Cameras & lenses to buy for product photography

Which camera should you buy for product photography?

You would think that in order to take great product photos, you would need an expensive camera with all the bells & whistles, but the truth is that you don’t. With a little bit of photography knowledge and decent camera, you will get great results.

What do expensive cameras allow you to do?

In short, high end professional DSLR’s allow you to tweak settings in more detail than point and shoot options. For product photography, since light is controlled by you, the photographer, you don’t need to tweak too many settings. This is why high end camera’s a seldom needed for product work. If you were shooting wildlife or sports or landscapes, etc. that rely on natural light and may be moving subjects as with sports/wildlife, then high end camera’s allow you to do a lot more and take better pictures.

For product photography, where light is constant and the product is not moving, a good point and shoot or a starter DSLR will work well.

Here are a few options for you to consider:

Point and shoot

Although they’re not often considered as professional cameras, a point and shoot can be a great option for product photography. They’re small, light weight, and can take incredible photos in a controlled light environment, which is the case for product photography.

For the most flexibility, look for one that has a tilt screen as it’s often helpful when shooting from odd angles.

Our top 3 picks for point and shoot:

You could also use a good smartphone camera to start with. Most of the newer phones have a 10+MP camera and perform well under well lit environments.

DSLR

If you are looking to move up from a point and shoot, then here are some starter DSLR options. Keep in mind that simply buying a pro camera is not going to make your photos better. You have to understand some of the key settings in order to be able to use these effectively. In a future post, we will discuss some of the camera settings useful for product photography.

A dslr (stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex) is often what you’ll see professional photographers using. These let you set various settings that let you control the light during the photo taking process i.e. aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. and can give you a better image straight out of your camera. One of the best things about using a dslr is that they have an interchangeable lens. Whether you want to take a close up shot of your product or a regular full view shot, you’re bound to find a great lens to help you get the shot you need.

Here are a couple starter DSLR’s that will help take your product photos to the next level.

Canon: EOS Rebel T6i

Nikon: D3400 with 18-55mm II VR Kit Lens

Lenses

Choose the best lens for your product photography

When you get into photography, you often times think it’s the camera body you’ll end up spending the most money on. In the long run you’ll find that you’ll end up spending more money on lenses. A great lens for product photography can cost you thousands, but with a little photography knowledge, you can still get stunning images of your products with the basic 18-55mm kit lens. But for certain types of images, a different lens is helpful.

Prime lens: If you a looking to buy your first lens, a prime lens is a good choice. A prime lens is a fixed zoom lens. Fixed zoom lenses give you sharper pictures than a zoom lens because they are optimized to perform best at one specific zoom. Note that because these lenses don’t allow you to change the zoom, you have to move forward or backwards as needed to make sure the product is in the frame.

For product photography, a 35mm or 50mm lens is a good option to start with, depending on the distance you’re shooting from and the size of your product i.e. if you are shooting small-to-medium sized items, a 50mm will work or if you are shooting medium-to-large items, a 35mm may work better. It’s best to go to a store and try the lenses to get a better idea of the zoom factor.

Macro lens: Macro lens are also prime lenses but they are made for shooting products up close. Typically, these lenses let you focus from a shorter distance than other lenses. For close-up product photography of jewelry and other small items, the 105mm Nikon Macro or the Canon 100mm lens works well – but these are pricey lenses. Unless you are selling high value products, these lenses might not be necessary.

Which camera do you use? Are you happy with the results?