Lens play a crucial role in any form of photography. However, not all lens are suited to the needs of all types of photography. When it comes to product photography, lens can make or break how good your product looks on an image. Even basic cameras, when paired with the best lens for product photography, can capture high-quality images. If you’re a photographer exploring the different types of product photography, it’s a smart idea to invest in good lens designed for product photography.
But what lens are the best to use for product photography? Plenty of factors like your budget, your level of experience, and the type of commercial product photography you specialize in can determine which lens are worth your investment. Here are some of our picks that we recommend for both beginner photographers and more experienced photographers.
Choosing the Right Lens for Product Photography
There are a number of factors to consider when browsing for the right lens for product photography. Some of the factors to consider include:
Buying the most expensive lenses doesn’t guarantee that you’ll take the best photos. While high-end lens provide more in terms of quality and features, the most expensive lens on the market isn’t necessarily the best. If you’re a beginner on a budget or a start-up with limited funds, you can make do with mid-range lenses while still providing quality images to your brand or your client.
Think of your lens as an investment, but from a business standpoint, don’t splurge beyond your financial limit. You can find good mid-range product photography lens to start your career in product photography, and then upgrade later on, as needed.
If you’re browsing for lenses alone, it means you’ve already decided on a camera that’s ideal for product photography. When browsing for lenses, double-check if these lens are compatible with your camera. For instance, some camera brands are only compatible with lens from the same brand and type. For example, Canon has four mount types, so photographers will need to check their compatibility to see if their camera is compatible with certain lenses or if it needs an adapter.
It’s also important to understand that your lens will work differently depending on the kind of camera you have. For example, entry-level DSLRs are often equipped with a cropped sensor camera and will act differently compared to more high-end cameras with a full-frame sensor.
Otherwise, if you’re shopping for both a new camera and lens, you have more flexibility to find the camera and lens kit that suits the kind of product photography projects you want to pursue.
Prime Lens vs. Zoom Lens
Most of product photography is going to be based on still life, so you’ll have to decide between prime lenses and zoom lenses. Prime lenses are popular for product photography as there’s barely any movement in images, which is why many photographers trade in the ability to zoom and change the focal length over lenses that tend to produce sharper results.
There are, however, some benefits to choosing zoom lenses. If you’re providing more than just images for your brand or your client, having prime lens can really limit your range. For instance, if you’re also providing other media like reels, videos, gifs, and other assets that can be used on various social media and advertising platforms, you might prefer the versatility of a zoom lens. And while prime lenses are naturally sharper, quality zoom lenses can provide the same level of sharpness, though the prices can vary.
Lens Speed (Aperture)
Given that product photography is often done in a studio with artificially controlled lighting, you may need faster lenses that can help you maximize your aperture. Also, depending on your product, your lens speed can help you blur the background to focus on the subject up front. This feature is an essential one for product photographers handling things like food.
Versatility can depend on your camera. Also, if you’re a beginner without the high-end lighting equipment, you may need different aperture settings to adjust accordingly. While these issues can be fixed in post-production, it’s best to have lenses that can address the lighting issue during the shoot to minimize the need for retouching and editing. Ideally, your lens speed should be f/4 and below.
For smaller products, you may also want to have macro lenses in your arsenal. Macro lens can help you take vivid and sharp images close to your subject, which can be a useful feature for smaller products that can be difficult to capture with regular lens.
However, it’s not the best everyday solution for product photography in general. While some macro lenses can be adjusted to be used as an everyday lens, you might be better off using other lenses that are designed for that specific feature. If you can have it in your lens kit for when you need a hyper-focused shot of your product, it can be a helpful tool. Otherwise, choose a more all-around option.
Canon EF 85mm f1.8
Price: Php 19,000 to 30,000, depending on where you buy your lens.
- Has an ultra-sonic monitor that can quickly bring a subject into focus.
- Prime lens allow for smooth operations and sharp results compared to zoomed lenses that need to be readjusted accordingly.
- Designed for low-light photography, good for start-up photographers with limited equipment.
- Not compatible with all Canon cameras, so check the compatibility of your camera.
- Not as versatile as newer (though more expensive) lenses available.
- Reviews complain about the lens hood being difficult to use during shooting.
Best for: Beginner photographers and higher in search of a versatile basic lens option that’s designed for still-life images like portrait photography and product photography.
Nikon AF-S VT Micro-NIKKOR 105mm
Price: Php 21,000 to 30,000, varying between online stores.
- The lens come with a nano-crystal coat and ED glass that can improve performance by improving image quality and reducing flares that need to be retouched later on.
- Features designed to separate the subject from the background.
- Natural depth of field can be achieved through its f/2.8G vibration reduction features to minimize blur.
- Expensive but not ideal as a versatile everyday-use lens as its strength is more on its macro features.
- Lens cannot be zoomed.
- Too sharp to the point that some reviews claim the results look unnatural in portrait photography.
Best for: Photographers that have other lenses but want a strong contender for hyper-focused macro photography for their products.
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8
Price: Php 85,000 to 130,000, though second-hand lens can cost around Php 40,000.
- Has the unique tilt and shift function that allows for a sharper focus in the foreground and everything within the same distance or angle, while the background is out of focus.
- Lockable adjustments, which allow photographers to maintain their settings without having to keep the lens strictly within a certain location or setting.
- High sharpness, providing better detail, which can be good for products like food and jewelry that need better focus on their details.
- Tilt-shift lenses are usually more expensive than other lens.
- Not ideal as an everyday lens to use for all forms of product photography.
- Only has manual focus, so beginners may have a learning curve to navigate without the automatic functions.
Best for: More seasoned photographers that want to explore new and unique ways to capture product photography without losing sharpness during shooting.
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8
Price: Php 45,000 to 60,000 depending where you buy it online.
- Built-in image stabilization and background G Lens bokeh, providing you with the versatility to take different types of product photography.
- Macro lens with intuitive handling that can adjust settings accordingly, which beginning photographers can use.
- Full-frame lens that deliver superior optical performance./
- Max aperture of f/2.8, which can really limit your ability to capture images in low light settings.
- User reviews report that the autofocus on the lens has a distracting sound.
- Sony offers cheaper options for macro lenses.
Best for: Product photographers that want a more diverse lens that’s suited not only for product photography, but also for different types of photography and visual media.
Let Stellar Studios Deliver Perfection Through Product Photography
Effective product photography means capturing the best parts of your product and allowing everyone else to see why it stands out among similar products. Choosing your lens are just as important as choosing the camera you’re investing for your product photography, so consider these lens or their latest versions available to make the most out of your images.
At Stellar Studios, we help our clients showcase the best of their product with our product shoot ideas. We deliver high-end images with our team of seasoned photographers and editors. Let us handle everything from pre-production to post-production and give you the images you need to stand out online. Contact us today to receive a quote on our commercial product photography services.