When you’re using images to represent your products on your website or other marketing materials for your business, you want your customers and other site visitors to see the very best of the products. You want them to feel like they’re seeing the real thing before they can buy it. And by the way, you don’t have to look for an expert photographer to produce such high-quality photos for you because you can be that professional by yourself if only you follow some guidelines on how to shoot the best photographs.
Now that we had already addressed product photography on a very stringent budget earlier — for instance when using a basic camera or an iPhone — today we would like to take you through the process of choosing a more mid- to high-range camera quality for better photos. And for a quality camera’s pricing, your budget can go as high as your pocket can afford. So, let’s go through some of the most important factors to consider when buying a camera in this category.
1) DSLR cameras: Here, we’re looking at a 35mm DSLR; which fundamentally refers to a camera with interchangeable lenses. In this category, you’ve thousands of options that require investing in lenses. The biggest advantage with these ones is their expandability: they enable you to scale to better and more powerful lenses over time if you need to.
2) Point & shoot: If you feel that you don’t have to invest in interchangeable lens cameras, then you can buy a high-quality “point & shoot” version. There are numerous picks to make here as well, with a variety of great optics and features available.
3) A mix of the above two: If you want to enjoy the scalability of DSLRs with the simplicity of a “point & shoot” camera, then hybrids like “mirrorless” also exist. This one is like a DSLR lacking the mirror, which basically means that when shooting you’ve a digital display similar to a point-&-shoot’s or a smartphone camera instead of a mirror-reflecting viewfinder.
While mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than DSLRs, their main limitation is smaller imaging sensors (leading to higher noise and digital grain mostly found in low-light situations) and a lower number of options for lenses because most use different mounting systems.
What about Megapixels?
Contrary to what most people assume, an extremely large pixel count isn’t always an advantage. In fact, after a certain level, additional pixels only create more noise since a particular sensor can only accommodate a particular amount of data. Although more megapixels will enable you to print bigger images, if you aren’t printing your photos there is no need for higher numbers. We would recommend saving money on megapixels and re-channeling it to buying better and more powerful lenses. The chart below compares megapixel count to print size:
Does My Camera’s ISO Rating Matter?
Apart from pixel count, ISO rating is another much touted figure when it comes to cameras. It signifies the imaging sensor’s sensitivity to light. For instance, it takes much higher amounts of camera light to take a shot in candlelight than when using sunlight. Although some very high ISO ratings can even allow shooting photos in darkness, just like everything else in the world of photography, this feature also has a tradeoff. More ISO comes with more noise.
Our recommendation: get a camera that does well with high ISO. Ultimately, you want your ISO rating to remain as low as good enough for your needs, For Product Photography in studio, we would recommend using between 50 to 100 ISO at the most, because you can relay on the lights in the studio, Outside shooting on the other hand, you can play with the ISO and bring it up to around 1500 to get a brighter image. See the images below:
Pretty Like Everything is Seen Via the Camera Lens
It’s better to pay attention to lenses rather than camera models because while the latter change every year, lens are updated at much a slower pace. For instance, Nikon took nearly eight years to make a newer version of their popular lens 24-70 f2.8.
Light will always remain the same light no matter how much time passes. Similarly, the way it’s refracted through glass won’t change. So, unless you break your lens, a great lens will always remain a great lens.
When investing in a lens, focus on focal length and aperture. Focal length refers to the zoom. Normally, we recommend prime lenses — i.e. those that don’t have a zoom because:
– They fall into lower pricing ranges;
– They often give sharper focus than zooming lenses;
– With the most powerful zoom of all, your feet, there’s no need for zooming!
Another important thing is that number after “f” — it measures your camera’s aperture, i.e. the lens light-allowing hole. The smaller this figure, the more the aperture opens up to allow light in, and vice versa. Kinda confusing, right?
With a larger hole, it essentially means that less of your target subject is in focus. This is yet another tradeoff in photography. Have you come across those online photos of cute babies amid blurred backgrounds? Those out-of-focus points are called “bokeh”. For more focus depth, get a camera with a higher f-stop. Check the images below:
Yet another thing to pay attention to when it comes to lenses: when shooting lots of small or intricate details, a macro lens is better because it allows you to focus on nearer objects than normal lenses would.
What About This Whole Video Thing So Many Kids Are Focusing On Nowadays?
We thought we would be doing you a little bit of an injustice if we left this out. Whether you’re going to be shooting videos or not, your camera will most probably have this capability. Although most DSLRs can produce relatively higher-quality videos nowadays, we strongly recommend Canon. Traditionally, it has been the pacesetter in this area and we think it still is.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although we’ve tried tackling a wide subject in our post today, obviously this is just a tip of the iceberg. There is still a lot to cover. Your takeaway highlights here include:
– Buy the best out of your set budget;
– Conduct your homework well.
– Don’t be fooled by camera ads; get a camera for your needs!
– The situation you’ll be shooting in matters; look for great ISO ratings.
– Camera lenses are an investment; treat them like one.
Our Advice on the Camera to Buy:
Canon and Nikon are the types we’ve used most. We love their elaborate lens libraries. We definitely think they’re worth a try for you as well.
What about Lenses to go for?
If you’re trying to build a product photography studio from scratch, we recommend the lenses below depending on your budget and specifications:
Finally, note that a great camera is only half the journey. Shooting your high-quality photos is the next step!
Keep it here for advice on how to shoot the best images.