Last Updated: January 14, 2024.
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Great studio lighting will determine the quality of your product photography! The more you understand how to use studio lights and which fit best your setup, the better the photos you’ll create, photographing ANY product your client has requested!
What lights do you need for product photography?
In this free guide, you will learn everything about lights for product photography. The best solution is to use either Continuous lights (always on) or Strobe lights (flashes on and off). Examples of Continuous lights are LED Panels, fluorescent tubes, or tungsten light bulbs. Some of them are adjustable, so you can control the brightness in your products!
It takes time to learn how to put together all the photo studio equipment (studio lights, tripods, camera, products, backdrops, etc.) in order to start creating professional product photography images that sell.
However, before you put your hand deep in your pocket, make sure you understand what kind of lights you need for your product photography studio space. You don’t want to buy too many lights and don’t know how to use them.
Which light is best for product photography?
The best lights for product photography are a combination of one or two high-quality continuous lights (they stay on all the time while you’re styling your products for stills and video). These lights can either be high-power LED lights, low-pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge fluorescent lamps, or tungsten light bulbs.
For those of you who are just starting and have a low budget, you can just get ONE continuous light, and a white foam board to help you bounce the light back to your product.
There are so many options and different price points. The best lighting equipment for product photography is the following:
Table of contents:
- Continuous Lighting
- Best 3 Continuous Lights
- Continuous vs Strobe Lighting
- Best 3 Strobe Lights
- Which Lighting Softbox to choose?
- How useful are Ring Lights
- Reflectors / foam boards
- Product Photography Lighting Boxes
- How many lights or reflectors?
- Bright vs dark scene
What is Continuous Lighting?
Continuous lighting is a light that stays on all the time until you turn it off. On the other hand, strobe lighting is synced with your camera and it will turn on only when you press the shutter button of your camera to take a photo.
Using continuous lights you can control where the light goes by moving it around your product and you are able to see how the light is interacting in your scene.
Best 3 Continuous Lights for product photography
1. The Godox SL60W is a powerful continuous 60W LEDlight you can find in the market at a very reasonable price. Also, it is so easy to operate and adjust the brightness via wireless remote control. It is suitable for stills and videos.
2. The Godox FV150 is another great light for product photography. It can work as a strobe and continuous light at the same time! The FV150 is a little bit more expensive than the SL60W but it’s worth every penny. It has special effects, it is 100% customizable and it provides great daylight colors.
3. The Godox VL200 is a professional continuous light with 200W and high brightness. With its perfect compact design, color temperature 5600k±200K, 16 channels, and adjustable brightness is considered a great choice for professional product photography.
Differences between Continuous and Strobe Lights
The advantage of continuous lighting over strobe lighting is that you can use it for photos, video, why you’re styling your products. When the light falls into your scene, you can manage the shadows, and control how much light you want to bounce back to your products.
On the other hand, with strobe lighting, you only get to use it when you take photos and you have no control over what is happening in your scene before or after you take a shot.
Best 3 Strobe Lights for Product Photography
1. The Godox AD600BM Bowens Mount it’s a 600Watt with a stable color temperature at 5600+-200K. It has 9 steps of power adjustment (1/1 and 1/256) and fully supports High-Speed Sync (HSS) for dramatic indoor or outdoor shooting. It also has a large LCD screen for more convenient operation.
2. The Godox AD400 Pro is a 400Watt Strobe light with TTL, 1/8000 HSS, Battery Powered Mono Light, 30W Modeling Lamp, and 0.01-1 sec Recycle Time! The Godox PRO series is very popular among all studio lights and the best in the market.
3. The Godox AD600 Pro is a 600 Watt Strobe Light with TTL, HSS 1/8000, and Built-in 2.4G Wireless System. It’s one of the best studio lights out there, very capable of shooting indoors/outdoors with consistent recycling.
Which Lighting Softbox to Choose for product photography?
Always choose a large softbox. The bigger size of the softbox, the wider the light will spread and leave fewer shadows. Although, you can play with the shadows (add/reduce) by not adding a softbox on your light or using one light with a softbox and the other plain.
The Godox Octagon Softbox 47″ is a nice choice of softbox for product photography. The light diffusion surface is enough to spread the light. In addition, it is made with high-density nylon material and it’s easy to fold.
How Useful are Ring Lights
While softboxes are placed on the side (considering the placement of your product is in the middle), using a ring light might be a little harder to take photos. It is a little inconvenient to place the camera the way you want.
However, Ring Lights are suitable for small product shots, interviews, YouTube, or TikTok videos. For large products, using a softbox is a better solution.
One of the most popular Ring Lights is the Godox LR120 12 inch. This ring light is a multipurpose light for product shots, live video recording, makeup, selfie photos, online teaching, dark scenery vlogging, etc.
Reflectors and Foam Boards
A great reflector can give you beautiful soft light if you know which one to get and how to use it! Furthermore, you don’t actually need to spend a lot of money on a reflector but it is essential if you use one light source and you want to balance your shadows and highlights.
Reflectors: The Neewer 5-in-1 portable round photography lighting reflector is a great choice. This collapsible multi-purpose reflector is a very helpful lighting accessory solution. It includes 5 different reflectors (silver, gold, white, black, and translucent fabric) and it is very easy to pack and take with you if you photograph products in a client’s space.
Light Stands: In addition, you can combine this with a single light photography stand for reflectors. This way it will be easier for you to place the reflector closer to your product. This Neewer 6 feet/190 Centimeters Photo Studio Photography Light Stand is great!
V-Flat Foam Boards: Shadows add depth. To reduce shadows or direct them, you either have to use a foam board to reflect light back onto your scene or use another light to fill in the shadows. Foam reflectors are another great solution like the V-FLAT WORLD Tabletop Reflector (Black/White).
Furthermore, foam reflectors can be used in different scenarios. You can literally do anything to direct the light as you can see in the image below. This is an example using two white foam reflectors, one strobe light, a black backdrop, and two led lights on each side.
Here’s another example in the image below. Notice the differences between using the white or black foam reflector. It’s totally up to you to create the style you want. Personally, I prefer the whiteboard to show more detail and introduce softer light to my product.
Product Photography Lighting Boxes
Are light boxes a great light solution for product photography? I mean, it comes down to your personal preferences. Lighting boxes come in different sizes and you literally don’t need to buy a bunch of strobe or continuous lights. However, your space is limited.
With this Neewer Photo Studio Light Box, you can shoot great product shots. The LED adjustable lighting helps to control the brightness. Also, the reflectors and background spread the light equally giving a pleasant look.
How many lights or reflectors should I use for product photography?
If you are a beginner, you can create a nice photo studio space with just one continuous light and a reflector to start taking product shots.
When you are able to direct light the way you want with just one light and a reflector, you might want to try a second or even a third light.
In both cases, your goal is to adjust the brightness, control the shadows, and introduce softer lights on your products. Remember, the larger the diffuser (Softbox or reflector), the softer the light.
Bright vs Dark Scene
What kind of look do you want to portray in your product photography? You can choose between a white and bright look or a dark and moody style.
Choose between a white and bright or dark style shooting wellness, food, beauty, home products, etc. You can create this style with just one light, a white/black foam board, and a bright-color backdrop!
Did you like this free guide on product photography lighting? What else would you like to learn? We want to improve our user experience by providing the best content, tips, and solutions on product and studio photography.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Please leave a comment and let us know what is the biggest challenge you’re facing when it comes to product photography?
Recommended Online Product Photography Courses
Product Photography – Master Level
This course includes:
- 3.5 hours on-demand video
- 21 downloadable resources
- Full lifetime access
- Access on mobile and TV
- Certificate of completion
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