We've rounded up 30 essential photography tools that will help you capture great images this summer
Travelling provides us with some of the greatest photographic opportunities, but there’s nothing worse than seeing the perfect composition and not being able to make the most of it because you were missing a simple but vital piece of equipment. In this guide, we’ve suggested 30 essential tools that will not only help you capture those great images, but they will also help you take better shots, allow you to share them with others, and keep them safe
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60
As well as your main camera, having a pocket-sized companion is a must when you’re travelling, as it’s great to have a camera you can keep in your pocket just for quick snaps, as well as for capturing reference images while planning compositions.
The 18.1-million-pixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 is a superb camera, measuring 110.6×64.3×34.4mm, with a massive 30x optical zoom range and a host of features including GPS, which makes it perfect for keeping track of where your images have been taken.
Manfrotto Piccolo 3
If you’re travelling with a small camera, a neat case is definitely a good choice to keep your camera safe.
The Piccolo 3 camera pouch from Manfrotto is water-repellent and has a hard shell for added protection against accidental bumps and bashes.
The pouch also has a soft lining that will prevent the screen and other sensitive areas of your camera from being scratched while in transit.
Spudz Pro is a convenient, portable and affordable cleaning kit that can be attached to keys, lanyards, belt loops, straps and bags.
Containing a 10x10in (254x254mm) microfibre cloth stitched into the holder and a 4ml cleaning solution, the Spudz Pro is a much better alternative to using the inside of your shirt for cleaning your lens on the move.
It’s so easy to misplace lens cloths and they’re no good when you’re out and about if they’re tucked away safe inside your bag, but the Spudz Pro is always accessible.
Lastolite 5-in-1 75cm Bottletop kit
It’s a real advantage when you’re photographing friends and family to have a reflector handy, even if just to put a catch-light in their eyes or to fill in a backlit portrait.
Lastolite’s Bottletop kit collapses into a carrycase a third of its diameter, and includes a diffuser with two elasticated double-sided covers with gold/white and sunfire/silver finishes to alter the colour and quality of the reflected light.
The whole kit is easy to pack away in your camera bag and gives a distinct edge and professional feel to your photography.
Price £135 Website www.riftlabs.com
Though the Kick light is truly pocket-sized at roughly the same size as your phone, it boasts some serious lighting power, blasting out 400 lumens in a range of colours.
If you need to whip out a little extra dynamic lighting at a moment’s notice, you really couldn’t ask for better.
The Kick is fully controllable via its iOS and Android apps, and you can even use videos saved on your phone to sample and recreate specific lighting effects.
Elgato Smart Key
If you worry about losing your camera while away, the Smart Key can help.
The simple Bluetooth device can be attached to a camera strap or bag and it will then regularly send a Bluetooth signal to your smartphone.
Should the signal fail to reach your phone, your phone will alert you to the fact that the Smart Key is out of range, and will let you know of its last connected location, helping you to retrace your steps and track down your camera.
Dropbox Pro subscription (100GB)
Price $9.99 (around £5.94) per month or $99.99 (around £59.42) per year
Backing up is vital for a photographer, never more so than when you’re on holiday.
Dropbox Pro comes with a host of clever features to eliminate the dreaded possibility of a broken camera or crashed computer consigning all your images to the great digital bin in the sky, and the paid Pro version is worth investing in for the extra storage space you get (minimum of 100GB, as opposed to 2GB with the free version).
With automatic backups and the ability to access your files on any device, a small investment will reap its reward in peace of mind.
Polaroid Optics HD Multi-Coated Variable Range Neutral Density (ND) Fader Filter
Price From around £27
If you’re travelling to sunnier climes, the bright sunlight will inevitably result in smaller apertures and shorter exposures, and for those looking to create shallow-depth-of-field effects or water blurs, a neutral density filter is essential for reducing the amount of light entering the lens.
Polaroid’s Variable Range ND filter has a range of eight ND settings available by turning the exterior ring, using the stepped scale as a guide. Using your camera’s metering, you dial in the strength of filtration until the desired length of exposure is reached.
Polaroid’s Variable Range ND filter is available in a wide range of filter thread sizes and is great value for experimenting with long exposures.
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3
Price Around £350
Taking your expensive DSLR or system camera onto the beach or using it beside the poolside can result in disastrous consequences.
Underwater cameras – also known as waterproof compacts or tough/rugged compacts – allow us to take great shots no matter where we are.
One of the best examples going is the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 – a camera that can survive water depths of 15m, falls from heights of 2.1m, and crushing weights of 100kg.
Equipped with a 16-million-pixel, 1/2.3in CMOS sensor, a 25-100mm (equivalent) f/2-4.9 4x optical zoom lens, and a 3in, 460,000-dot screen, it focuses reliably both above and below water and delivers great images in environments that you wouldn’t usually dare venture into with your camera. Virtually indestructable, it’s the ideal companion for adventurers and is just as good in children’s hands.
If you’re keen to shoot the best possible images and video underwater on your travels using a DSLR, look no further.
The Aquapac SLR camera case accommodates most consumer DSLRs with standard lenses and, thanks to its supple TPU material, allows you to operate all the camera controls very easily from the rear.
The Aquaclip forms a secure seal with a simple twist of three levers, and best of all, it will float to the surface should you accidently let go. Perfect for APS-C-sized DSLRs, full-frame users will want to double-check the dimensions and compatibility via the website before making a purchase.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris
Price £3.22 (Android) / £5.99 (iOS)
We talk about The Photographer’s Ephemeris app a lot, but it really is one of the most useful photographic apps you can use.
Available for Android and Apple iOS, it allows you to see the sunrise and sunset, as well as moonrise and set, times for wherever you happen to be in the world, on whatever day you look.
In fact, you can find out the direction of the sun and how long shadows will be too.
So whether you are in the Lake District or Lake Tanganyika, you can find out exactly when the sun will hit that particular feature to create the perfect landscape, which can save a lot of guesswork and waiting around.
Clik Elite ProBody Sport
Price Around £112 Website www.clikelite.com
The ProBody Sport from Clik Elite is a lightweight backpack, ideal for photographers who enjoy travelling and outdoor pursuits.
The camera kit section, although not enormous, houses a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and two lenses securely, and there is a neat Velcro-secured memory-card organiser with space for filters.
The zipped top section has plenty of space for a rain jacket and supplies, and there are zipped sections suitable for maps, sunglasses and a mesh side pocket, which will take a small tripod.
I liked the inclusion of space for a water bladder in the back section. A stylish and tough camera backpack for sporting photographers.
Google Nexus 7
Price From £199
Many cameras now have some form of wireless connectivity that will enable you to control them and view your images remotely via a proprietary app.
Remote control of your camera via Wi-Fi can make it much easier to capture shots of wildlife for example, and having a high-definition screen on which to view your images can be extremely helpful for checking details and image sharpness.
The Nexus 7 runs on the Android platform, which is compatible with all camera manufacturer apps.
It has a full HD (1200×1920-pixel) screen, measures 8.7mm thick and weighs just 290g.
Navitas Pocket Pacaway
It may be summer, but rain is still a fact of life on our weather-beaten isles.
The Navitas Pocket Pacaway is a perfect insurance policy against our capricious climate – a jacket made from waterproof and windproof fabric that packs away into its own pocket when not in use.
Once packed away, it measures 150x200x70mm and thus can be packed away in a rucksack or shoulder bag with ease, weighing very little.
A perfect summer jacket, at a pretty reasonable price to boot.
Peak Design Cuff
Price $19.95 (Around £11.90)
For those who dislike traditional camera straps, the Cuff is definitely the way to go.
A superbly engineered wrist strap, the cuff is so light that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it.
It doesn’t skimp on strength – the quick-connecting micro anchors are rated to take weights of up to 45kg, despite how easily they can be fastened and unfastened.
Price From around £4
If you’re travelling, hopefully you’ll be somewhere bright, and if that’s the case a lens hood will definitely come in handy for blocking out stray light and reducing glare.
If your lens came with a branded lens hood then take that with you by all means, but if not, or if you’ve misplaced the original, websites such as Amazon are a great place to find third-party lens hoods for low prices.
Hoya Revo SMC Circular Polarising Filter
Price From around £70 (37mm UV filter)
Polarising filters are particularly popular among product, landscape and architectural photographers, as they significantly reduce reflections and glare from non-metallic surfaces.
One of the main reasons why landscape photographers choose to use polarisers is because they also increase the saturation of colours and create slightly higher-contrast images.
Blue skies and clouds will appear more vibrant and pronounced when captured through a good-quality polariser.
Hoya Revo SMC UV(O) Filter
(see above image)
Price From around £43 (37mm)
A good-quality clear protection filter is a basic accessory that will keep the expensive outer glass surface of your lens safe from minor impacts, abrasions, dust, sand and salt.
The Revo UV(O) filter is coated with Hoya’s patented formula, which will reduce the haze effect created by UV light; this is particularly useful when shooting distant subjects on bright days.
The Revo coating also makes the filters easier to clean, as they’re more resistant to smudges and filth. Available in sizes ranging from 37mm to 82mm, you should be able to find a filter to fit a wide variety of lenses.
Freeloader Solar iSIS
If you’re seeking the sun this summer, then the new Freeloader iSIS by Solar Technology is a worthy travel companion.
Using a built-in, high-density solar cell, the iSIS can charge its 4,000mAh battery powered only by the sun. It can also be charged by Micro USB from a mains plug.
Once charged, this can be used to power your devices on the go. By simply plugging a USB into the underside or using the built-in Micro USB/Lightning connector, the iSIS will charge a smartphone twice from a flat battery.
OverBoard Waterproof Zoom Lens Camera Case
Transform any zoom-equipped compact into an underwater camera with the OverBoard Waterproof Zoom Lens Camera Case.
Able to be submerged up to an impressive maximum depth of 6m, the OverBoard waterproof case is able to hold a camera of up to 125mm in width.
The slide seal system makes it easy to lock the camera in safely, and the clever design makes it easy to use all the camera’s buttons and functions.
A perfect beach companion.
Joby Action Clamp & GorillaPod Arm
Price Around £25
If you have a small compact or an action sports camera that you want to keep steady, this could be what you’re looking for.
Using a locking arm, this kit clamps onto any surface smaller than the height of a credit card.
Securing it with a thumbscrew locks it down tight and the GorillaPod Arm and camera simply screw into the top.
The clamp can be mounted to railings, benches or other everyday objects, and the arm can be manipulated to position the camera perfectly.
Price Free download (iOS/Android)
The ultimate travel buddy, Google Maps will keep you heading in the right direction wherever you choose to wander on your summer trips.
It is still worth getting even if you’ve got an iPhone or an iPad, as it is far superior to Apple’s own Maps app. There’s also an option for voice-guided GPS if you’re driving.
It’s probably the most intuitive and user-friendly way to navigate that currently exists in the world. You’ll also want a physical map of wherever you’re going as a backup (it’s not a good idea to be totally dependent on the battery life of your phone), but for ease, Google Maps can’t be beaten.
Black Rapid Cross Shot
Price Around £45
When you are travelling and sightseeing with a DSLR, you need a strap that supports your camera comfortably and keeps it available for immediate use.
The non-slip moulded rubber shoulder pad on the Cross Shot is comfortable and spreads the load of the camera well, hanging across the torso from either shoulder.
The fastener screws into the camera’s tripod thread with a rubber washer to hold it securely in place. A Lockstar mechanism prevents the karabiner from accidentally opening. The webbing strap has more than enough length for any size and locking bumpers to secure the camera when not in use.
Xsories Big U-Shot
The Xsories Big U-Shot attaches to the 1⁄4in universal screw thread on your camera and can extend your reach from 29cm to 94cm, making it the perfect tool for capturing shots from high above your head or at other extreme angles.
It’s also great for capturing small group portraits, as the added distance will make sure everyone fits inside the frame without you needing to find a stranger to take pictures for you.
Lexar memory cards
Price From around £18
It may sound like a trivial inclusion, but having reliable and fast-reading memory cards is a critical component in any photographer’s set-up.
Lexar’s Professional UHS-I range starts at around £15 for 8GB SDHC cards and £30 for 8GB CF cards, and have a read transfer speed of up to 600x (90MB/s) and 1066x (160MB/s) respectively.
They’re suitable for anything from fast-burst shooting of high-resolution images to filming full HD and 4K video on a DSLR.
Having a high-speed card will improve workflow and keep you shooting without having to worry about waiting for the images to buffer.
Price Around £24
If you are heading abroad this summer, then a plug adapter is vital for making sure that your camera battery remains charged.
The XSories RoamX is a great option and can convert a UK three-pin plug so that it can be used in virtually any plug socket in the world.
Even better, the adapter has two USB sockets built in, so you can charge up to three devices at the same time. With many cameras, smartphones and tablets able to charge via USB, you may only need this adapter and a couple of USB leads to keep your gear powered up this summer.
Price Around £30
The Kingston MobileLite has its own built-in Wi-Fi and allows users to send files directly to an Android or iOS device via the MobileLite app.
Once the app is connected to a device such as a smartphone or tablet, the MobileLite app will recognise an external hard drive, USB flash drive or an SD card that is connected to it.
That means users see all of the media on their storage media and can then share it direct from the device. It’s a great tool for uploading images directly from a smartphone.
PNY memory card case
Price Around £10
Considering how reasonably priced this efficient little case is, it almost seems silly not to get one.
PNY’s case is able to hold up to four CompactFlash cards and eight SD cards, protecting them with a rigid black polycarbonate that’s tough enough to take a good few knocks.
Rubber water sealing protects the closed case from water ingress, and a loop on the side allows it to be attached to a thin strap.
Enlight Photo Frio V2 Coldshoe
Frio’s universal hotshoe mount is an innovative adapter with a 1⁄4in thread incorporated, for attaching a flashgun, an LED light panel or a mini monitor to a lighting stand.
It has a virtually indestructible feel to it: the thread socket is metal that will not wear or crack like a plastic thread. There are no electrical connections between the equipment and the mount, but the DualLock security catch means that once attached, your hotshoe gear cannot become detached until you specifically want it to.
Great value, tiny to carry, and essential for off-camera flash work.
Giottos Vitruvian VGRN8225
Price £300 with head
The seven-layered carbon fibre that makes up the legs of Giottos’ Vitruvian travel tripods makes them not only light but also impressively strong.
They pack away easily too, with its legs able to fold up 180° to tuck in against the central column, giving the smaller model in the range, as shown here, a folded length of 330mm.
It’s able to take a maximum load of up to 4kg and weighs a little less than 1kg, meaning you’ll have no problem slotting it into your luggage.