Noob Questions

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ecwyatt, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. ecwyatt macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2005
    Recently my Boss has given me a task of "enhancing" our photography equipment. The only propblem is Im a designer not a photographer. We currently use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, with a the standard EFS 18-55mm lens. Our primary use is product photography. Right now when we shoot a product we go back under box fluorescent lights, He wants me to look at B&H photo to find a photo table. Correct me if I'm wrong but rather than spend several hundred dollars on a Table setup couldn't we just purchase a sheet of white Plexiglas, and use the other money for better lights?

    I guess my questions for you real photographers are:

    1) Where can I buy Plexiglas or should I use seamless? what are the benefits of each.
    2) For product photography what type of lighting equipment should we look into?
    3) is there a better lens for the Canon. the EFS 18-55mm lens is ok but it seams like it's just a "get me started" type of lens. It's not as sharp as I would like and if there is any motion at all it picks it up (especially if I'm shooting with out a tripod).

    I appreciate any help on this. I would much rather us a real photographer but they don't want to spend the money.


  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Once you have the setup, you're probably OK without a "real" photographer.

    I don't know much about product shots, but use a tripod every time you take a shot. ;)

    And about getting new gear......well......I think you're right. You don't need a new camera. You just need the right setup in terms of lighting and such. A new camera won't fix this problem. You'll just take photos that show the same problems, but in more megapixels and larger file sizes. Talk about a nice example of having "no benefit." :p
  3. beavo451 macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    You're camera is fine. I would get a 60mm Macro lens to do the product shots. You can use any regular old table (I use a poker table). Buy a big sheet of white paper (or black) and some plexi glass from Home Depot. Reflections show up better on black. While you are at Home Depot, buy some PVC piping and corners to make a rectangular box. Then use a large piece of fabric to cover it and now you have a light tent. Then you can use either two work lights, or two strobes. pointed at the outside of the tent on either side. I would recommend the stobes so that it doesn't get too hot. Alien Bee B400 stobes are cheap and fine for product photography. Here is an example shot.

    If you want, I can post a setup shot as well later.

    Light stands:

  4. ecwyatt thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2005
    Thanks for the responses. Sorry it took so long to respond. beavo451 if you could post a setup shot that would be great. I'd pass that along to my boss so he has a visual. Also you said the Alien Bee B400 strobes would work for product photography but what about application shots? What do I need to look for in buying lights that work with our Rebel?
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    1) Yes, lighting is the number one thing you need for product photos. You need a source of light and some "modifiers" to defuse, focus reflect or color the light. For product photography white pexiglass is used a lot because it can suport the product and be lit from the bottom and it can curve seemlessly and also be lit from the top.

    2) The "photo table" many times is a big hunk of plexiglass that is curves so as to make a table with a builtin seemless background. You can light the plexiglass from in back of the plastic to make a paper white background. You will also need light for the top. and a way to make it either defuse or specular. Idealy you would have both a key and a fill light

    3) I can'r imagine doing this kind of complex lighting without a hand hald flash meter. How can you set up light ratios (Say you want one light two stops brighter then another) by eye and guess?

    4) Motion blur do to camera movement???? Why in the world whould you ever shoot a product without using a tripod. Typically people who do this kind of work use fairly masive tripods. Typically to get best DOF you have to stop down to maybe f/8 (for a small format camera) Let the shutter go as long as required and one more thing, even with a sturdy tripod always us either a cable relece or an IR remote. If you don't have these use the camera delay timmer set to a 10 second delay. Finger presure on the shutter release button always moves the camera

    5) Lens. Camera to subject distance controls perspective. Focal lenght controls field of view. The two are related but not the same at all. It is kind of a current fad to get real close and use a wide angle lens. Unless you are making large prints, any Canon lens sharp enough. But you may want to reduce DOF with a faster lens or more likey back off using a longer one.

    6) there are a milion othe tricks. Pull out the ads they stuff in the newspaper, look at the ads on magizines and even on TV. You can get a lot of good ideas there, things like strongly directional colored lights

    7) for digital the big thing I find is control of the contrast. You really need to get it flat so the whole shot is with in the camera's range. Just put a light on the subject comming from what ever angle loks good, Make the light as soft or as hard as you like and then bring up the fill light untill the shadows are OK.

    Bottom line, lighting is key. Send you bucks on lights. Expect to spend a lot more on lights then on a 350D and lens.
  6. beavo451 macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    I am out of town now, so I can't post the setup shots for another 2 weeks. Sorry.

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