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I'm an amateur and I'm reading everything that I can to learn how to take decent product photos and get the best out of the equipment that I have... My question is specifically, what is likely causing this particular issue described below? I'm looking for settings and concepts that I'm just not certain of yet, but if the final answer is to buy better equipment, then that's the push that I need to do so...

I'm shooting with a Nikon P80. I am using a white backdrop and umbrella-softened light. I attempted manual settings all over the place but everything comes out some sort of wrong. I've switched over to automatic-everything-mode and I get this "denim-like" noise/grain on portions of my photo. I'm struggling with the retouching to make it look good, however I feel that I should be preventing it from happening in the first place. Is it technique???

Below, find a composite where I've put together the troubling section of the image below. This includes a pull from the original (upper left) and after I've used LightRoom to adjust lighting and remove noise. Noise reduction helps a bit, but doesn't solve my problem. I'm also attaching the original image that came from the camera.

So for those who've come before me, what can I do??? Thanks much!

Composite:

Composite Image

https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/4Xcc4FDxX9vyU8Pkl4AMlWbqY8RL4UPnbHCbc8D6btH

Original photo: https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/GOuVYF27k68LdDPNQ2TnXFNjhKxVQCvEhlXF2HnuyXi

Edits:

  1. Product/Label details:
    • I produce the product and print the labels myself on my Dell 525w laserjet printer using standard labels made for laser printers. They're printed from my Illustrator files that I've created and they use all solid colors and print using the standard default settings. I'm not expecting a half-tone effect, nor does it appear such in person.
  2. Tech params
    • I pulled these from the photo. There is no interchangeable lens.
      • f-stop = f/3.5
      • exposure time = 1/60
      • ISO = 185
      • focal length = 10mm
      • max aperture = 3
      • metering mode = pattern
      • 35mm focal length = 56
  • Cna you give us the technical a prameters? ISO, shutter, aperture, lens specifics please – TomTom Apr 17 '18 at 19:12
  • Note regarding the label, printing, and the product photographed: I produce the product and print the labels myself on my Dell 525w laserjet printer using standard labels made for laser printers. They're printed from my Illustrator files that I've created and they use all solid colors and print using the standard default settings. I'm not expecting a half-tone effect, nor does it appear such in person. – John Fisher Apr 17 '18 at 20:20
  • Tech params - I pulled these from the photo. There is no interchangeable lens. f-stop = f/3.5 exposure time = 1/60 ISO = 185 focal length = 10mm max aperture = 3 metering mode = pattern 35mm focal length = 56 – John Fisher Apr 17 '18 at 20:37
  • Consider using better parameters. F16 or higher, ISO 100, and then expose as long as you need from a tripod. That will fix your DOF sharpness issue for one. Products do not move - no need to keep exposure small. – TomTom Apr 18 '18 at 4:53
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You are attempting to image a label, signage that was produced by lithography. This method breaks up the original image so that it is comprised of tiny dots of colored ink. Each will have a different dot size and coloring. This type of image is called a half tone.

Now the digital camera images is fabricated using a comparable method. The digital imaging chip in your camera is covered with imaging sites. These brake the image into tiny picture elements (pixels). What happens when you image a half tone via a digital camera is an artifact called a “moire”. This imparts a look of wavy colored artifacts that degrade the digital image.

You can perhaps mitigate the moire by changing the camera to subject distance and by changing the camera angle. However, your best bet is to work with your imaging software to reduce the moire effect. You should also know that if you use a higher pixel count camera with anti-aliasing filter built in, your chance of success will increase. Sorry, this is one of the knotty aspects of digital imaging.

  • Thank you, Marcus! I've added these details to the original question as a comment, but I produce the product and print the labels myself on my Dell 525w laserjet printer using standard labels made for laser printers. They're printed my Illustrator files that use all solid colors and print using the standard default settings. I can take it to the printing forum, but I don't think this qualifies as lithography or half-tone. Does your posted information still apply? – John Fisher Apr 17 '18 at 20:21
  • @ John Fisher --- The term lithography is broad and my or may not exactly apply. The term half tone is likely valid when the image is comprised of dots of ink. This includes inkjet, laserjet, offset and most all printing press outputs. – Alan Marcus Apr 17 '18 at 20:26
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Appears to be a product of the label printing process (halftone screen?), since it's only on the printed portion of the object, and is subject to DOF effects (goes out of focus as the object curves). I'd suggest either leaving it alone (it's a characteristic of the product) or applying some noise reduction as you've already done.

  • Thank you, BobT. I've added these details to the original question as a comment, but I produce the product and print the labels myself on my Dell 525w laserjet printer using standard labels made for laser printers. They're printed from my Illustrator files that use all solid colors and print using the standard default settings. – John Fisher Apr 17 '18 at 20:22
  • 3
    @JohnFisher The colors may be solid in your illustrator files, but solid is not how a color laser printer will render those files. Use a jeweler's loupe to look at the labels closely. – Michael C Apr 17 '18 at 23:12
  • @JohnFisher What Michael Clark said. Most laser printers can print only 4 'pure' colors (magenta, cyan, yellow and black)- all others are a fine screened mix of those four. Since laser toner is effectively opaque the color mixing has to be done with some sort of screen pattern. You could try printing with a higher resolution to make the effect less obvious... – BobT Apr 18 '18 at 3:07
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The issue is the angle/evenness of the light source... you need much "flatter" and more direct lighting (from camera perspective).

The way to bring out texture is to light from the side, that creates highlights/shadows. Which is exactly what you are getting and don't want.

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