You Need Excellent Tomatoes to Make an Amazing Sauce…
Any good cook will tell you that the tomatoes are the all-important base for creating a truly delicious Bolognese sauce. The same holds true for capturing beautiful product shots. The image needs to be high quality (brightly lit and high resolution) and composed well. Without these two elements, no amount of editing skill will bring out the true quality of your product.
The editing of your images can only be as good as the image you take. There is no magic wand that turns a poor image into a great image. It is essential that you have a good base product to work with.
The good news is that getting quality camera gear and creating a nice studio setup are relatively easy to achieve. The best part is that purchasing the right gear doesn’t have to be expensive.
Also, know that learning a few simple composition techniques takes just a few minutes. These are the easy parts of creating excellent product shots.
Getting the Right Gear is Easy!
In order to capture great images, there are some basic requirements you need your camera to have. The first is file size. Your camera must shoot a minimum file size of 8 megapixels. Check out camera specs online or ask at your local camera store. They will be able to tell you which camera would suit your needs. Keep these points in mind when choosing a camera:
1) The larger the file the easier it is to edit your image.
2) iPhones take great images but the size of the file is simply not large enough for serious product shots.
3) iPhonographers use specialized equipment/lenses and app programs to enhance their images.
We recommend purchasing an entry level DSLR. Camera companies have worked hard to create high-quality cameras that appeal to every price point.
The Canon Rebel SL1 is a great example of the type of camera suitable for your product needs. This camera sells for approximately $500.00, and that includes a lens suitable for shooting great product photos.
Consider this cost versus the price of an iPhone which usually costs around the same amount as an entry level DSLR. The iPhone cost also does not include all that additional equipment needed to take high-quality photos with your phone.
A second affordable and less bulky option is a mirrorless camera. These types of cameras are much smaller and lighter than the average DSLR. I know of a photographer who shoots covers for surfing magazines. He loves using a mirrorless camera because of its portability and the high-quality images he captures. The added bonus is that the lenses are generally cheaper to purchase as well.
There are lots of great choices out there. Consider these options and choose a great camera that meets your price point.
“The editing of your images can only be as good as the image you take. ”
II. Camera Lenses
Lenses play a big role in image quality. Every professional photographer will tell you that one of the most important investments you can make is a good quality lense. They are very important and you need the right lens for the right product. Make sure you do some research and that you purchase a lens that will provide with a sharp focus on its entire zoom range. Use a site like Digital Photography Review to help you decide on the right type of lens to buy.
It’s also important to consider the size of your product when choosing a lens. Physically, smaller products require the photographer to fill the frame with the product. This means you need a longer lens that will let you view the product up close.
For such products you will want the product to take centre stage in your images and you need to get close to the item in order to capture its quality. A lens with macro settings is useful here. Usually, a kit lens included with an entry level DSLR is a great choice. Another option is to purchase an extension tube. These are cost-effective pieces of equipment that can enhance the macro capabilities of your lens.
Product images are most effective when the customer can clearly see all the details of your product. You must ensure images are brightly lit but do not contain glaring highlights or deep dark shadows.
You can attain this effect by purchasing a soft box and a LED continuous lighting product.
Typically, these types of lights are used for videography but for the purposes of shooting products they work equally well. This option can cost you less than $100.
A second option is to use some DIY type ideas to create your own lighting. When I first started out as a product photographer and I had a tight budget, I created my own soft box using a wire hanger, some white fabric, and a LED light.
The color of the light you choose for your DIY lighting is important. Choose a light bulb that emits a bright white light. A daytime LED light will work quite well.
You can also create beautiful images by shooting outside in the open shade. Set your product studio up against a building wall. The light will be bright and flat it will help to ensure there are no shadows or intense highlights that detract from your product. Remember that you will need to use a longer exposure time when shooting in open shade.
IV. How to Avoid Camera Shake and Blurry Pictures
It’s very difficult to take a blurry image and edit the image to create a clear and focused, crisp shot. Sometimes images are so blurry that it’s impossible to fix them. It’s important to get pin sharp shots of your product.
The key to this is mounting your camera on a tripod. It’s easy to pick up a cheap tripod that will do the trick. My first tripod cost me less than $50.
You should also avoid pushing the shutter manually. Purchase a remote trigger for your camera or use the timer setting to ensure that you avoid camera shake.
“Whether you’re using an in-house photographer, or shooting yourself, being knowledgeable about the process is important ”
For those with a DSLR, you can consider using the mirror lock-up setting as well. This setting disables the mirror in your camera as an additional method of avoiding camera shake. Adding a weight to your tripod can help to stabilize the camera and further ensure that your images are pin sharp.
V. The Importance of Image Composition
Composing your images is just as important as purchasing the right camera gear. Creating a good composition means placing your product in the frame of your photo in such a way that the look of the image is very attractive to the viewer. Think carefully about how you will compose your shots. Use a plain background. Products shot on a white background are easy to create and the white background will help to bright up your image.
It’s very easy to set up a small DIY studio by using a piece of white paper for your background.
Use a clamp to place a piece of white paper or heavy white fabric under and behind your product. You can experiment with other colors but generally white is the best. The next element to consider is how you will place your product on the set. Placing your product on a diagonal creates a pleasing line that will lead the buyer’s eyes across all the details of your product.
Bonus Tips for Capturing Product Images
1) Shoot RAW – Here at Picsera, we like to stress how important it is to try to always shoot in RAW. These types of files offer the greatest flexibility when editing. Perhaps you don’t have the proper editing software for RAW images? Outsourcing your image editing needs can solve this dilemma.
2) Purchase a gray card that can help you set the proper white balance. White balance ensures that your images don’t pick up any color tones that don’t accurately reflect your product.
3) Always make sure that the products you are shooting are in good condition. Remember your images promote your product. Show off your best quality items in the best possible way.
4) Make sure that all products you capture are cleaned. A gold ring won’t shine if it’s covered in fingerprints and the reality is editing a dirty product is extremely difficult and time-consuming. If the product is too dirty or marred it may be impossible to make it look good