Best accessories for interchangeable lens cameras

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs) really lend themselves to a range of extra bits and bobs to extend their functionality.

We've collected together some of the best accessories available for all brands of ILCs, for all budgets. Most accessories will be compatible with a particular brand or camera only, but some — such as the Sony LCD monitor — can be used on pretty much any camera with an HDMI port.

Lenses

(Credit: Nikon)

The beauty of an ILC compared to a compact is its ability to change lenses. There's a wide variety of lenses available for many different applications, from specialist photography like macro or fish-eye to standard telephoto zooms.

Some brands such as Nikon and Sony also have lens mount adapters available, which allow you to use lenses from the company's SLR range on your ILC, usually without loss of functionality like autofocus. There are also plenty of third-party adapters available that can mount classic lenses onto new ILC bodies as well. Do be careful using third-party adapters, as many manufacturers won't honour warranties if a camera or lens is damaged by an accessory such as this.

Conversion lenses

(Credit: Panasonic)

Like the idea of a fish-eye lens but can't afford the outlay? A cheaper way to work around the limitations of the kit lens that comes with many ILCs is to attach a converter to the front. These optics sit on the front element of your existing lens, usually with an adapter in between, and can simulate effects from a real fish-eye, wide-angle or telephoto lens.

External lighting

(Credit: Olympus)

Not all ILCs come with a built-in flash unit. External light can come in the form of a separate, add-on flash gun, which every ILC brand has. Unless your camera has a regular hotshoe attachment it is unlikely you will be able to use an existing flash unit from another camera. Other lighting options include something a little more quirky like the Olympus macro arm lights.

Viewfinders

(Credit: Sony)

Whether electronic or optical, viewfinders will provide a convenient way to view the scene in bright, outdoor conditions. They are also useful for photographers who don't like using the LCD screen as the primary way of composing images. Remember that an optical viewfinder won't give you any indications on exposure values or shooting settings when looking through it, like an electronic viewfinder would. Also, optical viewfinders are not parallax-corrected, so what you see might not be entirely what you get.

Compact tripods

(Credit: Joby)

Since you've invested in a compact system by choosing an ILC, why add to the weight by including a bulky tripod? There are plenty of small and light options available that won't weigh you down, including the GorillaPod Micro 800. This is a compact tripod that sits underneath your ILC and extends its legs out when needed, able to support cameras up to 800 grams.

We'll keep adding to this list as we review more accessories for ILCs.




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