I would really appreciate if you could help me find the best camera or camera's to take photos of textures. These will mainly include cabinets, countertops, tiles, backsplashes, hardwood flooring and possibly exterior brick walls.

The photos also need to be quite "flat" as it would be used as 3D textures.

I have a lightbox setup with an Android phone taking photos which is not detailed enough and has a slight noise in the image.

A couple example photos (image links go to Google image searches for examples):

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Daniel, welcome to Photo.SE. I've taken the liberty to edit your question on a couple issues. First, I uploaded the sample images, in case the Google search links change / go away in the future. Second, as asked, your question would probably have been closed as a "shopping question", which are off-topic at most Stack Exchange sites. But questions asking about what you should consider when looking for equipment is on-topic (sort of the "teach a man to fish..." model). If you feel I've changed your question too much, you can revert it. =) \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible to also provide an end result example? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 20:02
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The most important thing is skill, I would recommend this book: "Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting". All camera's can make excellent pictures these days, and what lens you need mostly depends on the object size and distance of the camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you include an example image from your android phone? \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ photo.stackexchange.com/questions/84872/… relevant \$\endgroup\$
    – 10 Replies
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


Any interchangeable lens camera will do.

Invest in:

  • Lighting (for things that are physically textured, side vs head-on lighting makes a world of difference). You want to be as flexible as possible regarding color and position of lights.

  • A macro lens. A secondhand, adapted, older, manual focus macro lens of 50 or 60 mm (made eg by Minolta, Nikon, Leitz, Olympus) should be attainable for $100-$200. True macro lens, NOT a zoom with "macro" written on it in colored letters. These are designed to be sharp corner to corner when used at close focus against a flat subject.

  • The most adjustable but sturdy tripod you can afford. EDIT: For an image that you want to use as a tile later at high resolution, you want precise framing if you can, really precise framing. That's why. You'll likely need to crop heavily anyway to find a "slice" of the texture that can be joined to itself appering reasonably seamless, and you don't want to waste any of the resolution left on having to having to correct a crooked horizon or any perspective distortion.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My only quibble would be that an old ~50mm macro lens would give a fairly narrow angle of view on anything but a FF camera, which could make it difficult to get pictures of large areas of floors, etc. Back when I was doing a lot of this, I would have found that restrictive... of course, most of the tiles ended up being ~256x256, so the corner softness of a fixed wide-normal on a cheap digicam was less of an issue. ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Better than the typical 100mm macro lenses (more expensive too) that are fashionable these days with macro photographers :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 8:30

One of the main purposes of lightboxes is to minimize texture by placing dispersed light from almost every angle on the subject.

If you want to show textures, you need to use more directional lighting at a fairly steep angle, compared to the axis of the lens, to created stronger shadows. Shadows are what shows the texture of 3D objects in a 2D photograph.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the term "texture" is being used here more in the 3D modeling sense (an image of a surface to be used in "texturing" the surface of a model) rather than the literal sense involving more than two dimensions. For this use, you often want to avoid any obvious light source cues, lest they be in conflict with the ones used in the rendered scene... hence very flat lighting can often be appropriate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 22:59

For this purpose, an important characteristic of a camera/lens combination will be how well corrected it is for rectilinearity (straight lines stay straight), vignetting (avoiding bright center and dark corners), and, to some extent, flatness of the focal plane (so that the center and corners of the image are in focus at the same time). All of these become much more important for images of flat surfaces that are going to be fit to each other (tiling) and to regular polygons such as 3-D models of interiors.

Lenses that correct these well can be large and expensive, but there are ways of mitigating the problems in software, and many current fixed lens cameras (and at least one interchangeable lens system) actually software correct the first two in-camera, facilitating cheaper and smaller lens design. Some recent cameras are even capable of internal focus stacking, which can address the third issue. Most in-depth reviews of lenses (or fixed-lens cameras) will give at least some attention to these characteristics, so that's what you'll want to pay particular attention to.

Another thing to consider is whether the angle of view of a camera/lens combination will allow you to capture the area you need from a distance that works with your lighting and space constraints. The old macro lenses mentioned in another answer, when used on a typical APS-C DSLR, will have an angle of view similar to "zooming" your phone to 3x or more. If that seems to work for your purposes (and you don't mind manually focusing) that could be a good option.

If you find that cameras within your budget produce images that could still use additional correction (not unlikely), there are many software packages that can help with this. One popular free software project capable of many corrections is hugin, but other commercial software may offer a gentler learning curve.


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