Many people think product photography lighting set ups consist of several individual strobes/flashes and lights all linked together using complex and expensive equipment, and whilst this may be true in some instances it does not have to be this way. Product photography lighting doesn’t have to consist of numerous lights. Product photography lighting does not have to be expensive and product photography lighting doesn’t have to be linked together via a series of wires and the like.
My product photography lighting kit is basic, it is relatively cheap but it allows me to take commercial product photos that I regularly sell and make money with. Yep, my product lighting kit is proof you don’t need to spend a fortune on photography lighting equipment.
MY PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY LIGHTING KIT
Product photography lighting kit - Continuous lights
I have used both flash/strobe lights and continuous lights for product photography and I have to admit that continuous lights are the best option. Using continuous lights I can move the lights around the product and instantly see the effect. I can see where there is too much light, I can see where the shadows are and I can make the necessary adjustments to light the product exactly as I want to.
Whilst continuous lights are the best choice most of the time there are instances when strobe lights or flash are more suitable. Continuous lights burn hot so product is affected by heat and perishes or melts flash guns, speed lights or strobes are the best choice. This is all well and good but lighting with these lights is way more difficult, not to mention time consuming than using continuous lights.
Arguably, you can use any type of lamp as a continuous light to light the product however you do need to remember that different types of light have different temperatures, and you need to consider the white balance accordingly. It is possible to get accurate colours using any type of lamp, however it requires some photo editing software and good knowledge of how to use the software.
The continuous lights in my product photography lighting kit consist of daylight balanced bulbs at 5500K. This means that all I need to do to get the correct white balance, and not suffer from colour casts, is to set a custom white balance by manually setting a colour temperature of 5500K. Daylight balanced bulbs are more expensive than other types of lamp however they are worth every penny.
In my opinion every product photography lighting it should have continuous daylight balanced lights. I have five daylight balanced bulbs in my lighting kit, and whilst this is too many for most of the product photos I take there have been instances when I have used each and every one of them.
Product photography lighting kit – Light stands
Light stands are essential to hold the daylight balanced bulbs and it is important they are not only sturdy enough to support the weight of the bulbs, but also fully adjustable. There are times when you want the light low to light the product from underneath. There are times when you will want the light high above the product to light it from above, and there are times when you will want the light some distance from the product to light the product from the side.
Product photography lighting kit - A light meter
A light meter is essential in a product photography lighting kit however it does make setting the exposure far quicker and easier. I initially bought a light meter for landscape photography but once I used it for product photography and discovered it made the entire process slicker the light meter has been in my product photography lighting kit bag ever since.
If you found the above useful or interesting below are some links to other product photography articles you may want to check out:-
Product photography can be very lucrative and it is possible to make some good money. If this is of interest why not take a look at the “Earning money as a product photographer” article.
“Continuous lighting for product photography” is an article focusing on using continuous lights to capture awesome product photography images.
If you want to get the best product photos you can you are going to need the right equipment, and the “Essential product photography equipment” article details all you need.
Many photographers are of the opinion a light tent is essential to capture commercial product photos, but is this right? Take a look at the “Is a light tent needed for product photography?” article and see what you think.
In my experience a macro lens is the perfect product photography lens, and the one I use is the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens. For an honest and unbiased review of this awesome lens the “Canon lens review - 100mm f2.8L IS macro” article is something you may want to take a look at.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.