Photo booth advice, for product photos on small items. Hi,
I am looking to put together a professional setup to photograph devices from 3"x5" to 20"x15". This is for product photos of laptop parts, small devices, etc.
I know there's more to photography than just getting a fancy camera. Like audio, where the acoustics of the room and technique count more than buying some expensive microphone, I imagine understanding proper light diffusion and technique will help me more than just buying a $1000 camera and calling it a day.
I would like to have a booth in the corner of the room that I can simply slide a product into, take a picture without messing with settings too much, and be done with it. I'm not looking for a setup where one must adjust settings regularly or redo things to get a proper picture. I'd like to set up a closed environment , and slide a product into this environment, and get a great picture. Something of professional quality, not just a white sheet that photoshop tries its best to remove from the background.
No nasty reflections off metallic or plastic parts of the piece being photographed, or unfocused areas. I'm budgeting about $1500 for this. Is this something I can hodgepodge together on a trip to B&H, or is this something I would need a professional photographer to help me put together? I have very limited photography experience.
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reply to thender
you mention three concerns.
you don';t like white background
you don't want reflection
you have assorted product sizes
so here are three+, for $0 or close.
you can make the background be anything you want. white, grey, black, painted canvas, color, gradient color, etc. you can do that with either the background material itself, or with lighting.
normally you will want to light the background on it's own.
for the clean white background, which makes it easy to do the cutout of just the product, for pasting, it's common to raise the product and keep it away from the background, for no shadows. and you can even light the white cloth/plastic background from behind.
for reflection problems, just imagine the front surface of each product as a mirror. that surface will reflect anything, any light, any color, that is in front of the product. so normally, for product photography, you put a white sheet or white umbrella in front of the product, to make the light even all across the front of the product,
with the light source being 3x the width of the product. for you items, that would be about 4' wide, which would also be soft for the smaller products.
incandescents flourescents leds hmi etc give ok results, and you can see what you will get. but flash makes sharpness, and you can put remote triggers on the side flashes and the background flashes.
another alternative, for $, is those "product photography cones" which cover the product like a tent; if you can't find one big enough for your items, you could also make one of them from a white sheet, with whatever lighting you want arranged around the outside.
you will find helpful info over at strobist website.
if you make the soft enclosure a little bigger, it's also great for soft flattering portraits...
reply to thender
The most important thing you will need for photographing small items is a copy stand. You need not spend more than about $150 - $200. Those having adjustable light fixtures are handy, but not required. The important thing is that the stand holds the camera steady and you can adjust the height.
As for lighting you can use two or four 60 W work lights and a white lamp shade. Put the shade over the object and adjust the lights outside shinning though to eliminate shadows and get the look you want. You can make a light box using a wood frame and either cheese cloth to diffuse the inside or use white foam board with cutouts in the sides. There is a lot of information on homemade light boxes on the net just use google a little.
Here are some I've done with a $50 light stand and my own light boxes or lamp shades:
The first one has two shades of blue in the background. This was done by placing the coin on the top of a blue funnel and lighting the funnel under the coin from one side. The funnel and coin were inside a light box lit from the top.
60mm 1/200th +0.6ev F11
This image is of a toned proof coin which is one of the hardest items to photograph you can imagine. The surface is a mirror, but it has a blue coloration that collectors find very attractive. This combination of a mirror and color is difficult to capture in one shot and has to be done with just the right lighting. Again this was taken with a home made lighting setup.
60mm 1/160th F8
The final image is a gold coin that is also difficult to photograph with out blowing out the highlights, but still showing all the detail. In this case the light box was draped on the inside with black velvet cloth to eliminate reflections and the light was diffused and indirect from the top.
105mm 1/60th F22 ISO100
A ring light attachment like the one below can come in very handy for some macro work - especially outdoors or for non-reflective surfaces.