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10 must-have accessories for every Nikon DSLR owner

Whether you're thinking about getting a Nikon DSLR, you've just got one or are a long time user, there's a wealth of accessories out there to help transform your photography.

That's not to say you can't use it straight out of the box with the bundled 18-55mm kit lens, but to take full advantage of your Nikon DSLR, you'll want to invest in some new lenses and other photo accessories. 

While there's no getting away from the fact that some gear can be pretty pricey, you can build up the system as you go, allowing you to prioritise what's important and what you need first.

With so much kit and accessories out there though, it can be hard to know where to start, which is where we come in. We've picked out some of the key Nikon accessories you'll need or want to get you started. 

Best Nikon accessories

1. Standard prime: Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX

Get creative with your DSLR

Reasons to buy
+Highly affordable+Very small and light
Reasons to avoid
-Not ideal for FX cameras-No Vibration Reduction

The ‘kit’ lenses that are bundled with many cameras as standard are typically for getting you started, but not necessarily the best options to allow you to get more creative. Much of this is down to their maximum aperture, which limits how well you can use them in low light and also how shallow depth of field appears in images.

Prime lenses only have one focal length, and this makes it easier to design them with a wider aperture while keeping them compact. Better still, those with a more moderate focal length aren’t all that expensive, such as this option from Nikon.

On a DX format DSLR, such as the D5600 and D3500, the lens will provide an effective focal length that’s just a shade longer than a 50mm lens used on a full-frame camera. That’s a hugely versatile focal length, one that particularly suits head-and-shoulders portraits, but versatile enough for nature, close-ups and travel. 

You can also use it on an FX format DSLR such as a D850 too, although only a reduced resolution. A better option would be something like the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD.

2. Telephoto zoom: Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Perfect for action, wildlife and portraits

Reasons to buy
+Constant aperture throughout range+Vibration Reduction system
Reasons to avoid
-Cheaper options available-Not tack sharp in mid-range

The next lens you’ll probably want to add to your collection is a telephoto zoom. Not only are these perfect for action and wildlife photography, they’re also great for picking out details in landscapes and shooting tightly cropped portraits or candids.

While pros tend to favour the 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom, they’re heavy and expensive, while there are an abundance of lighter (and much more affordable) 70-300mm zooms available as well.

If you can stretch your budget a little bit more, our pick would be Nikon's 70-200mm f/4G ED VR. More compact and lightweight than a 70-200mm f/2.8, you won't need to worry much about camera shake, either, thanks to a particularly well implemented VR (Vibration Reduction) system that also features automatic panning detection. 

3. Wide-angle zoom: Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD

Perfect for interiors, big city landmarks and landscapes

Reasons to buy
+Very compact design+Inclusion of Vibration Control
Reasons to avoid
-Maximum aperture isn’t constant-Not the cheapest of its kind

You’ve probably found that your Nikon 18-55mm ‘kit’ lens is pretty wide, but not quite wide enough for some subjects.

An ultra wide-angle zoom lens can offer a field of view almost be twice as wide, making it perfect for cramped interiors, big city landmarks, sweeping landscapes and surreal close-ups.

Our pick would be Tamron’s 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD, but it’s worth remembering that this lens is only compatible with APS-C cameras, so if you’re planning to upgrade to a full-frame camera later you’ll have to trade this lens in as well.

4. Flashgun: Nikon Speedlight SB-700

The most bang per buck of any Nikon flashgun

Reasons to buy
+Tilt-and-swivel design+Flash commander mode
Reasons to avoid
-Not the newest option-Cheaper, more powerful options

The built-in flash on your camera is fine for the odd bit of fill-in flash, but it isn’t powerful enough to do much more than that, which is why you need a dedicated flashgun (or Speedlight, as Nikon calls its own models).

Not only do they have much more power than a built-in flash, the head can be tilted and swivelled to change the quality of the light – for example you can bounce the flash off walls and ceilings for a much more flattering look.

Entry-level flashguns tend to lack LCD screens and control over their positioning, while flagship options tend to have a feature-set that’s overkill for most people needs. Fortunately, a mid-range option like the SB-700 can be had for a price that’s closer to the former than the latter.

Compatible with both FX and DX format DSLRs, the SB-700 combines a very respectable guide number of 38m (at ISO 100) with coverage between the 24-120mm focal range. Together with its ability to be tilted and swivelled, and the large LCD screen on the back for easy control adjustment, it’s as fine an option for everyday portraits as it is for more demanding situations such as weddings and other events.

5. Flash modifier: Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2

Help soften your flashgun's light

Reasons to buy
+Works across many flashguns+Lightweight and collapsible
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey -Larger rivals may be more suitable

Whether you're going to shoot with you flashgun on your Nikon DSLR or positioned remotely, a naked flashgun can deliver some unflattering, harsh light. 

What you want then is a compact flash modifier that will diffuse the light. There's an array of options out there, but the Lastotlie Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 is a mini flat-pack softbox that fits on the front of your flash to soften the light nicely, before easily collapsing down to pack away into your camera bag.

6. Protective filters: Hoya HMC UV filter

Protect the front element of your lens

Reasons to buy
+Low-profile frame +Protects front element
Reasons to avoid
-Larger size filters can be pricey-Lens hoods can protect front element

Despite the advent of digital, lens filters still have their place, and none more so than the humble Skylight or UV filter, such as Hoya's HMC UV filter. 

Completely clear in appearance, these have no affect on the final image, but the name of the game here is to protect the front element of your lens. Rather than being lumbered with a hefty repair bill if you scratch or break the front of your lens, it’s much better to let a Skylight filter take the hit. Because the front element of lenses are different sizes, you’ll need to make sure you get the right size – you’ll often find this marked in mm around the front of the lens, or on the inside of your lens cap.

7. Creative filters: Lee Filters DSLR Starter Kit

Balance and control your exposure

Reasons to buy
+Made from high-quality materials+Works across many different lenses
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Separate adapter ring required

Balancing the exposure between a bright sky and a darker foreground can be tricky, particularly in landscapes and sunrise/sunset shots. You can try and recover shadow and/or highlight detail in Photoshop or Lightroom, but you can get much better results in-camera with a traditional optical graduated neutral density (ND) filter.

Because you need to move the filter up and down to adjust the transition from clear to dark, the square filter system is the only real option for ND grads, and our pick is from the brand favoured by professionals, the Lee Digital SLR Starter Kit.You get a 100mm filter holder (although you'll have to get an adaptor ring for your lens separately), a 2-stop hard grad for darkening skies, and a 2-stop neutral density filter to enable you to use slower shutter speeds, for example to blur movement in water and clouds.

8. Tripod: Manfrotto MT190XPRO3

A stable set of legs is an essential item of photographic kit

Reasons to buy
+Great beginner tripod+Clever angled centre column
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest extension-Payload might not support all kit

While you may not want to shoot with a tripod all the time (although some photographers never do anything else), a stable set of legs is an essential item of photographic kit. 

It’s all too easy, however, to be tempted to go for one of the cheapest models you see – after all, how different can one set of legs be to another? You’d be surprised. Dirt-cheap tripods are cheap for a reason – they’re often very flimsy, with quite a bit of flex, making them essentially useless.

Spend a bit more and you’ll get something much more durable and stable. You can spend even more and get carbon fibre models, which are just as strong but lighter, while there are also specialist tripods for travel and macro photography.

For a good balance between weight, size and price you’re not going to go far wrong with the Manfrotto MT190XPRO3. It offers decent load-bearing capacity and a more than adequate maximum working height, while the centre column can also be positioned horizontally for low-angle shooting.

9. Tripod head: Manfrotto MHXPRO-3W

The benefits of both ball and pan and tilt heads

Reasons to buy
+Three bubble levels for precision+Cleverly designed for compactness
Reasons to avoid
-QR plate is a little fiddly-Not quite as compact as ball heads

Some tripods come with their own heads, which can be convenient if you’re not too fussy and have a budget for a complete kit in mind, but if you have an idea of what you’ll mainly be shooting, you may wish to chose your own head.

The two most common options are pan-and-tilt and ball heads. The former option is great for fine control, while the latter option is better for portability, as it tends to have small knobs rather than control arms that stick out from the main unit. 

This option from Manfrotto combines the benefits of both designs. Its arms allow for precise position, but being retractable means they can be pushed into the unit to make carrying and storage more convenient. It’s also designed with three bubble levels and has a sturdy aluminium build to match the legs above.

10. Camera bag: Domke F-803

Get easy access to your camera kit

Reasons to buy
+Very smart and rugged design+Water-resistant outer
Reasons to avoid
-Not as padded as some alternatives-Limited capacity

Once you've accumulated all this camera kit, you're going to need something to pack it all into to keep it safe when you're out and about. 

Camera bags come in all shapes and sizes - backpacks are great for transporting a lot of kit as they distribute the weight over two shoulders, but can be a pain when you want to access kit quickly. 

A shoulder bag is perfect if you've got a few items that you'll want easy access too and the F-803 from Domke is a great option. 

This lovely shoulder bag is made from a weather-resistant durable cotton canvas that can hold a decent amount of kit - perfect for pounding the streets if you don’t want to call attention to yourself.

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.