Product photography is one of the most profitable styles of photography I have ever shot and if you are looking to do the same you will need a quality camera equiped for the specific needs of capturing images that sell.
Read on for the full product photography camera review or skip ahead for the best camera picks.
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The Type of Product Photography You Shoot Tells You Which Camera is Best
There are so many types of product photography people shoot it is important to consider what you will be photographing before selecting your camera.
Photographers who will be snapping pictures for digital platforms like eBay and Etsy will not need to most advanced camera on the market but if you plan to shoot for marketing prints or stock photo sites then you will need a more powerful camera to achieve the necessary image quality.
Product Photography Camera Features You Need
Almost every product photographer will want to go with a mirrorless or DSLR camera body due to them having the essential features and setting to make you successful.
Use a camera with Full manual mode
While beginner photographers will feel the urge to shoot n auto mode (which most cameras will have) it is imperative that you learn to shoot in full manual mode to achieve professional image quality. By shooting in manual mode you will be able to make needed adjustments that even the best auto mode cameras can’t catch.
Because of this you must get a camera that allows you to take full control of the settings.
Another huge benefit of shooting in manual is that it improves your ability to get your images in perfect focus. This is particularly important when shooting products with fine detail. This will really help you make your pictures pop.
You will also be able to to improve the accuracy of your camera’s sensor. This is extremely important for those who are shooting objects that reflect light like jewelry and crystal. Full manual mode allows you to get those eye catching images by adjusting the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to the perfect exposure for your particular product.
If you’re new to product photography and camera settings don’t feel overwhelmed. By getting one of the top camera models you will get the hang of these settings in no time and the results are well worth learning.
Don’t forget that the better the image quality, the more sales you will make.
Get Video For Eye Catching 360 Product Views
Even if you don’t think you will be taking videos now, you will likely find yourself wanting to in the near future. Many online and traditional sellers are adding video images to their product listings and by selecting a camera with high quality video capture you will be ready to take stunning product videos without having to invest in a second camera.
While most current camera models from the top makers will come with video capabilities it is important to remember that not all video capture achieves the quality needed for product video photography. Also keep in mind that not all older camera models even come with video capabilities.
All of the top picks on my list will provide you with the video quality and focus features needed to take product videos that sell great.
Select a Camera that Uses Interchangeable Lenses
You may be tempted to save money by getting a camera with a built in lens but do not do it!
Not all images will look good with the same product photography lens and it is very important that your camera allows you to use the lens that will make your images look their best. Most product photographers have multiple lenses and you won’t find any pro out there using a fixed lens camera for every product they shoot.
Let’s say you shoot jewelry one day, and the next you are shooting pottery. To get the shine and brilliance of gold and silver you will need a macro lens while the pottery will not necessarily need the power of the macro lens. By getting a camera body that allows you to change your lens you will never feel limited in your sessions. This is also true for shooting with your phone. You will quickly realize that a fixed lens limits your ability to capture professional level images.
Check my picks for the best product photography lenses
Best Product Photography Camera: Top Picks
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an intriguing option for anyone looking to take their camera skills to the next level. The options are endless with this camera – from capturing superb wildlife pictures, to capturing pro quality product shots. Plus, you will have access to some really creative features like a built-in DSLR timelapse movie mode which can record footage for hours and hours on end.
Who It’s For: With its hybrid autofocus system which includes phase detection, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a great option for everyone from amateur to professional photographers. The camera has a compact and lightweight design making it a great option for travel. It can be used either in your studio or on location, so there really is no need to have more than one camera in your collection.
Why We Love It: The ergonomic design of the 6D Mark II is a joy to use. The grip on the camera feels firmly in place and is not too slippery, plus it is comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The dials are logically placed and easy to access, especially with Canon’s brilliant three-button layout. The auto-focus system is incredibly fast – with most shots almost instantly focused – particularly at close-range – which is ideal for taking pictures of products for eBay or Amazon.
What You Need To Know: The Canon EOS 6D Mark II doesn’t offer the ultimate in image quality. Although it produces sharp and well saturated images, they’re not as brilliant as those captured by a full-frame sensor. As with all Canon DSLR cameras, this one is compatible with the vast range of Canon lenses – which means you’ll always be able to find a lens that suits your needs.
How It Performed In Our Tests: The Canon EOS 6D Mark II has a reputation for being an incredible camera and is one that I normally recommend to my students, but there were a couple of areas which left us disappointed during our tests. We were particularly disappointed in the low-light performance, with images such as the one above looking a little blurry, while other shots we shot looked far too noisy.
The Nikon D610 is an uber-professional digital SLR camera. This is the camera that was launched to replace the popular D600 after a few reports of a technical fault (defective shutter unit) that affected some users. Nikon dealt with the problem quickly and replaced all cameras for free under warranty, but obviously put the D600 to bed as soon as possible by launching its replacement – the D610.
Who It’s For: The Nikon D610 is an ideal choice for a professional photographer. You will be rewarded with stunning photos in a variety of conditions, whether you’re shooting in broad daylight or at night.
Why We Love It: This camera can produce images of such high quality and clarity that we found it hard to fault. The seamless auto-focus system is fast and accurate, especially when using the manual focus ring to quickly change focus point while taking pictures of products for eBay or Amazon. The 2,016-segment metering system gives you the confidence to shoot in any type of lighting conditions.
What You Need To Know: The Nikon D610 doesn’t offer the ultimate in image quality. Although it produces sharp and well saturated images, they’re not as brilliant as those captured by full-frame sensor cameras. As with all Nikon DSLR cameras, this one is compatible with the vast range of Nikon lenses – which means you’ll always be able to find a lens that suits your needs.
How It Performed In Our Tests: The Nikon D610 has all the features that make it a great camera, but it is let down by its high ISO performance. Images are noisy at 100 ISO and we found that they only looked OK up to 200 ISO, but as you climb higher, the noise becomes increasingly pronounced.
The Nikon D750 is the perfect camera for beginners who are keen to have a robust and weather resistant shooter, but also want to move up a level in terms of quality and consistency. This camera comes with an 18-55mm kit lens, which is the standard wide angle lens used on most DSLR cameras these days.
Who It’s For: The Nikon D750 is a great choice for beginners who are just starting out on their photography career, but want plenty of room to grow as they become more experienced. The camera is not too bulky and will suit users of all ages.
Why We Love It: The Nikon D750 is incredibly fast in almost every aspect. From auto-focusing to changing settings, everything is lightning fast. This camera also works well with a wide variety of lenses and accessories, so it can be adapted for almost any task you choose to throw at it.
What You Need To Know: The Nikon D750 doesn’t offer the ultimate in image quality. Although it produces sharp and well saturated images, they’re not as brilliant as those captured by a full-frame sensor camera. As with all Nikon DSLR cameras, this one is compatible with the vast range of Nikon lenses – which means you’ll always be able to find a lens that suits your needs.
How It Performed In Our Tests: The Nikon D750 has a high ISO performance that leaves us wanting, but it is not enough to put us off. The camera has an autofocus system that truly cannot be faulted, and pictures are generally sharp and vivid. Although the battery life is a little short (300 shots), the camera also comes with a decent selection of lenses which will fit your budget and demands.
The Sony Alpha A7 features a full-frame sensor with a 24.3MP resolution. Compared to other on the list, this camera is the only full-frame mirrorless camera on our list. However, Sony uses a processor from its Alpha line of cameras to achieve this feat. The camera has a full frame sensor that is surrounded by 11 glass elements, which gives it fantastic clarity and low noise.
Who It’s For: The Sony Alpha A7 is for users who want ultimate quality in their images with minimal photosites and therefore less distortion. Photos are made with extreme precision and the mirrorless technology ensures that the camera body itself doesn’t take up much space considering its size compared to other DSLRs.
Why We Love It: The Sony Alpha A7 is the first full-frame mirrorless camera to really make a dent on the DSLR camera market. Great image quality and an impressive battery life of 500 shots makes this a great choice for photographers who want quality images without sacrificing speed.
What You Need To Know: The Sony Alpha A7 has a fast autofocus system, but it’s not quite as fast as some of its competitors. The camera also has a high-resolution viewfinder that offers an unusually large amount of light; however, this mirrorless camera does require the use of electronic accessories to promote video recording.
How It Performed In Our Tests: The Sony Alpha A7 is a good choice for photographers who want to make accurate detailed photographs with minimal distortion. Both photos and videos are quite sharp, and the camera can make use of low light situations without introducing much noise into the image.
The Nikon DF is a premium mirrorless camera with a super-fast autofocus system. However, this camera uses a Nikon DX sensor which is smaller than the one used in its DSLR counterparts. Still, the Nikon DF has an extremely fast autofocus system that can focus on as little as half a second.
Who It’s For: The Nikon DF is good for photographers who want to make detailed product photographs and videos with minimal distortion of their images.
Why We Love It: The camera has a sharp, clean image that captures accurate colours. While this is not a camera for the casual photographer, it is great for the perfectionist looking for the best (which we are).
What You Need To Know: The Nikon DF has a large viewfinder and can produce very sharp and clean images. It also has very fast autofocus speeds that should make it the camera of choice for all types of photographers.
How It Performed In Our Tests: The Nikon DF is an impressive camera, but it does have some drawbacks that include its relatively small DX sensor. We found it to be a very good camera, but it’s not quite as fast as some of the more top-end cameras in the class. But those are just quibbles, this camera performed exceptionally well.
Here is What the Top Product Photography Cameras Have in Common
While there are big differences in the details of each of the best cameras for product photography, there are some key features that they all share. Whether you pick one of my top picks or a model not listed, be certain your camera comes with these features so you can get the image quality you need.
Get a Camera with a High Megapxel Count
Put in the simplest terms possible, the more magapixels your camera has the better it is for product photography. Generally speaking a higher number means better image quality. You will have more post editing options which will allow you to get images that truly sell.
More megapixels also allow you for flexibility in cropping images while still being able to make large image prints. While a lower megapixel count means you have less ability to fine tune your photographs.
All of my top camera picks will give you the megapixel count needed for pro level product photography.
Low Light Performance is Important
I have shot countless product photography sessions and lighting is rarely ideal. And with product photography, poor lighting can seriously hurt your image quality if your camera isn’t equipped for handling low light conditions.
I have shot sessions with pro lighting all the way down to studios with no lighting but a couple household lamps. Luckily, a high quality camera can produce exceptional images under almost any lighting conditions.
The best product cameras offer lower noise when ISO is set higher. These cameras have sensitive sensors which provides you with the low noise, high ISO you want.
One of my favorite cameras when shooting in low light conditions is the Canon 5D Mark you will find above. It captured the image below, which I took in a home with nothing but household lighting.
Sometimes You will Want a Great Auto Focus Camera
While I highly recommend that you shoot your product photography in manual mode, there will be times that auto focus will come in handy. Because some challenging lighting situations are bound to happen, using manual mode can take too much time to get the settings perfect. When this happens to me I shamelessly turn auto focus on and get the shot. If you have a camera with a high quality auto focus you too can do this when the lighting is just too challenging.
This is particualry important when you have limited time to shoot your session. All of the top camera picks on my list will provide you with the auto focus you need to complete a fast session while still getting high quality images.
Keep Your Cameras Color Spectrum In Mind
One thing I love about cameras is the variety of ways one camera body interprests colors from another model. You will find that a higher end camera offers colors much more vibrant than any budget model on the market. This is particularly important for capturing the mood you need for the product you are shooting. Some bodies better provide warm and cold colors making it much easier to make your pictures catch the eye of a potential customer. Each of the picks above offer exceptional color quality.
Whether you select one of my top picks, or a different camera model keep the tips I outlined above in mind and you too can take pro product images. But if you do select one of my top rated picks you can’t go wrong whether you are doing traditional print or digital product photography. These five camera systems offer everything you need to get great shots quick and easy.