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Thread: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

  1. #1
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    Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    Hi all,

    What is the best digital camera to buy for product photography (the budget is around $1000)?
    I am using a light tent and the items I intend to shoot are from small and shiny items like jewelry (1 inch or 3 cm) to bigger items (20 or 50 cm wide x 10 inches or 25 cm tall).
    As I know, only Canon cameras come bundled with the software necessary to control a camera directly from a computer. Is there any other camera with that free software?
    I am beginner in this type of photography and that’s why a little more detailed explanations of the most important features would be very helpful.

    Thanks,

    Catalin.

  2. #2
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    Hi Catalin, and welcome to CiC.

    As a Canon owner, I am (of course) most familiar with Canon products, so I'm going to confine my comments to the Canon line. There are certainly other options, but I'll let people with experience with those products speak to those items.

    For the type of photography you describe, I think a Canon T2i (also known as a 550D) with an EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens would be very well suited to the task, and falls within your budget (T2i camera body ~ 500 USD, EF-S 60mm lens about 450 USD). The EF-S 60mm lens is a true macro lens, capable of 1:1 magnification, and a minimum focus distance of about 20 cm (about 9 cm working distance from the end of the lens). The 60mm focal length has a field of view well suited to the range of subject sizes you describe; it's a good all-around choice for table-top shooting, and it's reasonably priced. It is compatible with Canon's close-up lenses and extension tubes, so you can get higher magnifications at little additional expense, if needed. The only real caveat is that an EF-S lens will not fit on a full-frame camera body like the Canon 5D.

    The T2i is also quite capable, and combined with the EF-S 60mm lens, you should get excellent image quality. About the only thing lacking is an articulated LCD, though that shouldn't be a major concern for table-top shots. The controls are a bit more awkward than those found on higher end models like the 60D, but again, for table-top shooting, there's little need to change settings very quickly so it probably doesn't matter that much, and the price difference is significant.

    Well, there's my recommendation anyway, and I think it's worth serious consideration. It's well-suited to your task, will yield fine image quality, and falls within your budget. And, as you know, it can be controlled from a computer using software bundled with the camera body... no additional expense.

  3. #3
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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    Hi Al,

    Thanks for the quick reply and recommendation.

    Catalin.

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    I'll add another vote for the EF-S 60 macro.I would still own one if I hadn't gone to FF.A wonderful lens.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by catalin View Post
    What is the best digital camera to buy for product photography (the budget is around $1000)? I am using a light tent and the items I intend to shoot are from small and shiny items like jewelry (1 inch or 3 cm) to bigger items (20 or 50 cm wide x 10 inches or 25 cm tall).

    To meet all those criteria with that budget and to be the most flexible for that range of Object Sizes without considering any further information or discussion:

    A late model APS-C Camera - 550D / 60D etc and the EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 IS Kit Lens and a Set of Three Kenko Extension Tubes - specifically the Second Release of the “DG Series” which are compatible with Canon EF-S Lenses.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by catalin View Post
    I am beginner in this type of photography and that’s why a little more detailed explanations of the most important features would be very helpful.

    Excellent Question!



    Some main elements for you to consider:

    1. What is the END USE of the image?
    If it is for web advertising then a recent model APS-C (like the 550D) and the 18 to 55 kit lens and a Set of Three Kenko Extension Tubes will suffice and you will be way under budget to allow for the purchase of other items.

    Conversely . . .
    If you want 20” x 24” studio display prints – then a 5DMkII a TS-E90 and set of tubes would be a good start, but you are at about 5 times the budget for that gear.


    2. What is the studio area at your disposal? - i.e. SD (Shooting Distance) Camera Format and Focal Length Choice.

    For example if you have a 60mm lens on an APS-C camera:
    Then to (comfortably) shoot an Object 50cm x 25cm in at various angles you require a FoV (Field of View) of about 100cm x 50cm – and that FoV requires an SD (Shooting Distance) of about 270cm (9ft). Behind that SD will (usually) stand the Photographer and to be comfortable that is an additional 3ft. The Object and the Light Tent also has depth – typical dimensions of a light tent capable of adequately housing a 50cm wide object would be something in the order of 100cm x 100cm x 100cm (3ft 4”) (min.).

    You might want Backlight or Overhead Light, so, including space to stand behind the camera; the SD; the depth of the Light Tent; and room for a Light Stand behind the Light Tent – you will need a studio space which is clear for about 550cm (18ft) maybe a bit less if you can do squishy.

    A wider lens will allow a closer SD.


    3. A macro lens gets you close – but you want to photograph big objects, also.


    4. A TS-E lens controls the DoF better and more easily than a Macro Lens – but is more expensive and fiddly to use.



    ***



    Regarding Canon EF-S Lenses and Canon Extension Tubes:

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    It [the EF-S 60/2.8] is compatible with Canon's close-up lenses and extension tubes, so you can get higher magnifications at little additional expense, if needed. The only real caveat is that an EF-S lens will not fit on a full-frame camera body like the Canon 5D.
    EF-S lenses are only compatible with the (two) Canon MkII Series extension tubes, not the original Extension Tubes, which are still for sale (new) in some markets.



    WW

  6. #6
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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    What about close-up lens?.

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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon Hacker View Post
    What about close-up lens?.
    Like this: http://www.digidirect.com.au/camera_..._close-up_lens

    It still requires a primary lens, it attaches by screwing into the filter thread of the Primary Lens.

    WW

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    Re: Which camera and lens for close-up tabletop product photography?

    And what about a macro lens instead of extension tubes? Macro lenses go to 1:1 imaging w/o extension tubes, and could have a wider opening (2.8), giving better control of DoF. OK, a macro lens is not the cheapest, but neither are extension tubes that keep the automation intact. And would the kit lens be needed/useful for that kind of photography?

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