For a product photography studio, many of the products we work with can be small, have very fine detail or have reflective materials on them. By the very nature of these characteristics, lighting becomes both an important part of photography but also a difficult one to get right. Reflections can be a nightmare as they distract from the image itself and reduce the quality.
Adding into the mix is the requirement of product photography to reflect reality and capture the true colours of a product. Lighting can also impair the reproduction of colours and customer’s will not be happy with results if this is the case.
Any experienced packshot studio will tell you that they have spent many hours moving lighting around the set, making minor alterations hundreds of times until they find the perfect spot to capture the best images and this is the reality of product photography.
What types of lighting should you use
The first piece of advice here is to make sure any lights used only emit true white light and this is very important. The reason for this is that other types of light can contaminate the image with blue, green or orange colours, depending on the type used, whereas these special bulbs will only emit true white light.
In essence, there are three main options for studio lighting: LED, Tungsten and Florescent. Each has their own strengths and you will naturally end up with a combination of these types as you build your preferred packshot studio set up.
LED lighting has the benefits of being energy efficient and not producing much heat when compared to other options. The quality has improved over the years and these will last you a long time.
Tungsten lighting are far more powerful lights but come with the issue of generating far more heat than LEDs. These are inexpensive to buy replacements for but can affect colours depending on brightness, so you need to be wary of that.
Florescent lights are a highly cost-effective solution for any photographer but can affect the colour as previously mentioned so this can often offset the economic benefits of this type of equipment.
Each studio set up is different
Due to the very personal nature of photography, every professional involved in product photography will have their own preference, budget and individual requirements for a packshot studio setup. Many will have a combination of ring lights, softboxes etc and these will use a combination of bulbs. For example, you may choose to have the ring lights using LED and softboxes that utilise tungsten bulbs.
To make these decisions, think about the products you will be shooting and then do some extra research on the best setups for those products. This will help you decide whether your existing equipment will do the job, or whether you will need to invest in new equipment. If you do want to invest, then think about what you can afford and what your goals are, as investing now may help you develop your photography in the future.