Amazing Nikon accessories
When it comes to photography there are purists who like to work with as little kit as possible, for fear of too much equipment getting in the way of capturing a scene. Then there are those who like to be equipped for every occasion, poised to deploy any given gadget at the drop of a hat to perfect their pictures.
Here at TechRadar we respect both philosophies, happily offering advice for the best all-in-one compact cameras as well as DSLRs and their myriad accessories.
It was Ansel Adams who famously quipped “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. So we’ve hunted down 10 awesome accessories that will help you make the most of the photographs you take with your Nikon DSLR, whatever the weather, light or location.
Some are essential, others ephemeral, but they’re all at the top of their game.
1. Solmeta GMAX GPS receiver for Nikon
Chinese outfit Solmeta makes some of the best GPS add-ons for cameras, and the GMAX GPS Receiver for Nikon is no exception.
Longitude, latitude, altitude, even shooting direction and UTC timestamps are quickly acquired and seamlessly embedded in-camera into your images’ EXIF data. Loads of photo processing and sharing apps, including Adobe Lightroom, Flickr and Google Photos, can draw maps, create albums and much more with GPS-tagged images.
The back-lit LCD screen on the rear of the unit displays your coordinates, and is handy for scribbling additional location notes, while the dual positioning technology – pulling on both GPS and BeiDou (BDS) – ensures 20% more accuracy than GPS alone.
The GMAX can also act as a course logger, enabling you to virtually to retrace your every step later, irrespective of any photographs you’ve taken.
While the unit itself is compatible with much of the Nikon DSLR range, take care to choose the correct data cable for your model.
2. Eyefi Mobi Pro 16GB/32GB
Surprisingly, DSLR manufacturers have only recently hit on the idea of including wireless in their cameras in a bid to keep up with those oh-so-connected smartphone snappers. Nikon introduced Wi-Fi to its DSLR range with the D5300, and continued with the excellent D5500.
It’s a smart move, and it can speed all kinds of workflows, but not all of us want to buy a new body just to add Wi-Fi, and that’s where a wireless adapter such as the Eyefi Mobi Pro comes in.
This otherwise innocent-looking SD card integrates a Wi-Fi antenna to connect your camera with a PC, tablet or smartphone in order transfer images (both JPEG and raw with the Mobi Pro) and movies.
The Mobi Pro can create its own wireless network or, if you’re at home or in a studio, it will happily piggyback. Another bonus of the refreshed Pro model is selective image transfer.
The card is an SDHC Class 10, available in 16 and 32GB storage capacities and compatible with a broad range of cameras. It comes with a 12-month subscription to the Eyefi Cloud service, enabling you to easily sync, store and share your snaps.
3. AquaTech Scout Sound Blimp
Buy an AquaTech Scout Sound Blimp for the name alone. Then rejoice in the realisation that by doing so you now have carte blanche to take your camera into places you’d never normally be allowed.
For the uninitiated, a sound blimp is a sound-proofed camera casing that prevents the inevitable clicks and whirs of shutters and lenses from interfering with the immediate environment. Think theatre performances, wildlife or surveillance – production photographers on film sets can’t come near the action without one.
Thanks to its thick damping foam and polyurethane body the AquaTech Scout is light, but it does require practice to master the act of taking shots, with only limited access to camera controls.
4. Nikon MB-D17 multi-battery power pack
A wise man once said that power is nothing without control; this battery grip for your Nikon D500 aims to give you control over your power, substantially extending your shoot time while subtly improving the camera’s ergonomics.
The power pack attaches to the bottom of the D500 via the screw thread. Once in place, you might be forgiven for thinking you’re halfway to a D4S or D5, as the pack doubles up to provide a vertical grip with additional shutter release and function button controls, just like the big boys’ toys.
The power pack will even accept the same EN-EL 18a Nikon battery packs used in those larger-bodied cameras, or eight commodity AA batteries. Useful.
Nikon ranges a variety of power packs for its DSLR stock and, while they don’t come cheaply, eliminating the risk of running out of battery midway up a mountainside shoot is priceless.
5. Gitzo Mountaineer Series 3 tripod
Gitzo began making kit for cameras almost a century ago, and was the first brand to manufacture carbon fibre tripods in the mid 1990s.
Its latest generations of camera supports are of the highest quality, with the Mountaineer Series 3 (or to give it its full title, the Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Series 3 Carbon Fibre Tripod) designed to stay rock-solid even when carrying heavyweight professional cameras (such as the Nikon D5) with telephoto lenses.
The G-lock Ultra leg joints are secure and dust-resistant, yet quick to deploy; the variable density carbon fibre legs are strong but light. The GT3542L’s long four-section assembly extends as high as 178cm and as low at 16cm, all of which makes this a great tripod for professional shooters working in harsh conditions.
Don’t forget to budget in a tripod head…
6. Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight
Fact time: ‘Speedlite’ is a flash brand name used by Canon since 1987, but ‘Speedlight’ is a Nikon brand first introduced in the 1960s. Confusing these two might get you flamed on photography forums.
With the public service announcements out of the way, the Speedlight SB-5000 was announced at CES 2016, and perches on the very top rung of the Nikon flashgun ladder.
Apart from improvements in power and portability, one thing that sets the SB-5000 apart from its predecessors in the Speedlight line-up is its use of radio frequency rather than infrared, enabling it to fire without any pesky line-of-sight limitations.
As a control unit the SB-5000 can command up to six groups or 18 slave Speedlights. A new internal cooling system prevents overheating, and allows for up to 120 continuous shots at 5-second intervals.
7. Timelapse+ intervalometer
Price: $220 (around £150/AU$305)
The Timelapse+ intervalometer made a noise on Kickstarter in 2012 as a versatile and powerful remote trigger with the headline feature of automated day-to-night bulb ramping, ensuring milky smooth exposure transitions in time-lapse sequences.
Among its advanced features are a built-in light sensor, ISO stepping to better manage light transitions, HDR (high dynamic range) stacks of up to 13 exposures, a remote trigger activated by passing objects, support for motion control hardware and even focus ramping via an in-built keyframe editor.
Connectivity to DSLR cameras is via the USB host interface supported by most models in the Nikon range.
The Timelapse+ is a go-to gadget for anybody keen on or curious about time-lapse photography. Also, keep an eye out for the Timelapse+ VIEW, which successfully funded on Kickstarter in April 2016.
8. ARCA-SWISS C1 Cube Tripod Head
That ARCA-SWISS can count landscape photography pioneer Ansel Adams among its previous customers should tell you a lot about the high esteem in which the craftsmanship and quality of its kit is held.
The C1 Cube is a three-axis precision tripod head capable of micrometrical accuracy, making it a great fit for high-end architectural or macro photography.
Despite being machined from a single chunk of metal the C1 Cube weighs in at less than a kilogram, but is capable of taking a 39-kilogram payload, making it suitable for the largest camera/lens combos.
While not as fast to adjust as a standard ball head, the ARCA-SWISS C1 Cube is a feat of engineering fit for photographers who demand absolute accuracy.
9. Ikelite Underwater Housing for D7200/D7100
Three strong latches and an aluminium tray will safely lock your Nikon D7200 inside Ikelite’s clear-bodied underwater housing, allowing it to dive as deep as 60m.
Two large grips perch either side of the polycarbonate casing, so that even when you’re wearing gloves almost all camera functions are easily accessible, thanks to an array of oversized knobs and buttons.
Variable-length, super-wide-angled, large-diameter zoom lenses are supported too, with optional domes and ports also available from Ikelite.
For deeper dives where natural light is scarce the housing integrates proprietary TTL (through the lens) circuitry, for accurate exposure management when attached to compatible Ikelite strobe flashes.
The kit doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a small price to pay to keep your Nikon dry when taking photos of tropical fish; just don’t let go, or the Ikelite’s slight negative buoyancy might mean Finding Nemo becomes Finding Nikon…
10. Pro Light Camera Backpack: Bug-203 PL
Of course, owning all this fantastic kit is no good if you don’t have an equally elegant way of carrying it around. And while you won’t be able to squeeze in everything featured above, the Bug-203 Pro Light Camera Backpack from Manfrotto will keep your most important purchases safe and sound in style.
The eagle-eyed among you may spot similarities between Manfrotto’s pro camera bags and those of another well-regarded manufacturer, Kata. It’s no coincidence: in 2014 the Kata brand was killed off, and its line-up subsumed by sister brand Manfrotto. While the signature yellow lining of Kata’s most popular bags was replaced with striking red of its new marque, little else has changed.
The Bug-203 features pockets galore, interchangeable Velcro dividers that will snugly hold your gear, and tripod hoops, yet still manages to include a laptop sleeve for on-the-go editing. Its fabric is water-repellent, while a fold-out rain protector will keep out the most torrential of downpours.