What is the best lens/technique for shooting products

Started Dec 12, 2012 | Questions thread
Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: What is the best lens/technique for shooting products

NE10 wrote:

Barrie Davis wrote:

Leonard Migliore wrote:

The DSLR shot data shows it was taken at f/5.6, not f/22. What is the data on the original file? Also, you're focused on the back of the box (the lid). That's probably where the autofocus was looking. So all that's in focus is the lid.

I would use live view for this and make sure my focus was good. I'd stop down to f/16. That should do a decent job.

The Sony shot data shows you were at full wide angle, which gives you a lot of distortion and probably not the best sharpness. And the lens was wide open. But with a focal length of 4.5mm, you have plenty of depth of field.The image looks oversharpened, which is typical of compact camera JPEG processing.

Leonard is right.

Basically you are mishandling the SLR camera. Follow Leonard's advice. Moreover, if you choose to stick with the Sony, it would be fine.

However, in neither case is your POSING helping you. You will find the DoF available will be more use if you get the camera up a bit and look down into the box rather more.

Also, while you're at it, make the product present itself more attractively to the camera by raising the back edge of the box on a short stack of Lego, or something. In combination with camera raising this will not only allow contents to be seen much better, (more square-on to the lens) but will also REDUCE the depth between the nearest part of the subject and the furthest...

... bringing the whole subject rather closer to being in ONE plane...

... meaning that f/11 should be more than adequate to get front-to-back sharpness.

Also, the focal length to use for general product shooting is that of a short tele.... something between 85mm to 110mm, (35mm-equivalent).

Here is a shot of some picnic hampers to give you an idea of the look-down angle I'm recommending. Disregard the fact that they are lifted bodily... you only need to raise the back edge of your box to tilt it forward somewhat. Raising the camera a little does the rest. If you choose to swing the box to a jaunty angle, remember to face it INTO the page. 

I didn't have a shot with a single hamper, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

-- hide signature --

"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

Very nice answer! Exactly what I needed! I raised the back of the kit up by 3/4 of an inch and raised the tripod to it's maximum height. The picture is significantly more pleasing aesthetically and it also greatly improved the focus. I't's amazing that such a minor change could make such a huge difference. I am very pleased with the image quality, the edges are significantly less distorted and fuzzy than the WX9.

I'm not sure why this website is reading the image as f/5.6, the camera and photoshop both read my previous image as f/22. Regardless, f/16 worked a lot better than f/22 when I tested it out with he new angle.

You could come HIGHER STILL The base box is still smaller in area than the lid, despite more of the good stuff being in it. Close lid slightly, to reduce its size. The interior of the box needs to be tidier, as well.

Your lighting also needs some improvement.

At present there seem to be three lights.... one above, and one either side. The side lights are not frontal enough. And they are too bright. The interior of the lid is brighter than the items down in box...it should be the other way around..

.... and the side lights are casting shadows from the edges of the lid which cross over the shadow coming from the top light, creating double density shadows in the interior corners, at the top.

Double shadows are considered a mistake! Try to avoid this error.

The idea is to make it so that it appears that only one light has been used. This looks natural because Planet Earth has only the one sun, with a few white clouds as reflectors.!

Therefore, make the overhead top light your main light, skimming down the front of the lid interior for texture, but falling with more intensity on the top of the box contents.

Fill is then accomplished with large white cards or soft silver reflectors at the front, propped either side of lens and redirecting the overhead forward. This way they will not cast noticeable shadows.

Use the spare lights (side lights) to kick rather more into the background, to help clean it up. Carefully flag THOSE lights OFF the subject... (you're lighting the background separately.) You can see where I used individual spotlights to do this behind each of the hampers.

I love the job you did with the baskets. what method did you use to get the color so nice? Also, do you have any other tips on how I might improve my image further?

The picnic hampers were done some years ago with a 5x4" sheet film camera, shooting Tungsten type Ektachrome reversal film. Scans were made relatively recently in a cheapo desktop scanner, but also done quite carefully, maximising available quality... (see full size scan available in my gallery). Note: Colour isn't great with scanned colour film. For various technical reasons I would expect better colour from a modern digital camera... for instance, uses additive colour system.

Below are two images with the improved angle and aperture settings. One is adjusted, the other is unedited. both still have yet to have the backgrounds clipped.

Your shot is underexposed, probably because of the white background fooling the meter. Better to expose it correctly it in camera than try to push tones around in Photoshop after the event. Tonal corrections in Photoshop lead to a noticable loss of quality, (potential banding) especially if working in JPEG.

Hint: Learn how to use the Histogram to get correct exposure in camera. After the boon of instant shot review, it is probably the most helpful feature to come to us through the advent of digital photography.


levels adjusted/sharpen filter

-- hide signature --

"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

 Barrie Davis's gear list:Barrie Davis's gear list
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow