Wow, this site has just been sitting here untouched for a LONG time! Seems like as good a place as any to post some class notes, though, so here are the links to accessories I promised you. Most if not all of them go to Amazon for the combination of simplicity, good prices and often free shipping…
Note that filters are sized according to the lens they’ll be used on (typically noted in mm on the front of the lens, ranging from around 52-77mm). I’ll link to 58mm filters below but will be happy to help if you get stuck. UV filters are typically purchased for each lens and left on all the time. The others are more expensive so often people buy one in the largest size they need and then use a step-up ring to fit the larger filter to smaller lenses. Again, I’m glad to help if you need it.
- UV filters are primarily used as protection for the front element of your lens, which you can accomplish for free by keeping a lens hood in place all the time … Tiffen 58mm UV Filter
- Neutral Density filters are used to reduce the amount of light reaching your sensor. They’re helpful for shooting with either slow shutter speeds or wide apertures in bright daylight. Typically available in three “strengths” depending on how many stops of light you want to kill … 0.3 (1 stop), 0.6 (2 stops) or 0.9 (3 stops)
- Circular Polarizers can be used to darken skies, eliminate reflections from water, prevent foliage from appearing too shiny and enhance color in a photo. They can be expensive but are almost required for landscape or nature photography. Hoya 58mm Circular Polarizer
- Lens Cleaning Tools: I always recommend carrying a small microfiber eyeglasses cleaning cloth in your bag, but another good cheap tool is the Lens Pen, which offers a little “squeegee” on one end and a gentle brush on the other.
- Cable release: allows you to trigger the shutter without touching the camera. There are some crazy ones out there but I think simpler is better. Canon, Nikon, Olympus.
- Speedlight: the best way to carry light with you is a hotshoe-mounted flash with a tilt-and-swivel head. Canon, Nikon, Olympus.
- Reflector: can be used to fill in shadows and, if it includes white or gray, helps with setting white balance … 5-in-1 reflector
- Tripod or camera support: recommendations here are risky, but I’ve found people to be happy with these for the price … tripod, gorilla pod. I personally love the monopod I bought from Feisol and think their tripods might be well worth a gamble. If you want the best, read this then talk to me.
- Fast prime lens: good, cheap way to improve your low-light and shallow depth of field capabilities. The fact that it doesn’t zoom also forces you to move around a bit more, which helps with finding more interesting perspectives. Canon, Nikon (with certain newer bodies, you might need this one or this one to autofocus), Olympus.
- Books: there are far more bad books than good ones, and the best teacher is your own experimentation. However, Understanding Exposure gets a lot of good press and I can unconditionally recommend Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Books.
That wraps it up. I’ve had a blast the past couple of months and I hope you have, too. If you ever have questions, feel free to ask! For those of you who toughed it out Thursday (sorry for the cold!) feel free to email any resulting photos my way and I’ll get them posted here for all to see. For that matter, I’ll go one step further: go ahead and send me any recent photos that show off your new skills and I’ll gladly post them!