If you're feeling like the out-of-box experience for your new camera is missing something, it probably is.
Here's a quick rundown of some of our favorite accessories for boosting the shooting potential of your camera. And if you have a few gear suggestions of your own, please leave them in the comments.
Lensbaby lenses and accessories
One of our veteran favorite recommendations are these dSLR and mirrorless camera lenses and swappable optics that allow you to create some special effects or play with depth of field in a way that's more fun and satisfying for photographers than slapping on a post-processing filter.
Digital Holga lens kit
A new addition to this year's recommended list are the , which let you generate Holga's trademark artifact-ridden photos from your high-quality dSLR, but once again in a way that's more fun for photographers than some of the dumber special-effects filters. And if you're more into or Samsung Galaxy S II, there are cases that come equipped with a telephone dial full of funky Holga filters.
Yep, it's just a clip with an adhesive strip on back. But if you know someone who's constantly misplacing lens caps or has a battery-charging cable that's forever dropping off the desk to the floor, it's $9.95 well spent.
SanDisk Extreme Pro SD and CompactFlash cards
If you're using an old card and have a need for more speed and storage, now's a good time to ramp up. SanDisk's really fast, high-capacity Extreme Pro cards are a good choice for SLRs or other high-resolution cameras. Even if you don't see any performance difference in-camera, the type of speed these cards offer (fast read/write times instead of minimum SD "class" standards, for instance) can make a big difference when uploading the photos to your computer via a card reader. Also, if your camera happens to take microSDHC cards, SanDisk has high-speed cards in that size, too.
Eye-Fi wireless SDHC cards
For those interested in adding some wireless uploading or geotagging capabilities to their camera, Eye-Fi's line of cards also makes my annual list of accessory recommendations. Its latest card, the Mobile X2, works with an iOS or Android app to send JPEG photos and movie clips directly from your camera to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Flipbac Camera Grips
Most pocket cameras do away with any sort of front grip for the sake of design. These little $10 grips let you quickly--and nondestructively--add one. Flipbac has added grips for the new Canon S100 and Nikon V1, too. The company also sells stick-on mirrors (pictured up top) that let you instantly change a camera's fixed LCD into an angle viewfinder.
As mini tripods go, the Tiltpod is about the smallest you can get. The $15 support consists of a tiny base with a nonskid bottom and a screw with a rounded head that you put into a tripod mount. The base has a small indentation with a strong magnet in it, and that's where the head of the screw rests, creating a ball and socket.
BlackRapid SnapR 20
BlackRapid makes several sling straps for SLRs, but if you got something smaller, check out the $40 SnapR 20. It combines a sling strap, wrist strap, and small padded bag in one package. That alone is nice, but what's better is that the pieces can be used together or separately.
Sun-Sniper Compact strap
Sling straps are generally more comfortable than neck straps and keep the camera out of the way when you're not shooting, but allow you to get the camera quickly into position. What sets this $60 one apart from basic sling straps is its padded shoulder rest, integrated shock absorber, and a nylon strap reinforced with a steel antitheft wire and backed with a $500 insurance policy.
Spider Holster Black Widow
For those who don't like straps of any kind, there's the $50 Black Widow holster. Just slip the holster onto a belt and attach the pin to the tripod socket on a camera. The pin slides into the holster, locking securely in place on your hip. Press down on a lever to release the camera and you're ready to shoot.
These are a great option for anyone who works with images rather than just uploading them as-is to Facebook.
For use with your iPad or any capacitive touch-pad device, these brushes add a nice dimension to working with photos on a tablet. If you regularly use any of these apps, you'll probably want to grab one.
Professor Kobre's Lightscoop
A little mirror that makes a huge difference, with the Lightscoop you can improve the performance of your on-camera flash by bouncing it off of a ceiling or walls.
There are plenty of imitators out there, but the quality of Joby's flexible tripod is still the best we've come across. Plus, it's just fun to play with when it's not being used to stabilize your camera.