Tips & Tutorials

Basic Techniques for Product Photography

When selling items online, the photographs of the product can make a difference between whether a potential customer decides to purchase it, or not. It is crucial to ensure that the features and exterior of such items are accurately captured. Some key points to take note of when doing so are the focal length and aperture of the lens, as well as the use of light. Here, we explain more about how you can take good product photographs using examples shot with the EOS 750D paired with the EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM.(Reported by: Teppei Kohno)

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/60 sec, EV+1.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

 

To faithfully reproduce the form of an item, sharply focus on the whole item

Shooting procedure diagram

*Shooting Procedure
A: Use a medium-telephoto focal length
B: Narrow the aperture
C: Use natural light shining through a window curtain

Keep the following 3 points in mind to accurately capture the form and specifications for a product shoot: Firstly, shoot using a medium-telephoto focal length. If you shoot in the wide-angle range, the product will appear distorted and you will not be able to capture the form of the product accurately. Try using a focal length in the medium-telephoto range at around 80 to 90mm (35mm film-equivalent). Secondly, adjust the aperture. To properly convey the details of the product, it is necessary to narrow the aperture to around f/11 and focus on the whole product. Finally, take note of how you use the light. If you use natural light that enters through a window curtain, the light surrounds the whole product, allowing you to capture it in a natural texture close to how it looks. Avoid using the built-in flash when it is dark indoors, as this will create strong shadows, resulting in the fine details of the product being lost.

 

TIP 1: Use a focal length in the medium-telephoto range to capture the form accurately

To capture the form of the product accurately, set a focal length in the medium-telephoto range, and try aiming from a slightly removed position. If you get up close to the product in the wide-angle range, the size of the front and rear of the product will change, making the form of the product appear significantly different from how it looks in reality.

 

Good example: The image is not distorted when captured in the medium telephoto range

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/60 sec, EV+1.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

Negative example: The image is distorted when captured in the wide-angle range

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 24mm (38mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/60 sec, EV+1.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

 

By shooting in the medium-telephoto range at 88mm (35mm film-equivalent) and in the wide-angle range at 38mm (35mm film-equivalent), you will see that the form of the product differs significantly. In contrast with the large distortion in the wide-angle range, there is little distortion in the medium-telephoto range, so the form of the product is accurately reproduced.

 

TIP 2: Narrow the aperture and focus on the whole product

If the range that appears in focus is narrow, the whole product will not be captured sharply, and you will not be able to convey the details of the product. A good idea would be to narrow the aperture to f/11 for the shoot. Please note that the longer the focal length used, the shallower the depth of field becomes. Therefore, with product shoots, where on many an occasion focal lengths in the telephoto range are used, it may be necessary to narrow the aperture to f/16 in some cases.

 

Good example: Both products are in focus when the aperture is narrowed to f/16

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/16, 1/15 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

Negative example: Only the product in the foreground is in focus when using an aperture of f/5.6

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/125 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

 

The products were arranged with one in front of the other for this shot. At f/5.6, the letters on the bottle to the rear are blurred. If you want both the front and rear products to appear sharp in the image, we would recommend narrowing the aperture to around f/16.

 

TIP 3: Shoot with natural light by a window

We recommend using natural light by the window as a light source. If you have lace curtains, the light will be diffused, allowing you to depict the product with a soft texture.

 

Good example: Shoot using natural light by the window to capture an image with a soft texture

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/30 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

Negative example: Shooting using the built-in flash strengthens the contrast

Example shot with EOS 750D

EOS 750D/ EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 55mm (88mm equivalent)/ Manual Exposure (f/11, 1/125 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

 

When the built-in flash is used, shadows become stronger, making the depiction look artificial. In contrast, for products captured using natural light, the light is evenly distributed across the whole product, resulting in a depiction that gives you a sense of texture and detail.

 

PLUS ONE TECHNIQUE
Keep a tripod or some gradation paper handy for a product shoot

A tripod is a handy tool during a product shoot as it makes it easy to compose shots horizontally and vertically. You can also avoid camera shake even at slow shutter speeds, so you do not need to increase the ISO speed when shooting with a narrow aperture. Also, if you prepare gradation paper in the background, you can capture beautiful photos that appear as if they were taken in a studio.

Secure the camera with a tripod

Secure the camera with a tripod, and check your subject in Live View while composing your shots. Because you can fix the composition once it is set, it is handy for making fine adjustments to the orientation or position of the product.

 

Using gradation paper or a similar paper in the background

By using gradation paper or a similar paper in the background, you can obtain a finish that makes the product stand out as if the photo was taken by a professional photographer.

 

For more images shot with the EOS 750, check out this article:
Photo Review of EOS 760D and EOS 750D

For some more product photography ideas, check out:
Product Photography with EOS M10: Flowers & Confectionery
How to Create a Sparkly Background with Bokeh Circles for Pretty Trinket Pictures 

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EOS 750D (Body)

Click here for more details

EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Click here for more details

Teppei Kohno

Born in Tokyo in 1976, Kohno graduated with a Social Work degree from the Department of Sociology of Meiji Gakuin University, and apprenticed with photographer Masato Terauchi. He contributed to the first issue of photography magazine PHaT PHOTO and became an independent photographer after that, in 2003. The author of many books, Kohno not only shoots all sorts of commercial photographs, but also writes prolifically for camera and other magazines.

http://fantastic-teppy.chips.jp

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