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I have an Olympus E500 camera passed onto my by my father in law and since fallen in love with photography. I now have a client who is requesting a product shoot of some of his products and I would like to find out what lens would be best to do product photography? I am assuming it must be a macro lens but I am not sure where to even start looking for the right lens for the camera.

This looks like it could be the right lens. Is it what I need?

Olympus 50mm f/2.0 Telephoto Macro ED Lens for E1, E300 & E500 Digital SLR Cameras

Also, people talk about reverse rings and a number of other options, so this has left me in the dark a bit.

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What products will you be photographing? –  ElendilTheTall Mar 12 '12 at 15:55
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The way you phrased the question it looks like you'll be shooting relatively small objects. Correct? If so you don't necessarily need macro lens. It would be helpful to know how these images will be used? What's the purpose? Ebay listing? Printed book? etc. –  Alen Mar 12 '12 at 17:01

2 Answers 2

The 50mm macro on a four thirds camera will pretty much do anything you need to do in terms of product photography—unless those products are true nanotechnology or inscribed grains of rice (where you'd need to actually resolve detail that the 50 won't manage on an 8MP sensor) or something like a school bus (where the 50 would probably be too long).

For things that are very small, you'll probably have more pixels than you know what to do with in the final use case, so cropping is very much an option if half-life-size on the sensor isn't quite big enough (particularly if you're shooting for the web). The chances are, though, that you won't need to get that close, even for detail shots, but being able to focus somewhat more closely than a standard lens can manage is a good thing.

The 100mm 35mm equivalent focal length is a very good one in terms of background management as well. That's not just about controlling depth of field; it also includes things like how big an artificial backdrop needs to be in order to cover the frame, which in turn influences the ease of lighting the background (or blocking light from it, for that matter).

Light will be important, especially given that your E-500 is of a vintage that was less than great in low-light settings. (That's not a knock on the camera—nobody was doing a very good job at, say, ISO 1600 at the time. Today, that's just another setting on most cameras.) That's where the narrower field of view of something like the 50 pays off in a big way. Lighting the product is relatively easy, but if the background area gets large, then it becomes a lot more difficult to light it evenly and unobtrusively.

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Product shots are more about the lights than the lens. With enough light, you can stop down the 50mm to get as much depth of field as you want.

Reverse rings, etc. are for shooting tiny objects. This may be needed for very small jewelry, etc. but most products are big enough that the 50mm will be fine.

What, specifically, do you plan to shoot?

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