Must-Need Gear for a Product Photography Studio

ProShot Media Product Photography Blog

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Table of Contents

Must-Need Gear for a Product Photography Studio

Wonder how you can improve your product photography for your online business? Oftentimes we believe that the quality of our photos is determined by the kind of camera that we use, which can feel daunting when cameras and lenses can cost up to thousands of dollars. Fortunately, this is not entirely the case! This article will show you some accessories that you can use to improve the quality of your product photography and how you can even make some of these yourself on a budget.

1. Tripod


This is a no-brainer; product photos are best when they are sharp and in-focus, and a tripod can make doing so effortless. A good tripod is stable, adjustable, and easy to set up and take down. You might also consider its weight and size depending on how much you plan on moving your setup. Our recommendations for tripods are:

  • Best studio – 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 – 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 – 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.

2. Lighting

 

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.

3. Background

 

A white background is the quintessential product photography look, and it is just as straightforward to do as it is clean-looking! You can consider getting a professional white backdrop or photography paper.

For more creative and varied backgrounds, try looking around your house or building to find different surfaces you can use. Counter tops, cutting boards, and tables are just some of the options you might have available. Alternatively, you can replicate different surfaces by wrapping a board with a textured vinyl sticker. Just make sure to position the edges of the board outside of the frame of your photo.

4. Props


Props are the easiest ways to add life into your product photography, and finding the right ones to use depends on the product that you are shooting. Does your product belong in the kitchen? Measuring cups, utensils, and food can be some of the props you might use. Are you selling handmade goods on Etsy? Vintage trinkets might be more of what you’re looking for.

Items that have interesting textures that contrast your product could be good choices to put into the background of your photos. No matter what your uses are, make sure you keep an open mind. You never know what could be useful!
Product photography can be difficult to get right, but is crucial to getting your products out to a larger audience. These are just some of the tools you can get to build up your own photography setup and start taking better photos for your business. If you’d like professional-level results right away, we at ProShot Media offer a multitude of services that cater to whatever your needs are, from solid-color background to lifestyle. Click the link below to schedule a consultation with our project manager and see how we can help fulfill your needs!

 

ProShot Media Product Photography Services

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