Preparation – Step Three
Get to know your Camera settings
Turning your camera off “auto mode” and delving into its settings to make a few minor adjustments could potentially make an impressive difference to your product photographs. Fear not, you don’t need to be an expert to make these adjustments and with the help of this guide and a quick read of your camera manual you should be able to turn an average looking image into a great one!
Whilst we don’t refer to a particular make or model of camera in this article you’ll generally find that the settings discussed below and the icons representing these settings can be found on the vast majority of consumer camera equipment. If you’re not sure then get in touch and we can advise further.
White Balance Settings
Ever wondered why your images sometimes look cold and washed out, or at other times oversaturated with orange and yellow hues? The cause of this discolouration is different lighting types and the colours they give out; domestic (incandescent or tungsten) lighting typically casts a yellowish, warm hue over images whilst the type of lighting in offices and supermarkets (fluorescent) casts a blueish, cold hue over images. We don’t often notice this with the naked eye since the mind adapts quickly to compensate but your camera is not as clever or adaptive. This is where white balance comes to the rescue. You can read more about white balance settings in our blog post Understanding Camera White Balance Settings.
Are you trying to shoot close up shots of a product? Using your camera’s macro mode will enable you to get really close to your subject and capture the detail you need in sharp focus. Almost all consumer digital cameras have a macro mode and you’ll be able to identify whether or not yours has one by looking for a flower icon which will be displayed on one of the camera’s menu buttons. The distance from which you can shoot photos in macro mode will vary from depending upon your camera but typically you can get as close as 5 to 10 centimetres from your subject without running into problems with focus.
Autofocus Or Manual Focus?
If you’re using a Digital SLR rather than a point and shoot type camera then chances are you have the option to use manual focus rather than auto focus. In auto focus mode you don’t have to do anything, the camera selects a focal point and automatically adjusts the lens to bring the subject into focus while the shoot button is held halfway down. There are drawbacks to this method however since the camera can sometimes select the wrong focal point, such as an object in the background, leaving the subject out of focus. You’ll find that this problem is particularly prevalent when shooting closeups of products and it’s in these situations where manual focus may be better suited to ensure you’re focussing on the right detail.
Learn more about product photography
We hope this introduction to a few of your camera’s manual settings has wet your apetite to learn more! All of our guides to product photography can be found here.
Or you can move onto the next guide on flash and positioning.