I am using a light tent for 360 degree product photos.

I already tried to take some photos and videos using 3 lights of 400 watts each. The resulting photos varied a lot in light intensity. When I made a video using these lights the video was flickering.

I'm now considering buying some photography lights instead.

Initially, I want to use a compact camera or mobile phone to take photos / videos. In the future I might switch to a professional camera.

I do not have much experience in photography, but I'm guessing that I need a much stronger light source when using a compact camera / mobile phone compared to a professional camera?

Am I correct in my assumption?

Which light sources and how many would you recommend for this?

  • What shooting mode are you using? For product photography manual mode or aperture priority with fixed ISO would be a good start. If you use a phone there are usually apps around for these modes. Are you using a tripod? Then the power of your lights would not really matter.
    – Grebu
    Oct 25 '15 at 19:49
  • Well I would like to take videos and not just still images. For videos I need a lot of light to get a good quality, no?
    – Bandersen
    Oct 25 '15 at 20:00
  • For flicker free video footage LED lights with quality drivers (switiching speeds of several kHz) would be your best bet. The flickering is most likely caused by the energy source for your lights: mains is alternating current with a frequency of usually around 50 Hz or 60 Hz. Low powered lights would easily allow slow shutter speeds for stills and thereby avoid this issue.
    – Grebu
    Oct 25 '15 at 20:21
  • Can you give me an example of a specific lamp and bulbs that would be optimal for the video?
    – Bandersen
    Oct 25 '15 at 20:32
  • Not really, I am not into video and therefore don't know the product range. My advice is based on the technology behind it.
    – Grebu
    Oct 25 '15 at 20:44

Product photography with still images is typically done with strobe (flash) lighting. And most of the expertise here for product photography will probably assume flash rather than continuous lighting. If you need help with video aspects, I'd recommend asking a separate, more focused question on video.SE.

The number and type of lights that will best suit your situation depends on a large number of factors, the least of which is what camera you're using. While a cellphone or P&S camera may limit your aperture and iso settings, this type of photography tends to use smaller apertures and lower ISO settings anyway for more DoF and crispness, so the amount of light required from your illumination is going to be the same whether you use a P&S or a dSLR or a mirrorless camera. My only recommendation for a camera is to get one with a flash hotshoe so you'll have an easy way to use remote flash triggering systems.

The size of the product you're shooting, how much money you have to spend, and how you visualize and plan to set up the shot will be the biggest factors. There is no set answer that's going to work for everybody in all situations.

A light tent and small clamp lights is a good way to get started, but it's an extremely limited setup and over time, you may want to evolve to using multiple off-camera lights with modifiers just so you have more working room--a light tent gets awfully cramped and can limit your light, subject, and background placement possibilities in a way that makes it impossible to get the shot you wanted.

If your setups are small (say, food shooting), you may be able to get away with LED panels, and those could also be useful for video as a continuous light source, but they do tend to be lower-powered. Flashes are the usual photographer's tool of choice because you can get a lot of light out of them for very little heat/power/cost, and you can scale up to studio strobes vs. battery flashes if you need even more power. With continuous lighting sources, the cheap ones tend to be very low powered, and the adequately powered ones tend to be very expensive or very hot.

Lighting is a very deep subject in and of itself, and I'd recommend doing some reading to learn the subject. The standard college textbook for this is Light: Science & Magic. And the most popular website today to learn about off-camera lighting is David Hobby's The Strobist, although there are myriads more that have sprung up since that site started.


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