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Author Topic: What's the best lens for product photography?  (Read 22935 times)
SteveZ
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« on: September 12, 2009, 01:50:15 PM »
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I have a client that needs some table top product shots done for a catalogue he is putting out and has asked if I would do them. I would hate to say "No" to him but not sure I have a lens suitable for this application. I'm shooting a 5D, and I think the best suitable lens I have is a Tamron SP AF28-75/2.8XR Di, but not sure is this is adequate. Obviously, detail and clarity is important. What do you recommend?
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2009, 03:01:45 PM »
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Hi!

That lens should be OK, if you have a decent sample. I have some test images posted here: http://www.pbase.com/ekr/km_28_75_test
The lens is a Konica Minolta but is the same lens as the Tamron 28-75/2.8 with some cosmetic changes. Test was made on Sony Alpha 900, it's more like Canon 5DII, a bit more demanding.

I'd suggest that close up performance is quite OK.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: SteveZ
I have a client that needs some table top product shots done for a catalogue he is putting out and has asked if I would do them. I would hate to say "No" to him but not sure I have a lens suitable for this application. I'm shooting a 5D, and I think the best suitable lens I have is a Tamron SP AF28-75/2.8XR Di, but not sure is this is adequate. Obviously, detail and clarity is important. What do you recommend?
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MarkL
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2009, 03:25:30 PM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
I have a client that needs some table top product shots done for a catalogue he is putting out and has asked if I would do them. I would hate to say "No" to him but not sure I have a lens suitable for this application. I'm shooting a 5D, and I think the best suitable lens I have is a Tamron SP AF28-75/2.8XR Di, but not sure is this is adequate. Obviously, detail and clarity is important. What do you recommend?

The key question is what size will they be printed at? For small brochures and web use almost anything will do a decent job. The other issue is if your tamron can focus close enough.

I'd be most worried about the lighting rather than what lens I had to use. You don't mention what you will be shooting but this might help you if you are on a budget:
http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/h...oto-studio.html
« Last Edit: September 12, 2009, 03:27:06 PM by MarkL » Logged
Hank
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2009, 10:31:10 AM »
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We're not shooting Canon, but do a lot of tabletop product photography.  Much depends on challenges specific to the product and setting.  Lens selection is based more on DOF and distortion issues related to subject size within the frame.  The "bigger" the subject within the frame, the greater the potential.  With a 35mm system your only solution to that challenge may be a T/S lens like the 90 or increasing subject distance and shooting with a longer lens.  I'd be more comfortable approaching your shoot with only a 35mm if I had a 70-200 f/2.8 handy along with the shorter f/2.8.

The bigger challenges in product photography are usually color fidelity, lighting and background.  Shadows, reflections, hot spots and glare will make you nuts unless you have a good supply of small reflectors and gobos on hand and work with them diligently with reflective or "complex" subjects.  Color fidelity becomes an issue when the client is proud of specific colors, and those happen to include reds or blues.  There are lots of synthetic colors out there that drive digital sensors nuts, just as they drive film nuts.  Calibrate hell out of your system, then color balance your camera very carefully to your lights.  And learn all the details you can from your client if the photos are to be printed.  I'd even talk to the printer about the specific CMYK conversion.  It is probably best to shoot for as accurate color rendition as you can manage, then leave it to the printer to wend through the CMYK.

Discuss the background carefully with your client.  Lots to learn and consider there, but not insurmountable.  The bigger point is not to overlook background details in your set design, and to be prepared to work lots with it.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2009, 10:34:10 AM by Hank » Logged
RobertJ
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2009, 08:15:39 PM »
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There's a ton of lenses that will do fine, even a 50mm f/1.4, but even on Canon, I'd use the Nikon 85mm PC (the first one, not the latest one that was just released recently).  You get to have perspective control, and it close-focuses down to 1:2, which is an advantage over the Canon 90mm tilt/shift.

However, I think the choice of lens is secondary to lighting and the overall setup.  Lighting is key.  Your lens selection is obviously tied to your composition.  Composing, focusing, and locking down the camera and also not moving the objects, is an important step before you set up your lighting, because movement/position of the camera and the focal length of the lens is directly related to how highlights and light sources will act upon the subjects, depending on the types of surface properties they may or may not have (glass, metal, reflective, non-reflective, etc).

But yeah, I think the 85 PC is a good lens to have.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2009, 08:21:44 PM by T-1000 » Logged
Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2009, 04:30:01 AM »
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Quote from: SteveZ
I have a client that needs some table top product shots done for a catalogue he is putting out and has asked if I would do them. I would hate to say "No" to him but not sure I have a lens suitable for this application. I'm shooting a 5D, and I think the best suitable lens I have is a Tamron SP AF28-75/2.8XR Di, but not sure is this is adequate. Obviously, detail and clarity is important. What do you recommend?
Assuming that the catalog is to be printed A5 or A4, lens quality will not be an issue - I do not know the client, but you must always assume that they might want an A2 enlargement of any of them!

The ideal focal length depends on the size of the subjects and the length of you studio... but for large products or groups, the length of your studio is the limiting factor, for postcard sized products use 100mm or 200mm, so that you can get between the table and camera. Smaller than postcard, use a Macro lens.
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Hasselblad H4, Sinar P3 monorail view camera, Schneider Apo-digitar lenses
tcphoto
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 11:30:49 AM »
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I shoot a lot of food and some product and I find that the 100 macro is my most used lens. There are purists that will recommend the TS-E 90mm at $1300. which has a minimum focus of 1.6'. If the shot calls for a large group of products, the 50/1.4 would be a good choice. I hope that you have a rental house close or at least check into www.lensrentals.com instead of buying a lens that will see little use.
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smahn
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2009, 10:44:47 AM »
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Quote from: T-1000
There's a ton of lenses that will do fine, even a 50mm f/1.4, but even on Canon, I'd use the Nikon 85mm PC (the first one, not the latest one that was just released recently).  You get to have perspective control, and it close-focuses down to 1:2, which is an advantage over the Canon 90mm tilt/shift.

Interested why you recommend the old over new version. Does it focus closer?
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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2009, 11:30:57 AM »
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The Canon 90mm TS is probably the King of product photography, you can add extension tubes to get magnification from 0,25x to 1x and the tilt mechanism is a great aid controlling DOF.

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RobertJ
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2009, 02:58:01 AM »
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Quote from: smahn
Interested why you recommend the old over new version. Does it focus closer?

The new version is probably a tiny bit better optically (or maybe not?), but it cannot be mounted onto a Canon SLR with an adapter because the aperture is controlled electronically, unlike the old one.  If you shoot Nikon, get the new version.  If you shoot Canon, I don't even think those Nikon electronic "G" adapters will work, so you have to use the older lens with a regular Nikon F to Canon EOS adapter.
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smahn
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2009, 02:11:33 PM »
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Quote from: T-1000
The new version is probably a tiny bit better optically (or maybe not?), but it cannot be mounted onto a Canon SLR with an adapter because the aperture is controlled electronically, unlike the old one.  If you shoot Nikon, get the new version.  If you shoot Canon, I don't even think those Nikon electronic "G" adapters will work, so you have to use the older lens with a regular Nikon F to Canon EOS adapter.

Ah, good advice, thanks.
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Pete Ferling
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2009, 12:32:05 AM »
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My preferred focal length is 100-135.  So I use a 100mm 2.8 macro on a crop sensor, and 135 2L on FF.  In a 30x40' room and 8' wide backdrop I get enough good compression and coverage for a majority of table top and small parts.  For small stuff at a few feet a 50 1.4 will suffice, anything wider and it's a squeeze to keep the backdrop in and have enough wrap to pull a mask in post. I can use wider backdrops but that goes away when being mobile.  So, as said before a 90 T/S is a good fit, though I use a modified FD 35 T/S for the really small things that print large (i.e. Hand held devices, etc), where DOF is a factor.  That lens is sick sharp from edge to edge.

My playpen.  Where the 100mm works best.

[attachment=16805:Ferling006562.jpg]
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marcwilson
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2009, 10:05:38 AM »
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Quote from: tcphoto
...If the shot calls for a large group of products, the 50/1.4 would be a good choice. I hope that you have a rental house close or at least check into www.lensrentals.com instead of buying a lens that will see little use.


I shot with a canon 50/1.4 the other week.
some shots of upto 12 wine bottles at a time so 50mm focal length was the longest I could go to in the space we were in.
I found the lens to have lots of distortion so I would be aware of that if you are shooting any very straight line work with that lens.
Was not noticeable on the vertical bottles but very much so on the horizontal table top.


Marc
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photoshutter
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2009, 12:25:14 PM »
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Quote from: T-1000
There's a ton of lenses that will do fine, even a 50mm f/1.4, but even on Canon, I'd use the Nikon 85mm PC (the first one, not the latest one that was just released recently).  You get to have perspective control, and it close-focuses down to 1:2, which is an advantage over the Canon 90mm tilt/shift.

However, I think the choice of lens is secondary to lighting and the overall setup.  Lighting is key.  Your lens selection is obviously tied to your composition.  Composing, focusing, and locking down the camera and also not moving the objects, is an important step before you set up your lighting, because movement/position of the camera and the focal length of the lens is directly related to how highlights and light sources will act upon the subjects, depending on the types of surface properties they may or may not have (glass, metal, reflective, non-reflective, etc).

But yeah, I think the 85 PC is a good lens to have.

Agreed! Nikon 85mm PC is a great lens for product photography, and working just fine on Canon.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 12:25:34 PM by photoshutter » Logged
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