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Thread: Basic equipment for Product Photography

  1. #1

    Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Hi All,

    I have a Sony DSC HX100V. My first question. Is this camera good enough for product photography. Also it will be of great help if you guys suggest me what other equipment do I need to get started. I want to click some jewellery and chocolates.

  2. #2
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Hi Aniket, Welcome to CIC.
    Don't know much about the camera but I am a Sony user as well so my opinion will be biased. I had a look at a few reviews on the net and they all seemed to be pretty positive.
    I don't think you will have too many problems achieving decent product photo's with this camera.
    With regards to other equipment I would strongly recommend getting a tripod and maybe one of those light tents.
    Lots of them on eBay.
    Cheers, Greg

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Essentially I suppose that the most important things for product photography are light, sharpness, good control of depth of field and image quality depending on your customer. Lighting is probably the most important as this will make or break your shots. You might be compromised a little with light as there doesn't seem to be a hot shoe on the camera and so I don't think that wireless controlled flash will be an option (unless somebody with more experience with this type of camera knows better). That will leave you with the built in flash and slave flashes assuming that you will be using flash to light your product. A DSLR would maybe be better because usually there is a hot shoe or sync socket that will take a wireless transmitter or extension cable that will fire your flash(es). I would concentrate on lighting as the first priority and so a decent flash or two and some light modifiers would be close to the top of my list. There's no dedicated flash for this camera as far as I can see so personally I would look at a manual flash (less expensive) with built in slave unit (YongNuo, Vivitar etc). Consider light modifiers also such as umbrellas, reflectors etc.
    As far as depth of field and sharpness goes I'm afraid that I have no experience with this type of camera, quality may be better with a DSLR and a good lens or two and even better with a digital medium format - don't let this stop you though or send you on an expensive shopping spree.
    Equally important look at lots of commercial product images and try to work out how they were lit/shot and as I'm more of a landscape photographer - pay more attention to people who know more about this subject than me
    Feel free to send me the chocolates once you have photographed them though.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    I have done lots of product photography with a compact camera, and the Sony you have is quite good enough. '

    I wouldn't bother about flash for product shots. It doesn't help a lot and it is more difficult to get good results than using cheap lamps. I use cheap clamp spots much like what's shown at Prophotolife, and it works very well. Look through those videos, and you'll get the gist. That guy is a pro, and he knows what he's doing.

    A good tripod and a set of home-made light modifiers, a good table for tabletop shots. Maybe a translucent tabletop.

    It might be valuable to have one or two closeup lenses if it does not focus as closer than two metres at long focal lengths. Product shots of small items are usually shot with a long focal length at distances between one and four feet. The "macro" setting is of no use for those closeups, but closeup attachment lenses of +1, +2 and +3 diopters can be invaluable.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Product photography is all about presentation, lighting and control. You want to show the product and not have any distractions that take away from the product. Traditionally, a white, seamless background is used as this works well in either printed catalogues and on webpages. You can of course use any background you want, so long as it does not distract from the product you are trying to show.

    Basic equipment for Product Photography

    This shot was taken using off-camera flash using a small soft-box to create a nice soft light from above the subject and a white reflector (just a small piece of white foam-core board) to even out the light on the subject. The background is a roll of white paper looped as it goes from vertical to horizontal to give a nice, seamless backgorund Photoshop was used in post-production to clean up the background and create this high-key shot.

    Flash is the easiest and most controllable way to go, but suspect that you will want to use other light sources. A tripod really helps set up these shots. Diffuse lighting is important to eliminate hot spots and to give even light, and I generally use a two-light approach; a soft main light and a reflector as a fill light. I don't see why your camera won't work, assuming that you can get good depth of field can work in the focus range of the camera.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    I've ranted on about the CreativeLive courses and people before. The link is to a four day product photography course which coincidentally starts tomorrow. Watching their courses if free during the taping and you can ask questions of the presenters. If you can't watch it live then reruns are available the evening after taping. After that you have to pay for it. I and thousands of others around the world never miss looking in on their courses. Check it out.

    http://www.creativelive.com/courses/...-don-giannatti

  7. #7

    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Hi Guys,

    Thank you so much for helping me with my queries. I will keep all your suggestions in mind. Will definitely share the pictures with you

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    I'll bump this thread with an image to show what actually is possible with very little gadgetry.

    This shot was made with the camera and batteries placed on top of a side-plate for a computer cabinet, a background I often use for product shots. I am no fan of bright white backgrounds, in my opinion they tend to distract from the subject and are a bit hard to look at. I prefer softer tones and a neutral look.

    Lighting is a window behind the setup, a mirror at the right side and a white cloth reflector to the left.

    The camera for taking the image - EXIF data is still there - is a Nikon Coolpix 5600, almost identical to the one in the picture. It is a simple compact camera with 3x zoom and CCD chip, not CMOS, but it has the essential settings of white balance and compensation. The image is shrunk to about the size of the largest computer screens, about 2 megapixel, and if you open it in its own tab or window, you can pixelpeep if you so wish. Images for the web seldom need more than VGA resolution, and one megapixel is mostly overkill. Therefore, most people would not need a DSLR for this type of shots; in fact I have yet to see a product shot that would necessitate more than the capacity of a compact camera from ten years ago.

    Basic equipment for Product Photography

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    I generally agree with the above, and would add some suggestions:

    * Take a pictures of a gray card at the same position as the product, and receiving the same light. This will help A Lot with white balance.

    * If you have one or more supplemental external flashes, then consider diminishing the power of the camera flash that probably can't be aimed or bounced. Otherwise you can easily get harsh shadows.

    * I have a pair of YongNue flashes that have Slave mode. They provided essentially all of the light. Umbrellas and light-boxes are helpful, but so far I've just bounced the external flashes off white ceilings and white 20"x30" foam boards around the subject.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    I would like to add, that once you have settled for a neutral background, lighting is the most important factor for getting a decent product shot. Soft ambient lighting, perhaps lighting up shadows with a reflector, is often enough. Lamps can be used, any kind, if you just take care not to use different types of lamps or combine lamps with natural light. It is easier to see what you might get with continuous light, and you don't have the problems of shooting people or pets, when you shoot inanimate objects. Most products neither jump nor run. So with the camera on a tripod, you can use the aperture that suits the subject and low ISO at any shutter time that your camera can handle.

    So the odds are in your favour with the camera you already have. You need no flashes or any other flashy gear. You need a decent working space, some light modifiers, as diffusing screens and reflectors. Jim Talkington's videos will give you an idea of what gear you might have use for in your home studio. Those modifiers can be home made; you can often use makeshift solutions, and your fantasy is what sets the limits.

    A set of lamps that I often use are small spotlights with Gu10 socket equipped with LED spots. The LED lamps modulate light quite a bit, but that is not important when long shutter times may be used. Those fixtures may be attached to the type of supports Jim Talkington uses. I prefer LED because it is cool, they don't heat the area you illuminate. Halogen lamps should be avoided when you shoot anything that is sensitive to heat (as chocolate).

    But any lamp will do, preferably one that can be directed, as a regular desktop lamp. As reflectors, I use mirrors, plain white paper, a shaving mirror or a windshield protector. Sometimes I even find a good reflector thrown away, as the wrapping of a chocolate bar or the bag that held chips. I sometimes use such items when taking pictures of small flowers outdoors. You can tape or glue alufoil on a piece of cardboard. You really won't need anything expensive in order to shoot small objects.

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    ldasignup's Avatar
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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkanyezi View Post
    But any lamp will do,
    Well, not necessarily. CFL's, LED"s, and especially older fluorescents don't necessarily have a "full spectrum" of light. They may be missing certain ranges of wavelength, or with spikes. Incandescents and flash will generally have a full spectrum without excessive spikes, as will sunlight, shade, and overcast skies.

    If wavelengths are missing, then it can be essentially impossible to get the color temperature and tint accurate. My (limited) experience with taking pictures of fine art (paintings, sculptures, etc.) is that accuracy is Job #1. This includes dynamic range and especially white balance. The potential buyer of the object doesn't want to be surprised that the color is different than expected. Of course, YMMV.
    Last edited by ldasignup; 29th November 2012 at 01:35 PM. Reason: typo

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by ldasignup View Post
    If wavelengths are missing, then it can be essentially impossible to get the color temperature and tint accurate. My (limited) experience with taking pictures of fine art (paintings, sculptures, etc.) is that accuracy is Job #1. This includes dynamic range and especially white balance.
    Their really isn't such a thing as "accurate dynamic range" in that context; the camera will capture what it will capture regardless (typically around 12 stops at base ISO), and after that it just becomes a processing choice ... which in turn depends on the output medium. Most paintings will have a DR or less then 4 stops, which typically looks quite flat when displayed on a monitor (which has a typical DR of around 6 stops) ... so the DR really just gets adjusted to suit what looks best.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    For diffusion, I've had good results with thick-ish tracing paper glued into a flexible frame. Being able to move the diffuser independently of the subject can help with getting the right "look".

    Sometimes, too, I'll highlight an area (like a watch dial) with a flashlight (torch).

    I'm using 5000K LED floods with built-in diffusers - the blue spike in their spectrum is occasionally obtrusive (white subjects) and, next time, I'll get the 4000K variety.
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 30th November 2012 at 04:46 PM.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    There are different kinds of diode lamps. The Cree diodes are incredibly good, with CRI of more than Ra80, while no-name lamps may give very poor colour rendition. It's not easy to know which one will work and which one will not, as they are mostly not declared, as fluorescents are.

    But there is an easy way to check, because the bad ones lack red. Completely!

    The first white fluorescence diodes used a blue diode with yellow fluorescence, effectively making pseudo-white of yellow and blue. There are still such diodes around, and they are still manufactured, as they are dead cheap. Most pocket flashlights and bicycle lamps use that kind of diodes. You'll see it immediately when you use one on a bike, as it does not cause reflections in the red rear reflectors of vehicles. So that's also the way to test it. If you hold the lamp close to the side of your head and place a red tail reflector a bit away, it will shine bright red if the diode lamp is OK, but if it is a lemon, the reflector is dead.

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    Re: Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Here's some Cree spectra, out of interest . . .

    Basic equipment for Product Photography

    The model I use currently . .

    Basic equipment for Product Photography

    Not saying either brand is better, by the way. Being of a relatively narrow bandwidth, the blue spike looks worse than it is in practice. Silvered dials on watches look pretty good - as does satin- or brushed-finish stainless steel.
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 30th November 2012 at 08:39 PM.

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