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Product photographer needs help

Newbie88

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Hey there guys.
I'm a small business owner, and I'm having real trouble presenting my products online, due to a poor quality images. I hired a professional photographer twice so far, but since I'm outputting new lines of products weekly, the expenses for a photo session add up to ridiculous amounts. This is where I've realized it's better for me to buy a decent camera and shoot the products myself.
Now, since I really don't know anything about photography, this is where I need Your help - in choosing the best price/quality option.
My budget is around 300$ for a used equipment (body + lens). Is it even possible to get a decent camera + lens for that price? If so, which brand should I choose?
I've been exploring for a bit, and it seems like Nikon's d3100, 3200, go for around that price used. Are they the direction I should be looking at? And if I buy only the body, which LENS should I go for? (note that my products are baby shoes and clothing, so I'd be shooting them anywhere from few centimeters distance to a meter or so)
I have already purchased lights and made a box for the shooting.

I'd appreciate any answers to my question. And excuse me if my description is vague, it's due to lack of knowledge in this field.
 
You will likely need a macro lens if you are shooting that close. But I don't see why you would be shooting baby items with centimeters of distance. The Nikon should serve you well. I can't recommend a specific lens but I would want a versatile zoom range. I personally shoot Canon and use a Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 for almost everything. You will also want a tripod... At least I would.
 
My advice would be to invest in education and training. The camera just takes the picture, your are managing the light(s) to show the best of your products to the lens. So learn how to light your products and you'll be good.

To be even better put this on your shopping list:
- a Lightroom licence
- a ColorChecker Passport
 
I've been exploring for a bit, and it seems like Nikon's d3100, 3200, go for around that price used. Are they the direction I should be looking at? And if I buy only the body, which LENS should I go for?
IMO, either of those cameras would be a good choice, and if you purchase a "kit" you will most likely receive the 18-55 zoom in the deal. Your existing light box and that combo plus a tripod should get you started.
 
Thanks for the input, all of you guys. These are exactly the answers I was hoping to get.
 
Go to Photoflex.com's website and look around at their free lessons, and you will get the chance to see what real light modifiers can do when used in accepted ways. As <error> said in post #3, spend some time on training, education, and or do some on-line lessons. You do NOT need a high-resolution, high-dollar camera to do tabletop photography of small products for high-volume, frequent advertising or catalog images--you're not shooting ads for Rolex or one of the major liquor brands; the reality is that MOST web advertisement images are seen verrrrrrrry small and low-resolution, at something like .4 megapixel, if even that.

Here is the Photoflex page with their free lessons: Photoflex Lighting School | Photoflex

You can see various types of lights and cameras used in good, well-done lessons. Here is the still-life section of their site: Product/Still Life | Photoflex Lighting School | Photoflex
 
Thank You very much, Derrel! Now that I think of it, You're absolutely right! What's the most important for my products is not the high resolution, but the true genuine color of it. I will educate myself using the links You provided and decide how to proceed with my attempt in photography.
 
Hey there guys.
I'm a small business owner, and I'm having real trouble presenting my products online, due to a poor quality images. I hired a professional photographer twice so far, but since I'm outputting new lines of products weekly, the expenses for a photo session add up to ridiculous amounts. This is where I've realized it's better for me to buy a decent camera and shoot the products myself.
Now, since I really don't know anything about photography, this is where I need Your help - in choosing the best price/quality option.
My budget is around 300$ for a used equipment (body + lens). Is it even possible to get a decent camera + lens for that price? If so, which brand should I choose?
I've been exploring for a bit, and it seems like Nikon's d3100, 3200, go for around that price used. Are they the direction I should be looking at? And if I buy only the body, which LENS should I go for? (note that my products are baby shoes and clothing, so I'd be shooting them anywhere from few centimeters distance to a meter or so)
I have already purchased lights and made a box for the shooting.

I'd appreciate any answers to my question. And excuse me if my description is vague, it's due to lack of knowledge in this field.

Box ?
As in light tent ?

Can I as why you are deciding to use a light tent or a photo tent ???
The photographer you hired used a light tent or photo tent ?

My point is if you take a flash light and put tissue paper over the flashlight
you have light that has been softened. ( scattered and reflected )
Then you point the flash light at the subject at the desired a distance and angle.

In a light box or photo tent you have less control of angle of light because the light is being reflected inside the tent.

Strongly suggest the book Light Science and Magic.

Camera and lens .
I use Canon cameras,
A rebel T2i or T3i camera with a 18 -55 mm kit lens and a tripod.
I suggest shooting tethered at first .
And I wouldn't rule out a gray back drops but your primary clors should be white and black.
 
A color checker passport by x-rite will make your products color perfect.
Maybe, if your image consists primarily of skin tones. I'll leave the why to your google-fu. In my experience, if you want to accurately characterize your sensor, use an IT8 target and appropriate software.

However, you need to get all your ducks in a row first, and lighting is the first.
 

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