What type of lens is best for product photography?

Erik writes:

I just got a collapsable white nylon light tent to use to do product shots, and I need to do both single object shots (for example, a cell phone) and larger shots (pic of the contents you get in the box your cell phone came in). I am looking to get maximum detail and brightness, not going for an artistic look. Is there a standard lens and shooting distance that is preferred for these types of shots to get best pictures and avoid distortion?

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2 thoughts on “What type of lens is best for product photography?

  1. StudioLighting.netStudioLighting.net Post author

    Erik,

    As we discussed on Episode E005 of LightSource, focal length of your lens affects the perceived depth of your subject. Wider angle lenses tend to exaggerate the depth while telephotos are know for their foreshortening. This will come in to play when you decide on your lens somewhat. I would suggest a normal focal length or a moderate telephoto for the work you described. Of course, if you get too many items in the shot, you may appreciate something with a wider angle so that you don’t have to be far away from your shooting tent.

    As much of this process is subjective, the bottom line is that you are happy with your end results. Perhaps there are others who might share their opinions or experience?

  2. Jim

    Erik,

    Okay, you’ve state your criteria is maximum detail, and brightness. Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves what that means in terms of needs, and let that determine your lens needs.

    First off, _light_ is the most important element. You want a lot of it, but not positioned so as to wash out your object, but rather created pleasant contrast between its elements (for example, cellphone buttons versus the cellphone itself). Don’t want them blending, but do want them sharp.

    So, once you’ve got enough light, then then question is– how close can you get to the object with your camera? You can either use telephoto lenses to magnify an image (with you standing several feet from it), or you can use wide-angle lenses and get moderately close or even very close to it.

    A lense is just an object that gathers and focuses light. If you want an image (any image) to be sharp, you need lots of light, need to close your aperture down (this lengthens the field of depth so everything is in focus), then focus on the nearest part of the object (closes point to you), and take the shot.

    I’ve used a 75-300mm image-stablizing telephoto to get objects 5.6 feet from me in larger clarity, because it would magnify it to fill the screen. I’ve also used an 18-55mm zoom. And I’ve used a 50mm macro to get really close shots of bugs, diamonds, etc.

    But in the end, it isn’t the lens, it’s understanding how light moves through your lens and how you can control that light, that lets you take the shot you want.

    Don’t worry about foreshortening, or any of that, concentrate on learning what and how aperture, shutter speed and ISO/ASA affect the light moving through your camera. So that it relates in a tangible way, in a hands-on way to _you_.

    Then own the shot.

    thx
    Jim
    OMP 91734
    http://www.devilstowermedia.com


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