When you think of photography accessories, of what do you think? Cameras? Of course, they’re not. Lenses? No, too integral. Tripods? I feel they are their own item, not an accessory. Flashes? I say yes, because what good is a flash without a camera, but Nikon lists flashes as their own category, not an accessory. Can we all just agree that straps and caps are accessories and if not, how do you define an accessory?
For the sake of this article, let’s start with flashes, a.k.a. speedlights. The top of the line from Nikon is the SB-5000 AF Speedlight with a powerful 113' guide number, a zoom head that reaches 200mm, 1.8-second recycling time, and a shoe-mount cooling system. Most important, it provides radio control Advanced Wireless Lighting when used with a D5 or D500 DSLR equipped with the WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller and WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter. If you are a photojournalist, portraitist, or a wedding photographer, this flash is the end goal. However, I use the SB-700 AF Speedlight, which is smaller, less expensive, and serves my needs well. It provides most of the same features as the SB-5000 but with slightly less power and range. It also uses an optical pulse to trigger wireless operation, which limits its effectiveness when shooting with multiple flashes, compared to the SB-5000. Also from Nikon are the SB-500 and SB-300 flash units.
The Nikon SB-R200 Wireless Remote Speedlight is designed to be used off-camera as a wireless slave flash, lending itself well to close-up photography. It has a specialized shoe that can fit into the included AS-20 Speedlight Stand or the optional SX-1 Attachment Ring for mounting directly on a lens. It also comes with a filter holder and color filter set for color correction or specialized lighting effects.
The AS-15 Sync Terminal Adapter is a hot shoe to PC sync cord adapter. It is designed for use with Nikon cameras that have a standard ISO accessory shoe but do not have a sync terminal. The SG-31R IR Panel is an interesting little gadget that is used on cameras when you are using the built-in flash as the commander to fire other flashes wirelessly. It attaches to the flash shoe and blocks the light from the built-in flash to prevent that light from affecting exposure while still triggering the other flash units.
The SC-29 TTL Off-Camera Shoe Cord with AF Assist is a good accessory to segue from flashes to cables since it is an off-camera flash cord that provides full TTL control for Nikon Speedlights when used with Nikon SLR cameras that have the TTL hot flash shoe. It’s a coiled cable that extends to 9' to get that flash away from your camera. Be sure to check flash compatibility before purchase. Other cables of note in the Nikon catalog include the MC-23A Connecting Cord, which will connect two Nikon DSLRs (with 10-pin Remote Port) to enable simultaneous or synchronized shooting and, of course, there is an array of USB and AV cables available from Nikon.
Batteries, chargers, and adapters are part of the “power accessory” category and, certainly, items you cannot live without. Each battery and charger model needs to be checked for compatibility with your camera. Several battery models work in more than one camera—take the EN-EL15b, which powers my D610 and D750, and many other DSLRs, as well as the Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless full-frame cameras. The new Nikon Z50 Mirrorless Digital Camera is powered by the EN-EL25 battery.
It’s important to check your camera’s specs before you buy a second or a replacement battery or charger.
Also, remember that several brands make batteries to power Nikon cameras, the Watson EN-EL15 being the example that works for the D610 and D750. Off-brand batteries are always the subject of debate; do their lower prices justify their normally shorter charge-life?
Battery grips or “Multi-Battery Power Packs,” as Nikon calls them, are not a necessary accessory but they can provide longer, uninterrupted shooting time and improved handling. They are custom-designed to fit a specific camera, so be sure to check your model before purchase. The MB-D14 is what I use on my D610 and the MB-D18 is the latest model compatible with the D850 DSLR. Grips for mirrorless cameras are also available, such as the Nikon GR-N2000 Camera Grip for the Nikon 1 J1 and the MB-N10 Multi-Battery Power Pack for the Z6 and Z7. Although it doesn’t offer additional battery power, the MK-Z7G Hand Grip, from Meike, attaches to the base of the Z6 or Z7 to provide better handling of the camera.
Again, companies like Vello produce battery grips for Nikon DSLRs, as well. A fine example is the Vello BG-N19 Battery Grip for the Nikon D850.
Eyepieces and Viewfinders
Eyepieces and viewfinders are a subspecies of accessory that can be critically important. Basic eyecups provide comfort and help block unwanted light when your eye is pressed against the viewfinder. They, too, are designed for specific camera bodies, the DK-23 Rubber Eyecup fitting the D7100 and D7200 cameras and the DK-28 fitting the newer D7500, for example. The latest eyecup is the DK-29, and it is compatible with the new Z7 and Z6 mirrorless cameras. Several eyecups, such as the DK-17M and the DK-21M are more specialized, providing magnified viewing and, then, there are the many variations of Correction Eyepieces and Diopters for photographers who are nearsighted or farsighted. The DK-17F is fluorine-coated for easier care and cleaning. As always, be sure you select the one compatible with your camera and your eyes. Also included in this category are Focusing Screens, such as the Nikon Type E Focusing Screen for D3 series DSLRs, which are becoming less prevalent due to the inclusion of electronic grids in later model cameras.
Remotes and Releases
Perhaps the most varied set of items within an accessory category, remotes and releases all provide the ability to fire your camera without you touching the shutter button. These are essential for long-exposure and night photographers and important for many other types of photographers, including those who specialize in portraits or macro photography. They include items as basic as the AR-3 Threaded Cable Release that screws into the shutter button on older model SLRs and on the Nikon Df DSLR. Also for hands-free shutter release is the ML-L3 Infrared Wireless Remote Control which is compatible with most Nikon cameras. The Vello IR Selfie Trigger is a comparable product at a lower price. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller is part of the Nikon Wireless Remote Control System and a much more functional tool than those above, able to communicate with numerous cameras at once and trigger long exposures or interval shooting. It uses radio frequencies as opposed to an infrared signal. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller can act as either a transmitter or receiver unit and is compatible with the WR-T10 transmitters and WR-R10 transceivers.
Caps, Covers, and Straps
The least exciting of accessories may be the most necessary. The BF-1B Body Cap fits all F-mount Nikon cameras and protects the sensor, mirror, and internal workings of Nikon DSLRs when a lens is not attached. I lose these often, and when I don’t eventually find them in my camera bag a year later, I buy two or three to have extras. The BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cap and BS-2 Shoe Cover protect your hot-shoe mount and the BM-14 LCD Monitor Cover is one of many such camera-specific covers that protect the LCD monitor on the back of DSLRs. Nikon camera straps are easily identified by the yellow lettering that indicates the model of camera you have, but they are generally interchangeable. The AN-DC18 is for the D850 and you could buy that for your D40 and impress the easily impressionable. The AN-DC3 strap comes in a nice shade of red with white lettering and is officially compatible with red D3000 and D5000 series cameras, but you can use it with any model you like. This strap is also available in black, bronze, and gray.
Some newer Nikon cameras, like the D500 DSLR, come with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, but Nikon does make available a set of adapters and transmitters that can provide Wi-Fi capability for wireless remote control, image transfer, and sharing on cameras that do not have that function integrated. The WU-1a and the WU-1b are compatible with different cameras, but provide those functions. Then there is the WT-7A Wireless Transmitter, which has the form factor of a battery grip, fitting the D500 and D850, and capable of both wired and wireless LAN to transfer or view and download files and take control of the compatible camera functions.
Accessories that Nikon does not market, but are must-haves, are memory cards. You’ll need to know your camera’s compatible format and choose the storage capacity and read/write speeds, but between SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend, Sony, and others, you’re sure to find the one (or ones) that you need. Also, for the Nikon D5 DSLR, one has the option to go with Sony XQD cards for faster read/write speeds.
And finally, there is another Nikon accessory that also preserves memory, although in a slightly different fashion. The ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set converts your film negatives and slides into digital files when paired with the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED lens. It can be used with any Nikon camera, but is ideal for the D850, due to its dedicated Negative Digitizer mode and ability to automatically reverse colors in-camera to expedite the digitizing process.
Obviously there are more accessories for Nikon cameras and this link will give you a sense of all that is offered, but let us know how you define an accessory and which of them you find the most important to your work.