5 Cheap & Indispensable Photography Gear Recommendations

Apr 2, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

5 Cheap & Indispensable Photography Gear Recommendations

Apr 2, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

Over the years we have all accumulated a secret stash of photography gear and photography accessories we’ve sourced from a number of inexpensive internet suppliers.

However, finding legitimate suppliers online can be a bit of a gamble, so this week, I though that I would share 5 of my go to sources for photography gear that are inexpensive and super useful.

I hope you will share some of yours in the comments too!

1. Cables, Cords & Adapters

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

With the vast array of photography accessories: electronics, computers, mobile devices, power sources, chargers…(and it just goes on like this) that we use everyday, finding the right cable for the job can be a major challenge.

Nobody wants to pay MSRP for name brand cables, cords and adapters – and eBay & Amazon can be a little sketchy when it comes to this kind of thing, so over the years I have found two suppliers that I order from on a regular basis:

For photography cables, cords and adapters I use FlashZebra and for general use electronics cables I use Cables To Go (C2G).

2. Golf Umbrellas

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

I have a whole array of golf umbrellas that I use all the time.  I have a black set and a white set for weddings.  I have used them for creative props.  I use them for daylight scrims. I have cut the handles off them and used them with strobes.  Once in a while I even use them in the rain.

I get mine from RainGames USA (don’t let the kiddie gifs and confusing website put you off) – they’re cheap, decent quality and come in pretty much any color you could possibly want.

The 60″ sixteen panel solid white umbrellas are my personal favorite for multi-use, and the 68″ solid white umbrellas make great daylight scrims.

3.  Rechargeable AA Batteries

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

I use a ton of AA batteries.

I prefer to use name brand Sanyo 2500 mAh Eneloop XX AA batteries, but charging 30 or 40 batteries for a shoot used to be a major pain in the a$$.  After some searching, I bought two 16 bay AA/AAA smart battery chargers from Amazon.  Now I can charge all my AA batteries at one time – and the chargers have built in USB ports for charging electronics accessories too (like my phone and GoPro).

Brands and availability change on Amazon – and 16 bay AA/AAA smart battery charges are not as readily available as smaller chargers, but this model looks relatively similar to the chargers I use.

4.  Gaffers Tape

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

I also use a ton of gaffers tape.  I used to buy my gaffers tape from photography stores – until a friend who owns a rock climbing gym (they use gaff tape to mark the routes) showed me where they buy the same thing in bulk for less than half the price.

I am sure there are a number of suppliers, but I get my gaffer tape from a shipping and industrial packaging supplier called Uline.

5.  Wordpress Themes

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

When I switched my website over to Wordpress, I spent wasted a lot of time searching for the right themes. The most stressful part was trying to figure out if the themes I was finding were produced by reputable vendors.

My website is critical to my business, so the last thing I wanted to do was trust the whole thing to some buggy, half assed code purchased from who knows where online (or even worse, installing a theme that has built in spyware).

Eventually, I came across Themeforest which is part of the Envato Market.  I have purchased a number of themes from Themeforest, and for me the relatively low price is worth the piece of mind knowing that the Wordpress theme I am using was coded by a professional and there is a support system in place.

The last theme I bought was a retina ready and fully responsive Wordpress theme called Impreza that I used for AffordableWeddingStudio.com.

Bonus.  Costume Jewelry & Accessories

5 cheap and indispensable photography gear recommendations

OK, costume jewelry and accessories aren’t really photography gear – but if you are doing lifestyle or fashion work, a few nice pieces of costume jewelery and the right accessories can really add a professional touch to your photography.

I order mine from a company called Blue Bell Wholesale.  The quality is about what you would expect for the price – but totally good enough to look good on camera.

I especially like their website – there is tons of selection and its really easy to mix and match the right items for your shoot.

Not Recommended

aliexpress corset lingerie review

I had a few boudoir fashion gigs a while ago so I thought I would try sourcing some interesting lingerie and props online.

I ended up purchasing a number of outfits from various vendors on AliExpress.com

I knew that it was a bit of a gamble buying cheap Chinese knockoffs, but I only needed these items to look good once on camera, so I though I’d give it a shot.

What is impressive is that I received the shipment direct from China in less than a week.

However, the items were nowhere near an acceptable quality level (and I wasn’t expecting much).  Nothing really fit properly and most were way too small.

I used a few things for the shoot, but in hindsight, it would have been much better to just pay full price from a reputable retailer.

Your Cheap Photography Gear Recommendations?

Have you found any great online sources for photography gear or accessories that you would like to share?

Leave a comment below!

*Please – no comment spam.  If you genuinely like a product or supplier that you have personal experience with – tell us about it.  If you’re promoting something – bugger off.



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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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27 responses to “5 Cheap & Indispensable Photography Gear Recommendations”

  1. sinisterbrain Avatar

    Agree with everything here accept one thing…

    I’ve had the worst experience with ThemeForrest purchased theme — From a hosting/administration point of view.

    One of my clients used a ThemeForrest theme that they spent good money on. With the justification that “10,000 people liked this theme, it must be good!”

    I’ll admit, the theme *looked* great, and worked great browser-side — once loaded. (it was very slow)

    The HTML/CSS was poorly written. The PHP backend was even worse. It was totally incompatiable with native wordpress caching solutions, so it (noticably) degraded server performance under heavy loads. The worst was every other time wordpress software would upgrade, I’d have to hand edit PHP just to bring the site back online. I did check and the theme was never upgraded after we purchased it — Why did my client bother spending that money?

    I’m glad not everyone had such a bad experience. They are clearly not all bad, else they wouldn’t still be in business, right? But just because you are paying does not imply you are getting something better.

    Great article though. Great points, and ideas, overall.

    1. Scott Wyden Kivowitz Avatar
      Scott Wyden Kivowitz

      Well said.

      1. JP Danko Avatar
        JP Danko

        Thanks for the heads up guys!

    2. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
      Chris Hutcheson

      Yeah, I”ve had variable experience with them as well. Good idea to read through the comments on a theme to see what the issues are and how they’re responded to.

  2. Bruce Jones Avatar
    Bruce Jones

    Beanbag! Great for stabilizing my camera when I don’t have my tripod with me (which is 99.9% of the time).

    1. Jared Youtsey Avatar
      Jared Youtsey

      Amen. Don’t leave home without it! $.99 bag of lentils sewn into an old piece of T-Shirt.

  3. maurij Avatar

    camera remote (mine is IR) or any off camera shutter release. use it all the time.

  4. Engineer Avatar

    I love my Pocket Pod. http://www.thephotobuddy.com
    I do not like lugging around a tripod. This weighs next to nothing and doesn’t take up much room in my bag. Reasonably cheap and still works just as great after 4 years as when brand new. Usually I can find a rock, bench, fence or something to put this on. Though a tripod will give you more flexibility…. And it’s incredibly stable too!

  5. Tyler Avatar

    Just did a quick google search for gaffers tape. Here’s one of the top results…much cheaper. — http://www.toursupply.com/Gaffer-Tape-s/2160.htm

  6. Scott Wyden Kivowitz Avatar
    Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    As a PSA for those looking for WordPress themes, theme shops like ThemeForest aren’t always the best place to go. From experience I’ve found so many to be poorly coded, requiring either endless support or simply switching away. So please be aware and do research before buying just any theme. That goes for ThemeForest or elsewhere.

  7. Anthony Roderman Avatar
    Anthony Roderman

    5-1 Reflector. Incredibly versitale and less than $20.

  8. Scott Wyden Kivowitz Avatar
    Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    Just to throw it out there ( I do work for the company ) – the Photocrati Theme is used by over 18,000 creatives, most of which are photographers. It’s not expensive either and comes with a full gallery management system. Happy to answer questions for those interested. http://www.photocrati.com for details.

    1. vipmediastar Avatar

      i got two themes one is for blog and main info site. i’m working on the second theme for a online store for prints. i like the one you listed but 59.00 yearly renewal has me thinking. my site is same as my username .com let me know how I can improve with your theme.

      1. Scott Wyden Kivowitz Avatar
        Scott Wyden Kivowitz

        Hard to say how you can improve your site with any theme without really knowing your site or your business. But a theme that’s flexible and optimized for photographers is beneficial in so many ways. Read through our documentation, watch our videos and contact our pre-sales team with questions. So much info to share but you’d have to ask specific questions to get specific answers.

  9. Madara Avatar

    Gaffer’s tape can get expensive. I often use hockey tape instead since it’s about $4 a roll and something I always have on hand since I’m a goalie.

  10. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I go to DX.com for small gadgets quite frequently. Its great for cables, clips, adaptors, even el-cheapo strobes and LEDs. They also have a particularly good selection of no-name GoPro accessories. The only drawback is the sometimes slow shipping.

  11. Ian Hecht Avatar
    Ian Hecht

    For cheap cables, there’s also Monoprice.com – I use them sometimes for audio cables and the like (for videography). Unfortunately, their shipping isn’t always the cheapest to Canada (sorry, JP).

  12. Anthony Avatar

    Various size ziplock bags and rubber bands for everything from organizing cables to keeping little bits in one spot. Available anywhere, although the cheapest ones don’t seal the best.

    1. yopyop Avatar

      Could you give me/us a little bit of info on the fstoppers disc ? Is it really good ?

      1. Vlad Didenko Avatar
        Vlad Didenko

        I like how it softens fill flash – my primary flash use case – while being really portable. “Really good” light is a situational claim. The disc is light, folds small, faster to use than all other collapsible diffuser I had with that diffusion area. It probably is a misfire to claim it as a “cheap” gear – if judged by what others posted here.

        1. yopyop Avatar

          Thank you!

  13. Andrew Avatar

    Special yearly deals:

    Garland wrap for christmas, when discounted AFTER Christmas, makes for excellent and very inexpensive Velcro ties for anything. I look for it at target every year. Strobe mounting, custom projects, cable ties, camera strap failure backup, flashlight holder…whatever. Its a huge roll of thin Velcro. Go nuts.

    ALSO buying extension chords and power strips then is good, steep discounts after holidays make Christmas light electronics a huuuuge deal. They will likely be green, otherwise….just like your other tools. Grab chocolate while you’re there and givenitnto clients or something (eat most of it tho). Think 15′ extension normally 15 for only 5…for example.

    You’re welcome!

  14. Matt Owen Avatar
    Matt Owen

    For costume jewelry I hit the outlet mall – most women’s apparel stores have a clearance rack of stuff that didn’t sell well at retail. For lingerie and props try yandy.com, their stuff is inexpensive and does last more than one shoot.

  15. Rob Avatar

    50mm F1.8 for beginners
    Op Tech rainsleeves, 2 for 10euro’s
    Internet subscriptions so you can watch thousands of hours (and text) of free tutorials

  16. Shifty303 Avatar

    I use Yongnou on-camera strobes and am very happy with them in every way – All the way from their higher priced strobes (around $200) to lower priced ($50) http://yongnuo.eachshot.com/

  17. ron Avatar

    I use baseball bat or hockey stick tape in place of Gaffer tape. Easier to get and cheaper