Recommended Accessories - Photo Jottings

Recommended Accessories

You probably visited this page because you’re trying to find the right Sony camera and related equipment to help you take better pictures, but may not really know what to choose.  Below is a list of items that I find particularly useful, and personally recommend, because I own, or have owned all of them.  This isn’t my personal wish list, it’s stuff I use on a daily or weekly basis. I also find the products below offer a high degree of value—price vs performance, both for the novice, and photographers at the intermediate and pro levels.



Panasonic and Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries!  I previously used Energizer, Rayovac and Duracell rechargeable AAs for my flashes, but find the Eneloops are by far the best over the long hall.  I use the 2500ah XX, they’re a little more expensive than the 1900/2000ah batteries and tend to recycle slightly faster, but will not recharge as many times.eneloop prices

summer2013/rpoprap.jpg I’ve been using RadioPoppers for several years now, and highly recommend them.  I have about 9 receivers and two transmitters, all JRX basic stuff for firing off-camera flashes in dumb mode.  So far, nothing has ever broken even when used daily.  Sony camera users with proprietary hotshoe mounts may, or may not need to get an adapter for mounting the transmitter to a standard hotshoe, there are several ways to connect it.The ‘Nano’ system offers the best value for most people.

RadioPoppers page in B&H Photo

Nano receiver 

Nano transmittter

Nano starter kit


Here’s a handy shooting tent for small items that folds flat for storage.  I use this for many of my product shots.  You can put it on the kitchen table with a couple of lights at the sides and get great shots.  It creates soft light from the white fabric, so you don’t need umbrellas.  One thing; don’t get this as a light kit, the lights are garbage.  Go to your local hardware store and get the clamp on reflectors with 150w-200w bulbs, either clear or soft white, (make sure all your lights are the same color), and clamp the reflectors to chairs or cabinets nearby.  Also, get the extra large size, you’ll need the extra room it provides for proper lighting, and it does fold flat for storage, even under a mattress; so here’s a rare case where size really doesn’t matter!

Impact 24x24x36″ extra large lightshed


A real good bag for your tripod and light stands etc.  Feel free to overload these tough bags, I do all the time. The large sack will hold a big tripod and a bunch of C-stands and more!  I use the medium sack everyday to carry the Manfrotto tripod below, and about 4-6 light stands and umbrellas.  These aren’t padded, the padded ones take up too much space and are more awkward to carry.  As I said, they’re built very tough and have handles that can be adjusted to sling over your shoulder.  The zipper is big and works smoothly, even when you try to pack too much inside.  There’s a hard end panel so you can’t ram a sharp object though it.  Made of Ballistic nylon by Lightware; says made in the USA.

Lightware C6140 Medium stand sack

Lightware C6150 Large stand sack

2012/055410fullsm.jpg Manfrotto makes some nice tripods and heads at a very good price.  The picture shows a combo kit with tripod and head.  I like the build quality, and the movable center column that can be used horizontally for hard to reach areas.  I see some really high-end interior photographers using this same combination.  I use this set-up almost everyday for business.  The leg rigidity and rubber feet make it very stable on tiles floors too, meaning it won’t slide around slightly from image to image as some other tripods tend to do.  The geared head is good for fine composition adjustments.

I bought and now use the Manfrotto 055CXpro3 as it is lighter than the aluminum model.

See review here

Geared head only



If you want a great studio set-up, with everything you need to get going, including wireless triggering, look closely at the Elinchrom D-lite-4 IT kit, now called the D-lite RX 4 2 lite kit it has two 400ws fan cooled flash heads with 100w modeling lamps, two stands, and two softboxes.  It also comes with a skyport, which allows radio control from your camera.  It’s way more powerful than a couple of camera flashes, and much cheaper too!  I bought one of these kits (in part) for shooting from outside to inside through windows when it’s cloudy out to make it look like it’s sunny.  They work great, and have super sensitive built-in slaves, so you only need one flash going off to set the two heads off.  Another great thing about Elinchrom is the accessories list, you can get about anything you need, like grids and reflectors etc, either from Elinchrom or an aftermarket company.  These cost a little more than the cheap monoheads from Impact and Buff, but the quality and versatility is far better.

Complete two head kit

Head only

Grid set

Full Review

JUNE2011/wsvivcamsm2.jpg Check out this neat little Vivitar wireless shutter controller, now called ‘Vello’.  It has a much longer range than Sony’s wireless remote, and will activate the mirror lock-up on cameras that have that feature.  I bought this item for taking pictures of birds by our fountain, from the comfort of the living room.  Of course, there are many other uses as well.  Check out the review of this remote, and a more expensive one here.

The Vivitar brand is no longer available, but the Vello brand is the exact same thing.

Vello wireless shutter controller.


Check out Sony’s best flash value, the HVL-F43AM.  This flash has a whopping 22 power levels, along with a fast recharge rate, modeling and multi-flash emission, plus, the ability to act as a control flash for Sony’s wireless system.  It does almost everything the more expensive HVL-F58AM does, but at a much lower price.  Works properly right out of the box with Radiopoppers™ flash triggers.

Accessory flashes are very important for adding ‘pop’ to your pictures, especially when you bounce the light off a wall or ceiling providing soft fill lighting, instead of hard, direct lighting coming from the built-in camera flash.

HVL-F43AM  the original may be discontinued, but the newer version is basically the same thing with the addition of a standard hotshoe and small video light.  New version HVL-F43M  See my review here of the original version


Flash color filters are very important for matching the flash color to ambient light color, or simply coloring the light for effect.  It’s what the pros use to make their images look great, but most people don’t know anything about them.  If you want to get some gels for your flashes, the best, and least expensive option is to go with individual sheets coming in multiple colors.  The sheets are big enough to cut from for years of normal use.  I use Bogen imaging filter sets, they have 12″x12″ (30x30cm) sheets, with 12 different colors in each pack.  You cut the filter gels to match the size of your flash head, and use Velcro from the hardware store to attach them to your flashes.  Cost; about $23 per set.
Tungsten and daylight colors.  CTO variations full/half/qrt, plus a neutral density.  Great for interior flash photography

Vivid colors.  Add wild colors to you pictures!

Warm and cool colors.  Has straw and other odd colors.


Buy only factory made batteries for your Sony cameras.  When using cheap replacements, some features won’t work like battery life info, and it might shut the camera down as a result of excess heat from not really having the same capacity as the original battery.  You probably wont get the same number of shots either.
Sony NEX NP-FW50 battery   About $50 Fits most mirrorless Sony cameras.
Sony traditional camera battery NP-FM500H(A99II/A900/A700/A580/A57/A77/A65/A99 etc)   About $50


This Hoya HMC super UV is an excellent protective filter for expensive lenses.  This filter is pricey, but it seems to do a very good job at retaining image quality without much additional ghosting.  I bought two of these, one for use on the Sony 70-200mm F/2.8 G (77mm), and one for the Sony CZ 16-80mm (62mm), pictured.
77mm   67mm


You might need a slim filter for the Sony CZ 16-35mm or 24-70mm as they vignette a little bit more with regular thick filters.  I bought a B+W slim because they’re made of brass, and sometimes if you tighten down a filter too hard made of aluminum, you can’t get it off, especially if the ring is only 3mm thick like this one, but that doesn’t happen much with brass.  Slim filters are expensive, but sometimes necessary to avoid additional light fall-off if you shoot a lens at the widest zoom setting, and the largest aperture.
More info


Everyone should have a polarizing filter, but don’t buy these for use on a wide angle lens, as the effect won’t cover the entire frame, and it’ll look awful.  Use polarizers from 50mm and longer.  These polarizers aren’t multi-coated, but I’ve never had problems in the field.  If you’re shooting into the sun with a polarizer, you aren’t using it properly.  Multi-coated polarizers are very expensive, and not worth it in my opinion.  Slim, thin, low profile (all mean the same) filters are thinner than regular filters, and will avoid extra light fall-off on certain lenses.
Hoya 77mm    Hoya 62mm   Hoya 67mm   Tiffen slim 62mm


These Tiffen color grads are the most important filters you’ll ever own, unfortunately, most people don’t even know what they’re for.
All filters mentioned are Graduated, or “gradual” ND filters, meaning they transition from dark to light from the top towards the middle.  You can use these for keeping the clouds from blowing out in you images, or turn them upside down for high key areas.  They turn just like a Polarizing filter.  I use the .6 or two stop ND filters because anything less and it really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, and any more and the skies start to look scary.
I really like Tiffen, but Hoya filters are about the same in quality.
77mm   67mm   62mm   55mm   49mm


One thing you can do to help reduce the cost of filters for Sony lenses is buy only 77mm, and use a 62mm-77mm or 55mm-77mmstep-up ring (or whatever size your threads are) for lenses that use smaller filters.  The downside to this is the original hoods won’t fit, but with zoom lenses, hoods don’t work very good anyways.  The step-up rings shouldn’t cause any light fall-off because the filter is so much bigger than the lens’ original filter size.


I keep two neutral density filters in my bag; one is a Hoya HMC ND8 filter for slowing action, such as water in bright conditions.  A ND8 is 3 stops of light loss, which should be enough for most conditions, but if you’re trying to blur the subject background by using a large aperture and trying to keep a slow shutter speed, you’ll probably need to add a ND1.8 which is 6 stops, for a stacked total of around 9 stops, that would slow the shutter speed significantly.  Nine stops of light is the same as going from a shutter speed of 1/500 to 1 sec.
Note; if you’re going to stack filters, meaning putting one on top of the other, you may need to get a slim type to avoid additional vignetting, and that filter would be put on last, as slim filters don’t have filter threads on the front like regular filters do.
Hoya Pro 1 three-stop filters    77mm    72mm    67mm    62mm   55mm    49mm
Hoya Pro 1 thin type six-stop filters        77mm    72mm    67mm   62mm    55mm


If you want to check out Infra-red imaging, this would be a great filter.   Go here for use ideas and a general review.
Check prices for Hoya R72 filter;  49mm   55mm   62mm   77mm

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