Product Photography, Part 3: Artificial Lighting Basics

There are three main types of studio (interior) lights to photograph products: fluorescent, light-emitting diodes (LED), and tungsten. Each has positives and negatives.
Lighting tents, such as this example from FotodioX, work well with small and medium-sized products. Image: B&H Photo.
Image from Adorama of Fotodiox’s SF50 SkyFiller 1x1' 50w Bi-Color Powerful & Ultra-Portable 2 LED Light Kit

Studio Lights

Photo from Adorama of CLAR’s continuous fluorescent lighting kit
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are energy-efficient and produce little to no heat. LED lights for photos produce realistic shots that online consumers need when scrutinizing a product. The drawbacks of LEDs are that they often don’t capture true and accurate colors and can make post-production editing more difficult due to the so-called “digital noise,” slight imperfections in the images.
Image from B&H Photo of the Interfit’s Stellar Tungsten Two Light Twin Softbox Kit

Photo from Adorama of CLAR’s continuous fluorescent lighting kit
This is the third post in my series on helping ecommerce merchants take better product photos. “Part 1” addressed the importance of backdrops. “Part 2” explained tripods, including how to choose based on the item and setting. In this installment, I’ll explain the fundamentals of artificial lighting.

Softboxes are a type of diffuser to increase the size of smaller light sources. Many lighting kits come with their own softboxes. Umbrellas and scrims are the two other light diffusers used by professionals.
Softboxes are a type of diffuser to increase the size of smaller light sources. Many lighting kits come with their own softboxes. Umbrellas and scrims are the two other light diffusers used by professionals.
Quality product photography has less to do with a camera and lenses and more with lighting and its use. Thus if you’re looking to improve product photos, learn about proper lighting.
However, in most cases a lighting tent is the best option for small and medium-sized products. FotodioX, Neewer, Interfit, and Impact offer various kits ranging from 9.95 to 5.75.

Image from B&H Photo of the Interfit’s Stellar Tungsten Two Light Twin Softbox Kit
Image from B&H Photo of FotodioX LED Studio-In-a-Box

Diffusers, Softboxes, Lighting Tents

Diffusers spread out and scatter light so that it isn’t harshly focused on the subject. Diffusers also help illuminate an entire scene to be more appealing.
My choice for tungsten lighting is Interfit’s Stellar Tungsten Two Light Twin Softbox Kit because of its durability, and the bulbs themselves are 500-watt and color balanced to 3200k.
Choose 60 to 100-watt bulbs for the best lighting of products. LimoStudios 85-watt 6500k Daylight Balanced Light Bulb is my favorite. It costs about for four at Amazon and matches natural light well, which is handy when you don’t control all light sources.

Image from B&H Photo of FotodioX LED Studio-In-a-Box

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