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How to take great product pictures

Mobillyo rev2

Ok, so you want to do a Kickstarter campaign or sell your products on e-Bay, your own site or Etsy. Well you will need to take great pictures because today’s WEB lets people enlarge and look at every detail of your product.

What will you need to take great pictures?

First get a light room for small objects or for larger ones, four of white surfaces, two sides, a bottom and a back. You will also need 3 or 4 60 watts 5500Kelvin (5000k is acceptable) lamps to uniformly light-up your subject.

Next you will need a camera with at least 10M pixels, more is better. Your camera must have a manual mode because you will need to control both the aperture and focus manually. To keep your camera steady, a good quality tripod is a must. You can get away with a low cost one but the difference in price is not worth the savings.

Last but not the least is photo editing software. Photoshop is the gold standard but you can get a free equivalent called Gimp.

Lights Camera Action

In my case most pictures have no lighting or shadow effects so all sides of the product are equally illuminated. I put it in the light box and position the camera as close to directly overhead as possible. My camera has a 18-55mm lens, consult an expert at your local photo shop if you think you need a better lens. The aperture is important. f/22 gives you a good depth of field and all parts of the subject are in focus but a bit noisy while f/9 gives a sharper image with some part of the picture slightly out of focus. If I have a relatively flat subject, I will use f/11 for good sharpness and good clarity. If the object has a lot of depth then I will move the aperture towards f/22 one stop at a time until I get the best compromise between sharpness and clarity. On small objects the focus is difficult. My camera lets me see the subject on the LCD screen while enlarging it. I can then precisely manually adjust the focus. I always use delayed shutter (5sec) so nothing is touching the camera while it is actually taking the picture. Since the aperture is fixed, the camera will set the duration for the correct exposure and very often the time is in the 1/2 to 3sec range so the stability of the camera is extremely important.

Take a few pictures, looking at them each time while enlarging them and making slight adjustments to improve them. If you have a lot of different depths in your subject and you want a absolutely sharp image you can take several pictures at different focuses and combine them using software. I have never tried this myself.

The Editing Room

Take your pictures and upload them to your computer. Can you imagine what it was like when people used film?

Fire up you editing software and the first thing to do is crop your image to keep what you need and discard the rest. You can eliminate the background using the magic wand or erase it manually if you want an image floating on a transparent background. You can also enhance the image, adjust the colors and even touch-up blemishes. Fist save the image at the largest pixels setting then if you needs smaller versions, reduce the image and re-save. I usually save at 1200 and 600 pixels. JPG files have no transparent background, for transparencies, you need to save as PNG.

That is it. I hope this shot tutorial got you off to a good start. The last thing to do is read up about photography on various blog to find more tips and refine your technique.

6 thoughts on “How to take great product pictures

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