Source: pexels.com

We gave start­ing tips for those who want to try their hand at prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy here, and today we’ll talk to those who already under­stand the basics and are look­ing for the best tech­ni­cal solu­tion for their shots. Below is a rat­ing of the best still cam­eras and lens­es suit­able for them.

General Tips

Let’s agree right away that this arti­cle does not talk about soul­less shoot­ing of goods for an online store. The speci­fici­ty of most of these shoot­ings is that cus­tomers need pho­tos for the Inter­net in a small res­o­lu­tion, about 1500 px. For such a pho­to, the qual­i­ty of your optics is not impor­tant. Cor­rect­ly exposed light plays a much more impor­tant role.

But if you are plan­ning to seri­ous­ly earn mon­ey and improve in prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, then it is bet­ter to imme­di­ate­ly acquire pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment. Per­haps this will moti­vate and allow you to fight the impos­tor syn­drome, give you pri­ma­ry self-con­fi­dence.

And now let’s fig­ure out how to choose a cam­era for sub­ject shoot­ing.

Depth of field

To find out the focal state for a cropped sen­sor, mul­ti­ply the focal length by the crop fac­tor. Source: canon.com.au

Crop or full frame

In prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, there is a prob­lem of shal­low depth of field. It is con­nect­ed with the fact that our objects are small and we are forced to shoot them at close range. And the depth of field depends on the focal length and on how far we are from the object being shot. From this posi­tion, it seems that crop cam­eras are more prof­itable to use, because. you can move fur­ther away from the object.

But this is an imag­i­nary advan­tage. Usu­al­ly the res­o­lu­tion of crop-cam­eras is crop times less than that of full­frame. This means that the own­er of a full-frame cam­era can move fur­ther away from the sub­ject, and then inde­pen­dent­ly crop the pic­ture dur­ing edit­ing. And due to the high­er res­o­lu­tion, get pic­tures that are com­pa­ra­ble in pro­por­tions, but of bet­ter qual­i­ty.

Fast optics with a shal­low depth of field is an advan­tage for cre­at­ing a three-dimen­sion­al pat­tern. But it can also become a dis­ad­van­tage due to the high chances of over­shoot­ing with sharp­ness. Source: pexels.com


In prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, often only part of the sub­ject is sharply depict­ed, and the rest is blurred. This is done to focus on a par­tic­u­lar detail of the object. Although, some­times, cus­tomers require that the entire sub­ject be sharply depict­ed.

In order to increase the depth of field, the aper­ture is usu­al­ly cov­ered. But in such a case it is easy to over­do it, dif­frac­tion will set in and reduce the over­all sharp­ness of the image.

The inten­si­ty of dif­frac­tion man­i­fes­ta­tion depends on the size of the matrix pix­els. The small­er the pix­el, the weak­er you can cov­er the aper­ture with­out risk­ing dif­frac­tion effects.


Macro lens­es with a focal length of 50–60 to 180mm will do an excel­lent job with sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy. Source: www.unsplash.com

In sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy, aut­o­fo­cus is not used — a max­i­mum to con­firm aut­o­fo­cus. There­fore, using lens­es that do not fit the mount with an adapter is a com­mon prac­tice.

It is bet­ter to choose macro lens­es. Macro lens­es trans­mit to the matrix the scale of the object being shot is not less than 1:1. When shoot­ing with a macro lens, you can get close to a small object (such as a coin) so close that it takes up the entire sen­sor and is still in focus. In prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, this is nec­es­sary to cap­ture the details of objects or, for exam­ple, jew­el­ry.

Macro lens­es have the best sharp­ness, and for a prod­uct pho­tog­ra­ph­er, sharp­ness is the main char­ac­ter­is­tic of optics. In addi­tion, tele­pho­to lens­es allow you to shoot at a dis­tance from objects, which is impor­tant if they are small objects. This will allow you not to think that the cam­era or lens will be between the light source and the object and cast shad­ows.

If the shoot­ing area is small, a zoom lens will do. The main thing is that it has a wide range of focal lengths (for exam­ple, 24–100), suit­able for both wide shots and close-ups in detail.

A high-qual­i­ty tilt-shift lens makes it pos­si­ble to shoot from any angle, even in pro­file, with­out opti­cal dis­tor­tion, and also pro­vides sharp­ness in those areas where it is need­ed. Here are exam­ples of how they can be use­ful in prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy:

  • if you want to pho­to­graph an object from the bot­tom up. With a con­ven­tion­al lens, you will have to point the cam­era non-par­al­lel to the object, which is why there is a risk of get­ting the effect of ver­ti­cal con­ver­gence. With tilt-shift optics, the entire object can be includ­ed in the pic­ture;
  • shift­ing the plane of the sharpest focus so that the object being pho­tographed is sharp in its entire­ty.

Top best cameras and lenses for still photography

Regard­less of whether a table or a pho­to­box is used for sub­ject shoot­ing, if there is only one light source, it should be direct­ed from above rel­a­tive to the shoot­ing posi­tion in rela­tion to the sub­ject. Source: www.unsplash.com

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

30 MP full-frame SLR cam­era. The cam­era con­fi­dent­ly shoots at ISO up to 6400 inclu­sive. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant in prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, which often requires closed aper­tures to ensure that the entire sub­ject being pho­tographed enters the depth of field.

The cam­era is quite mas­sive — about 800 grams. In prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, tripods are often used to avoid even the slight­est blur. There­fore, this is a non-crit­i­cal fac­tor.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

The lens aper­ture is in the range from f/2.8 to f/32, the num­ber of blades is 9. The lens is light — 625 gr. The min­i­mum focus­ing dis­tance is 30 cm. This dis­tance is mea­sured from the main plane of the sen­sor, at a 1:1 scale, the object will be only 13 cm from the front lens of the lens. It is sharp even at an open aper­ture and is prac­ti­cal­ly devoid of chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions. Also equipped with aut­o­fo­cus and a sta­bi­liz­er that removes shak­ing in the viewfind­er, help­ing the aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem not to lose the sub­ject being shot. So when work­ing with­out a tri­pod, you won’t be able to miss the sharp­ness. And the process of build­ing a frame will become more com­fort­able.

With­out leav­ing the aut­o­fo­cus mode, you can man­u­al­ly cor­rect the auto­mat­i­cal­ly induced sharp­ness by fine-tun­ing the focus­ing ring. For greater aut­o­fo­cus per­for­mance in macro pho­tog­ra­phy, the lens has a three-posi­tion focus lim­iter (0.3 m — 0.5 m, 0.3 m — infin­i­ty, 0.5 m — infin­i­ty).

Often, nat­ur­al light is enough for a spec­tac­u­lar prod­uct shot. Source: www.unsplash.com

Sony Alpha A7R III

Full-frame mir­ror­less cam­era with a res­o­lu­tion of 42.4 megapix­els. When shoot­ing, the cam­era shows good detail, as well as bright, cor­rect col­ors.

Noise becomes notice­able at ISO 1600, but then its sever­i­ty grows not in pro­por­tion to the increase in ISO, but with a strong slow­down, remain­ing with­out seri­ous aggra­va­tion up to ISO 6400 (and some­times more). The cam­era is equipped with aut­o­fo­cus and five-axis image sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tems. The lat­ter serves to com­pen­sate for the ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal shifts that occur dur­ing hand trem­bling, as well as for cam­era rota­tions and devi­a­tions.

The Sony A7R III imple­ments a Pix­el Shift shoot­ing mode, in which the cam­era takes sev­er­al suc­ces­sive pix­el-shift frames, which can then be com­bined into a sin­gle frame with a high­er res­o­lu­tion than the stan­dard one.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

The lens belongs to the G‑series, it is one of the top Sony lens­es. Weight — 600 gr. Aper­ture from f/2.8 to f/22, 9 blades. The min­i­mum focus­ing dis­tance when shoot­ing is 28 cm. Paired with the A7R Mark III, even at high ISOs, you will get an accept­able noise lev­el.

The lens has soft bokeh and low chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tion. It has an opti­cal image sta­bi­liz­er so you can get sharp shots even at 1/20s, con­sid­er­ing you’re using the lens with the A7R. Even at an open aper­ture, the lens boasts high sharp­ness.

You can shoot sub­ject com­po­si­tions at an angle of 45 ° or from above. The last option is con­sid­ered one of the most com­mon. They call him a flat­ley. Source: www.unsplash.com

Nikon D850

Full frame DSLR with a res­o­lu­tion of 45.7 megapix­els. The weight of the cam­era is 1005 grams. The cam­era has good sharp­ness and detail. Great oppor­tu­ni­ties for crop­ping, because frames with a res­o­lu­tion of 8256 × 5504 weigh about 90–100 MB in RAW for­mat, so it is log­i­cal to cut them. Col­or ren­di­tion allows you to take sat­u­rat­ed, but with­out bust­ing pic­tures. The cam­era starts to make a notice­able noise at ISO 3200–6400. The cam­era has a focus-stack­ing func­tion: the device inde­pen­dent­ly takes a series of shots, focus­ing the lens with a giv­en step at dif­fer­ent dis­tances, which com­pen­sates for the lack of depth of field. This helps, because even the most closed aper­ture does not always allow you to suf­fi­cient­ly increase the depth of field, but due to dif­frac­tion, it can sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce detail. Indeed, in sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy, only part of the sub­ject is often sharply depict­ed, and the rest is in a blur­ry zone.

The cam­era takes pic­tures, grad­u­al­ly shift­ing the focus from a giv­en dis­tance to infin­i­ty. You can com­bine pho­tos your­self in Adobe Pho­to­shop.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8

Weight — 720 grams. Aper­ture from f/2.8 to f/32, 9 blades. The lens is also equipped with fast and accu­rate aut­o­fo­cus. The min­i­mum focus­ing dis­tance is 31.4cm and the lens aper­ture is f/4.8.

Sharp­ness already from an open aper­ture, almost zero dis­tor­tion, pleas­ant bokeh, small chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions, mod­er­ate vignetting on a full-frame cam­era, good resis­tance to side and back­light. At f / 5.6–8, the sharp­ness of the pic­ture will be the sharpest. But even at f/16–22 the sharp­ness is quite accept­able.

Built-in opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion allows you to com­pen­sate for up to three stops of expo­sure. This means that at a long focal length, the sta­bi­liz­er will insure against blur­ring, which can cause even the slight­est jit­ter, and at a short one it will help to com­pose the frame more con­ve­nient­ly. The image in the viewfind­er will not shake. For the same rea­son, focus­ing is eas­i­er for both the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and automa­tion. You can shoot at shut­ter speeds up to 16 times slow­er than a non-IS lens requires.

The back­ground should not dis­tract the view­er from the com­po­si­tion itself. Its task is to com­ple­ment the objects in the frame. Source: www.unsplash.com

Fujifilm X‑T20

The most bud­get cam­era in our top. The cam­era res­o­lu­tion is 24.3 megapix­els, there is no built-in sta­bi­liz­er. The cam­era is cropped and mir­ror­less. But light — only 383 grams.

The low lev­el of noise is main­tained up to ISO 3200. The cam­era has a high min­i­mum sen­si­tiv­i­ty thresh­old: ISO 100 is only avail­able as an exten­sion — with a min­i­mum, but a decrease in image qual­i­ty.

Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro

Weight — 750 grams. Min­i­mum focus­ing dis­tance — 25 cm. Aper­ture in the range from f/2.8 to f/22, 9 petals. Fast lens for macro pho­tog­ra­phy, sharp through­out the entire range of focus­ing dis­tances.

There are prac­ti­cal­ly no chro­mat­ic and spher­i­cal aber­ra­tions. Rel­a­tive­ly fast aut­o­fo­cus speed. The sharp­ness is high, the bokeh of the lens is soft and pleas­ing to the eye, high detail.


The choice of equip­ment is deter­mined by your goals — if you are going to take sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy seri­ous­ly and want to make it your pro­fes­sion — you should get pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment. Oth­er­wise, medi­um cam­eras will be enough for you, and the flaws in the image are com­pen­sat­ed by well-exposed light.