cards will stop our picture taking or video recording quickly.
Additionally, a higher capacity memory card, whatever type your camera uses will take care of that issue.
Also, take note of the transfer speed of the memory card. High megapixel image files and HD video can bog down a slow card.
29. Photography Instruction Books
Our cameras are incredibly capable. In order to fully utilize what our camera has to offer, some additional instruction may be beneficial.
Basic digital photography primers are an excellent means of improving our skills. We may wish to study a specific type of photography in depth.
Plus, going beyond the basic instruction manual is also a great idea.
Will using the best DSLR accessories improve your own photography?
Complemented by an ever-increasing set of skills and your own awesome creativity, they just might!
To get started, you can see my guide on the top photography books for beginners!