Tabletopstudio
  Blog | Home | Site Map   

EZcube
Tabletopstudio Store

frequently asked questions about product photography FAQ

Product photography how to ...

Product photgraphy tips

Product photography lighting myths
Special Effects   |   Photo Ideas & Inspiration   |   Brooks Photography Workshops   |   Photo Kit Comparison Table

Most common lighting myths

    1. Do higher watt bulbs produce more light?
    2. My white background appears grey so I must need a brighter light?
    3. Do all products have the same lighting requirements?

Below are some common bulb choices encountered when sourcing lights for product photography. A very common belief is that "watts" = "brightness" when in fact "watts" measure power consumption, and the amount of energy used to light the bulb. The correct term used to measure brightness is Lumen. As you can see below, more watts does not always equal more lumens.

Popular
bulb choices
Energy
use
Lumens {brightness} Color
 
Needs Color correction Hours
of Use
$ Fits standard 
fixtures
Operating
temp
Score
 1-10

Trumpet Top
Compact Fluorescent
30W 2100
Daylight
(5000K)
NO 10,000 $$ YES COOL  +9

 
Cool/soft White
Compact Fluorescent

26W

1700

Greenish
cast
(2700K)

YES

10,000

$$

 a socket
extender
 required
COOL  +6


Ott Light
Compact Fluorescent

20W

1200


Daylight
(5000k)
 

NO

10,000

$$$$

a socket
extender
required
COOL  +4

Photo Flood
Incandescent
250W 6,500
Yellow
(3200K)
color shift over time
YES 20 $$ YES HOT  +3


Sylvania "Daylight"
 Incandescent

120W

1250

Yellow
(3500K)

YES

750

$

YES HOT  +2


GE Reveal
Incandescent

120W

1000

Yellow
(2700K)

YES

20

$

YES HOT  +2

Quartz Halogen
1000W 10,000 Yellow
(3200K)
YES 100 $$ NO Extremely HOT +2
 

If your background is actually white but appears grey in your image or if everything in your image appears darker than you would like, the image has been underexposed.  It doesn't mean you need more lights or bigger lights, it means you need to let more light get to your camera's image sensor.

The most likely reason not enough light is getting to the camera's image sensor is that the camera's auto exposure mechanism has set the exposure too low.  The camera's auto exposure system doesn't expect to see a very light background.  Since it assumes the background is grey rather than white, it exposes the image to achieve a grey background rather than a white background.  The result is that everything in the image appears darker than it should.

The solution is quite simple, adjust your camera's exposure compensation setting to slightly overexpose the image.  [Nearly every digital camera has and exposure compensation setting, but you may need to read your camera's user manual to find how to adjust yours]. Once you locate the controls for exposure compensation simply increase the exposure until the image looks correct.  When photographing against a white background you will normally need to increase the exposure by about 1 to 1 1/3. (Camera makers make this confusing by labeling the exposure adjustment setting as EV, Exposure Value). 
 

Default setting E.V. 0.0 too dark

E.V. +1.0 brighter

E.V. +2.0 brightest exposure

If you are comfortable with photography and understand how the camera's aperture and shutter speed affect the exposure, you will want to pay attention to how the camera adjusts the exposure. If the camera increases the aperture it will decrease the depth of field.

  • Do all products have the same lighting requirements?

Many types of products require special lighting. Some products work best with two lights, three lights, sparkler lights, underlighting or a combination. This lighting chart, can be very helpful in understanding which product types may require a unique combination of lights and what kind would work best. One very important factor to always consider is that the combination of lights you choose must match in color temperature. Do not mix different color light sources.
 

Tell A Friend about this site!

Copyright 2007 TableTop Studio LLC. All rights reserved.