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I'm guessing the answer to this question might be "the lens", but being a newbie in photography maybe that's too predictable...

Alright, so I am shooting some handbags, and I am trying to replicate the quality of the previous photographer (who was a professional with professional equipment (I have a D3100 Nikon camera, he had... well I have no idea). I am going to show you two pictures of different handbags, the 'worse' one (with the out of focus points) is mine, the other one (the tan one) is his. How can I get that crisp clear image?

I have tried manual focusing, auto focusing, zooming out of the picture, coming closer to it, but I am just unsure as to how I can make this happen.

Thank you all in advance.

P.S: Tried shooting it in vertical too and in a smaller frame like he did... same issue.

Professional Image My Image

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It's quite possible he used focus stacking. I've not used the technique myself, but it's supposed to be easy to do in newer versions of Photoshop. There are also a number of stand-alone programs, both free and commercial, that can do focus stacking. It would take a bit longer, but you can also focus stack by hand using layer masks.

  • I'd agree, it looks too much DoF for a single image that close to the bag to me. One other suggestion that hasn't been made yet is to use a camera with a small sensor (such as a phone). So long as your lighting is good a phone should be able to give you a decent image, and the small sensor size will give you a large DoF. – user20622 Jul 9 '15 at 15:34
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You need to use:

  1. a bigger depth of field, which can be achieved by using
    • a higher aperture value to get more of the bag in focus: try values above f8.
    • a shorter focal length
    • a bigger distance between the lens and the subject
  2. a light diffuser, to reduce the harshness of your shadows or use a long exposure without a flash

It goes without saying that a tripod is an essential tool here, although you can probably get acceptable results without one, depending on the settings.

who was a professional with professional equipment (I have a D3100 Nikon camera, he had.. well I have no idea

There are two ways to deal with this kind of uncertainty:

  1. check the metadata of the image. chances are you find the settings of the camera in there, although wizards usually keep their tricks secret.
  2. ask the other photographer. As they say: here on the Internet, everybody is a dog; and we may or may not give good answers. After all we can only make educated guesses, which will get you close to your goal. But talking to the photographer (who's probably human) will allow you to understand exactly how it was done. Of course, if you are the less experienced, less expensive replacement for the professional photographer you might receive laughter as an answer.
  • I tried using any value as my aperture, however it didn't change how much of the bag I could get into focus.. I went from f5.6 that I was using all the way to f29. Am I doing it wrong? How could I be? – Dimitris Preketes Jul 9 '15 at 11:47
  • @user2648696 I expanded my answer to include the three major ways to influence depth of field. – null Jul 9 '15 at 11:57
  • What shutter speed was required at f/29? Were you hand holding the camera or was it mounted on a solid tripod? If on a tripod, how were you actuating the shutter? Via a wired or wireless remote, using the self-timer, or pushing the shutter button manually? If the camera is moving no aperture setting will create a sharp photo. – Michael C Jul 10 '15 at 0:40
  • Beyond about f/8 to f/11 or so you will begin to see the effects of diffraction with the D3100. (the diffraction limited aperture of the D3100 is probably around f/5.6 or so, but hen viewing images at normal sizes it is not very noticeable until around f/16. – Michael C Jul 10 '15 at 1:01

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