UPDATED: June 18, 2020
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned professional coming from the DSLR world, you will find yourself carefully weighing the pros and cons of Sony camera accessories. Camera bags are almost exclusively designed to hold large cameras, while video tripods are usually designed for enormous cameras. The accessories I’ve listed below are the best “for me”… and on the admittedly dubious assumption that I’m “normal”, they might be the best for you as well.
I’ll update/expand this as I find items that I feel supersede or fill the gaps in what is listed below. If you’ve got suggestions, of course, feel free to let me know.
Table of Contents
Many years after leaving the tall and fat world of DSLRs, I still have a tough time finding the right bags for my full-frame mirrorless gear, and doubly so for aps-c models. I believe in function over form, so I’ll favor ease of access over rich Corinthian leather any day. A good bag is never cheap, but I also have a philosophical aversion to ludicrous pricing. Everyone has different tastes and different needs, but the problem we all share is in finding bags that are designed for these tiny cameras. Here are some of my favorites:
If you need slim and light, the Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW and the smaller 150 AW remain, in my estimation, are the best attempts at a mirrorless bag to date. The 250 has been my go-to for and inconspicuous daypack.. trekking around theme parks and such. It is strong, comfortable and deceptively roomy, with enough width for an A7 series camera with a 70-200, an extra lens, as well as a good number of accessories in the top compartment… or drinks ‘n snacks, you pick. It has anchor straps for a small tripod and a rain poncho hidden in the bottom. Slings aren’t my favorite, but hopefully Lowepro is starting a trend toward low-profile bags in general – I would definitely buy a full-sized backpack based on the Slingshot Edge profile.
I’ll mention that LowePro just released the SlingShot SL 250 AW III, which is odd because there was never an SL 250 AW I or II. It is sized specifically for mirrorless cameras. I do not know if it is a direct replacement for the Edge; it seems to be a mashup of features from all previous Slingshots. One notable improvement is that it can squeeze a surface pro-sized device into the tablet pocket… the Edge cannot.
Peak Design has a few slings now, and to my sensibilities, the Everyday Sling 6L is sized well for the Sony a6xxx bodies. You have enough room for a body with lens, an extra lens and several small accessories. The 10L, on the other hand, is so large in every direction that it doesn’t do a good job securing small gear. Peak slings have a ton of thoughtful features and you’ll rarely hear criticism. Last year’s Everyday Sling 5L was a good try as well, but the newer 6L fixes a lot of the 5L’s shortcomings.
- Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
And the new guy:
- LowePro Slingshot SL 250 AW III – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
Messenger bags are a mixed… uh… bag. Their use is often driven by the desire to carry things other than cameras… or because you just don’t want your camera bag to look like a camera bag. In fact, if you already have a heavy duty messenger bag you like using, you’re often best off just shoving a padded insert inside. Most messenger bags sold as camera bags are exactly that… a regular bag with an insert.
One of the biggest things to watch out for is the shoulder strap. Make sure that the connection between the bag and strap is secure and beefy. Metal clasps and loops, not plastic… and well sewn into the fabric. If you’re going to be wearing it for a while, a wide strap with a pad is critical. You can, of course, buy gel strap cushion if needed.
However, there are some other options worth considering. Currently I think the Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13 (V2) is one of the most interesting… and not because it’s a great camera bag, but be cause it’s an impressive bag that also does a nice job carrying camera gear. There is some real genius at work, but the price is pretty steep.
Tenba, I think, has the most practical options in this space, they make messenger bags in all shapes and sizes. The Tenba DNA 8 and 10 are nice options for the a6xxx series cameras. Not cheap, but not unreasonable, given the features.
Pro tip – If you pay attention, you’ll occasionally trip over a $5-$10 Amazon closeout deal for generic shoulder bags with a camera insert. I have picked up several this way and put them to various uses. Cameras, sensitive tools… my wife even uses one for travel cosmetics. The key take away is that a messenger bag with some padding and structure can be useful for a lot of things, not just cameras.
- Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 (V2) – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Tenba DNA 8 – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Tenba DNA 10 – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
Want to outfit your own bag?
- Padded camera inserts – Amazon US/CA/UK
- Strap cushions – Amazon US/CA/UK
- I use this one specifically and I like it… Amazon US/CA/UK
FINALLY. Those who have seen this page many times in the past, you will know that I have been begging for companies to start making full-sized, lower profile bags, consistent with the switch to mirrorless-sized gear. The LowePro Protactic 350 AW II is what I’ve been using for some time now. By itself, it’s a smallish, very rigid backpack (great for airplanes as a personal item), and is exceptionally versatile due to the MOLLE webbing that allows you add standard anchors and pouches. I anchor a baton holder to mine, which allows me to put a 360 camera high above my back. It’s a brilliant bag, but the drawback to the ProTactic’s rigid structure is that it’s also fairly heavy, making it less desirable as a day-to-day multi-use backpack.
I should also mention the the Pro Runner BP 350 AW II is also an excellent pack for the traveler. There is considerably more padding everywhere (some of the most comfortable straps ever), but still comes in just below personal item size on most airlines.
Still, I miss having a general use camera backpack. When I was shooting DSLRs, I loved my LowePro Fastpack 250. It was a full-size, 50/50 split backpack – camera on the bottom, open space on top, computer sleeve along the back with a quick access door for the camera. Great bag, but far too deep for mirrorless gear, which just bounces around inside. Because of that, I rarely use my 250 anymore and skipped the 250 AW II, as it was basically the same thing.
Enter the LowePro Fastpack 250 AW III. LowePro has announced two new versions of the Fastpack 250 III, the BP and the Pro BP. The Pro is a bit more boxy to accommodate taller gear (DSLRs or cameras with battery grips), but the BP is a full size camera backpack like the original 250, but with less depth – ideal for mirrorless cameras. It retains the quick access camera door and the laptop compartment and small waist and sternum straps for stability. If it all checks out, do you know what that means? It’s the first full size camera backpack that meets all of my camera backpack requirements – but designed for mirrorless cameras!
I… can’t… wait… to try it.
One other note: Lowepro has an “M-Trekker” series of bags specifically designed for mirrorless cameras. The M-Trekker BP-150 (Amazon) doesn’t look like a camera bag and opens from the back. Unfortunately, it lacks side access, so it’s not quite as handy for quick photography, but overall it’s a nice city daypack.
You’ll also hear people rave about the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, and deservedly so. My issue with Peak’s backpacks is that they’re basically a hollow shell with a shelf system, and as such, not appropriate for smaller gear. They store a *lot* for the footprint, but because it is such an open design, when it isn’t full, it also isn’t well supported, and the items inside can shift quite a lot. The smaller the gear, the less secure it is in the pack, and you can’t make subtle adjustments like you can with a grid divider system like you would find in a normal camera bag. The big “however” is, for those who carry a lot of different things, like clothes, and headphones, and books along with the cameras… The Peak carries it all.
- LowePro Fastpack BP 250 AW II – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- LowePro ProTactic 350 AW II – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- LowePro Pro Runner BP 350 AW II – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- LowePro M-Trekker BP 150 – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Peak Design Everyday Backpack – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Not designed for mirrorless, but impressive all the same.
Lens adapters allow you to mount a world of interesting glass to your Sony E-mount camera. There once was no complete guide to Sony lens adapters – so I built this one, and regularly update it. If you don’t already own lenses, then I would suggest looking at some vintage M42, Canon FD, and Nikon F lenses, which are easy to find and easy to adapt. One simple suggestion is the Nikon Series E 50mm f1.8 pancake lens – one of the best cheap pieces of glass out there. For a more artistic kind of lens, the Russian made Helios 44-2 58mm F2 is pretty amazing. If you do your research and are careful buying on eBay, you can have a full case of excellent lenses for the price of one modern lens. See The Complete Guide to Sony Lens Adapters.
If you’re trying to use auto-focus Canon EF lenses on your shiny Sony, consider the Sigma MC-11 or Metabones V adapters.
If you would like to give autofocus to some inexpensive manual lenses, think about the Techart Pro Leica M to Sony E-mount adapter. This is a pretty interesting little device. You’ll have to adapt your lenses to Leica M first, but there are cheap options listed in the Guide.
Bits and Bytes – The first mistake people make in choosing memory cards is failing to understand the difference between bits and bytes… and how those two things are used on packaging. 1 Byte = 8 bits. Traditionally, a Byte will be written as a capital B and a bit will be written as a lower case b. So if you see 100 Mb/s, this means 100 Megabits per second. Divide by 8, you get 12.5 MB/s, Megabytes per second.
Read and Write – The second mistake people make is not understanding that read and write speed are different. SD Card packaging will almost always have a speed noted on the box, something like 95MB/s. However, unless the package specifically states otherwise, this is the READ speed of the card only. The Write speed may be a lot slower. Write speed is what counts when capturing images or video, so ideally, you’d want to know the maximum and minimum write speed of the card you intend to buy.
Spend wisely! All Sony a6x00 series cameras have a write speed limitation of about 30-35 MB/s, which is slow by today’s SD card standards. A card that writes faster than 30-35 MB/s will not clear your cache any faster.
The confusion sets in with 4k video. A new owner will read that Sony’s record videos at 100Mb/s… and then wonder why they can’t find a card that records 100MB/s. See the mistake?
All current Sony a6x00 series cameras write 4k video at a maximum 100 Mb/s; that’s only 12.5 MB/s. That’s not very fast, HOWEVER, the SD card has to be able to write that 12.5 MB/s consistently from empty to full. If it slows down along the way, your video will stop recording. To ensure consistency, Sony mandates that for 4k recording, your SD card must be “UHS-I class 3”. Don’t know what that really means? Don’t worry, neither does anyone else – just look for these symbols: and … if both of those markings are on the card, then it is rated for 4k video recording on Sony cameras.
Simplified, “UHS-I Class 3” means that the manufacturer certifies that the card will never write slower than 30 MB/s. “UHS-I Class 3” is a terrible way to communicate that to a consumer, but effectively, that is what it means.
The labeling on SD cards is standardized by the “SD Association”, and they don’t always help consumers make informed decisions, but they are getting better. They have now added a “Video Speed Class” rating, like this: . All “V30” cards are UHS-I class 3 by default so anything that says V30 is capable of recording 4k video on all Sony a6x00 cameras.
Cards often have a faster write speed than your camera. Faster cards, however, can make transferring your pictures to a computer a whole lot faster.
I tend to stick with SanDisk for SD cards. That’s not my endorsement, that’s just my experience. There are perfectly decent options from Sony and Lexar (and I have some older Lexar cards I still use in my GoPro3), but SanDisk hasn’t given me reason to look around.
For most people:
UHS-I SD card prices have continued to drop such that the price difference between the slowest and fastest cards is minimal. As of the time of this writing, only $8 separates the 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro card and the regular Extreme (Amazon US/CA/UK). I used to recommend sticking with the Extreme, because both are limited by the camera’s write speed, but since the pro does read a little faster, $8 isn’t much of a sacrifice for the top of the line.
- SanDisk Extreme SD cards – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- SanDisk Extreme Pro SD cards – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
… and then there’s what I do:
Many devices today use microSD cards instead of SD, like action cams and audio recorders. My Surface Pro, cell phone and other tablets sport microSD as well. I switched to microSD entirely and it has simplified my life. I use the microSD version of 128GB Sandisk Extreme (Amazon US/CA/UK), but again, the Pro isn’t much more (Amazon US/CA/UK).
- SanDisk Extreme microSD – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- SanDisk Extreme Pro microSD – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
What about UHS-II cards?
The UHS-II standard is over 3x faster than UHS-I and will work in your a6x00 camera. However, using a UHS-II card in an a6x00 camera will not change the write speed of the camera. On the flip side, using a UHS-II card reader, you can transfer your photos to your computer a lot faster. So, if it’s for transfer speed or future proofing, and you’re not very cost sensitive, a UHS-II card is an acceptable option. In this case, I like the Sony Tough-M cards. They do cost twice as much per gig, but that’s actually a *LOT* less of a difference than it was a year ago. It won’t be long before the price difference is negligible.
- Sony Tough-M SD Cards (128GB is probably the best bang for the buck) – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
But what about UHS-II MicroSD cards? Well, there’s a problem. To get the full speed of a UHS-II microSD card in an adapter, you need a UHS-II adapter (there are more connectors). OK, they make those. HOWEVER, UHS-II microSD cards are thicker than their UHS-I ancestors. Unfortunately, most of the microSD to SD adapters are designed for thinner microSD cards – idiots! So while UHS-II microSD cards are great, the early UHS-II (like Lexar) adapters always break; even superglue won’t hold for long.
That said, I have finally found microSD to SD adapters that work! I found Toshiba branded UHS-II microSD adapters on ebay. It took forever to receive them from China, but they’re great and now I feel comfortable using microSD UHS-II cards.
- Lexar 1800x UHS-II microSD cards – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Toshiba branded UHS-II microSD to SD adapters – eBay
Some addition advice:
Consider buying several smaller, cheaper SD cards and stash them in convenient places other than your camera bag… like a dark, cooler place in the car, at work, wallet (microSD is awesome for things like this), etc. I can’t even tell you how many times that has come in handy.
What about Sony Memory Stick?
NO. Just no.
Sony’s a6000, a6300 and a6500, as well as the A7, RX100, RX10 and RX1 series cameras all use the NP-FW50 battery. It’s small and light, but certain isn’t up for hours of video or even a whole day of photography. You can get Sony branded batteries (Amazon US/CA/UK) and charger (Amazon US/CA/UK), but those are pretty pricey. I use Wasabi Power’s alternative, which are about 1/5 the price, but don’t last quite as long. They are best bought in a two pack (Amazon US/CA/UK) or with a travel charger (Amazon US/CA/UK) or with a USB dual charger (Amazon US/CA/UK). You can, however, get the full run time of a Sony battery for a reasonable price with Watson batteries (Amazon US/CA/UK).
Starting with the RX10 II and the Sony a6300, Sony added USB power, not just charging, to their cameras. The A7R II and A7S II also have it. When powering the camera by USB and recording 4K video to the SD card, you can expect that about 2/3 of the power need will come from USB, 1/3 from the internal battery. Effectively, this extends you battery life about 3x without swapping batteries, or turning the camera off to charge the battery. You can use any USB charger or USB battery pack that provides at least 1A of current. I offered a DIY USB battery solution here.
Dummy Battery/AC power –
A dummy battery (Amazon US/CA/UK) is a device that is inserted into the battery compartment, but has a wire to feed power from an external power supply or other battery pack that can supply approximately 7.6V (specifically 7.4-8.5V, which is the range of voltages a charged NP-FW50 battery will normally provide). Sony makes the AC-PW20 adapter (Amazon US/CA/UK), but I typically use 3rd party options, like the Neewer (Amazon US/CA/UK) or Gonine (Amazon US/CA/UK) alternatives.
You can also use a dummy battery in conjunction with a battery plate to use any NP-F style (Amazon US/CA/UK) batteries you may have laying around.
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. There are apps for your phone or computer that will remote control your camera, but they are clunky and incomplete. Nothing quite works like a physical, purposeful remote with physical, purposeful buttons for your physical, purposeful hands. Sony makes a few, and they’re good, but I’ve also been satisfied with the cheaper alternatives.
Wireless (Infrared) –
The infrared receiver on a6x00 and A7 series cameras is in the front of the camera, so depending on your purposes, these remotes can be more or less useful. Sony makes the RMT-DSLR2 (Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama), which can provide a great deal of control over your camera, navigating settings, menus and even controlling powerzoom lenses like the 16-50mm (Amazon US/CA/US) and 18-105mm (Amazon US/CA/UK) or Sony’s all-in-one cameras like the RX100 and RX10 series. The JJC RM-DSLR2 (Amazon US/CA/UK), which I own, does the same job for a lot less. If you don’t want as many buttons, you can get a simple infrared shutter release like this.
Wireless (RF) –
A radio-based shutter release requires a receiver to be connected to the camera, but allows remote control without line of sight. The Sony RMT-VP1K (Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama) is a simple shutter release, plus video controls (start/stop and zoom rocker). There are a couple more photography-centric remotes that offer more features, the Pixel RW221-S2 (Amazon US/CA/UK) and Viltrox JY120-S2 (Amazon US/CA/UK) both offer some control over shooting mode, while the Pixel TW283-S2 (Amazon US/CA/UK) is a complete remote intervalometer.
The Sony RM-SPR1 (Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama) is a one-button wired shutter release and the RM-VPR1 (Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama) is a wired version of the RMT-VP1K mentioned above that offers some video/zoom control. They’re both quite expensive. The Pixel RC201 (Amazon US/CA/UK) is an inexpensive alternative to the SPR1 if you just need a shutter release. For video control, I own the Fotga AE367 (Amazon US/CA/UK), a VPR1 alternative, and it has worked very well for me (I have it mounted to my shoulder rig). There are many wired intervalometers, but most are the same, sold by different brand names. I happen to have one from Hongdak (Amazon US/CA/UK), which is a few dollars cheaper than the same unit from Neewer.
There are no perfect camera straps, but the neckstrap that comes with your camera is less perfect than most. While no one can tell you what will work best for you, I’ll give you some basic concepts. Neckstraps are good when your gear is very light, slings are good when your gear is heavy. Wide, padded neoprene is better than a narrow strip of the finest leather. Never use a strap with those plastic pinch quick releases. Consider a safety tether. For video shooters, think about how you transition from photography to video.
I’ve used Blackrapid slings for years and years. The current Curve or Sport are very comfy. I had always discounted the Peak Design Slide as a big gimmicky and, frankly, it doesn’t look like it would be comfortable. Turns out that I was wrong… it is very comfy and the
“gimmicks” are actually well thought out, user-friendly advantages. I’ve gone back and forth, but I’ve been using the Slide most often for one important reason – when I am wearing the camera behind my back, I want it to stay put. With the Blackrapid slings, the camera dangles and bounces. I typically have to keep my hand on it. With the Peak, it just stays where you put it. There are two down sides of the Slide, in my opinion. It will tend to creep up on my neck a bit because it is a straight strap, not curved… and it is a little slower to draw the camera up because the whole strap has to slide around you. On the Blackrapid, the camera is free to slide along the strap, so the motion of raising the camera is more fluid.
All told, I like the Peak a little bit better for pedestrian/travel/hiking, but if I was shooting a wedding where the camera is rarely at rest, I’d prefer a Blackrapid. I think the average person will like the Peak better… Pros may have a tougher choice. Note that the Peak can serve as both a sling and a neckstrap, has an interesting quick release system and works even with a tripod plate on the camera. They do make a Slide Lite, which they say is scaled for mirrorless cameras, but that has a thinner strap, so I see it this way – if you prefer a neckstrap, go with the Slide Lite because it is less bulky. If you prefer a sling, or if you have heavier lenses, the regular sized Slide will be more comfortable.
- Peak Design Slide (and Slide Lite) – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
- Blackrapid Sport Breathe (and Curve) – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
A note on Arca-Swiss compatibility – I *love* Peak’s Arca-compatible plate Version 3, specifically. It’s designed to work with the Peak Capture Clip and the Slides, BUT I bought the plate long before I bought either of those, purely because it is one of the lowest-profile Arca-compatible plates you can buy for a camera. They are basically permanently installed so I can plop the camera on any ball head and go. “But then how do you put it on a video camera rig?” Simple, I just put an Arca clamp right on top of whatever mount (Manfrotto, usually) is already there.
- Peak Design Standard Plate v3 – Amazon US/CA/UK | Adorama
AKA: “Sticks”. There are two primary types of tripods, photographic and video. Photo tripods are typically lighter and more compact, usually having an extendable central post upon which a ball head is mounted. Video tripods are typically heavier and much more resistant to twisting or flexing, often having double posts for legs rather than single tubes. Most notably, a video tripod will typically have a leveling “bowl” at its center, supporting a fluid panning head. The bowl allows you to quickly level the head independently from the legs.
Of course, current tripod sensibilities were formed when there was a clear distinction between photographic and video cameras. Now we have cameras that can competently do both in a tiny, lightweight package. Tripods are slowly evolving to meet new realities.
For those just staring, here are a few suggestions:
For Photographers: The MeFoto Roadtrip and Globetrotter (Amazon US/CA/UK), are sturdy, reliable travel tripods, the latter being a bit heavier duty. If you really shoot in the muck, then the higher-end Benro Travel Angels have additional weather sealing to keep dirt and sand from invading the joints. For a bit less cash, I have used the Zomei Z818 (Amazon US/CA/UK) and found it to be a very credible substitute for the MeFoto Roadtrip. A couple notes: While in-body-stabilization allows you to use lighter-weight tripods with abandon, there are circumstances where you may benefit by heavier-duty, or models with special features. Outdoor timelapses benefit by a well-anchored, heavier tripod. If you have to use a light tripod, consider using it at minimum height, add sandbags, etc. Those who are frequently shooting around the ocean would do well to have a tripod with well sealed legs, and clean and oil any exposed metal as the salt air will deteriorate them.
For Filmmakers/Videographers: This is not where you want to go super cheap, and it often makes sense to buy the head separate from the legs. A sturdy set of legs and a smooth, fluid head is critical to vibration free, smooth panning. In my opinion, the minimum requirement for a “great” pan head is one that has independent controllable fluid drag for both tilt AND pan (not just a locking screw). The the lowest-end qualifier is the Manfrotto 502AH (Amazon US/CA/UK) head, which is really, really nice – if perhaps conspicuously large for a naked Sony mirrorless camera. There are cheaper options that can be made to work, like the Wiefeng WF-717 (Amazon US/CA/UK) (also sold by Fancier, Cowboy Studio and many others), or the toy-like plastic, yet oddly competent Velbon PH-368 (Amazon US/CA/UK). You can, of course, put these heads on a photo tripod, but for stability, consider some strong two stage video legs. They don’t have to be all the expensive. A cheap way to go is to get the cheapest kit you can, like the Fancier WF717 (Amazon US/CA/UK), which has perfect fine legs and a 75mm bowl, then replace the head with the 502A. The prices jump from there, but so do the benefits. A carbon fiber video tripod can provide all the stability while being light enough to lug around just about anywhere, like the the Manfrotto 535 (Amazon US/CA/UK) I picked up a decade ago and will likely have for life.
One note on quick releases – Manfrotto has a quick release plate system which was designed for much much larger, much much heavier cameras. In the mirrorless world, however, I recommend switching to the much smaller Arca-Swiss type clamps/plates, common to the photography world. For the 502AH head, I simply attach a long arca clamp to the Manfrotto plate. I have a square (bi-directional) Arca plate on my camera almost always, and I have adapted almost everything I have so that I never have to remove it – even my my LED lights get a plate and my light stands get a clamp, if not a small ballhead. I’ve seen plates on ebay for $1.89 with free shipping from Hong Kong, so it’s cheap to stock up.
For most people (On/Off camera) –
It’s pretty clear that Godox has the best bang for the buck where flash is concerned. Even the low end tt350-S (Amazon) has high-speed sync and can as a radio master or slave for on or off camera situations. Running on two AA’s the tt350S doesn’t have the oomph for balancing harsh sunlight or filling large halls at a distance, it does have everything the average shooter needs in close, indoors or out. The size is just perfect for the a6xxx or a7 series cameras. For more power, there’s the 4-AA driven tt685-S (Amazon) and the lithium-ion driven V680II-S (Amazon), which are nearly identical but for the power. As a function of the lithium ion battery, the 680II-S tt recycles a little faster but lasts a lot longer than the 685-S. Either are credible for professional use but come at a consumer price. For fully off-camera solutions, there X1T-S (Amazon) transmitter is nice, but there’s a new XPRO-S (Amazon) transmitter that’s even better (ships in February).
Misc. for Video Shooters/Filmmakers
Handheld Gimbal/Stabilizer –
If you ask me, the “brushless gimbal” is one of the greatest technological advancements for independent filmmakers. This is a motorized stabilizer that keeps your camera steady no matter what. The technology is improving at lightning speed , but the best bang for the buck at the moment is the Zhiyun Crane (Amazon US/CA/UK), partially because it performs well, but also because it is far easier to set up and use than most. The fact that it is also reasonably priced among its peers is gravy.
External Recorder –
External records provide a lot of utility for video shooters: It’s a large LCD that can be placed wherever it is needed, assisting focus, framing, exposure and color tasks, all while recording in higher-quality codecs without a time limit. There are several options, but the Atomos Ninja Flame (Amazon US/CA/UK) is a mature, refined product that just works extremely well. The lower priced Blackmagic Video Assist 4k (Amazon US/CA/UK) is also very good and improves with each firmware upgrade.
The world of audio is deep and this paragraph will not summarize it, except to convey one truth: Audio is important. That said, choosing the right way to capture audio is a black art laced with competing objective and subjective factors that bring out religious ferver. On the upside, everyone agrees that the microphone that comes on your camera is crap and should never, ever, be used. You don’t have to spend a lot to improve your audio 100x, but improving it another 100x is where you have to make tough choices that reflect your budget. My recommendations here are for the lowest of budgets. For an on-camera microphone, the Rode VideoMicro (Amazon US/CA/UK) is a good place to start. It’s tiny, inexpensive, and punches above its weight class. Vloggers may prefer a wired lavalier mic – I use the Boya BY-M1 (Amazon US/CA/UK) in many of my videos, partially because it’s cheap, but also because it hops from my camera to my phone with ease and sounds good, if a little bass-y. For a smaller option (not for smartphones), I like the JK Mic-J 044 (Amazon US/CA/UK). For a wireless lav, the lowest cost system that I like is the Azden Pro XD (Amazon US/CA/UK). There are many cheaper options, but they sacrifice too much for my taste.