Whether you’re a seasoned creator or just trying to start out, we all look for recommendations on new gear to buy. Sometimes that gear is more than a fancy camera or a new lens. There are just some things that make our lives easier or make us more creative and those little things can seriously help the creative process. I compiled a list of 10 things (a couple of which are pretty oddball) all under $100 that help me be more creative and you can get them all on Amazon.
I hope you love these items as much as I do. Just a head’s up, I am a participant in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a share of the sales from links on this page.
AMIR SUPER WIDE-ANGLE PHONE CAMERA LENS
There are a lot of clip-on lens options out there. The Amir lenses were recommended to me by popular NYC photographer Arken Avan, because their quality is great and they’re under $20. I’ve had my Amir lenses for a couple of years, and they haven’t scratched and work great, when I use them. The only issues I have with them are issues that I would have with any of these clip-on lenses; added weight to one side of the phone and you have to remove your phone case to ensure that light isn’t getting in between your phone’s camera and this lens. That being said, for $13.99 you get a wide-angle lens and a macro lens (which you’ll probably never use) and the quality of these lenses are fantastic.
APUTURE AL-M9 AMARAN LED MINI LIGHT
Lighting is one of the most important aspects to photography or video content creation (if not the most important). Bad lighting can significantly impact what you’re creating, so it’s important to have something. I received 2 of these lights as Christmas gifts and I use them constantly. They’re compact, they’re rechargeable, and the battery life is decent. You can use them to create catch lighting, for background accent lights, and even as a key light in close quarters. I recently used them as rim lighting and fill lighting for my infant’s newborn photoshoot. Their uses are only limited by your imagination and at $45 each, they’re definitely worth adding to your kit.
THINK TANK PHOTO RED WHIPS
So, this is one of the oddball recommendations I mentioned above. Most people would never think of getting these things, but I can tell you, they’re an organizational necessity! Think about your bag; your suitcase; your car. Right now. Think about your charger cables. Do you carry a rat’s nest of cables around with you? These things solve that issue. I bought 2 or 3 of these over the last year and I have them everywhere. I keep spares in pockets in my bags. I use them all the time. Now, Think Tank came out with a V2.0 pack, which comes with 10 medium and 2 large whips for $9.75.
THINK TANK PHOTO CABLE MANAGEMENT POUCH
Now that all your cables are wrapped and whipped up, what do you do with them? Well, I put mine in this pouch, along with the myriad of camera battery chargers, dongles, and spare cable whips. It’s got a clear front, so you can see what you’re looking for and there’s even a spot where you can store a few extra business cards. Depending on your camera bag (and how much gear you carry), this could easily fit in a lens spot. I usually have all the spots in my camera bag occupied, so this goes with me in my carry on, in a spot where I can access it easily.
GAFF TAPE/GAFFER TAPE
You know all the praise duct tape gets? It should go to gaff tape instead. This stuff is brilliant. Super durable, versatile, easy to use, and clean. It holds fast but can be pulled up easily with no adhesive residue left behind. I bought a roll of this stuff in June of 2018 and as of this writing (July 2019), I still have a little less than half of the roll left. I used it to tape the curtains to the walls in my son’s room, to keep it dark, to fix a broken door lock, pretty much anything you would use duct tape for, but when you pull it up, it comes up easy and leaves no residue! Oh yeah, and it also has some professional uses too, like stopping cables from being a tripping hazard, marking off spots for your photography subject to stand, and mounting Aputure-AL-M9-Amaran Mini LED lights or a GoPro somewhere where mounts won’t work. I also use it to cover battery contacts of my charged GoPro batteries, and when the battery is used, I pull the tape and stick it to the side of the battery, so I know which battery has already been used. This is another one of those items that is only limited by your imagination. I have a standard roll as well as a more travel-friendly “mini” size—which I used to temporarily “fix” my broken GoPro dive mount last summer, when I dove in Ireland.
MOPHIE POWERSTATION XXL
When I bought my phone, my battery lasted all day with my usual, heavy use. Now, I’m lucky if I get to mid-day before the phone starts to alert me that my battery will run out soon. Especially if I’m using it to live stream on a social platform. So, what’s the solution? Well, when you can’t be tethered to a wall outlet, it’s a bigger battery. Full disclosure, I have the Powerstation XL, not the XXL; however, the XXL is under $100 (currently $81.67) and holds more juice than the XL, which is only about $11.00 cheaper, so I might as well recommend the newer and bigger portable battery charger.
When it comes to power, you don’t want to risk using an unproven or “knockoff” brand. I once purchased an aftermarket battery for my first DSLR camera and it swelled within the camera and I had to extract it with channel lock pliers. Mophie manufactures quality power devices and they are trusted by major brands. Also, depending on your cellphone, you may even be able to purchase a phone case with a built-in battery charger.
JBL CHARGE 3 WATERPROOF PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
Bear with me on this; this is a recommendation I got from a YouTube video by Manny Ortiz and it’s a great idea. I’m a photographer. More often than not, I’m walking around New York by myself, taking pictures. But sometimes, I get to photograph someone who is modeling for me. Using music to relax your subject (and you) is a fantastic idea! Your model will appreciate the gesture and probably make a better subject, which means better pictures. The blue speaker is the cheapest option at $89.95, but all of the color options for this model are under $100. This is a great-sounding, quality bluetooth speaker that lasts and the waterproof design means it will stand up to any weather you’re photographing in.
PEAK DESIGN SLIDE CAMERA STRAP
And speaking of photography, I love Peak Design’s products. This is the best camera strap you could buy. First off, Nikon, Canon, Sony, it doesn’t matter; they’re not paying you to advertise for them, so there’s no need to have their logo around your neck. The camera straps that come with your camera are a pain to put on and take off. Want to know how to tell an amateur photographer from a pro? The amateur has his camera strap flapping in the wind, when his camera is mounted to a tripod. The Peak Design strap uses toggles (what they call their Anchor Link connection system) so that you can snap the camera securely to the strap then remove it quickly. No more threading nylon through tiny plastic then redoing it because you threaded the strap the wrong way. If I’m using my gimbal for video, I can’t have the strap connected; the Peak Design system, allows me to quickly remove the camera strap and I can still balance my GH5 on the gimbal with the anchors connected to the camera. The adjustment slides allow you to easily adjust your strap to just the right length. The best part? I only carry one camera strap in my bag, which means more space for something else. I have the anchors on both of my cameras and I just transfer the strap, if I need to. Also, this strap has a lifetime warranty.
TIFFEN DIGITAL HT MULTI COATED UV PROTECTOR
This is another photography must-have. You pay a lot for lenses. You need to put filters on your lenses to keep the glass safe from scratches. What’s more logical, replacing a scratched $30-$70 filter or a $500-$1,500+ cameral lens? Now, are you going to put any cheap filter glass on your pro-grade lens with all that expensive glass? These are the filters I have on all my lenses. The quality of the design is the best I’ve used, and they don’t break the bank. These filters have no color shift and have significantly less glare than a regular budget UV filter. The best part about these filters is that I leave them on, even when I put on another filter, like a polarizer or a neutral density, and haven’t noticed any loss in image quality. Now, depending on your lens size, the price varies anywhere from $28.55 to $69.79. This is one of the best investments you can make for your cameras.
JOBY GORILLAPOD 5K KIT
This thing has pretty much been the vlogger’s standard DSLR camera selfie stick for years! They recently came out with the “Video Pro” model, but I find this works just fine There are pros and cons to it, like with most things, but there’s a reason this has been the vlogging standard for so long. I use this as a tripod when I do tabletop mounting and I’ve wrapped it around a fence to record. It’s versatile, lightweight, and I can strap it to the side of my camera bag. It uses an Arca-Swiss plate, so you can use any Arca-Swiss tripod mount on it. Up until recently, this thing was over $100--it was when I bought it--now, the Gorillapod 5K kit with the ballhead is $89.98.
I’ve been creating content for a long time and these are some items that I use constantly in my content creation. I hope you try them out and get as much out of them as I do.
What are some of your favorite content creation tools?
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