PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT - WHAT DOES WHAT - WHAT TO BUY

 

We often get asked "what Product Photography Equipment do I need to photograph a product" - not as easy an answer as it may at first appear, due to the many different types of products out there, the quantity involved and the individual properties of those products.

 

The equipment broadly falls into 4 main categories;

 

Table Top Studios
/ Shooting Tables

KARLite Still Life Kit 1

This is a fabricated Product Photography Table with a metal frame and a special piece of white translucent plastic that is used as the background for shooting products.

PROS   CONS
Can be lit from all angles including behind and underneath to create the effect that you desire.   Needs dedicated space
Ideal for "production" work where there are many products to photograph.   Not for use with highly reflective Objects - such as Brass Bell, motor Cycle helmets etc
     
"defacto" Standard item used for Studio Product Photography Not for use with very heavy items >10kg as the background is suspended between frame struts
     
Can place other background materials such as PVC sheets to change the background colour whilst maintaining its translucent properties    
 
     
Light Tents

Lastolite 4' / 120cm Lastolite Cubelite Tungsten Kit 3613

This is literally a Product Photography Cube Tent made of white material which is used to isolate the product from it's surroundings.  These are usually used by Graphics Artists & eBayers due to their portability & "put away" features and simplicity. There is a huge choice of Product Tents (such as the Lastlolite Cubelite range, KARLite  Pro Studio Cube range & Interfit Popup Photo Box range) on the market distinguished by:

Material - this ranges from thin budget nylon to the top of the range velvet lined Nylon. The thicker the material, the greater the diffusion effect and velvet lined add anti reflective properties.
     
Features - This ranges from the simple "none" to clips & loops for holding different backgrounds, multiple openings for different angle shots, open bottoms for stable standing of very lightweight objects (such as wedding rings) to zipped openings instead of simple slots.
     
Backgrounds - This ranges from none to multiple coloured backgrounds, from nylon to paper to plastic to velvet coated.
     
PROS   CONS
Collapsible - can be put away. Not ideal for production runs of many products at a time.
Isolates subject - ideal for highly reflective subjects where  their surroundings will be reflected on it's surface (including you taking the picture!). Size of tent can be limiting factor in shooting future products.
     
Many types available = competitive pricing. Subject is isolated and therefore it's hard to add "highlight" lighting - such as a glint on diamond rings.
     
     
Paper / Curtain
Background Sets
A set utilising a paper/vinyl or curtain background with lighting at the front ( ideally with 2 lights at the back for white backgrounds), this is the traditional way of photographing products and offers the most versatility in terms of the types and sizes of products that can be photographed.

PROS   CONS
Versatile - large range of products that can be photographed due to it's overall size. Space issues - for standard 2.72m (9ft) backgrounds, a space ideally 4m x 5m is needed
Range of widths available Not suitable for reflective subjects
Weight of product not an issue, ideal for very heavy or dirty (vinyl background) objects in the case of Paper Rolls there is an ongoing cost in terms of replacing the rolls as they get used up (dirty).
     
Large range of background colours available.  
     
     
Illuminated Backgrounds HiLite 1.5m x 2.15m (5' x 7')  Illuminated Collapsible Background 8857 A relatively new product introduced by Lastolite in 2006, the backgrounds (called Hilites) are side illuminated and throw pure white light forwards making for very easy High Key (white background) pictures - ideally needs 4 heads (2 at the front and 2 in the Hilite).

PROS   CONS
Extremely easy Hi Key pictures every time. Only really suitable for taller subjects
     
Portable - simply folds away when not in use  

 

So what Product Photography Equipment do we recommend for what?  The table below is intended as a guide, all of the Product Photography Equipment may be used for other products with different levels of success.

 

Event Table Top Studio Light Tent Paper/Vinyl Rolls/ Curtains Hi-Lite
Large Quantity of Products
General Product Shots / Graphic Artist
eBay Pictures
Reflective Products
Clothing
Door Furniture
Antiques
Giftware
Furniture
Art
Musical Instruments
Heavy Products
Computers
Small Products
Shoes
"Dirty Work"