Equipment for Product Photography

ProShot Media Product Photography Blog

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Table of Contents

Using the right tools is crucial for capturing stunning product images that showcase your merchandise in the best possible light. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve into the must-have equipment needed to set up your product photography studio, from cameras and lenses to lighting gear and accessories. Whether you’re shooting products for e-commerce, advertising, or social media, this guide will help you build a solid foundation for your photography endeavors. Let’s dive in and explore the key components that will elevate your product photography game to the next level!

 

Best Camera for Product Photography

 

When you’re stepping into the world of online product photography, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the camera options out there. But the truth is, you don’t need the fanciest, most expensive gear to get started. A simple DSLR or mirrorless camera with around 20-24 megapixels is more than enough to capture crisp, high-quality images of your products. Cameras like the Nikon Z30 or Canon EOS M6 Mark II are excellent choices for beginners, offering a good balance of performance and affordability. And if you’re looking for a specific recommendation, the Canon EOS RP is a standout option that won’t break the bank.

If you’re unsure about which type of camera to go for, a quick search on YouTube will yield plenty of sponsored and genuine reviews comparing DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. While DSLRs used to be the standard choice for professional photographers, mirrorless technology has been rapidly evolving and is now on par with, if not surpassing, DSLRs in many aspects. This means that whether you opt for a DSLR like the legendary Nikon 850 or a more budget-friendly option like the Canon EOS 5DS, you’ll still be able to achieve great results for your product photography.

When it comes to choosing your first camera for product photography, there are a few key factors to consider. Firstly, resolution is important, with a minimum of 20 megapixels recommended to ensure your images are sharp and detailed. Additionally, you’ll want a camera that allows you to change lenses, as this opens up a world of creative possibilities and allows you to adapt to different shooting situations. Another useful feature to look out for is the ability to tether your camera to a computer during shoots, which can save you a lot of time and hassle when reviewing and editing your images. Lastly, it’s worth considering the sensor size of the camera, as this can affect the field of view and depth of field of your images. Different manufacturers have different lens mounts for their cameras, so make sure to choose one that’s compatible with the lenses you want to use. Ultimately, the most important thing is to find a camera that suits your needs and budget, so don’t be afraid to start small and upgrade as you develop your skills and grow as a photographer.

 

Best Lens for Product Photography 

 

Choosing the right lens is crucial for great product photos. First, make sure the lens mount matches your camera. Brands have their own mounts, so double-check compatibility. Pay attention to focal length, typically measured in millimeters (mm). For perfect product photos, aim for 80-100 mm, though 50-150 mm can work too. Magnification, usually between 0.5-1.2X, is ideal for shooting objects. For sharp images, go for a lens with a macro ratio of 1:1.

Consider lens speed or aperture, indicating how much light the lens allows in. For still life shots, aim for higher apertures like f/8 – f/11. Prime lenses are preferred over zoom lenses for sharper images. Even affordable lenses in the 18-135 mm range can do the job. Keep the focus distance between 50-120 mm and use higher F-stop settings (e.g., f/8 – f/11) for better focus.

For product photography, sharpness is key, and lenses matter more than pricey cameras. Investing in good lenses is wise, as they can last a lifetime. You don’t need a bag full of lenses to start; two or three will cover most needs. The 100mm macro lens is excellent for product photography, covering 85% of tasks. Sigma offers affordable options for various camera mounts. If you use a cropped sensor camera, consider a 60mm macro lens or equivalent. It’s versatile and can also work well on full-frame cameras for tabletop shots or enlarging products. Additionally, having a versatile zoom lens, like a 24-105mm, can be handy for creative situations.



Choosing a Tripod for Product Photography 

 

When it comes to product photography, stability is key. Forget about lightweight or travel tripods; you need a solid one. Look for a tripod with a central column where you can add weight for even more stability. Equally important is a good tripod head. I prefer geared heads because they offer precise control over camera movements.

Product photography tripods come in various sizes and prices. You can find decent options starting at around $30, which can make a big difference for photographers. While a professional lens may be a luxury, a reliable tripod is just as essential. Invest in a sturdy, durable tripod that’s tall enough for your needs and has all the necessary arms and heads. Not all tripods offer the same features, so take your time to find one with a horizontal arm and central column, which are great for product photography.

Here are my picks:

  • Best studio tripod – Vanguard VEO 3+ 263AB: An already solid tripod made special with its unique center column and adapter that gives you the ability to shoot traditionally, top-down, and anywhere in between. The versatility is unmatched as an all-in-one tripod perfect for any studio setup. Buy here from Vanguard.

 

  • Best travel tripod – Peak Design Travel Tripod: For a portable, sturdy, and easy-to-use tripod, the Peak Design Travel Tripod can’t be beat. Its collapsed form slims down to the width of a water bottle, and with a carbon fiber version, can be incredibly light. It does come at a cost, but for those who need a small form-factor tripod, the Peak Design Travel Tripod can’t be beat. Buy here from Peak Design.

 

  • Budget tripod – Manfrotto Element: This tripod, although a more budget option, comes from one of the most reliable brands in camera equipment and checks all of the boxes on a good standard tripod. It can support enough weight for larger cameras like DSLRs with larger lenses while still remaining stable and can get low to the ground if necessary. Buy here from Amazon.You might also want to consider a remote shutter for your camera, so that you can reduce the shake that comes from pressing the shutter button on your camera’s body. You can also reduce this shake by setting your camera to shoot after a one to five second timer.

 

 

Lighting Gear for Product Photography

 

Lighting often goes overlooked despite being one of, if not the most important thing about your photography. In most cases lighting is the deciding factor between bad and great product photos. How you’ll want to approach your lighting depends on what kind of product photos you want and what your setup is.

For indoor setups, having an external light can give a product a more defined shape as well as mask any uneven natural light. Many cameras come with built-in flash; we don’t recommend these because they point straight at where your camera is facing and can cause your image to look harsh and blown out. Instead, try getting a flashgun. These are external flashes that can either be attached to your camera’s cold shoe mount or be positioned separately and controlled by the camera remotely with the addition of a controller, which are sold separately or in a bundle. They can also be tilted in different angles to aim the light exactly how you want. Our recommendations for flashguns are:

  • First party – Your camera brand’s first party flashgun: These flashguns will have the best compatibility with your camera of choice due to first-party support. Higher-spec brands like Canon, Nikon, and Sony offer them at various tiers from $100 up to $1000. While we don’t have any specific recommendation from each of the brands’ lineups, we do suggest you take a look at them to see whether you need specific features like TTL which can automatically set the flash’s power based on your scene’s lighting.
  • Budget – Yongnuo YN560 IV: For studio shooters on a budget, the YN560 IV is a great option. While it doesn’t offer any quality of life features like TTL, its under $100 price and solid wireless connectivity makes it ideal for multi-light setups where multiple flashguns can be linked together. If you’re looking to expand your lighting on a budget, the YN560 IV could be for you. Buy it here from Amazon.
  • High end – ProFoto A10: Probably the best and most expensive flash gun you can buy, the ProFoto A10 is overkill for most scenarios. It is well-built, easy to use, consistent, and comes with the added bonus of being usable as a continuous light as well as a strobe (more on that below). For those with the money to spend who are sure that you will be doing photography for a long time, this might be the flashgun for you. Buy it here from Profoto.

Other options for lighting are strobe lights and continuous lights. Strobe lights act like flashes and fire off a single burst of light. Continuous lights simply turn on and off like household lights. There are trade-offs to both types of lighting: while strobe lights are typically much brighter, they are also harder to use since the light doesn’t appear until the shot is taken. On the other hand, continuous lights are easier to use, but because they are dimmer, require more controlled lighting in the room you are shooting in. Here are our recommendations for strobe and continuous lights:

  • Strobe – Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Photography Lighting Kit: A versatile kit of two strobe lights, two softboxes, stands and a deflector. Great build quality and ease of use, but will require additional investment on top of its hefty price tag for compatibility with faster shutter speeds. Buy it here from B&H.
  • Continuous – Neewer 660 RGB LED Light 2-Pack: A kit of two LED lights, this kit shows another advantage of continuous lighting, in that the ease of use allows for more accessible, creative lighting. The color of these lights can be controlled by your phone to create the exact lighting scenario you want. Buy it here from Amazon.

There are many ways to position your lights based on how many you have, how bright they are, and the effect you are trying to achieve, but to start out, here’s a basic 1-light setup you can do:

  • Position your light above your setup at a corner and point it 45 degrees down at your product.
  • Adjust the height and distance of your light until you get the desired amount of shadow.

For outdoor setups, we already have access to natural sunlight as our main source of lighting. Sometimes natural sunlight can be a bit too bright, so we recommend a diffuser to soften and even the light that gets cast on your product. Most external lights and speedlights come with softboxes or ways to accomplish similar functions, and we recommend you always use them for best results.

 

Accessories for Product Photography

 

For product photography, you’ll often find yourself needing various tools to set up your shots. It’s hard to pin down a minimum gear list because as you spend more time in the studio, your creativity will lead you to try new setups and techniques.

When it comes to stands, grip arms, filters, and modifiers, the options are vast. Stands, extension arms, flags, fingers, reflectors, softboxes, grids, and scrims are just a few examples. The list could go on and on, but here are some essentials to consider adding to your equipment bag:

Filters: Start with a circular polarizer filter to manage tough reflections that can spoil your photos. Keep in mind that it may reduce light by a stop and cause minor color shifts, but it’s worth it for clearer shots.

Stands: While C-stands are top-notch, they can be pricey. Begin with regular stands of various sizes and consider adding a light boom to position a light source above your product.

Grip Arms: These are essential for holding lights in unusual positions or suspending diffusion material. They might seem unfamiliar at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of using them.

Softboxes: Opt for two strip boxes or softboxes to achieve a pleasing soft light for your product photography.

White Diffusion: A roll of Rosco diffuser may not seem crucial, but its versatility is invaluable. Combined with scrims and reflectors, it allows you to control and soften light in countless ways.

Scrims: These help enhance product shapes and highlight details. Mastering light control with scrims and diffusion materials can significantly improve your photography results.



Miscellaneous Gear for Product Photography

 

Building a well-equipped toolkit for product photography involves considering a variety of useful items:

Plexiglass: Acquire both white and black plexiglass pieces to create pure backgrounds reflecting onto your product’s surface. The versatility of plexiglass can work wonders in achieving different visual effects.

Foam Board: A multifunctional tool serving as a reflector, surface, or v-flat, foam boards in black and white offer endless options for fill or negative fill, contributing to the overall lighting setup.

Cinefoil: This black, albeit somewhat pricey, foil provides various applications, serving as cheap barn doors, a DIY snoot, or a flag. Its versatility makes it a worthwhile addition to your kit.

Varnish: Invest in matte and glossy spray-on varnish cans for highly reflective or translucent products, such as bottles. Planning in advance, applying varnish can enhance or reduce shine, proving to be a cost-effective and impactful tool.

Clamps: A versatile assistant on any shoot, clamps are indispensable for hanging, fixing, or attaching various elements. Starting with twelve clamps is a good foundation, but beware – they can become addictive!

C-stand with knuckle and extension: This tool is ideal for clamping onto acrylic, mirrors, and even lights, providing stability and flexibility in your setup.

Hot Glue Gun: For discreet and easily removable attachments, a hot glue gun with clear glue is invaluable in positioning elements securely in place.

Compressed Air: A can of compressed air is an efficient pre-shoot tool to reduce post-production work on glossy pieces like watches or rings. It helps eliminate any dust particles, ensuring a clean and polished final image.

Acrylic Rods: Transparent acrylic rods, when used with a hot glue gun, can effectively hold objects in the air, requiring minimal editing due to their transparency.

Black Electrical Tape: Universally useful, black electrical tape is employed in professional studios for marking spots on tables and fixing or attaching various elements during the shoot.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is product photography?

Product photography involves capturing images of products to showcase them in advertisements, catalogs, e-commerce websites, or other promotional materials. The goal is to present the product in its best light, highlighting its features, design, and functionality.

 

What do you need for a product photography setup?

To set up a product photography setup, you’ll need essential equipment such as a camera (DSLR or mirrorless), lenses, lighting sources (like studio lights or natural light), a backdrop or surface, and props if necessary. Additionally, accessories like tripods, reflectors, and diffusers can enhance your setup and improve the quality of your photos.

 

How can I shoot product photography at home?

Shooting product photography at home is feasible with some basic equipment and a bit of creativity. You’ll need a dedicated shooting space with good lighting, whether it’s natural light from windows or artificial lights. Set up a backdrop or use a clean surface for your products, ensuring it complements the product’s aesthetics. Experiment with different angles, compositions, and props to create visually appealing images.

 

What equipment is used in product photography?

Common equipment used in product photography includes cameras (DSLR or mirrorless), various lenses (such as macro or prime lenses), lighting equipment (like studio lights, softboxes, or reflectors), backdrops or surfaces, tripods, and accessories like clamps, diffusers, and props.

 

What things are needed for product photography?

To conduct product photography effectively, you’ll need essential items like a camera, suitable lenses, lighting equipment, a backdrop or surface, and accessories such as tripods and reflectors. Additionally, props and styling elements can enhance the visual appeal of your product photos.

 

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Gabe Tabari Bio Picture

Gabe Tabari

Meet Gabe Tabari, the go-to project manager at ProShot Media. With a knack for keeping things organized and projects on track, Gabe is the man behind most projects. In his blog posts, Gabe shares practical tips on how businesses can succeed with product photography.

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