Best Lenses for Product Photography

ProShot Media Product Photography Blog

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best lens for product photography

Choosing a product photography lens can feel overwhelming, because there are so many options on the market. When investing in a new lens you should always consider your setup, use case, and budget. In this guide, we’ll help you decide on a lens as quickly as possible.

First we’ll explain some things you should consider when choosing a new lens for product photography,  and then show you our top picks!

 

Cropped vs Full Frame Sensors

 

It’s important to note that certain lenses are designed for certain sizes of camera sensors. A majority of lenses are made for full-frame sensors. APS-C sensors are slightly smaller than full-frame and are the most common for mid-grade digital cameras. While APS-C cameras can use full-frame lenses, full-frame cameras cannot use APS-C lenses without a noticeable vignetting on their photos. Some examples of APS-C lenses are Canon’s EF-S lenses, Nikon’s DX lenses, and Sony’s APS-C E lenses.

APS-C sensors also add a crop factor of about 1.5 to 1.6 times the focal length to their lenses. For example, a 35mm lens on an APS-C camera allows you to shoot at a roughly 50mm focal length. Therefore, you should consider buying a wider lens for your APS-C camera, or expect to shoot at a much longer focal length than what the lens itself may suggest.

 

Focal length

 

In general, we recommend a minimum focal length of 50mm or higher. This is because 50mm gives us the most similar perspective to the human eye, with little distortion. Longer focal lengths also allow for better separation between the subject and the background. Wider lenses can be useful if multiple subjects are in a photo, but are less versatile with product photography specifically.

What about prime vs. zoom? We recommend sticking to prime lenses when possible. Although you sacrifice the flexibility of multiple focal lengths with zoom lenses, prime lenses are sharper and usually have lower minimum apertures. Prime lenses are also generally lighter, which can be a benefit when traveling. The variable focal length of a zoom lens can be useful however if you are looking for a one-size-fits-all-type lens.

 

Focus

 

Autofocus can be an efficient and easy way to get your photography to consistently look sharp. However, in some studio setups, autofocus may not be necessary to get sharp photos, as many modern cameras have built-in focus assist tools that help you take clear photos with a manual focus lens. Manual focus lenses also tend to be cheaper, ideal for those on a budget, and some specialty lenses like tilt-shift are only available as manual focus.

Macro lenses with low minimum focus distance let you get your camera really close to your products, highlighting their minute details and textures. When shooting product photography, it’s best to get a macro lens when possible.

Finally, for more advanced shooters, you might want to consider a tilt-shift lens. Tilt-shift lenses are unique in that they allow you to shift the plane of focus by adjusting the lens relative to the camera itself, letting you control exactly what parts of your image are blurred or clear. As noted above, these lenses are exclusively manual focus, but achieve a look that a normal lens cannot.

 

 

Canon Lens Comparison for Product Photography

 

 

Best Lenses for Product Photography: Canon

 

 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L || Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L

Canon’s L series lenses have long been regarded for their robustness, accurate autofocus, and high quality glass. Both of these lenses fit that bill as well. The EF 50mm f/1.2L sports soft, appealing bokeh and rich colors. Its mirrorless equivalent, the more modern RF 50mm f/1.2L, takes all of that and makes it even better, with fast and accurate autofocus, high sharpness and contrast, and a control ring that you can map various camera settings to for added convenience. While the RF 50mm is large and heavy, both lenses are versatile picks for product photography.

 

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS || Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro

Alternative: Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro

For detailed close-up shots, we suggest the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lenses. Both are medium-telephoto lenses with high sharpness and fast, accurate autofocus typical of the L series, with low minimum focusing distance perfect for product photography. The RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro is especially noteworthy for its 1.4x magnification, allowing it to capture much more detail than most standalone macro lenses. For those looking to experiment with tilt-shift, Canon’s TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro offers comparable sharpness at a similar focal length.

 

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 || Canon RF85mm f/2 Macro

There are still a wide variety of lenses to pick from even for budget product photography. For Canon, the 85mm lenses are a good pick for telephoto focal length, fast autofocus, and shallow depth of field, letting you be flexible with your shots without needing to pay a premium. One thing to keep in mind is that the EF 85mm does not have image stabilization, which may be a point of concern if your setup does not have a tripod.

 

 

Best Lenses for Product Photography: Nikon

 


AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G || NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2S

Similarly to our Canon recommendations, Nikon’s 50mm lenses are a great do-it-all selection for product photography. For DSLR shooters, the 50mm f/1.8G is the best available first-party lens. It has good sharpness, low focusing distance, and fast autofocus all for a low cost. For mirrorless shooters, Nikon offers a much more premium option in the Z 50mm f/1.2S. Not only does it sport even faster and more accurate focusing than the f/1.8G, but it also has little to no lens distortion, helping you take as accurate of a product image as possible. Note, however, that neither of these lenses have image stabilization.

 

AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED || NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S

Alternative: PC-E Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D

All of Nikon’s 105mm f/2.8 macro lenses are some of the sharpest lenses available on a Nikon camera and are great product photography choices for their 1:1 macro, medium telephoto focal length, and minimal to no distortion. Both of these lenses offer similar image quality, though the mirrorless option does have a slightly lower minimum focus distance at 0.96 feet compared to 1 foot on the DSLR option. Nikon also offers a tilt-shift lens at a similar aperture in the PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D.

 

NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Alternative: NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8

For a more affordable mirrorless option, either of Nikon’s Z 50mm lenses are good choices. While the Z 50mm f/1.8 S is a more all-purpose lens that has a shallower depth of field if needed, the Z MC 50mm f/2.8 sacrifices the lower apertures for 1:1 macro. Both are solid choices at the true-to-life 50mm focal length.

 

 

Best Lenses for Product Photography: Sony

 


Best All Rounder: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2GM

Sony’s GM series house the top-of-the-line lenses that Sony produces, and this 50mm is no exception. Keeping a sharp image at every aperture down to f/1.2 makes it flexible in adjusting bokeh and background blur while having a clear and detailed photo alongside a low minimum focus distance that makes it perfect for a wide variety of product photography scenarios.

 

Best Specialist: Sony FE 90mm 2.8 Macro G OSS

While not a part of the GM series of lenses, the FE 90mm 2.8 Macro G OSS is the sharpest first-party lens you can buy for a Sony camera. Fast and accurate autofocus alongside user-friendly manual focus, no lens distortion, and 1:1 macro magnification make it a perfect lens for close-up product shots that demand a lot of detail.

 

Best Budget: Sony FE 85mm 1.8G

The FE 85mm 1.8G is a powerhouse budget option that punches above its weight when it comes to image quality. It also sports fast, accurate, and silent autofocus typical of the more premium Sony lenses while remaining light and easy to use.

 

Best Lenses for Product Photography: Third Party

 

TTartisan 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro Tilt-Shift

This TTartisan lens has three main strengths: it has up to 2:1 macro magnification, it is tilt-shift, and it is very budget friendly compared to the other tilt-shift lenses on this list. This gives photographers who are on a budget a chance to experiment with tilt-shift and 2x macro on the same lens. Two things to keep in mind with this lens is that it is designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras, and it basically requires a tripod to use due to its long focal length and lack of autofocus.

 

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro

For APS-C users, the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro is a solid budget lens that roughly translates to 97 to 104mm. With up to a 2:1 magnification, this lens can achieve levels of detail far beyond what most first-party macro lenses can at a fraction of a cost. Like the TTartisan lens listed above, however, it does not have autofocus, so you’ll need to use a tripod to take full advantage of its macro capabilities.

 

Recommended Products

 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8

Canon RF85mm f/2 Macro

AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED 

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S

NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2GM

Sony FE 90mm 2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 85mm 1.8G

TTartisan 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro Tilt-Shift

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro

 

Other Product Photography Gear We Recommend

 

Must-Need Gear For A Product Photography Studio

5 Product Photography Accessories

 

ProShot Media Product Photography Services

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