Cameras and lenses often cost a lot. So it is not that surprising that accessories can also be costly as well. But not always. Here I wanted to list some accessories that cost less than $100 that proved quite valuable to me. Some have nothing to do with one brand or another, some are available for many brands, and some are Sony specific.
Neewer Metal AF Auto-Focus Macro Extension Tube Set 10mm & 16mm
Simply put they have eliminated my need for a dedicated macro lens.
I once used a macro lens I hold dear as one justification for keeping an entire DSLR system. But over time I realized that I used these extension tubes instead with great success. Now any lens can be used as a macro lens. Especially handy when you have already set up lighting, a camera, and a lens. Just slap on the extension tube or tubes needed and keep the same aesthetic. For example, I was already using the Sony A7C and FE 40mm f/2.5 G lens for product shots and I had gotten everything dialed in just the way I liked it.
When it came time for detail shots I kept everything the same and used the extension tubes with full AF.
For less than $50 this is a no-brainer. A dedicated native Sony lens near this focal length would cost over $500. If I needed macro out in the field or had to switch back and forth a case could be made for the dedicated lens. But that is not my use case so these extension tubes are perfect for me.
Credit to my friend Anthony Smith for recommending this. The product description above does not quite cover it and is a bit convoluted. Instead of the usual loose assemblage of aftermarket batteries and charging dock, this set includes quite an ingenious case that:
- Serves as a convenient carrying/storage case for the batteries.
- Charges two batteries at once.
- Easy to see charge status light for each battery.
- Can be charged by way of USB-mini and USB-C chord which is what everyone should do.
- Has a place to store SD cards as well.
And on top of that there is the main party piece:
- When the batteries are in place it can be used as a power brick to charge other electronics.
Have had mine for quite some time now and it has not put a foot wrong. All for little more than $50 with two batteries included. An awesome piece of kit.
Small LED lights (Here is one link but take your pick.)
I bought one from my local camera shop and another from Amazon. Similar in size, about the size of a mobile phone, and both came with very similar soft carry pouches. The perfect size to throw in a pocket or camera bag and they hold onto a charge for a decent amount of time. The last one I bought even double as a charger for other devices like the battery charger above. Could find neither of these online as models are updated like I change socks from the look of things. But there are plenty of updated examples online that sell for around the same price. Some features that I like:
- They throw out plenty of light for product shots. I use them all the time for this.
- They have adjustable color temperatures and light levels.
- The last one has modes that try to replicate scenes like police lights sirens or lightning. Have not made use of this yet, but it is there.
- Reasonably long battery life for their size.
I find them very handy to have around.
I cannot say enough good things about these flashes. At less than $100 each these are full featured flashes that I have used for years without issue. Sure I may have moved on to their V1 models but that is only because I was so impressed with their TT350 models. They are:
- Available for most popular brands.
- Can operate as remote triggers as well as flash and fire other flashes simultaneously.
- Are TTL compatible.
- Are HSS compatible.
- Each can act as a remote flash regardless of brand. For example, a Sony flash can be fired off camera from any trigger in the Flashpoint/Godox system.
- Light and compact.
- Comes with a case, stand, and built in bounce card.
Used it outside at my first wedding shoot when time did not allow me to set up lights and it performed flawlessly. Here is a shot using the bounce card with TTL early afternoon.
I could not have asked for better, even from more expensive third party or native flashes.
Haoge Metal Square Hood and Cap (24mm/40mm/50mm G Lenses)
This is a late add to this list. A week ago I did not even know this hood and cap combination existed. Then came the video mentioned in an earlier post. As I mentioned in that post one of the aesthetics and handling things I liked about the Leica Q I had was the metal hood and cap.
Much better looking than the plastic snoot hood and cap affair that the Sony FE 40mm f/2.5 G comes with.
And yes, technically speaking you could use this lens, hood, and cap on any A7 body but I think it looks most at home on the A7C.
And now it looks and handles even better with this Haoge metal hood and cap.
Should this make a difference?
Aesthetics has no direct bearing on the picture-taking ability of a camera.
Does that make a difference?
That is why the industrial design industry exists. Why else would a once middling brand also ran auto company like Hyundai/Kia hire away an Audi designer. And it was a great success. What was once an utterly forgettable stable of vehicles now has some very compelling looking vehicles. The impact went far beyond sensible draws like 100,000 mile warranties. Long ago Honda and Toyota fielded a slew of vehicles that shared the majority of their mechanicals with Acura and Lexus respectively. A Lexus ES300 was once little more than a Toyota Camry in a luxury frock. The same goes for the Honda Accord and Acura TL or a Honda Pilot and Acura MDX back in the day. Never made sense to me, personally. Why on Earth would I pay far more for the same base hardware with a bit more design flare, a better grade of leather, and a wood-ish interior I would wonder? I also did not take kindly to the obvious blandification or even uglification of lower tier offerings in order to push interest in the pricier brands.
Side note: I once realized that Acura does not exist outside of North America. Even the mighty Acura NSX was branded Honda NSX overseas. I read that it was because early on US consumers would not spend $30K plus on a Honda. So they went… but it is an Acura? See we pinched the top of the H in the logo and now it is an Acura… Totally different car. Eesh. Could go off about the implications but that is a ramble for a different day. Whoo! That was quite the jag. Where was I. Right! Lens cap and hood…
Look and feel matters is where I was going. And only hours in I feel the effects already. Normally I waffle between options as far as what to use out and about. But today no such thing happened. It is too early to tell if the effects will be long lasting but I can tell you I shot more frames in less time than with any other camera recently. And I have a theory why. It is not long.
It felt a bit more special.
Normally I would apologize for the lack of reason involved in that statement. But this time? Nope. I stand by it. Feeling that solid metal cap in hand and the similar mechanic of removing it and feeling and seeing the lens put me in a state of mind that brought me back to the Leica Q I once had. Yep. I said it. Nonsense?
Quality materials in hand and better looks make for a better shooting experience just like it does with a sharply styled almost luxury brand vehicle as compared to its bland, melted Skittles looking mechanical cousins. The only question I have is if this quality nostalgia would have kicked in had I not had the Leica Q to compare it to… I do not know. But I like it. I alluded to the qualities of this hood and cap but I will go ahead and summarize my experiences so far here.
- Reasonably priced at $48. And I will say kudos to Leica for the pricing of their hood and cap replacements. Unlike the battery prices I recently ran into sticker shock on for another Leica body their hood and cap come in at only a little over $100 combined. That is a bargain in Leica-ville.
- Unlike a generic hood that screws into filter threads, this hood is made specifically for the 24mm/40mm/50mm G lenses using the Sony hood bayonet mount. As a result, it snaps firmly into place and aligned perfectly with the lens. And it feels like it was meant to be there all along as a result.
- Great build and finish. As I mentioned I had the Leica variant and so far this hood and cap feel very bit the equal to the Leica branded variants. And it matches the lens’ materials. This goes for the quality black felt lining for the cap and the confidence inspiring snug fit.
- They toned it down on the branding with unobtrusive text so small that it does nothing to take away from the aesthetic.
- Lastly, it simply works as branded.
It is funny that the one item on this list that I ran on longest about is the only one that does not contain a single circuit and does not require a battery. Just some bent metal and felt but what a difference it has made so far.
The only danger is something I try to avoid. I call it camera dress up. The Leica Q mentioned came with an add on half case with grip that I argue was almost mandatory. Tried using that camera unclothed and I never felt like I had a solid enough grip on it to use it one handed. The A7C’s modestly sized but quite effective grip does not have that issue. But I am currently fighting the urge to get a thumbs up and bottom plate for the A7C which has not happened before. I expect it to wear off. Just a temporary “If the hood is this good why stop here?” fever I expect will pass.
But for now, I am good. Well done Haoge.
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