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I'm a super novice photographer, but I own an online store and I want to give my photos more oomph.

I own a Canon EOS 60D, with a EF-S 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens.

I will be making myself a light box. I sell primarily cake toppers through my etsy store. I made a display cake so I can show off my cake toppers in action, and as you can see from this listing, the lighting is terrible so that is why I am making a light box, and I want a better lens.

I am wondering what lens would be best suited for product shots of my items with my Canon EOS 60D.

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    Which lens do you have now, and why do you think it is not good enough? – Mike Sowsun Mar 15 '16 at 18:09
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    Looking at your Etsy site, the product photos look fine in terms of sharpness, color, vignetting... what are you hoping to improve? – Caleb Mar 15 '16 at 19:07
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The lens you are currently using looks to be doing fine. Adding "oomph" to your photos is all about the size and direction of the light as well as using a more appropriate background, and not about buying a more expensive lens.

Since I couldn't say it any better myself, I'll include this quote from mattdm he posted in the comments below:

I would put it like this: there are lenses with better technical characteristics for product photography, but the difference there between much, much more expensive lenses and the one you have is negligible compared to the importance of lighting, staging, technique, and (to some degree) post-processing.

Looking at the questions here with a product photography tag would be a good place to start. Another excellent resource is David Hobby's Strobist blog, particularly his Lighting 101 series.

  • I have a EFS 18-55mm lens, I got it in my beginner kit and was wondering if there is a better lens out there for product photography. If lighting is all I need to worry about then that is good news. – Katelyn89 Mar 16 '16 at 0:47
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    I would put it like this: there are lenses with better technical characteristics for product photography, but the difference there between much, much more expensive lenses and the one you have is negligible compared to the importance of lighting, staging, technique, and (to some degree) post-processing. – mattdm Mar 16 '16 at 2:34
  • Alright then, thanks for the input, glad I don't need a new lens :) I'll work on those things – Katelyn89 Mar 16 '16 at 14:12
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Your 18-55 is certainly sufficient with the proper lighting technique, but if you want to include detail shots from closer up than the 18-55 can shoot, then you may want to consider a macro lens, such as the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro or EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro (there's also an L version, but it's much more expensive). Macro lenses tend to be the sharpest lenses in any lineup.

However, a new midrange macro lens is typically in the US$400-$600 price range, and lighting gear can cost considerably less and have a much larger impact on your photos. And given that you're probably going to be using most of your images for web delivery, which are usually small sizes, the sharpness edge of a macro lens might make no difference at all. And flash will let you shoot around f/8, which can typically make a kit lens look a lot more expensive than it is.

Learning lighting, Strobist-style, with off-camera hotshoe flashes, in particular, can be done for very low cost, even with multiple lights. And unlike a simple light tent with continuous lights, working with lights on stands with modifiers and radio triggers gives you much more working room and control over the direction, amount, and quality of light.

See also:

  • I don't think I will be using strobes or hotshoe flashes or slaves and all that because it is confusing! And I want to keep the space relatively small as we have a 2 bedroom house and there is not a lot of space. I think I will have a set up where I have a large white foam core board as the background, and then I will just make my own light diffusers out of PVC pipe and old white sheets... make 3 of them - 2 for the side and 1 for the top, and get a series of lamps from the thrift store and daylight CFL bulbs from home depot and put the lamps on either side and above in front of the diffusers – Katelyn89 Mar 18 '16 at 20:31
  • @Katelyn89, just remember to be careful with DIY diffusers and continuous lights that can get hot. Or, in the case of CLFs, stop working if they get too hot. – inkista Mar 18 '16 at 21:08
  • Cool! Well I worked on my lighting today, got my set up going. You can view the 2nd photo in this listing, as it is the one I am using my light set up on: etsy.com/listing/269992519/… The rest of the other photos are purely natural light and I think they are great, but the "cake" product shot needed help. Any thoughts? – Katelyn89 Mar 19 '16 at 19:56
  • There is also this link to check out my lighting: etsy.com/listing/286506667/… – Katelyn89 Mar 20 '16 at 14:41

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