Camera and Lenses for Product Photography

One of the most common questions asked by those just starting out in product photography is what camera and what lens is best for product photography.

To help answer this question, Karl explains some of the camera choices for product photography before taking a closer look at some of the best lenses for product photography. He also details what lenses he uses when shooting products and why these are his lenses of choice.


  1. Whats lens better for jewelry photography ? 85mm 1.2f or 100mm 2.8f
    Canon lens 85mm f/1.2 L II usm
    Canon 100mm RF 2.8 IS

    Both are around same price , the lens will also be used for hand / neck / ear jewelry photography on a women , do you reccomend other lens for it?

  2. Hi Karl,

    I shoot with a canon 6d mark ii and have the Canon 50mm and Canon 100mm, kindly advise the extension tube that you are referring to that will fit what I have. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Fuji are a great brand but I’m afraid I’ve never used that model camera so it wouldn’t be fair to comment.

  3. Hi Karl!
    What Canon cameras and lenses do you recommend for product Photography? What would you say are the “essential” ones?

    1. Hi For product photography you’d probably want the 100mm Macro lens on a good full frame body with at least 22mp

      1. Thank you so much for the information!
        Ive been doing a bit of research based on the information you gave me, and I was wondering if its better to buy a camera with more megapixels but less features (such as higher ISO and faster shutter speeds) – a canon 5DS R, or buy one with less megapixels but more features – a Canon 6D MArk II?
        Thanks again for your help and your quick responses, you are amazing!


  4. Thanks, Karl. Just to clarify, when you shoot tethered, are you only shooting to one drive on the computer, or are you shooting to a raid where it’s automatically putting all your shots onto two separate drives for backup purposes at the time of shooting? or do you cull the photographs and back up only the good ones at a later time?

    1. Hi Nigel, I only shoot to the hard drive of the computer, usually my laptop, but I think yours was a good idea to have an external portable drive running a frequent back up is a good one. I shoot everything and then cull loads in the RAW processing software, either Phocus or Lightroom etc. I only keep files that might have potential so that I can look at them with fresh eyes again later.

      1. Thanks, Karl.

        I bought a 250GB (not big enough for your Blad) Sandisk SSD to plug into my laptop for when I have to do location/studio stuff.

        I’ve set this SSD as an Apple Time Machine and in Time Machine preferences I’ve told it to ignore everything except my ‘Pictures’ folder as I don’t need it backing up all sorts of other things. Time Machine only allows you to set a minimum back up time of 1-hour so if you want to back up every 10 minutes you simply have to hit the ‘back up now’ option in Time Machine on the task bar at the top. Seems a decent work around though.

        Then once I get home and import images into my computer, I’ll cull and back up to my external RAID anyway, then delete from laptop and laptop Sandisk back up.

  5. Hi Karl.
    In reference to the colour test card, Ive just looked on amazon and they range from £13 to £68. does it make a difference which one to buy or are they all just as good?

    1. Hi Jason, I’ve only ever used Gretag MacBeth or X-rite, I’d be careful with a cheap one because if they are not accurate then everything will be off.

  6. Hi again Karl,
    Speaking about the White Balance feature, I am a big fan of doing the white balance manually every time I can, by using a ExpoDisc Balance Filter.
    What is your opinion about this option?

  7. I recently bought the X-Rite i1 Photography Kit (includes the Passport and an i1 color calibrator for the screen) and I have to say – absolutely crucial! I thought my colors were alright beforehand, I have a nice IPS display and all, but there’s just too much variation in the panels to leave yourself uncalibrated like that (at least on Windows, not sure about the macs, but the software also comes for OS X too). And the Passport itself made color correction so much easier – I don’t have to faff about in Lightroom anymore looking for a neutral spot somewhere (and color bleed is also a thing, even on neutral surfaces!) and the colors themselves come to life in a click. Really happy with that and I can definitely say that you’re right about having color reference charts, Karl.

  8. Hi Karl, I have the same Mac Pro (2012 model). Do you find its performance up to par for your needs? Did you happen to upgrade the graphics card?

    1. Hi Kevin, it works fine it has the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024 MB graphics card. But my problem is that it doesn’t power a 4K monitor so I’m looking to upgrade the computer soon so I can link to a 4K Eizo or NEC screen.

  9. Hi Karl, great videos and information! Can you give us a run down of optimal camera settings for product photography (camera profile settings etc particularly for canon) please, not the ISO, aperture but the more specific camera settings. Thank you!

  10. Hi Karl! Is there a tutorial on how to actually use colour test cards in product shoots and in post production? Would love to understand how to use these cards all the way through. Thanks!

    1. Hi Edgars, I’ve added that to my list and will include it on the Chanel No. 5 shoot that you can see is coming soon in the ‘New Courses’ section.

      1. Hey Karl,
        I was trying to find that Chanel tutorial from last year. Has it been taken down? Would love to learn a bit more about using the color checker/gray/white balance tool and how it actually works. I have tried using it in my workflow but I don’t think I am using it correctly.
        Thank you!

          1. Hi Karl,

            I cannot find the ‘Further Product Modules’ in the product photography section. Am I doing something wrong?


  11. Clarification: RAID is NOT backup – it is availability. Backup is where if a file is deleted, you can get it back. Delete a file on a RAID system and it’s gone. RAID (depending on the level) is for redundancy in case of a drive failure, or performance, or space. Backup is for recoverability in case of loss.

    1. Hi Donald, yes strictly speaking it’s not a backup if you delete a file but I don’t delete files and have had a raid hard drive fail but then been able to replace it and recover. I guess there is never really any full proof backup, even keeping offsite copies of everything isn’t 100% safe.

      1. Good points about back-up, Karl and, yes, going offsite is not even 100%. I guess we are now at the point, digitally speaking, where things are about as safe as they were with old negs and transparencies, which degrade over time, catch fire and can also get damaged just like a hard drive. Back in the day I wish I had a way of backing up negs, but using a transparency duplicator would result in a huge quality loss.

        On another note, Karl. When shooting tethered (with my 5D MK5 into Capture One) my software won’t allow me to shoot to the computer hard drive as well as the two cards in camera (unlike EOS Utility, which does, but is limiting for other things compared to Capture One) so in this instance I have no choice but to shoot to computer hard drive and the guys at Capture One suggest shooting to the system drive, not an external/usb type. This scares me as it is hardly fail-safe. Would you suggest I plug in a fast USB solid-state drive (thinking a 256GB) and setting Time Machine up to automatically back up every five minutes so I have it in two places?

        1. Hi Nigel, I think you are unduly worrying. Whenever I shoot tethered I’m only shooting to the hard drive or an external drive and never simultaneously to a camera memory card. If you are concerned about this I think your of having a time machine back up running to back up what your shooting is a good one.

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