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- Best Lens for Product Photography
Whenever I come across an article about what is the best camera, lens, flash, tripod, or whatever for portraits, weddings, wildlife, product photography, architectural photography, or whatever, in the back of my mind I’m saying “Is there really only one best?”
I have two main reasons for this thought. One, there are SO MANY amazingly excellent cameras for all types of photography and all types of photography. And two, every photographer is different, having some tastes and desires that vary from other photographers.
Here’s the thing, though. I still read every article and learn something from them. Weird, huh? I just love being a photographer and I love teaching it, too. So, with that in mind, here are my current thoughts on what is the best camera for product photography.
Format and Type of Camera
Looking at the 3 most used digital formats for serious photography, MFT, APS-C, and Full-Frame, which is the best camera for product photography?
From the perspective of total usability including post-processing, I’m going to opt for the two larger formats, APS-C and Full-Frame.
MFT mirrorless pro and prosumer cameras are super performers for quality imaging and virtually perfect for all videography, but the size of the pixels are smaller for the same resolution, so there isn’t as much capability in low light performance and I also think that still imaging color management is not quite equal to the two larger formats.
This isn't to say that a photographer couldn’t use MFT (Micro Four Thirds / Micro 4/3rds) cameras for professional product photos, simply that a larger format offers some very real benefits for professional photography.
So, as we’re searching for the best camera for product photography, we’re zeroing in on APS-C and Full-Frame format cameras. So now the question becomes between Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, what camera is best for product photography?
In APS-C format, I’m comfortable with either type for any of the 3 levels of entry-level, intermediate, and full-fledged professional. For a Full-Frame format, full-fledged professional-level camera, I’m going to endorse mirrorless, I’ll explain why in a moment.
For any serious photography, there are certain features and capabilities that I see as must-have for being in the running for best camera for product photography.
Interchangeable lenses, manual exposure control, and manual focusing are the 3 basics I feel are basics for any serious photography. While I love all the different automations in modern cameras, sometimes we simply need control to adjust properly for creating what we want.
Other features I like to recommend are exposure bracketing, spot metering, and adjustable focus points. These features ease our workflow when working with many genres of professional photography.
Another important feature is a very high-resolution rear viewscreen, articulated or tilting is preferred, with the ability to magnify live view for critical focus confirmation.
4K video recording is a must-have for me now, but Full HD 1080p is acceptable for many uses. I find it interesting how many clients for still photography I’ve worked with for years are now requesting 4K video footage of their products in addition to the high-resolution still images they still want.
Best Camera for Product Photography - Entry-Level
An entry-level idea for the best camera for product photography can go with either a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras may be an easier move for stepping up from smartphone photography or getting back into photography as former point-and-shoot film camera users, but the least expensive choices are going to be DSLRs.
Best camera for product photography, entry-level APS-C mirrorless: Sony Alpha a6100 with 16-50mm lens. This APS-C format mirrorless camera has a 24.2mp sensor, can capture 14-bit RAW files, records video in 4K, and has a high-resolution tiltable rear viewscreen. Sony lenses are excellent, plus you can use a mount adapter for all sorts of legacy lenses since it is a mirrorless camera.
Best camera for product photography, entry-level APS-C DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel T7 with 18-55mm lens. Hands down the winner in low price for a superb camera, this camera has a 24.1mp sensor, records video in Full HD, and has a bright non-moveable rear viewscreen. The closest competition for price is the Nikon D3500 with 18-55mm lens that has almost identical features.
Quickly add a prime focal length macro lens from either the manufacturer or a good third-party brand such as the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro to supplement the very sharp but slower aperture kit zoom lenses.
Best Camera for Product Photography - Intermediate or Prosumer
Basically, any camera that has features and build quality that appeals to intermediate photographers can be used as a prosumer-level camera. Prosumer meaning it is priced for a consumer market but having many of the features of higher-end pro cameras.
First, we’ll list APS-C format cameras.
Best camera for product photography, prosumer APS-C mirrorless: Fujifilm X-T4 with 16-80mm lens. 26.1mp sensor, 4K video, and a large vari-angle viewscreen. Fujifilm is a major player in high-resolution medium format digital cameras, their expertise in all aspects of imaging is evident in any of their cameras.
Best camera for product photography, prosumer APS-C DSLR: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm lens. Perhaps one of the best bargains in prosumer quality cameras, the Nikon D7500 has 4K video, tilting viewscreen, and a 20.9mp sensor.
And now an awesome option for a Full-Frame format mirrorless camera.
Best camera for product photography, prosumer Full Frame mirrorless: Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 with 20-60mm lens. If you’re looking to break into Full-Frame photography and want excellent video capability along with a budget-friendly price, this hybrid camera may be your best choice. 24,2mp sensor, 4K video, and a fully articulated viewscreen.
Top Pro-Choice Best Camera for Product Photography
This category has been ruled by DSLRs since digital Full-Frame started, but I think mirrorless is the future for high-end digital photography. The ability to use virtually any 35mm format lens ever made via adapters and the amazing video capability of these cameras are two reasons I personally lean this way.
There are many other reasons the industry is strongly leaning this way, so I see it as the way to go from now on. So, with that in mind…
Best camera for product photography, Full-Frame mirrorless, pro-level: Canon EOS R5 with 24-105mm lens. All I can say is WOW, what a camera! 4K video, 45mp sensor, 8K video (yes 8K), articulated viewscreen, and more features than I can list in this brief write-up. Follow the link and judge for yourself how good a camera it is.
Well, now you have my list of options for the best camera for product photography, have fun following the links! Enjoy making great images, too.