10 Photography Accessories for Under $250

Lowepro Slingshot 100 All-Weather Backpack

Featuring a small form and a clever sling design, the Lowepro 100 AW allows you
to get fast access to a medium-sized DSLR kit without removing the bag from
your shoulders. 

Originally intended for photojournalists, but now fervently embraced by amateurs, Lowepro’s Slingshot range of camera backpacks is designed with accessibility in mind, allowing you to get fast access to your gear without needing to remove the bag from your shoulders. 
 
The Slingshot 100 AW is large enough to contain an entry- to mid-level DSLR body and lens combination, as well as an additional lens or flashgun and other small accessories. The smaller compartment at the top of the bag can be used to fit a lens hood or even an additional optic, and as with many other Lowepro products an All-Weather (AW) cover is incorporated into its base to guard it against the elements.

The combination of its sling design and a side-opening flap means the bag can be pulled down and opened in seconds, and it can also be used with a secondary strap for greater security. Lowepro has even thoughtfully lined the inside of the flap with a memory card pouch, and integrated a microfibre cloth to quickly polish your camera’s LCD screen.

The Slingshot 100 AW is just one of many sling-type bags of its kind, and Lowerpro's Slingshot range encompasses many other sizes and designs which you may prefer, but for a basic DSLR and lens kits the 100 AW remains as one of the best options around. 

Satechi TR-series Timer Remote Control

The Satechi TR-series of timer remote controls are affordable, yet well specified
alternatives to branded equivalents.

Time-lapse photography has grown in popularity with the rise of video-sharing websites, although the intervalometer functionality which allows images to be captured at consistent intervals is still absent from many cameras. Owners of such cameras will be pleased to learn, however, that they can still be used for time-lapse photography, either with a remote provided by the camera’s manufacturer, or, failing that, a more affordable third-party option such as the Satechi TR-series Timer Remote Controls.

Satachi produces a range of closely-related models to fit various brands and camera models (click the link above for a full product list) and all TR-series releases can be used for programming consecutive exposures in addition to more basic functions as a simple shutter release and for control over a camera’s bulb setting. Delayed exposures captured at a set time are also possible, and all of this is controlled via the LCD which occupies its upper portion of the device. Helpfully this is also backlit, which makes it usable for both night-time photography and in more general low-light situations.

Perhaps the most most appealing feature of the range is the price of the TR models; at a cent shy of $50 for all of the TR-series they cost significantly less than equivalent models from the camera manufacturers themselves. Between them, the various versions of the basic 'TR-X' design cover a large number of popular DSLR, interchangeable lens and compact cameras. 

Gorillapod Focus

Joby's Gorrilapod range stretches from inexpensive supports for compacts
through to sturdier alternatives for professional DSLRs. 

As invaluable as they are for countering image blur and enabling steady exposures, there are occasions when carrying around a full-sized tripod simply isn’t practical. For this reason, an lightweight alternative which can be slipped into a small bag and used with similar confidence is going to have a lot of appeal - and the Gorillapod Focus is exactly that.

Based on the same principle as the more junior models which preceded it, the Focus has flexible legs which can be contorted into an endless variety of positions, and tailored to the surrounding environment. It can be wrapped around railings and lampposts, hung from rails and mounted on walls, or simply have its legs fully extended to act like a more conventional tripod. 

It might sound a little risky, trusting your expensive gear to something that looks like a cross between pipecleaner and an alien craft, but Joby claims that despite its size and appearance, the Focus’s aluminium and thermoplastic construction enables it to support up to 5kg of equipment. For even greater flexibility, the Focus can be used with a ballhead specifially designed for the model - dubbed Ballhead X - which is available on its own or as a kit with the Focus (this kit is pictured here).

Those who don’t require the Focus’s 5kg support may be more interested in the SLR-Zoom model, which is capable of supporting DSLR/lens combinations of up to 3kg, but at around half the price of the Focus.    


Click here to turn to page 3 of our Roundup of sub-$250 Photography Accessories 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 61
seigell
By seigell (Dec 3, 2011)

I don't see it fair (or applicable) to include an External HDD (any maker) as a "Photography Accessory", as it is rather a PC Accessory. (Admittedly, no form of non-film photography is free from PC involvement - Downloading, PS'ing, Printing, Sharing.) But, unless the External HDD includes an active USB Master or Card Reader in order to perform Camera or Card-based Image Downloads, the HDD is simply an inert block taking up space in a camera bag while awaiting a Laptop to be powered up.

0 upvotes
fairfaxian
By fairfaxian (Nov 27, 2011)

It would be very useful to have a comparison (hands on) review of the top players in Speedlites. (perhaps this has been done, I'm not seeing it). There are too many offerings from each manufacturer to review fully, but perhaps a comparison of the top + mid-range offerings from the major manufacturers?
Thanks DPR.

1 upvote
loekids
By loekids (Nov 27, 2011)

LOL, I thought all the 10 items total less than 250

0 upvotes
DaoudaW
By DaoudaW (Nov 23, 2011)

Am I the only one whose Gorillapod loosened up after less than a year of use and is now useless?

2 upvotes
iroberts696
By iroberts696 (Dec 29, 2011)

No

0 upvotes
Darryl_G
By Darryl_G (May 11, 2012)

Same here and after much less time - completely useless bit of kit and it's not as if the thing could hold a 5D + 24-70 steadily. The legs used to splay.

0 upvotes
deletedGregR1
By deletedGregR1 (Nov 23, 2011)

my absolute favourite accessories are the generic ones from eBay's China Inc, like remote controls, cords, hotshoe covers (disable auto-flash), etc. it's amazing how many little bits you can pick up for only a few bucks to do a simple job.

of course, other than those sub-$5 things, i like a nice flash (430EX), a good tripod (055C, old one) with ball head (488RC i think), and some free time to shoot. i'm even quite content to use Cokin-type filters now and again (mostly ND to force longer exposures).

most COUNTERproductive accessory? a bubble level that fits into the hotshoe. GUARANTEED to make dreadfully boring "horizon-always-in-the-middle" compositions. $2 and in the trash it went!

0 upvotes
Tanguero
By Tanguero (Dec 17, 2011)

deletedGregR1, I agree that there are a lot of inexpensive little gadgets that perform one small task. . . but my bubble level is a godsend when I'm shooting architectural photos with my 17mm TS-E. For many other situations, it may not be the right solution for a given problem. For architectural photos, interior or exterior, it's that perfect little tool to solve one problem.

0 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (Nov 23, 2011)

I will defend the Manfrotto 055XPROB. For the price, it does a good job. I leave it in the car trunk when not in use - the best tripod is the one you have nearby. I don't use the center column for height adjustment on standard shots - I change the legs. Copy stand shots, macro shots, and the like may use the horizontal option for the center column, but otherwise the column just sits there at zero extension. I have thought about converting it to a no-column tripod, if anyone can tell me what parts are needed.

My favorite cheapo accessory: a Bower wired shutter release, well under $10.00. It doesn't do anything fancy, but it is tiny and always stashed in the kit-of-the-day.

0 upvotes
Autodidact
By Autodidact (Nov 21, 2011)

That Satechi TR-C seems identical to my JJC _TM-C_ purchased for $29.90 from Gadget Infinity. Think I recall seeing it at DealExtreme for a tenner more as well.

0 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Nov 21, 2011)

It's Santa Limit.

I know.

My children had Santa Limit on their wish list, less than that figure of course.

0 upvotes
tbcass
By tbcass (Nov 21, 2011)

I bought the 3TB USB 3 version of the Western Digital My Book Studio at Best Buy for only $130 just a few days ago. The HDD price explosion hasn't hit the external drives yet. Personally I avoid the Firewire ones for compatibility reasons and because I think it's a dying technology.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
MichaelGGSantaFe
By MichaelGGSantaFe (Nov 24, 2011)

Three days later and the HD is $250.00 !? Wow!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
TANK_JONES
By TANK_JONES (Nov 25, 2011)

flooding in WD's labs. Expect prices to be high for the next 3 quarters on all hard drives.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Nov 27, 2011)

Yes, many hard drive manufacturers' factories got flooded in Thailand and price hikes are expected or already happening.

0 upvotes
Debankur Mukherjee
By Debankur Mukherjee (Nov 21, 2011)

I wont buy HDD now as the prices are very high due to flood in Thailand.....the prices may come to normal in 3 months time.....

2 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Nov 21, 2011)

You'd not get many of the more expensive items at those prices here in NZ!

That 32Gb card costs almost $600 if you need a CF card rather than SD. The 128Gb CF card costs a whopping $2,000 here!!

0 upvotes
drwho9437
By drwho9437 (Nov 21, 2011)

Buy one off eBay? Someone will mail it to you first class from the US for a huge sum of 2 dollars I bet... It would be there in under a week.

0 upvotes
Thomas Kachadurian
By Thomas Kachadurian (Nov 21, 2011)

That is truly scary. For something light like and SD or CF card one of us here in the states would be happy to mail one to you. It would be good to have a friend in NZ since that's where I'm moving when everything falls apart here.

0 upvotes
glam
By glam (Dec 5, 2011)

where is this guy buying?? he must be at the south pole His prices are not normal in Auckland at all.... and he certainly is not saying the NZ$=US .76 at present time was .87 recently... and that the GST tax is 15% ... must be english?

1 upvote
morepix
By morepix (Nov 21, 2011)

What an odd collection of stuff! This site doesn't need this kind of promotional material.

0 upvotes
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (Nov 21, 2011)

Looks like an article made to sell junk through Dpreview's Amazon overlords.

6 upvotes
AshMills
By AshMills (Nov 20, 2011)

Christmas just around the corner - might forward this to the wife.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Steve oliphant
By Steve oliphant (Nov 20, 2011)

Every thing looks really good but the flash, i would say the mecablitz 44 AF-1 digital would be a better choice for sure.Remember if the tripod is over 23" your not going to take it on a airplane, so the 190 prob mite be the way to go.

0 upvotes
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Nov 20, 2011)

interesting tripod prices for Manfrotto's 2.4kg 055PROBX have dropped over the years while the 1.85kg Benro C-297 i got awhile back for (CNY 1680 / CAD 234 / USD 223) in PRC, may suffer price increase due to weakened USD and CAD against CNY... sign of the times :(
i don't know if Benro's quality has caught up to the west or not with their newer models:
http://english.benro.cn/default.aspx
and this spinoff related company:
http://www.mefoto.cn/
are these any good?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Nov 20, 2011)

I have a Benro CF Travel Angel. It's very light, but quite sturdy. Quality is getting close to the much more expensive Gitzo CF sticks.

2 upvotes
wine540
By wine540 (Nov 20, 2011)

This also my experience. The Travel Angel has performed quite well.

0 upvotes
pianopix
By pianopix (Nov 20, 2011)

that's a surprise... mostpeople find wd external drives to be very reliable. i have used them for years, in different sizes/capacities, reliably and successfully. but as we all know, different people, different experiences; and every brand of any product has a problem somewhere along the way.

0 upvotes
BelePhotography
By BelePhotography (Nov 20, 2011)

I second that one. WD has been very reliable in my case.

0 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (Nov 20, 2011)

A photog colleague of mine bought two WD My Book Firewire 800 drives. They died within weeks. Two replacements were received. One died within weeks, and the other croaked less than a year later. She replaced these with LaCie drives and has not had an issue.

0 upvotes
bobby1781
By bobby1781 (Nov 21, 2011)

LaCie doesn't make harddrives, they made the inclosure and stuck a drive in it. It would be really funny to open it up and find an OEM WD drive in there. Debating HDD brands is about as effective as deciding which auto insurance coverage has the lowest number of accidents. UPS and FedEx will effect the life of a drive more than is understood.

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Nov 27, 2011)

I don't know why people keep buying WD after all I keep reading about them. Not impressed with LaCie either.

Much prefer G-Tech or OWC drives. They might not be famous, but at least they're rock solid reliable.

0 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Nov 20, 2011)

£82 Gorillapod... !!!!!
**** off!

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
morepix
By morepix (Nov 21, 2011)

Yep. A Gorillapod at any price is too expensive. Why do we need this kind of material here?

0 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (Nov 20, 2011)

Nobody would carry This big and heavy 3.5" 1Tb, when you can buy 2.5" 1Tb USB 3.0

1 upvote
BelePhotography
By BelePhotography (Nov 20, 2011)

it's not meant to be carried. it's supposed to be a storage device for your desktop or a backup drive. but personally i'd prefer a raid enabled device for my backups.

0 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (Nov 20, 2011)

And if not carried, then 2Tb is better. The price is almost the same.

0 upvotes
Karl Gnter Wnsch
By Karl Gnter Wnsch (Nov 20, 2011)

Sorry, but endorsing the Manfrotto metal garbage is making me think about how the Amazon purchase of this site has influenced the contents.
I had this tripod and it's stability wasn't something to write home about, the ability to dampen vibrations from say the mirror slap is virtually non existent. The main culprit (next to the too thin dimensioned legs) is the center column mount - to make this tripod usable this has to be removed completely (which is sort of an emergency measure supported by readily available parts). Even then it's too heavy for the performance it offers...

6 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Nov 20, 2011)

I don't think this is an endorsement of anything by DPReview or Amazon. It's a quick look at 10 popular accessories for under $250. You mention "metal garbage" and garbage is opinion where carbon fiber would certainly be more expensive. Many cannot afford CF tripods of good quality.

I own both CF tripods as well as this 055PROB and I agree that I would not use the center column in any position except down, but that also goes for most any tripod including Gitzo which also has replacement parts to remove the column.

This Manfrotto is easily as good as the legendary Bogan 3021 it replaced and probably as good or better than any aluminum tripod out there. It does a good job of dampening vibrations and providing a sturdy support in all but the most extreme situations. I've had no problems mounting everything from a gripped D700 with 500 f/4 to 4x5 and 5x7 field cameras on it though I usually go heavier in those cases. If you need a lighter weight, it's made in CF for much more money.

5 upvotes
Stollen1234
By Stollen1234 (Nov 20, 2011)

you are right metal is not the best..but carbon fiber is expensive and a lot of people can not afford.

ifluenced by amazon..well i dont think its a bad idea..i like and trust amazon..i have very good experience with amazon and i trust their reviews

0 upvotes
Karl Gnter Wnsch
By Karl Gnter Wnsch (Nov 20, 2011)

@Guidenet, It's not the metal part (although it contributes to the problem), it's the way the center column is mounted - and the only way to get rid of it is 3rd party parts. Then there is the issue of the leg clamps on which I had the choice of tightening them to (well beyond) breaking point to get it to stand sturdily or to have them not hold the tripod. I more than once caught my fingers in them and in the end I dumped it (not sold, garbage collection).
I then bought myself a wood tripod of about the same price and weight, which is much more sturdy, no leg clamps to worry about and I still have that. The basic carbon fibre tripods from for example Feisol would be a much better choice but probably aren't an option for DPreview because of the tie ins with Amazon.
I buy lots of things through Amazon but would never limit my choice to their portfolio.

1 upvote
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Nov 20, 2011)

We review / write about lots of things not available on amazon. There is no link between the 2 things.

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Nov 20, 2011)

Karl, are you sure you owned the 055PROB or might it have been one of the other 055 models. They have different leg clamps and center columns. A photojounalist friend of mine liked my PROB so well he ordered an 055 by not the PROB and his leg clamps are not nearly as good, nor is his center column the same.

I think I paid around $150 for my Manfrotto 055PROB and I'm not sure there's a good CF or even a wood tripod in that same arena. Moreover, the wood models are heavier and definately take longer to set up, at least the models I'm used to. Berlebach wood tripods start around the $250 range, weight 7 lbs or more and have twist lock type clamps to the legs, all of which aren't the best idea.

1 upvote
Karl Gnter Wnsch
By Karl Gnter Wnsch (Nov 20, 2011)

@Guidenet: I am quite sure. Manfrotto seems to source the clamps wherever they may get the best price. They range from bearable to unusable.
I since have replaced my tripod with Berlebach ones and they are faster to setup (and less painful may I add, getting the fingers caught in the Manfrotto clamps is really really painful and takes some time to heal), more silent, much more robust and less prone to require disassembly cleaning...

0 upvotes
Jeff_Donald
By Jeff_Donald (Nov 20, 2011)

Simon, if there is no link between amazon and DPR, then why when I click on the buy Now "link" I go to Amazon. It seems that there is not only a physical link, but a business link as well.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Nov 21, 2011)

@Guidenet I agree re: the Manfrotto 190. The 3021 is a classic tripod, goes very low to the ground, and is one of /the/ best values in photography. All this pedantic "it doesn't dampen vibrations nonsense" is how they sell $1000 tripods. I use a carbon fiber tripod, but I have zero problem with the price/performance of Manfrotto's better photo tripods. And their video pods and heads are rock solid. Whenever I hear someone trashing Manfrotto I think either he hasn't used them, or is a Sachtler or Gitzo snob.

0 upvotes
djec
By djec (Nov 20, 2011)

i would have thought yongnuo was a better choice for 3rd party flashes? lots of different models and cheaper than the nissin for what you get.

otherwise cp or nd filters are useful and a spare camera battery usually comes in handy.

2 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Nov 20, 2011)

Great article by Matt. Thank you. Here's some very useful items pulled from a vast array of accessories and I agree, we sometimes are pretty darned gearhead about it. Some of these transcend gearhead though and are almost required tools.

I'm glad that the Giottos Rocket blower is listed. I've tried several other similar bulb blowers and none work quite so well as Giottos, at least for me.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Sammy Yousef
By Sammy Yousef (Nov 20, 2011)

There are cheaper alternatives for most of these things. You can get a manual flash, camera card, camera backpack, and tripod combined for less than $250 IF you know what you're looking for and skip the big brands. (If you don't know what is and isn't good and don't take the time to look at reviews you almost certainly will end up with junk though).

Another tip for saving money is to buy last year's model on close out or just before close out. You can pick up decent point and shoots for <$100.

0 upvotes
SiPat
By SiPat (Nov 20, 2011)

One More Thing... copyright/trademark Steve Jobs, and you use an image of an HTC phone.

iPhone is top camera for flickr images
iPhone now recommended for its camera by top photographers

:-)

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 20, 2011)

The reference was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and we're not talking about particular models here, just broadly, about smartphones in general ;)

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Nov 19, 2011)

good article! it is funny .... i actually have very similar accessories the slingshot bag (200AW), the Nissin (622i), the Sandisk's fast SD, the Giottos blower

0 upvotes
jquagga
By jquagga (Nov 19, 2011)

Hmm, that Nissin is interesting. I've been debating between a SB-400 or SB-700 and that guy costs less than a SB-400 but has more power. I'd be tempted except for the big white "unsupported" dot next to the D5100 in its compatibility chart. Hopefully that's fixed.

0 upvotes
BitFarmer
By BitFarmer (Nov 21, 2011)

Also check if those flash units allow external flash (creative light system, in nikon languaje), it is the most valuable part of a SB unit, immo.

0 upvotes
Earthlight
By Earthlight (Nov 19, 2011)

Thanks Dpreview, what a nice read this was. I'm not into market to buy any of these (I have more than enough gear as it is), but it sure was nice to read your thoughts about them.

What about a microfiber cloth comparison. I'm serious: the quality differences are vast! My best cloths are no-name chinese cheapos plus a cloth that came with my Serengeti sunglasses. Some of the brand name cloths have been a total waste of money.

The hotshoe spirit levels also seem to have loads of quality variation... Some of them are skewed. Plus I lose so many of those that it is not even funny.

Most importantly, why not carry out a filter comparison. You could, of course, test the optical quality, but also be sure to test how easy it is to clean a big fat thumb print from the glass. There are big differences there. It would be great to see that kind of stuff. The daily stuff of active shooters.

What about a comprehensive article about sensor wet cleaning? DIY spatulas and pec pads? Stuff like that.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Nov 20, 2011)

Wow, Earthlight, what an excellent idea. I'd love to see a microfiber comparison. Seriiously, there's a big difference in some of them. Some are close to useless and I think are not really microfiber. Others, like the one I got with the Rodenstock logo is absolutely superb and does the job intended. The problem might be figuring out who makes them and who just sticks their label on them. There might not be stable brands you can count on being available most places. Who knows, but an article might be nice along with some testing.

2 upvotes
jasonasselin
By jasonasselin (Nov 20, 2011)

the cheapest one i sell, also fairly thin, works the best too! but i have 2 cases of a different one at home to use anyway lol. i think that filters are a waste of money unless their square. done the tests seen the smashed front elements. seen the pictures out of them, not nessisary.... unless your lenses cost more than your car.

0 upvotes
TimR32225
By TimR32225 (Nov 20, 2011)

If you want a microfiber cleaning cloth, just go to any fabric store and buy microfiber fabric. You can get a whole yard of it for around $8, and you can cut it into dozens of cleaning cloths for future use. Why pay a premium for a little square of microfiber when you can buy it yourself locally for basically pennies.

1 upvote
Fixx
By Fixx (Nov 21, 2011)

We still do not know how well Nissin or similar third party flashes work with Nikon's commander mode. That is why it is safer to buy SB-series.

0 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (Nov 21, 2011)

Earthlight, Please tell me when you can buy the best micro fibre cloth! I want my lens to be spotless!

0 upvotes
W Sanders
By W Sanders (Nov 23, 2011)

Tlltall Tripod! I am pretty sure the ones Calumet sells are knockoffs (http://www.calumetphoto.com/eng/product/tiltall_st01_tripod_black/os1000) but my Leitz Tiltall is still going strong after 35 years.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 61