I am extremely new to photography and I have a Nikon D5300 with the kit lens that comes with it. I have been woodworking for a while and want to take product photos of my work to put on etsy and possibly my own website at some point. I don't know if the kit lens is good enough as the results have been soso. Is there a type of lens I should have without breaking the bank?
Asuming the products are rather small a short telephoto macro prime might be a good idea. The tamron 90mm macro has got good reviews for example. Also, use a tripod, good lighting and stop down the lens to about f8 unless you need more depth of field. Also take care with your background, are you using a lightbox?
Let me try to understand:
wsnt to being taking product photos of my work to put on etsy and possibly my own website at some point.
Is the lens faulty? Is it not focusing? Is the camera not working?
I don't know if the stock lens is good enough as the results have been soso.
So: I am assuming that you are actually capable of taking photos, but you do not like the results.
I am extremely new to photography
Ok, let me try to make a helpful answer here. You will not evolve in your knowledge on photography if your analysis of your own photos is "soso". You are blaming the poor lens without knowing the reasons your photos are "soso".
Here is a quick list that comes to my mind, some are the same question rephrased but in another category.
- Do you have enough light in the room you are taking the photos?
- Is the room using natural light?
- Is the color of the light the one you do not like?
- Are you trying to convey an emotion with the light, for example, some nostalgia for the light coming from a window?
- Are you using the built-in flash? (Please, don't)
- Are you limited on the focus distance?
- Are you limited by the zoom you currently have?
- What is the focal distance you are using and you do not like?
- Do you want more vivid colors?
- Are the colors wrong?
- Is the composition good?
- Does it express something about your products?
- Are the photos blurry?
- Are they on focus?
- Are they noisy?
- Are you using a tripod?
- Do you know how to handle the camera?
I can go on and on. But you get the idea.
I don't know if the stock lens is good enough
Yes, it is good enough for most cases, even "pro" results, as long as you control all the other variables, mainly light, and some post-processing.
So do not try to buy another lens after really learning what to do with the current one you already have. You will not only waste some money but also the new and better one could disappoint you especially if you do not really know what to expect or how to correct the other variables on photography.
The other answers recommending macro lenses are not bad recommendations. But they are starting on the premise that you actually need a new lens. You probably do not.
Push your self and really squeeze the most of your camera, most of the composition, on the room, on the light... You probably only need a tripod and know your camera settings a bit more.
Generally low-end DSLRs are sold with a kit lens which is of very poor quality. The AF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 VR is probably what came with your camera and definitely falls into that category.
What you are looking for is a Macro lens which Nikon labels Micro. Price varies but there are plenty of rather affordable ones for Nikon F-mount. Nikon makes a surprisingly cheap DX 40mm F/2.8 which produces better image-quality that what you have and is quite sufficient for online use. There is also a 60mm F/2.8G and DX 85mm F/3.5G VR which cost the same price but are better optically than the 40mm. Also because they both have a longer focal-length, you have more working distance between the camera and subject. This is matters as with the 40mm you have to be really careful not to cast a shadow on the subject.
Third party makers like Tokina and Sigma make fully compatible macro lenses at a similar price. There are a few cheaper brands that make manual lenses but those are probably best avoided for a beginner.
A macro lens will work really well with even larger subjects but if you are capturing relatively large products, most prime lens with a medium focal-length will do, say between 50 and 100mm about.