Photography / Buying Guide

Canon Shooters, Pack Your Bags… with Some New Accessories

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Whether you just picked up your first mirrorless camera or you’ve been partying with your Canon DSLR for years, there are always a few toys you haven’t managed to add to your collection and a couple you haven’t even thought of yet. Here are a few I would recommend to anyone who is looking to fill out their wish list for the coming holidays, for nearly any type of photographer.

Protective Cloths/Lens Wraps

Okay, this is definitely my favorite item on the list and I can tell you that if you don’t already have a protective cloth or lens wrap, you should definitely pick some up because they will become your most-used accessory. Recently, Canon started developing its own line of Protecting Cloths with a 19.7 x 19.7" model, ideal for DSLRs like the 5D Mark IV, and a smaller 14.6 x 14.6" version that will be more comfortable for a smaller DSLR or a mirrorless camera. These are simple products: just padded cloths which have an elastic strap to hold them in place on your camera, but this means they can do so much. Ever want to just toss your camera or a spare lens into a backpack for a short trip? The Protecting Cloth will help you do that without requiring you to pack a separate camera bag or pick up a bulkier bag insert. One thing I do want to bring up is that this isn’t exactly a new idea—while the Canon models are newer and flashier, I would highly recommend checking out the original Domke Wraps, as well, which offer various colors and sizes to help keep everything organized.

Canon PC-E1 Protecting Cloth

CarePAK PLUS Service Plan

Wraps can’t always be there for your camera, and though I know the feelings on extended warranties that most of you have, it’s at least worth looking at the CarePAK PLUS Service Plans offered directly by Canon, especially if you rely on your gear for work. Canon offers plans for USA-purchased gear ranging from their professional DSLRs to small point-and-shoots, with prices scaled to match. By purchasing the plan, you get protection from one incident of accidental damage, Image Recovery support, coverage for general wear and tear, priority service, and free returns with all service handled directly by Canon and with no deductible for the repairs. The only thing to make sure of is that you purchase it within 90 days of purchasing your gear.

Portable Lighting

I’m going to dive right into the high end of lighting right now, but only because Profoto came out with what I suspect is going to become my favorite light: the A1 AirTTL Studio Light. It certainly helps that I already shoot Profoto and have a B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit sitting at home, and adding an A1 to my setup is easy. If you are looking to get into professional-quality lighting it, is hard to recommend anything else. The A1 is a whole new class of lighting, which takes the idea of a speedlite and blends it with modern studio lighting technology and quality and, on top of that, it features AirTTL for complete wireless control and operation from your camera when you use either another A1 or the Canon E-TTL / E-TTL II version of the Air Remote.

Profoto A1 AirTTL-C Studio Light for Canon

If that is out of your realm, I would direct you to Canon’s own Speedlite lineup, which is led by the flagship 600EX II-RT and followed up with the more compact and affordable 430EX III-RT, both of which are packed with Canon’s own wireless radio system for reliable off-camera triggering. Obviously, you don’t need to pick up a Canon-made flash, though I always recommend it. There are numerous third-party options that offer a range of features to help you get the best setup at the right price for your budget.

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

Upgrade that Lens, and Make It a Macro

This is almost the most obvious accessory for your camera, especially since I know many of you out there already have a huge list of lenses that you want to get. And if you are just getting started, then there are always the staple nifty fifties and telephoto zooms. I would recommend that every photographer add a macro lens to their kit because they do something that you can’t with your everyday lenses and, depending on the type you get, they can usually serve a dual purpose that makes them versatile additions to your kit.

If you are working with an APS-C model, Canon has just introduced a new EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM with built-in Macro Lite LED on the front that will help you illuminate the tiny subjects you wish to capture. There is even an EF-M 28mm option with similar features and even closer 1.2x magnification for Canon mirrorless cameras.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens

Now, if you are a professional who already has plenty of lenses, including perhaps the much-loved 100mm L-series macro, then I would say you should take a look at Canon’s latest tilt-shift offerings. These all sport a macro designation, thanks to their 1:2 magnification ratios and, obviously, they can tilt and shift to provide exceptional control over depth of field and perspective. And there is even a 135mm that that could serve wonderfully as a lens for product and portraiture.

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift Lens

Print Your Photos!

Something many photographers don’t even think about these days is printing their photos. It is still something I find incredibly important and helpful, because it requires more thought and processing to get the most out of a print compared to simply throwing it up online. For Canon shooters, especially those 5DS users wanting to get the most out of their megapixels, there is an easy recommendation—the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, one of the company’s latest options that will fit on a desktop and offer printing up to 17" wide. This, in my opinion, is the best choice for at-home printing, due to the versatility of being able to make relatively large prints without taking up too much space. It also uses a 12-color LUCIA PRO pigment-based ink set with a Chroma Optimizer that produces vivid, wide gamut images with minimal metamerism. And, if you are a Canon fan, you will be pleased to see that the PRO-1000 sports a red line like that of the top-tier L-series lenses.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 17" Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer

For the Video Shooters Out There

With the latest full-frame options from Canon sporting 4K video, and even Canon Log in some cases, video has once again become a serious option for Canon shooters. It is still a DSLR, however, so some extra tools and accessories can improve workflows and operation of the camera dramatically.

The first thing you should pick up is a variable ND filter. One of the first things you learned was probably the 180° shutter rule, and if you are attempting to follow it when shooting outside during the day, you will definitely need some filtration. An ND filter will cut down on light and variable options will reduce time spent swapping out filters and lenses. Make sure to get a bigger one, such as 77mm or 82mm, and a set of step-up rings so that you can save money by using one filter for all your lenses.

Tiffen 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter

Now that you are shooting better video, the next step is to capture better audio, and the most effective method to do that is by adding an external microphone to the mix. RØDE makes an extremely popular and effective series of VideoMics that are loved by many shooters for their simplicity and quality. These blow away the built-in mic of your DSLR or mirrorless camera. For the best possible audio, you will want to look at a dedicated recorder for dual-system sound. This will be more work later because you will have to sync everything during editing, but using a recorder and XLR microphones opens the door for professional audio recording.

RØDE VideoMic Pro Plus On-Camera Shotgun Microphone

And, I Guess, a Tripod

Yeah, so you hate the idea of carrying a tripod around from shoot to shoot, but you and I both know it’s the best way to get a sharp, stable shot with consistent framing. Make sure you pick up a good one that will last—it doesn’t go bad and, if you spend the money now, it should easily outlast your current camera system and probably the one after that, as well. You don’t have to go crazy with spending but there are some upgrades that may be worth considering, such as going with carbon fiber instead of aluminum to minimize weight, picking up legs with a center column that can be set up for overhead shooting, and Arca-type quick-release clamps on the heads. Speaking of Arca-type systems, one thing I like to do is pick up a dedicated plate for each new camera I purchase, so that all my cameras are compatible with my various support options.

All photographers know that there is an endless amount of gear out there for accessorizing your camera and, if you shoot Canon, there is an equally endless number of new cameras to drool over every year. This list should hopefully help you figure out what useful tool is missing from your kit, or maybe give you an idea for a future project. And, since the holidays are coming up, you can always pass this along to your friends and family as a subtle hint of what to surprise you with.

Do you have any favorite Canon camera accessory we haven’t mentioned? Pipe up in the Comments section, below.

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