Can’t understand what camera settings for product photography to set to get professional photos? No matter what camera you use: DSLR or mirrorless, Canon or Nikon, starting to shoot manually is a big step for beginners. Yes, it’s so easy to set Auto and let your camera work instead of you choosing ISO, aperture or shutter speed, but you should control your camera parameters and take the best product photos.
Almost all camera settings influence on your photo’s quality in various lighting conditions. ISO settings set sensitivity to light, aperture focuses on how much light gets through, and shutter speed is about how long your sensor is exposed to light.
On the example of Canon EOS 80d and Fotodiox Pro lightbox, I’ll show you how to set all these camera settings for product photography and get professional photos. If you have another camera, no problem. You will have similar settings if it’s in Manual mode.
ISO means the sensitivity of a camera sensor to the light. If the number is low, then it’s less sensitive and you will need more time to take a shot. If you want to shoot in low light or take shots faster, increase ISO. However, in this way, the photos will turn out to be grainy (“noisy”).
Measurements of ISO reflect split second and usually vary from 100 to 3200. “ISO 100” means a full second and “ISO 3200” – 1/32 of a second.
To avoid as much noise as possible, use the lowest ISO. Set your camera on a tripod and look at the product when you have adjusted camera light settings. Begin with the lowest ISO and then slowly increase it until the product is correctly lit.
For instance, I will set ISO according to my studio lighting. I select 100 as I am willing to have low ISO to achieve a clear photo and enhance the product lighting as well.
Aperture manages the amount of light passing through the lens to your camera and defines the depth of field of a picture. The depth of field is a part of your photo which is focused.
Aperture is measured by the F-stops system and usually varies from F1 to F22. If the number is low, it means that a bigger amount of light can get into a camera and shutter speed will be faster.
Lower F-stops also produce a shallow depth of field, which gives you a possibility to focus on particular details while the focus falls and makes the focal point blurred.
Shutter speed isn’t a problem when taking professional product photography as your camera is set on a tripod and the light is usually constant (with DIY as well). To have a full focus, use as high F-stop as possible, for example, F16, F22.
The only case when you use lower aperture is if you want to emphasize a special detail, such as a belt buckle or a door handle. For everything else, you will want to have the whole product in focus.
Shutter speed or “exposure time” defines how much time it takes the sensor of a camera to be exposed to the light while you are taking a photo. In other words, it means the speed of shutter opening and closing. Fast shutter speed makes a product more still and slow shutter speed leads to motion blur.
Shutter speed plays a huge role in landscape, sports and nature photography, as there is movement in your photos. The photographers can move as well with a camera in their hands.
If you are working with DIY professional product photography, you don’t have to think about blur or camera shake. All because your camera will be set on a tripod and the object will be still. This means that in this case, you can use slower shutter speed and create very sharp photos.
Shutter speed is measured in split second. If you work with a tripod in a studio, use a low setting, such as 1/13. Due to that more light will get into your camera. Use a light meter to identify the accurate setting by regulating shutter speed until you reach 0.
If you take lifestyle product photography with models, you might have to increase the shutter speed because of the motion. In case you need to hold a camera in hands, a shutter speed of less than 1/60th of a second is too slow and there will occur motion blur even with a great built-in image stabilizer. That’s why you should select the value above this limit when shooting product photo setup.
For a professional product photography setup, I recommend you to work with Manual mode. There are other modes as Manual, Aperture Priority and Automatic.
With Aperture Priority mode you can select the aperture and automatically customize ISO and shutter speed according to it. You can use this mode outdoors with absolutely different light due to the shade and quickly customize the depth of field to focus on particular details.
In Automatic mode, your camera will set the aperture, ISO and shutter speed itself. With Manual mode, you can manage everything in your shot. If you understand the settings, you will achieve super qualitative pictures.
Even if you used ideal (as you think) camera settings for product photography, the final result needs professional photo enhancement. This process requires special knowledge and skills. That is why I recommend addressing outsource image editing companies. Professional retouchers will perform qualitative product photo retouching and clipping path.
When you press the shutter, the camera saves an image on the memory card using a peculiar image format. As a rule, you choose the size of the saved photo. RAW files are the most qualitative ones, so you should definitely choose this format (in case your camera allows, of course).
Although they are quite big (20 MB+) and require much memory, but they are absolutely worth it. RAW pics save all image data necessary for image editing.
Before the shooting, each professional photographer should necessarily adjust camera settings and arrange perfect lighting set-up. If there is enough daylight, it is a great benefit which should be used to the fullest. However, sunlight may become a great helper, as well as the worst enemy. What I mean is that it is necessary to measure the light to avoid overexposing. Moreover, if there is too much daylight, too many shadows may spoil the picture.
Adjust camera in such a way that it chooses colors correctly. This option is called “White Balance”. As a rule, we choose "automatic white balance". In this case, the camera applies the settings that are the best in the given lighting conditions.
Judging from my images, you can see only the "Cloudy" or "Auto" setting. The “Daylight” option is also quite close to the realistic vision, but it has too much yellow in comparison with the other two modes.
You should remember that a shooter adapts equipment to the sun and in no way vice versa. However, today there are various photo lighting kits that may greatly simplify your work. Product photography lighting kit is your first helper since it allows you to control the light and create better photo material. Moreover, it gives you more shooting opportunities as you may work at any time of the day and don’t wait for perfect lighting conditions.
If you work without lightboxes, mind that the direct light should not come through the window. Although afternoon is an ideal time for shooting, it happens sometimes that direct sunlight comes through the window and spoils everything. In such a case, use a light curtain or a sheet to cover the window. In such a way, you will diffuse the light creating perfect shooting conditions. As you see, setting camera is not enough for a perfect shot.
Today, everyone shops online. We constantly look through the goods in online stores choosing the one we need. No wonder that we want to see the photo of a thing showing its real features. To take a great product photo, we should use the full focus. Feel free to experiment with artistic photography but mind that you should adjust camera settings for product photography in such a way that full focus is placed on the main object.
Don’t try to focus manually since you risk getting blurry images (like in the case of camera shake). The thing is that we have only one product in the frame, so there is no need to complicate your work ‒ adjust your camera settings and focus on the main object. Let the camera and lens do their job.
If you need a seamless background for your product photography, simply use a piece of paper. Take a big sheet of paper, bend it and tape to the wall and floor. An ideal white background is ready.
You are absolutely wrong if you think that product photography is boring. Experiment with styles, camera settings, and lighting equipment! Try different compositions and choose the best one. Your “model” will not respond to you so you never know what will look great.
Would you like to make your pictures catchy without tiresome manual corrections? If yes, this free filters are for you.
Do your photos still have blue tones even if you used proper camera light settings? It often happens when the background is white and there is enough daylight or studio light. Try this effect and add warm and natural tones to your photos.
Use this free Lightroom effect to brighten your picture. This free preset will make the white color clear and the products glossier. Moreover, you will easily get rid of blurring and gray film effect on items.
It is a great Photoshop tool to make your photos look professional. Thanks to color toning, your image will acquire its own original style. Moreover, you will save much time improving your pics in one mouse click.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more