Between running the blog and TheFilmCameraShop, I shoot a lot of small product shots. I need to create these efficiently and beautifully. In other words, I want them to look good, and I don't want to spend a lot of time in the process.
I've set up a small product studio that would work in any office or home as well. It consists of a Translucent Shooting Tent and two lights. The positioning of the lights is the key to this endeavor.
In most demonstrations, you'll see the lights placed on either side of the product. Personally, I don't think that's the best look. It can make your subjects look too one-dimensional. Instead, I position one light to the side, and the second above, shining down through the top of the tent. The second light serves a dual purpose of illuminating the backdrop and the top of the product. I like the Fotodiox Pro FlapJack LED Light for this type of work because it has variable intensity and it includes a built-in diffuser, which makes everything easier.
The lights must be softened. I use a small softbox for the one positioned on the side. The top light is diffused by shining through the shooting tent. This configuration creates both pleasing tones and a sense of texture and depth.
As for the camera and lens, you can use just about anything. I have an older Olympus OM-D E-M5 just for my studio work combined with a Panasonic LUMIX G LEICA DG 25mm f/1.4 lens. I will confess, that I do like a sharp lens for this type of work.
I handhold the camera, set the aperture to around f/4, and the ISO is usually 1600. Since I use continuous lighting, I can position all the elements exactly as I want and see the composition clearly before snapping the shutter.
Once you get all of the factors dialed in, you can knock out any type of small product shot quickly and beautifully. The latter is very important, especially if you sell on eBay or Etsy. If your products look better than the competition's, trust me, you have an advantage.
You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.