Understanding Your Camera

Now we’ll discuss the surprisingly simple requirements for the camera you use to take your product photos.

If you own a DSLR camera or it’s within your budget to purchase one, great! If not, most recent smartphones are fine. However, keep the following in mind:

  • Handheld photography doesn’t cut it with product photos, so you’ll need to attach your device to a tripod
  • You’re going for consistency, and part of that is always shooting with the camera in the same place every time

These are both potential arguments against smartphones, as they’re not always easy to operate from a tripod and you’ll need to reattach the phone every time you’re ready to shoot more photos. In the long run, a camera may be worth the investment.

Regardless of what type of device you use, the main requirement is the ability to manually adjust exposure settings.

Exposure can be summed up as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO speed. All three affect your image in different ways, at the same time affecting the other two out of the three settings. Finding the right aperture, ISO, and shutter settings is a big trade-off for photographers, which is why it’s so tempting to let the camera use its automatic settings.

But by choosing these settings manually, you’ll vastly improve your product photos, so let’s explain what they are.



Aperture (also called F-stop) controls how much light enters the camera, much like the pupil of an eye. This controls the depth of field, an effect which determines how much of the image is in focus, and how much is blurry. The higher the depth of field, the more of the image will be in focus. For products, you want the highest aperture setting possible.


Shutter Speed

Shutter speed controls how long the camera sensor is exposed to light. When photographing a moving subject, low shutter speed results in motion blur as the shutter is open longer. For motionless subjects, low shutter speed is ideal as it allows for extremely sharp images. However, any movement will spoil the shot, including movement of your hands, which is why shooting from a tripod is highly recommended. If you don’t need to worry about even the tiniest movement while the shutter is open, you can take long exposures and get super-sharp images.


ISO Speed

ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light, and therefore affects the brightness of the image. It also affects the graininess of a photo. The lower the ISO setting is, the longer it takes to capture an image and the darker the image will be. But higher ISO speeds introduce noise to the photo, which is bad for product photos. For product images, you want the lowest ISO speed possible so as to prevent graininess but not so low that your images come out too dark. The strength of your lighting should allow you to take photos with low ISO speeds.

As long as you can manually configure these three exposure settings, and keep them the same to ensure consistency in your photos, your device is fine for product photos. Just keep in mind the importance of a tripod for best results, and remember to mark its position with tape as well.

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