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What equipment do I need to take photos for a catalog?

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April 28, 2005 4:32:10 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Hello,

Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to take some
pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog. These do not have
to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something decent at an affordable
price.

I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need to take
good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare, shadows etc and
have a white background so i can crop them.

Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject matter
id appriciete you listing them.

Please advise.
Thank You.
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 4:32:11 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

jj wrote:
> Hello,
>
> Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to
> take some pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog.
> These do not have to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something
> decent at an affordable price.
>
> I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need
> to take good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare,
> shadows etc and have a white background so i can crop them.
>
> Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject
> matter id appriciete you listing them.
>
> Please advise.
> Thank You.

Have you done a google group search on your keywords? There have been
several extended discussions in rec.photo.digital with good
information on lighting and other equipment.

--
Frank ess
April 28, 2005 4:47:14 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Search on "product table", "softbox" and so forth - you should find out
a bunch of stuff about how to light merchandise for photography.

I'd suggest that you first talk to the printer/publisher of the
catalogue, to find out what size, quality and resolution of photos
they're used to getting - do they want digital or physical 3-color
separations, or do they need digital TIFF's JPEG's or BMP files only
(some shops do); what size do they need, and what, in their experience,
gives the best results on their press?

And I'd recommend you at least consider a professional photographer -
depending on what and how much you're doing, it can be very reasonably
priced - a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars maybe.

If that's not to be, read a couple books and get a good camera with a
good lens; maybe something like the Oly C-7070 or C-8080, or a film SLR
and some Velvia; a heavy tripod, 2 or 3 studio lights and an umbrella;
shouldn't cost more than U.S.$1200 right now. I've seen great results
from home-made product tables; it's a matter of getting the right
materials to make the floor/back and sides and being a bit handy with a
hammer and nails.

Of course, there's many as good or better cameras (so don't bother
flaming about it, please), but those are the ones I might use if I
didn't have an SLR/dSLR with a good 50mm prime lens available, and I
wanted to keep it under $1200.

ECM
Related resources
April 28, 2005 5:42:34 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

jj wrote:
> Hello,
>
> Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to take some
> pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog. These do not have
> to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something decent at an affordable
> price.
>
> I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need to take
> good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare, shadows etc and
> have a white background so i can crop them.
>
> Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject matter
> id appriciete you listing them.
>
> Please advise.
> Thank You.
>
>
The lighting equipment is most important. A book on photography will help you to learn
what equipment you need and how to use it.
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 5:49:51 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"jj" <no@spam.com> wrote in message
news:fe8ce.13213$gA5.639270@news20.bellglobal.com...
> Hello,
>
> Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to take
> some
> pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog. These do not
> have
> to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something decent at an affordable
> price.
>
> I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need to
> take
> good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare, shadows etc and
> have a white background so i can crop them.
>
> Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject matter
> id appriciete you listing them.
>
> Please advise.
> Thank You.
>
I used to shoot for some catalogs before things went digital. As for the
camera any quality film camera will do, that will focus and frame on your
subject. For digital the same rules apply, and I've been told that
5megapixels and up will work well for catalogs. You will need fully manual
adjustments, or at least aperture priority for depth of field.

The camera is the easy part. I used to use a seamless background, white in
your case, and standard lights instead of strobes. You can easily preview
standard lighting over strobes, and it's a lot cheaper. Since your not
photographing people you don't have to worry about them melting under
lights. Don't forget to match the white balance to your lighting. Think
reflectors and umbrellas to prevent glare, and you may even have to spray
the bottles with a matt finish to get rid of glare. A polarizing filter
might help "control" the glare.

Still, as others have said, a good book on product photography and lighting
will be a big help and go a long way in giving you ideas and suggestions.
Depending on how much you are shooting, and for how long, you might consider
renting your lighting.

Hope the info helps, and is in line with the rest of the gang here.
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 9:06:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

That is a very big question. Catalog photography can be very hardware
intensive and require considerable skill and talent to do well.

Since we don't know if you want to photograph diamond rings or 747
airplanes it is a little difficult to make general suggestions.

There are some books out there than my be useful, especially if you are
going to be facing a number of different subjects. Check at someplace like
Amazon.com to see if they have something.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
"jj" <no@spam.com> wrote in message
news:fe8ce.13213$gA5.639270@news20.bellglobal.com...
> Hello,
>
> Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to take
> some
> pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog. These do not
> have
> to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something decent at an affordable
> price.
>
> I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need to
> take
> good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare, shadows etc and
> have a white background so i can crop them.
>
> Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject matter
> id appriciete you listing them.
>
> Please advise.
> Thank You.
>
>
April 28, 2005 9:06:46 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

The products that I would be photographing would be mostly bottles. Any
where from 15ml to 4L in size.

"Joseph Meehan" <sligojoe_Spamno@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:FK8ce.13695$dh.12401@tornado.ohiordc.rr.com...
> That is a very big question. Catalog photography can be very hardware
> intensive and require considerable skill and talent to do well.
>
> Since we don't know if you want to photograph diamond rings or 747
> airplanes it is a little difficult to make general suggestions.
>
> There are some books out there than my be useful, especially if you
are
> going to be facing a number of different subjects. Check at someplace
like
> Amazon.com to see if they have something.
>
> --
> Joseph Meehan
>
> Dia duit
> "jj" <no@spam.com> wrote in message
> news:fe8ce.13213$gA5.639270@news20.bellglobal.com...
> > Hello,
> >
> > Im very new to photography and i have been asked by my employer to take
> > some
> > pictures of our inventory to display in a print catalog. These do not
> > have
> > to be top notch pro photos but we'd like something decent at an
affordable
> > price.
> >
> > I am wondering what kind of setup in terms of equipment i would need to
> > take
> > good pictures of products? Id like to eliminate any glare, shadows etc
and
> > have a white background so i can crop them.
> >
> > Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject
matter
> > id appriciete you listing them.
> >
> > Please advise.
> > Thank You.
> >
> >
>
>
April 28, 2005 9:06:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

jj wrote:

> The products that I would be photographing would be mostly bottles. Any
> where from 15ml to 4L in size.

As long as your employer doesn't have any minimum standard he's looking
to meet as far as quality goes, you can do this yourself. For a camera
you'll need some macro capabilities, manual focus and exposure controls
and through the lens viewing. A good 35mm SLR would probably work okay
for this. A very stable tripod is required, don't even think about
shopping at Walmart for one.

Remember that with glass objects, much of what you are recording is
light coming *through* the bottle. So when arranging lights don't worry
too much about cooking the front of the bottle with light (unless there
are labels or printing you want to focus on). Backlighting them would
probably be a good way to approach this as a starting point.

I've done some glass objects by placing them on a plastic sheet such as
what covers a flourescent ceiling light, flat and level on the end
nearest the camera, curving upward toward the back. You can even shoot
light through this type of material to help backlight the subject.

Is this to be printed in black and white or color, on a website, etc.
etc.? Lot's of things to take into account, details you left out of the
question. Eliminating glare and shadows isn't in the point and shoot
realm, it takes some practice and equipment.
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 11:26:26 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

You need to buy a light-table ... probably around $300.00. Then you need one
or two good pro strobes ... about $500.00 to $800.00 each. You also need a
reflector. And you should have some "flags" & "gobos" for controlling light.
If you don't want, distortion you should buy a good view camera ... around
$1,000.00 should do it. You also need 4"x5" film holders ... about $20.00
each. A flash meter is essential as well ...around $250.00 to $500.00. OR
.... if you dont want to pay all that ... hire a commercial - advertising
professional photographer. Table top product photography is not for someone
with an amateur camera .

Craig Flory
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 11:26:27 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Craig Flory" <floryphotog@mindspring.com> writes:
> You need to buy a light-table ... probably around $300.00.

Office table with white tablecloth, $50

> Then you need one or two good pro strobes ... about $500.00 to
> $800.00 each.

Strobes are not needed for bottles (they don't move around and won't
melt under hot lights), so use lamps. $50 or so work lamps from a
hardware store, less if you improvise, more if you use pro studio
lighting but still a lot less than strobes.

> You also need a reflector. And you should have some "flags" &
> "gobos" for controlling light.

This stuff does help and is not terribly expensive. Some kind of
diffuser tent over the table

> If you don't want, distortion you should buy a good view camera
> ... around $1,000.00 should do it. You also need 4"x5" film holders
> ... about $20.00 each. A flash meter is essential as well ...around
> $250.00 to $500.00.

This is rec.photo.digital and serious digicams have flash exposure
stuff built in, if you're using flash at all. And with digital, you
can use the LCD preview and bracket exposures all you want without
burning expensive materials or spending a lot of time processing
polaroids. A 4x5 view camera for this stuff is ridiculous unless
you're shooting for Neiman-Marcus. There might be, for certain shots,
some advantage from using a tilt/shift lens on a DSLR.

> OR ... if you dont want to pay all that ... hire
> a commercial - advertising professional photographer. Table top
> product photography is not for someone with an amateur camera .

Spoken like a true FUD artist. The purpose of product photography is
to sell the product. If people look at the pictures and buy the
product, the photographs have done their job. All of the digital
"product photography" I've done (e.g. for selling stuff on ebay) has
been totally amateur (pocket sized point/shoot digicam, not even a
DSLR), but it sold the product. Paying a professional $1000 for a
terrific photo shoot instead spending $5 on do-it-yourself snapshots
is a money loser unless the professional photo results in $995 worth
of additional bottom line profits (not just revenue).
April 29, 2005 12:00:00 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

In article <fe8ce.13213$gA5.639270@news20.bellglobal.com>,
jj <no@spam.com> wrote:

>Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject matter
>id appriciete you listing them.

What kind of subject matter? What's your product? Jewelry? Food?
Cookie tins? Industrial Health and Safety Equipment? Downhole tools
for offshore drilling rigs? Tires?

The stakes aren't high enough to hire a photographer on a contract
basis? I'm sure you can get acceptable results from a wide range of
cameras and lenses, depending on what you need to photograph and what
kind of light is avaialble to photograph it in. But it might be wiser
to pay a photographer an hourly rate, someone who will show up with
several types of cameras, decent lighting equipment, who knows how to
use it, etc. For some types of work, you still want the medium-format
Hasselblad. For others, you still want the Crown Graphic 4x5.
And then, you might get by just fine with a $250 Powershot, a $30
tripod, a $3 tablecloth, and a $10 floodlight.
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 12:00:01 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

james wrote:
> In article <fe8ce.13213$gA5.639270@news20.bellglobal.com>,
> jj <no@spam.com> wrote:
>
>> Also if there are any websites that talk about this kind of subject
>> matter id appriciete you listing them.
>
> What kind of subject matter? What's your product? Jewelry? Food?
> Cookie tins? Industrial Health and Safety Equipment? Downhole
> tools
> for offshore drilling rigs? Tires?
>
> The stakes aren't high enough to hire a photographer on a contract
> basis? I'm sure you can get acceptable results from a wide range of
> cameras and lenses, depending on what you need to photograph and
> what
> kind of light is avaialble to photograph it in. But it might be
> wiser
> to pay a photographer an hourly rate, someone who will show up with
> several types of cameras, decent lighting equipment, who knows how
> to
> use it, etc. For some types of work, you still want the
> medium-format
> Hasselblad. For others, you still want the Crown Graphic 4x5.
> And then, you might get by just fine with a $250 Powershot, a $30
> tripod, a $3 tablecloth, and a $10 floodlight.

Of course there is my kind of catalog: an inventory of items in my
collection. That didn't take much: a Minolta Dimmidge Xi or Xt, a
piece of bent foamcore, and an Ott-lite (or diffuser for sunlight).

http://www.fototime.com/inv/8C5CF4495B9DAA4
April 29, 2005 12:11:08 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

In article <CNace.829$BE3.258@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net>,
Craig Flory <floryphotog@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
>
>You need to buy a light-table ... probably around $300.00. Then you need one
>or two good pro strobes ... about $500.00 to $800.00 each. You also need a
>reflector. And you should have some "flags" & "gobos" for controlling light.
>If you don't want, distortion you should buy a good view camera ... around
>$1,000.00 should do it. You also need 4"x5" film holders ... about $20.00
>each. A flash meter is essential as well ...around $250.00 to $500.00. OR

On the other hand, you could hand that experienced photographer a Pentax
K1000, a hardware store light fixture, and let him have his choice of any
3 items from the local thrift store, and he'd work magic for you.

But, yeah, for production work, get it right the first time, and pay for the
skills and for someone who has the tools and knows how to use them.
April 29, 2005 12:49:36 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

In article <7xd5sewt9o.fsf@ruckus.brouhaha.com>,
Paul Rubin <http://phr.cx@NOSPAM.invalid&gt; wrote:
>
>
>"Craig Flory" <floryphotog@mindspring.com> writes:
>> You need to buy a light-table ... probably around $300.00.
>
>Office table with white tablecloth, $50
>
>> Then you need one or two good pro strobes ... about $500.00 to
>> $800.00 each.
>
>Strobes are not needed for bottles (they don't move around and won't
>melt under hot lights), so use lamps. $50 or so work lamps from a
>hardware store, less if you improvise, more if you use pro studio
>lighting but still a lot less than strobes.
>
>> You also need a reflector. And you should have some "flags" &
>> "gobos" for controlling light.

>This stuff does help and is not terribly expensive. Some kind of
>diffuser tent over the table

I think Craig was trying to illustrate what sort of specialized things
the pro ad photographer might bring with him to the gig, to help
understand why it might be very worthwhile to hire one.

I didn't see it as FUD at all. He's not saying "go out and buy a
Linhof, and a great set of studio lights", he's saying "you might have
much more predictable and repeatable results, and you will get it right
the first time if you hire a professional to do this specialized work."

Now, I personally would try it myself, but then, I've got more than 30
years experience in photography, good cameras, a reasonable sense of
exposure and composition, and I know where I can, and where I can't,
come close to pro results using stuff I can get for $100 at a hardware
store and a fabric outlet.

I doubt I'd get it right the first time; I doubt that it would be
repeatable, and I doubt my output would be exactly what the print folks
expect. On the other hand, my budget would be approaching $0.00, and
considering the margins on some retail and resale markets, I would not
be surprised if that was the original poster's budget too.
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 12:49:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

fishbowl@conservatory.com (james) writes:
> I didn't see it as FUD at all. He's not saying "go out and buy a
> Linhof, and a great set of studio lights", he's saying "you might have
> much more predictable and repeatable results, and you will get it right
> the first time if you hire a professional to do this specialized work."

Craig said "you need to buy a light table... then you need one or two
good pro strobes ... etc." Of course the real subtext was "don't even
think of doing this yourself. Instead hire a professional to do the
job correctly".

For serious advertising photography that must show the product in the
best possible way, that's certainly a sensible approach. If you're
just trying to put a picture of something in a catalog so people can
see what it looks like and decide whether to buy it, the sales budget
probably takes priority over photographic perfectionism.

I'm sorry if I reacted a little bit harshly. I've been interested in
getting better at this kind of shooting myself (as an amateur) and
would have been eager to see concrete advice from a professional like
Craig, like "use Blue-tac to keep the bottle from rolling away" or
whatever. I learn a lot from experienced shooters who post in order
to demystify things, and say "here's how to do it". In Craig's post,
I instead saw what I interpreted as a sales pitch: "this is too hard
for you to do, so you should pay me or someone like me a lot of money
to do it for you".
April 29, 2005 12:53:47 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

In article <ar6dncbrXpRV2ezfRVn-oA@giganews.com>,
Frank ess <frank@fshe2fs.com> wrote:

>> And then, you might get by just fine with a $250 Powershot, a $30
>> tripod, a $3 tablecloth, and a $10 floodlight.
>
>Of course there is my kind of catalog: an inventory of items in my
>collection. That didn't take much: a Minolta Dimmidge Xi or Xt, a
>piece of bent foamcore, and an Ott-lite (or diffuser for sunlight).
>
>http://www.fototime.com/inv/8C5CF4495B9DAA4

I covet your Dodge, and more so, the VW tow. Know anything about the
history of that tow truck model?

Also, is this the DoF you're going for, or is it the limit of your macro
lens in this light?
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 12:53:48 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

james wrote:
> In article <ar6dncbrXpRV2ezfRVn-oA@giganews.com>,
> Frank ess <frank@fshe2fs.com> wrote:
>
>>> And then, you might get by just fine with a $250 Powershot, a $30
>>> tripod, a $3 tablecloth, and a $10 floodlight.
>>
>> Of course there is my kind of catalog: an inventory of items in my
>> collection. That didn't take much: a Minolta Dimmidge Xi or Xt, a
>> piece of bent foamcore, and an Ott-lite (or diffuser for sunlight).
>>
>> http://www.fototime.com/inv/8C5CF4495B9DAA4
>
> I covet your Dodge, and more so, the VW tow. Know anything about
> the
> history of that tow truck model?
>
> Also, is this the DoF you're going for, or is it the limit of your
> macro lens in this light?

I've seen the VW in a "Lotus Team" kit, and have (from memory) one of
the racing cars. This is the only one I ever came across that was for
sale. Recently I have seen some photos of Pete Loveley's VW
transporters, one with his Lotus 49 loaded up.

I think the Xi/Xt was close to the bump stops. The lens would do
better with a little more control, I suppose, but there isn't much of
that in those cameras.

--
Frank ess
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 1:06:13 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"jj" <no@spam.com> writes:

> The products that I would be photographing would be mostly bottles. Any
> where from 15ml to 4L in size.

Oh, goody. *Glass*. You are going to have *such* fun!

Glass is reflective, transparent, and will refract the light. Bottles
are rounded, enabling the above effects to give you glare from any
light source anywhere, and to show distorted images of anything
visible from the point-of-view of the bottle.

This is *not* the product photography project I would choose for
introducing somebody to the field!

_Light -- Science & Magic_ (Hunter & Fuqua) is a textbook that I've
learned a lot about lighting from. It's not a cookbook, it's an
actual textbook that teaches you fundamentals and gets you going the
right direction -- so no really quick-and-dirty magic solutions, but a
solid understanding for future growth.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:D d-b@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/&gt;
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/&gt;
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/&gt;
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/&gt;
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 1:13:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Craig Flory" <floryphotog@mindspring.com> writes:

> You need to buy a light-table ... probably around $300.00. Then you need one
> or two good pro strobes ... about $500.00 to $800.00 each. You also need a
> reflector. And you should have some "flags" & "gobos" for controlling light.
> If you don't want, distortion you should buy a good view camera ... around
> $1,000.00 should do it. You also need 4"x5" film holders ... about $20.00
> each. A flash meter is essential as well ...around $250.00 to $500.00. OR
> ... if you dont want to pay all that ... hire a commercial - advertising
> professional photographer. Table top product photography is not for someone
> with an amateur camera .

The camera isn't the problem. It's easy enough to correct perspective
in Photoshop later, and you gain enough depth of field with
small-sensor digital that you're less likely to really regret the lack
of tilts. The flashmeter is also unnecessary for digital. (And we
are on rec.photo.digital here, so I don't feel *too* extreme in
assuming that's how he's talking about doing it.)

Not to take away from your basic point, which is that it's not the
easiest project in the world, and hiring somebody who already knows
how to do it is cheaper than buying all the equipment and figuring out
how to do it yourself!
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:D d-b@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/&gt;
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/&gt;
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/&gt;
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/&gt;
Anonymous
April 29, 2005 2:28:55 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

jj wrote:
> The products that I would be photographing would be mostly bottles.
> Any where from 15ml to 4L in size.
>

Fun. Glass is a challenge. I suggest a light table - tent arrangement
to simplify your lighting - reflection problems.

Lighting will be the problem. Once you get the hang of it, you will
wonder what all the problems were.

I believe there are several books on doing glass objects.

Good Luck

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
April 12, 2010 7:16:49 AM

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