There is no denying that product photography has come a long, long way and the best part is that if you are looking to get good at it, you can just go ahead and start the learning process. However, the one thing that I will always let you know about this photography type, it is important to understand that you cannot really get started with good product photography without lighting as it plays a really, really important part in it.
Sure, there are other ways of getting ahead and doing something too, but hey, lighting is one thing that one cannot be and should not be about whenever we are talking about photography, and in this article, we are going to focus more on the best lighting setup for product photography as we believe it to be really, really important.
Best Lighting Setup for Product Photography
What Lights Do You Need for Product Photography?
This is perhaps one of the most common questions that we get all the time and a lot of people have been asking us about what lights do one need for product photography, to be honest, it is not at all complicated to figure out, in the first place. A lot of the time, the answer is just in front of you and you have to go with that.
Still, if you are wondering about the best lights for product photography, then we are going to suggest continuous lights or strobe lights. Based on the stylizing that you are about to get into and the way you are about to handle these things, either of these lighting setup is going to be more than enough. We are going to talk about the lighting types going forward.
Which Light is Best for Product Photography?
Now that you are aware of the type of lights that would be excellent for product photography, this brings us to the next question that people are asking all the time and it is just which light is best for product photography and to be honest, the answer is a lot simpler than you might know, in the first place.
I have been using the Profoto 500W/s D1 Air Studio Monolight Kit for the longest time as it serves as an excellent light for product photography, however, if you want to go with a different route, you can surely do so. Why? Well, at the end of the day, the right light is the one that would suit and define your needs better and since every photographer is different, it is always an important thing to know.
What is Continuous Lighting?
Honestly, this is perhaps the simplest thing that most people are going to wonder about whenever they are thinking about good lighting for product photography. The question about continuous lighting is something that comes up every now and then and I have even seen people getting confused.
Thankfully, it is no rocket science, to be honest. For those wondering, continuous lights, as the name suggests, are lights that are always on. These lights are available in various sizes, shapes, temperatures, and of course, price points, too.
Best 3 Continuous Lights for Product Photography
I do understand that for a lot of us, getting the right lighting is very, very important and I do understand that from a photographer’s stand point as well. After all, using something that is good and is going to last you a good chunk of time is important, too. Simply because we do not want our readers to end up with something that simply is not going to get the job done and that itself is a painful thing and the more we stay away from it, the better it would be overall.
Below, I have mentioned my favorite continuous lighting kits that you can readily buy, and well, they are excellent in their own regard.
- Aputure C300D Mark II:
Whether you are new in product photography or have been there for a long, long time, the one name everyone is familiar with is Aputure. The company is known for making some of the finest lights and although some of them come at a premium and require you to add more accessories and add-ons, the best part is that the performance of these lights is excellent and they act as more of an investment.
- Mountdog Photography Lighting Kit:
If you are looking for something complete, then getting the Mountdog Photography Lighting Kit is another way to go. You are not going to spend a lot of money but you are going to get two softboxes, two umbrellas, four bulbs, four stands, and a backdrop that you can use. This is a lot of value for barely any money when you look at the all of the setups. An excellent choice for beginners.
- HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit:
The last one that I am going to suggest is the HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit. This is perhaps the most affordable offering in the market but definitely something that can get the job done. If you are looking for a more compact setup, this is the way to go and although there is not much in terms of choice, it still is a good starting point.
Differences Between Continuous and Strobe Lights
Moving further, we are going to highlight some of the differences between continuous and strobe lights and, to be honest, this question is one thing that never really gets old. A lot of people have been asking about the differences, and to be fair here, the name says it all. Still, for the ones who are more curious, you can look at the differences below.
The best thing about continuous lighting is the versatility that you are going to get from it; you can use a pro camera or a smartphone camera, and you can still use it for photos and filming videos. You are also looking at something that is simple, if “You get what you pay for” had a product, it would be this. You can always make the safest bets with continuous lighting.
Moving further, you are also looking at the fact that you will be able to adjust the lighting before you even take the picture, plus, with continuous lighting, you are not looking at any complicated trigger system.
On the other hand, you have the strobe light, these are the lights that flash on and off, and you have to have a trigger system beforehand. Not just that, the correct settings in your camera must also be there, the light output should also be configured beforehand. In product photography, the best one is continuous lighting because you can just get an even lighting without any issues.
Best 3 Strobe Lights for Product Photography
Although I personally don’t prefer strobe lighting for photography, the one thing that I have come to realize is that a lot of people are still using these for product photography and if you are looking to get the same thing started, it would be better to at least know the right ones.
- Flashpoint XPLOR 600:
The first one we are looking at is the Flashpoint XPLOR 600, I have used it a number of times for various photography projects and it has been the same through and through. For those wondering, the light easily delivers the performance you want, it is lightweight and portable, has great performance, and can be used with a battery.
- Godox AD200:
As a brand, Godox is something that we can never really doubt as we have used some excellent products from them in the past and the results are always exceptional, to say the least. If you genuinely want a good performing light, Godox AD200 acts as an affordable but very durable light.
- Westcott FJ400:
The last strobe light for product photography that I would suggest is the Westcott FJ400, it delivers a lot of power and is small, too. The color temperature is just perfect and has an integrated cooling system, too.
Which Lighting Softbox to Choose for Product Photography?
Now that we know that softboxes are great for product photography, the next thing that you would want to know is just which lighting softbox to choose for product photography. This is one question that is asked a lot of times and that too, without any prior understanding. I have seen a lot of people talking about how all softboxes are made the same way and while I wish that were true, it simply is not the case.
Why? Well, softboxes are available in various sizes and types, as well as the color temperatures, are another thing that you will have to look into. Therefore, you should always go with a softbox that checks the boxes of what you are trying to do in product photography.
I have to tell you that you might have to go ahead and go through a few products before you are finally able to decide which one is suitable for you.
How Useful are Ring Lights?
I know a lot of people talked about ring lights in the past when they are talking about photography and honestly, you would be more than surprised just how good these lights can be. If you are looking for a cheap and ineffective solution that will let you get your foot in the door, a good quality ring light is going to be great.
It takes care of the shadows, diffuses the light, and evenly spreads out the light as well, which is great. If you are looking to get some product photography done up close and personal, ring lights are a good investment.
Using Reflectors and Foam Boards
Whenever you are talking about photography, it is safe to say that you may have heard about reflectors or foam boards, and while it might not sound like much, these additions can help you take your photography to the next level and while it does take some time for people to fully master it, but it never really is something that is going to be complicated than it needs to be.
With a good reflector and foam board, you can easily get the light to reflect and even bounce on the objects, allowing you to capture all the highlights of the product that you are trying to capture.
Product Photography Lighting Boxes
Moving onto something that has become a personal favorite for me over the years, we are talking about product photography light boxes. The light boxes are small but very versatile boxes that are filled with diffused light. You simply plug these boxes, put the product that you are about to photograph in, and get started with the photography.
The benefit here is that these lighting boxes are incredibly easy to use and they are also available in a number of sizes, so if you are looking for some customization or you have some bigger boxes, you would be able to do that with ease and no confusion.
How Many Lights or Reflectors Should I Use for Product Photography?
Honestly, you would be surprised just how easy it is to get started with product photography to a point that it is not complicated at all. If you are wondering just how many lights or reflectors should you be using for product photography, I would suggest that you start with a single continuous or strobe light. If you think that you can pull this off, your photos in the earlier months should be more than enough.
As you start feeling like you need to make some upgrades, you can always go ahead and buy more. It is that simple and it always works.
Bright vs Dark Scenes in Product Photography
Honestly, this is purely referential, but another really, really important thing to keep in mind here is that the whole idea of bright vs dark scenes can change on the product, too. There are some products that have to be in a full-lit shot and there are some products that look good in darker scenes. So, be sure that you are fully aware of which product fits were and you are good to go.
Again, there is no rule here, it is more or less a preference and that is why the freedom is there.
Frequently Asked Questions
In conclusion, it is safe to say that if you are looking for the right lighting for photography, you will not be able to just go for something that is random. You will have to choose something good in order to get the perfect experience or else you would be left stranded without really any good options.
The whole guide covers all the important aspects of product photography to make things easier for you in the end. After all, we want our readers to be able to get excellent shots regardless of the type of photography they are engaging in.
Hi! I’m Furqan Shahid, founder of SnapDirector. With a decade of experience capturing countless moments, I’m here to guide you on your photography journey and save you from gear pitfalls!