Through years of trial and error, we have identified the must-have cameras, lenses, lighting setups, and accessories that consistently deliver exceptional results. Whether you're a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic beginner, our practical insights will guide you in selecting the perfect gear to capture the essence and allure of your products. Get ready to elevate your product photography with equipment trusted and endorsed by experienced product photographers.
Best Product Photography Cameras
While it’s tempting to buy the latest and best camera for product photography with all the fancy features, it’s also unnecessary.
You can save money by building your product photography kit with an older or second hand camera body. Check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, photography groups, and your local camera shop. The general rule of thumb is to get a decent camera and invest in a great lens rather than the other way around—if you’re on a tight budget, you can even start with a smartphone while saving for upgraded gear.
But if your budget permits, we recommend a full-frame camera to capture plenty of detail in high resolution. Your photos will hold more detail than those taken with a smartphone or crop-sensor camera—great for customers who want to inspect a product by zooming in on the photo.
Here are some of our camera suggestions in a $600–$2,000 budget range for second hand and new camera bodies. They can all trigger external flashes, crucial for getting well-lit product shots.
Full-frame DSLR camera:
Full-frame mirrorless cameras:
POW pro tip: Rent a camera body for a few days to see how you like it before investing in the gear.
Memory cards and digital storage
Don’t forget to buy memory cards for your camera. Some camera bodies have dual slots to use both cards simultaneously. Generally, one is for backup in case the main one fails. There are a few different formats of memory cards available, so make sure you buy one that fits your camera.
A memory card with more storage is also ideal, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space. SanDisk and Lexar is a popular brand for memory cards. Many professional photographers use SDXC cards as opposed to SD cards because they have faster write speeds are faster and often have more storage space.
It’s also a good idea to back up your product photo files. You might invest in an external hard drive, as well as back up images to a cloud storage solution. Cloud storage also makes it easy to access the files from anywhere as well as make them available to your team.
Pro Tip 1: A faster read/write speed is helpful when shooting a professional camera because the file sizes are large. A slow read/write speed can cause you camera to buffer, preventing shooting.
Pro Tip 2: There is an epidemic of fake sd cards out in the world. These cards have the sticker of a faster card than described. Read the reviews before buying. If the price is too good to be true than it probably is.
Pro Tip 3: It's better to have 4 smaller 256gb cards than it is to have one big 1 tb card. Cards fail sometimes and it's better to not loose the whole shoot.
The Best Product Photography Lens
Picking the best lens for your product photography will depend on your budget. For the most part, you’ll want to invest in fast, high-quality prime (fixed focal length) camera lenses. You can start with one or two main lenses and add others if your shots need improvement.
Some of our lens recommendations are below:
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 ST (~$200)
- SIGMA 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art (~$570)
- Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO, Canon Mount
- 2004 Version (~$200)
- 2012 Version (~$400)
- 2016 Version (~$500)
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro (~$1,100)
- Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (~$700)
If you want to add another lens to your kit, consider a zoom lens, like a 24-105mm. A zoom lens is flexible because you can change the focal length depending on your shooting space. A lens like this would also work well for shoots outside a professional photography studio, like lifestyle photos or social media content.
The Best Product Photography Lighting
Natural lighting is best for product photography, but it’s not always available. As such, you may need to add artificial studio lighting to your photography equipment.
Aim to get three lights in your kit for more precision, even light, and control—get at least one key light you can use with natural light, reflectors, and light modifiers.
Shopping for lights can be challenging with so many options available, so we’ve broken down our product photography lighting options here. In sum:
Continuous light (fluorescent, LED, or tungsten lights)
Use continuous light to supplement natural light shots. Look to get two or more continuous lights for your main setup.
- Tungsten light kit: Smith-Victor FLB-4 1050 Watt 3-Light Fluorescent 48" Tent Kit (~$590)
- Tungsten light kit: Impact 1250W Three Light Mini Boom Kit (~$340)
- LED light kit: GVM Dual RGB-10S SMD LED Video Light Kit (~$118)
- LED light kit: GVM 672S-B Bi-Color LED Studio Video Panel 3-Light Kit (~$480)
- LED light kit: Neewer Dimmable Tabletop LED Video 2-Light Kit with Mini Tripod Stands and Color Filters (~$35), Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent with Dimmer II (~$100)
- LED light kit: amaran 200d Daylight LED Monolight (~$263)
Strobe lights (flash)
This is a must-have for product photographers. Strobe lights are great for manipulating the light from hard with strong shadows (great for beauty products) to soft and diffused (suited for most products).
You can invest in more affordable speedlights or go for higher-end equipment:
- Strobe heads with power packs
- DigiBee Flash Unit (~$300–$340)
- (Best) AlienBees Flash Unit (~$245–$380)
- Einstein™ Flash Unit (~$520)
- Profoto B10X Plus Off Camera Flash Duo Kit (~$4,650)
- Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro Compact TTL R2 Monolight, Godox AD400 Pro (~$650)
- Impact VC-500WL3KN 3-500Ws Digital Monolight with Transmitter Kit (~$1,430)
Light modifiers and reflectors
Light Modifiers: Directing and Softening Light
When working with strobes, light modifiers play a crucial role in controlling and manipulating the light. They help direct, soften, or intensify the light to achieve the desired effect. It's important to ensure compatibility between the light modifiers and your specific strobe lights. Check the product specifications before making a purchase.
Modifiers for Speedlights
If you're using speedlights, you can employ the same modifiers as with strobes or begin with a flash diffuser. Flash diffusers like the MagSphere 2 ($60) or Godox Flash Diffuser Kit S-R1 ($65) attach to your speedlight and help soften and diffuse the light. For continuous lights, you can create a DIY diffuser using paper or translucent white fabric.
Bounce Cards and Reflectors
To effectively bounce light and fill in shadows, consider adding board reflectors or bounce cards to your kit. White poster board or foam board, readily available at stationery or homeware stores, can serve as cost-effective options to help redirect and reflect light onto your subject.
Versatile Reflector Kits
A reflector kit can be a valuable addition to your equipment arsenal. Look for options like the $36 Neewer reflector kit, which typically includes white, black, gold, silver, and translucent fabric. These reflectors allow you to modify the light, control reflections, and add subtle highlights or shadows to your images.
Softboxes are essential for creating long highlights on reflective products or achieving soft, even lighting for fill purposes. Consider the Impact Softboxes, which offer affordable off-market options in various sizes:
- Impact Luxbanx Extra Large Rectangular Softbox (54 x 72) - $148
- Impact Luxbanx Duo Large Rectangular Softbox (36 x 48 ) - $100
- Impact Luxbanx Medium Rectangular Softbox (24" x 32") - $60
- Impact Luxbanx Duo Small Rectangular Softbox (16 x 22) - $60
Speedrings: Ensuring Compatibility
To ensure proper attachment of your softboxes to the lights, you'll need to acquire speedrings that are compatible with your specific lighting equipment. Speedrings typically cost around $20 each and come in different mount types to match various lights.
By carefully selecting and utilizing these light modifiers, reflectors, and softboxes, you can enhance your product photography, create compelling visuals, and achieve the desired lighting effects for your specific shooting scenarios.
You’ll need a few sturdy stands to hold your lights unless they’re already included in a kit you’ve purchased. You have a few options:
- Traditional stands like this $40 Flashpoint stand—they're multipurpose and hold most lights.
- A C-stand, which can generally hold more weight than a traditional stand. You also have the option to add arms. Check out the Impact Turtle Base C-Stand Kit (~$170) and the Impact C-Stand Overhead Shot Kit (~$190).
- Boom stands like the Manfrotto 420B Combi ($280), or the more affordable Flashpoint Pro Air (~$90) work well for overhead lighting for jewelry or flat lay photos.
You might also want to get a clamp holder (like this $27 one from Neewer) and attach it to a light stand for all your other accessories, like reflectors or foam boards. It's optional but will make keeping your setup in place easier.
The Best Product Photography Equipment Setup For Beginners
As you can see there's a lot of equipment to choose from, so where would we recommend starting? Below is the perfect kit for a beginner who wants a legitimate product photography setup. I've used every piece of equipment listed below and can vouch for it this list. I feel like this is a good balance between price and provides the tools to basically shoot most looks at a professional level.
The Best product photography setup for beginners
- 1 - Canon 6d Mark I (~$500)
- 1 - Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 ST (~$200)
- 1 - Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO, Canon Mount (~$400)
- 4 - AlienBees Flash Unit (~$245–$380)
- 4 - $40 Flashpoint stand
- 1 - Tripod - We don't have a recommendation for this as we use Monostands here.
- 2 - c stands with arm ($125)
- 2 - Impact Luxbanx Medium Rectangular Softbox (24" x 32") - $60
- 2 - Speedrings for alien bees
- Misc table top stuff: clamps, tape, tables, sweeps, backgrounds, props...
There will be photography professionals who read this list and disagree. Gear discussions are a basic part of being a photographer and as you grow your skill, try out different equipment and shoot more you will also have differing opinions as well. This is one of the fun parts about photography!
In conclusion, having high-quality product photos is essential for any ecommerce store, particularly the white background shots that lend a professional look and meet the requirements of marketplaces like Amazon. While investing in the latest and best camera may seem tempting, it's not necessary.
Building a product photography kit can be done on a budget by opting for older or second-hand camera bodies and investing in great lenses. Memory cards and digital storage, including external hard drives and cloud storage, are crucial for backing up files. When it comes to lenses, fast and high-quality prime lenses are recommended, with zoom lenses offering flexibility for different shooting spaces. Artificial studio lighting, such as continuous lights or strobes, can be added to supplement natural lighting and provide more control. Light modifiers and reflectors help manipulate and soften the light, while sturdy light stands are necessary for positioning the lights effectively.
By assembling the right equipment, ecommerce store owners can create compelling product photos that enhance their listings and attract customers.