Summer is the season for outdoor activities, from backyards to the shores and mountains. Indeed, summer means vacationing, traveling, hiking, water sports as well as an incredible variety of other outdoor activities. And, of course, taking lots of great pictures! To maximize summertime picture-taking possibilities and enhance shooting satisfaction, there is a burgeoning category of summertime imaging accessories.
For photo retailers, promoting photographic accessories is an effective strategy for building relationships with your customers. Moreover, on a percentage basis, photo accessories almost always have a higher profit margin than cameras. Thus, selling accessories and adding them to big-ticket camera and lens sales is a great way to offset the lower profit margins on cameras.
Further, camera specialty stores are uniquely positioned to demonstrate and sell imaging accessories by leveraging their superior knowledge base. And that can go a long way to combat the competitive pressure from big-box stores and Internet consolidators.
For photographers and videographers of all skill levels, imaging accessories can take your content creation to the next level. So, whether you’re a photo retailer serving your customers’ picture-taking needs or a content creator preserving your summer fun, we’ve selected a variety of enticing summertime accessories.
However, this is truly a huge segment. So, we’ve done our best to select items that represent the major accessories categories. However, we only scratch the surface of the myriad alternatives in all the categories we cover here.
Summertime Imaging Accessories
Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Tripod
This versatile, lightweight tripod is a great summertime travel companion. Despite its small size, it’s robust enough to accommodate large DSLRs and mirrorless cameras fitted with long telephoto or tele-zoom lenses. The compact tripod reaches a maximum height of 59.1 inches with its column fully extended (50 inches with the column down). And it offers an impressive 19.8-pound load capacity. Remarkably, it weighs in at only 2.8 pounds and folds to a minimum length of 16.1 inches for easy packing.
Its four-section legs are adjusted with Manfrotto’s M-lock twist locks and secured with a simple 90° turn. Additionally, a side-pull selector lets you set the legs at three different angles, facilitating low-angle shooting at the touch of a button. Complementing this is a Manfrotto 494 ball head that provides a dedicated knob for panning and a friction control knob for varying the tension.
What’s more, the tripod’s quick-release plate is compatible with most RC2 and Arca-type systems. Conveniently, its Easy Link system on the top of the leg section lets you attach compatible accessories, like flashes or reflectors, to facilitate efficient transport. Rubberized feet prevent skidding as well as help keep the tripod, and your camera, stable on most terrain. With a fitted carrying case, $299. Note: A slightly heavier (3.4-pound) aluminum version of this tripod is available for $220.
Tiffen Variable Neutral Density (VND) Filter
Variable neutral density (VND) filters are a great way to control the light when shooting at white sand beaches and in other bright, highly reflective summer environments. While solid neutral density filters reduce light using a constant fixed density, VND filters reduce light using a range of densities.
Tiffen’s VDN filter has a rotating ring that you can set to provide from 2 to 8 stops of light reduction. As a result, you can shoot at wider apertures to achieve bokeh effects in portraits and landscapes. Or you can shoot at slower shutter speeds for a more natural look with moving subjects, such as surfers and ocean waves.
In addition, the filter has a wider profile front ring to minimize vignetting. And, of course, neutral density filters will not affect the overall coloration of your image. What’s more, Tiffen manufactures its ND filters using its proprietary ColorCore process to ensure precise uniformity. 52mm/58mm, $105; 62mm/67mm, $115; 72mm, $125; 77mm, $135; 82mm, $189.
Belkin BoostCharge PD 10K Power Bank
This is an extremely handy accessory for content creators of all stripes. Running out of battery power out and about where there’s no AC outlet can ruin your day. This multi-port, portable power supply will keep your camera, phone, laptop, tablet or other devices juiced up when you’re on the go.
The rechargeable Belkin power bank provides an 18W USB-C output with Power Delivery to fast charge a compatible device and a 12W USB-A output to simultaneously charge a second device. It offers 10,000 mAh to provide up to an additional 36 hours of battery life to a smartphone.
You can use the USB-C port to charge a phone while using the USB-A port to charge a camera, tablet or other device at the same time. The 18W USB-C output with USB-C Power Delivery will charge an iPhone, for instance, from 0–50% in 30 minutes and USB-C devices from 0–50% in around 36 minutes.
Recharging the power bank is faster, too. Connect the USB-C port to recharge 40% faster than a standard 12W input. The device is a convenient, cost-effective way to ensure uninterrupted productivity on your summer excursions. A USB-C to USB-C cable is included, so you can start charging right out of the box. In black or white, $39.99.
Sigma WR Circular Polarizer Filter
This multicoated, water-repellent (WR) filter from Sigma will increase the overall color saturation of your images. Perfect for shooting summer scenic and landscape images, the adjustable filter adds contrast to clouds for dramatic skies. In addition, it eliminates unwanted glare and most reflections on water and glass surfaces.
Sigma constructs the filter from high-spec, high-transmission optical glass with a black rim. In addition, set within a rotatable aluminum alloy filter ring, it features antistatic and water-repellent coatings. The coatings shed water and oil, facilitate cleaning, as well as enhance the filter’s scratch resistance.
To get the effect you want, you simply rotate the milled front ring of this two-part filter until you see it in the viewfinder or on the LCD. Then you’re ready to take the shot! What’s more, unlike linear polarizer filters, circular polarizers don’t affect meter or autofocus accuracy when used on today’s TTL-metering DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Sigma offers its WR CP filters in various sizes: from 46mm to 105mm, $74–$323.
Raya 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector Discs
This versatile light modification tool provides white, silver, gold as well as black surfaces, plus a one-stop translucent diffusion panel. It’s a terrific way to achieve the precise lighting effects whether shooting on location or in the studio. It’s particularly useful for filling in the harsh shadows often encountered when shooting in bright sunlight.
The Raya reflector discs allow you to quickly and easily make adjustments to your lighting in order to get the look you want. The white disc provides a neutral fill; the silver one adds contrast and increases specular highlights. Moreover, the gold disc adds a touch of warmth. The black blocks unwanted reflections and eliminates light spill. And the translucent disc cuts the light by one stop and creates a broader, softer light source.
The collapsible reflector comes in three sizes: 22, 32 and 42 inches. The 42-inch size is suitable for three-quarter length portraits and medium-size still life subjects. In addition, all three versions fold to one-third their size for storage in an included carrying bag. $19.95, $25.95, $31.95, respectively.
Tamron 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 Di III VC Lens
Long-range all-in-one zoom lenses are great for summertime shooting. They let you capture a wide variety of compelling travel, vacation, nature and outdoor sports images without having to carry and switch lenses. This has the added benefit of eliminating the possibility of sensor contamination.
A TIPA World Awards winner, this Tamron zoom lens covers practically any summer shooting scenario. The AiO zoom lens is exclusively for mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. Lightweight and compact, the lens covers the focal-length range from 18mm wide-angle to 200mm telephoto (28–310mm equivalent).
Moreover, Tamron’s built-in vibration compensation (VC) system minimizes the effects of camera shake for sharp handheld photos in any lighting conditions. And the lens’s optical design includes specialized glass elements that overcome aberrations, to produce crisp images. Based on a 17-element, 13-group design, it includes two LD (low dispersion) elements, three glass-molded aspherical lenses, one XR (extra refractive index) glass and one hybrid aspherical lens. As a result, it delivers impressive image quality over its entire range.
The lens has an ultraquiet stepping motor that complements the contrast-detection AF system used in mirrorless ILCs for still and video applications. In addition, it has a rounded 7-bladed diaphragm to enhance its pleasing bokeh, and it focuses down to 19.7 inches. The lens measures a compact 3.8 inches in length. It weighs in at 16.2 ounces. Sony E mount, in black or silver, $399.
DJI Mini 3 Pro Drone
A drone lets you add a unique aerial perspective to summertime stills and videos. That’s especially compelling at the beach, in the mountains or when capturing sporting events and at amusement parks, etc. However, before you take to the air, make sure there are no restrictions on flying drones in the area.
Chances are you can fly freely with this one, since it weighs less than 249 grams (8.8 ounces), making it policy friendly. The 4-rotor DJI Mini 3 Pro records up to 4K 60p video and shoots 48-megapixel RAW stills. Benefits include a tri-directional obstacle avoidance system and Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems 4.0. Its RC-N12 smartphone remote provides an interactive experience. The phone’s display lets you view 1080p drone footage as well as telemetry in real time. Its 7.5-mile range is thanks to DJI’s dual-band OcuSync 3 tech. The remote supports phones up to 7.1 inches and accommodates micro-USB, Lighting or USB Type-C connections.
The foldable drone’s integrated camera features a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor with HDR support, native sensitivities of ISO 100–6400 and an f/1.7 aperture. Moreover, it can shoot slow motion at 120 fps at Full HD 1080p resolution and offers D-Cinelike Color mode for enhanced post-flight editing. An upgraded battery combines with its larger propellers and aerodynamic body tilt to allow for 34 minutes of flight.
Another feature is the FocusTrack suite, including ActiveTrack 4.0, Spotlight 2.0 and Point of Interest 3.0, for wide-ranging subject tracking. The drone also offers MasterShots, which automatically performs pro-style maneuvers for cinematic results; time-lapse and panorama modes; QuickShot, which includes Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, Boomerang and Asteroid flight patterns; and direct output of HDR footage. $759.
Ricoh WG-6 Outdoor P&S
Here’s a perfect camera for taking pictures at the beach, knocking about on the trail or shooting underwater. The slim, stylish, rugged Ricoh WG-6 is waterproof to a depth of 65.6 feet. It will withstand a drop of 6.6 feet or a crushing force of 220 foot-pounds. It’s also freezeproof down to 14°F.
Its imaging specs are equally impressive. It has a high-res 1/2.3-inch, 20MP BSI CMOS sensor and a Ricoh 5x optical zoom, 28–140mm-equivalent f/3.5–5.5 lens. The camera provides an ISO 125–6400 range, 4K UHD 30p video recording as well as Movie SR+ and Movie SR stabilization modes to maximize steadiness in video footage. Plus, a dedicated underwater mode suppresses blue tints for underwater photos with natural-looking colors. Underwater movie mode also applies this effect while filming 4K movies.
Additionally, the WG-6 incorporates a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot antireflection-coated LCD monitor that adjusts for ambient light. And a front-mounted LED ring light provides configurable illumination of close-up subjects. Plus, a GPS module embeds geo-location information into captured image files.
Further, digital microscope mode enables close focusing down to 0.4 inch. A free firmware update will also allow the camera to operate as a webcam when connected it to a computer for Full HD livestreaming via supported apps such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Facebook Messenger. The Ricoh WG-6 measures 4.7×2.6×1.3 inches and weighs 8.7 ounces with battery/SD card. In black or orange, $349.95.
SanDisk Professional 5TB G-Drive ArmorATD External Drive
This pro-grade, bus-powered portable SanDisk hard drive has a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 interface. It can store images, video or other files up to a 5TB capacity and has transfer speeds up to 140MB/s. A great backup accessory for summertime shooters on the go, it lets you transfer your files to free up space on memory cards, smartphones, tablets and computers.
Furthermore, as its ArmorATD designation suggests, it can withstand up to 1,000 pounds of pressure and drops of up to 3.3 feet. And it’s IP54-rated to provide protection against moisture, sand and dust. The external drive is also compatible with macOS 10–12+ as well as Apple’s Time Machine. In addition, you can reformat it to work with Windows 10+. Its USB-C interface is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, and power is delivered through either the USB or Thunderbolt bus—no external adapters required.
The unit comes with USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables. Its premium aluminum enclosure with an easy-grip rubber bumper measures 5.1×3.4×1 inches and weighs in at 0.8 pound. With a 3-year limited warranty, $169.99.
OverBoard Waterproof Dry Tube Bag
This 100% waterproof, roll-top dry bag from OverBoard is available in five sizes from 5 to 40 liters We like the 5 liter. It keeps your digital camera and gear dry even if it accidentally winds up in the drink on a boating or sailing excursion. Additionally, it floats safely on the surface so you can easily retrieve it.
Constructed of 600 denier nylon-coated PVC tarpaulin, it boasts electronically welded seams per the proprietary Overboard Fold Seal system. As a result, you close it by rolling the neck tightly three or four times to expel all the air, then seal it tight by connecting the plastic snap couplers.
When closed, its couplers can be used as a handle. Or you can carry it handsfree by the adjustable, removable shoulder strap or simply grab it by the top carry handle. This cool-looking bag is IP66 waterproof rated and meets ROC Gear Class 3 specs. That means it’s suitable for quick submersion down to 3 feet. Easily wiped clean, it also has a quick release buckle and comes with a carabiner clip. Its exterior dimensions are 8.6×7 inches, and the bags weighs 10.9 ounces. In yellow, red or blue, $24.95.
Godox TT350 Mini Thinklite TTL Flash
Flash units may seem counterintuitive choices as summertime accessories, but they’re great for filling in harsh directional light. They will give you more attractive daytime people pictures and let you take night/low-light pictures at lower ISOs, thus capturing more vibrant colors and superior image quality.
The device is available in dedicated versions for Sony, Canon and Nikon mirrorless and DSLR cameras. All three Godox TT350 flash units provide built-in 2.4GHz X wireless control with optical slave and radio TTL master/slave functionality. They also feature 24–105mm zoom heads that tilt from -7º to 90º (coverage goes down to 14mm via the included wide-angle panel). In addition, the heads rotate 270°. Other features include high-speed 1st- and 2nd-curtain sync, stroboscopic flash, as well as fast recycle times in the 0.1–2.2-sec range.
Sporting a compact slimline design and powered by two alkaline or NiMH AA batteries, the units provide an impressive guide number of 118 (at ISO 100 and 105mm). Other features include on- or off-camera operation; support for 16 channels in 3 groups; and a wireless operating range up to 328 feet. Moreover, the flash units provide power output control of 1/1–1/128 in 1/3-EV steps and a USB connection for installing firmware upgrades. The Godox Mini Thinklite TT350S (Sony), TT350C (Canon) and TT350N (Nikon) all measure 5.5×2.4×1.5 inches and weigh 7.05 ounces (without batteries). $85.
Jackery Explorer 290 Power Station
This portable power station is a terrific summertime accessory. When you’re camping in a remote location, traveling far from any power source or experiencing a power outage, it can provide the juice needed to keep cameras, computers, phones, and even small appliances running.
The Jackery Explorer 290’s high-output 290 Watt-hour Li-ion (14.48V, 20.3Ah capacity) battery can be fully charged in 67 hours from an AC outlet; in 6.5 hours from a 12V car outlet or in 10 hours in full sun from a 60W solar panel (not included). It will deliver power to four devices simultaneously, by plugging into a 200W grounded AC outlet, a 12V car/vehicle socket or its two USB Type A ports.
The lightweight unit features a robust built-in carrying handle and a highly legible battery level indicator. Its battery management system has overcharge and short circuit protection. Moreover, it has an operating range of 32°–104° F. The Jackery Explorer 290 measures 9.1×7.7x 5.2 inches and weighs in at 7.5 pounds. $249.99.
Sensei DOC-CK Deluxe Optics Cleaning Kit
It’s inevitable that sometime during your summer travels your lens, LCD panel, eyepiece or other optical surface will get contaminated with dust, dirt, grime, fingerprints, etc. That’s why it’s smart to pack a lens cleaning kit in your camera bag.
The Sensei DOC-CK Deluxe Optics Care and Cleaning Kit has all the tools to gently clean and remove dust, smudges and fingerprints from all kinds of glass optics. Whatever’s clouding or smudging your optics, simply spray, wipe, brush or blow it away. The kit includes a bulb-type air blower and a lipstick-style extendable brush to remove initial dust. Also in the bundle is a lens pen to remove smudges and fingerprints; a spray bottle of alcohol- and ammonia-free lens cleaning fluid; premoistened lens cleaning wipes; and a soft, 11.8×11.8-inch microfiber cloth.
It all fits into an attractive 8×5.5×2.9-inch travel case so you can throw the kit in your gear bag and have all the items handy when you need them. The optics cleaning kit has a total all-in weight of 12.4 ounces. $32.95.