There are countless lens options out there, but only a few qualify as one of the best lenses for product photography. Here are our top recommendations for lenses, and some additional information for businesses about understanding and buying lenses for cameras.
Keep in mind that most lenses do not fit all cameras. Regardless of its other qualities, a lens that doesn’t fit won’t work for your needs. You may be able to get around this with a mount, but always check to see if your camera is compatible with a lens before you buy it. If you can’t determine if something will fit, talk to the staff at a professional camera store.
The Best Prime and Zoom Lenses for Product Photography
Here are the best prime and zoom lenses for product photography. If you don’t know the difference between these, you can find more information on them below.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L (Best Overall)
[amazon link=”B0777X2BVX” title=”Canon’s EF 24-105-mm f/4L” /] is an outstanding overall lens, and one of the most affordable high end options. That also makes it an excellent choice for the best camera product photography likely required at a business, since it’s widely compatible with Canon’s line.
This lens’s significant features include outstanding image stabilization, improved autofocus, and no change in maximum aperture across its full zoom range. This provides improved image quality and helps make it one of the best lenses for product photography. Surprisingly, this isn’t an F28, but its other features help compensate for its wider aperture.
[amazon box=”B0777X2BVX” template=”horizontal”]
Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II (Best Canon Option)
While the previous option is the top lens product photography can expect, there are other options to consider. The [amazon link=”B0076BNK30″ title=”Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II” /] particular product photography lens is similar to the last option, but with a smaller zoom range and better maximum aperture. That makes it better for product photography situations and allows it to provide a consistently crisp, sharp image.
The main downside to this lens is the cost. It’s arguably better than you need for product photography, so we can’t recommend this unless you plan to take a lot of pictures and can expect a good return on your investment.
F28 (an alternate way of writing the aperture setting of f/2.8) is also an excellent choice for product photography because it’s exceptionally sharp and detailed. Too much wider and the lens won’t be as useful, so you’re getting what you pay for when using this lens for product photography.
F28 lenses are relatively common compared to other options because they work well, so even if you can’t get this lens for your camera, it’s often worth looking for another F28 instead.
[amazon box=”B0076BNK30″ template=”horizontal”]
Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40 mm f/2.8G (Best Nikon Option)
Canon is undoubtedly one of the most popular options for product photography, but it’s far from the only manufacturer on the market. Outside of their products, the best product photography lens is [amazon link=”B005C50H2Y” title=”this Nikon option” /], which offers a fixed focal length suitable for taking high-quality pictures in a regulated environment.
This Nikon lens provides particularly good image quality and focal lengths for product photography thanks to its F28 aperture and ability to capture details that people can have trouble seeing even at life-size. Overall, this lens isn’t quite as good as the Canon EF 24-70mm, but it’s still a great option.
[amazon box=”B005C50H2Y” template=”horizontal”]
The Best Macro Lenses
Macro lenses are useful for product photography when you need to take high-resolution photos of small products. In this context, the definition of small varies but usually includes products small enough for people to pick up and hold.
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM (Best Overall)
The [amazon link=”B00009XVBU” title=”Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM” /] lens has a closest focusing distance of 1.6 feet, which is usually enough to work even in a crowded office environment. Macro lenses have their focal point set to infinity, so they can provide consistently sharp and clear pictures regardless of how small the product is.
With an aperture of 3.5, this lens is not as sharp as some other lenses, but it’s still good enough for most situations involving product photography.
[amazon box=”B00009XVBU” template=”horizontal”]
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro
Canon’s lens is the best overall macro lens for product photography, but Nikon has a strong contender with this [amazon link=”B000EOSHGQ” title=”105mm macro lens ” /]. Its primary feature is the outstanding vibration reduction that makes it suitable for use even during handheld photography.
Some companies have a hard time using tripods for product photography sessions, so the handheld-friendly nature of this product is a major point in its favor and could even be a deciding factor.
[amazon box=”B000EOSHGQ” template=”horizontal”]
The Best Tilt-Shift Lenses
Sometimes known as a perspective control lens, tilt-shift lenses allow you to control your image’s perspective more effectively. This is particularly useful for creating a ‘miniature’ look where things seem smaller than they do in real life. However, tilt-shift lenses also need more room to work with, which can make them a little harder to use.
Canon 50mm f/2.8L Macro (Best Overall)
[amazon link=”B074VQ6SGK” title=”Canon’s 50mm” /] option is a particularly good choice thanks to its sharp image focus and wide range of independent focusing options. The maximum magnification of 0.5x on this lens is particularly useful for taking pictures of close-up subjects, which is the most common situation for product photography.
[amazon box=”B074VQ6SGK” template=”horizontal”]
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8
The [amazon link=”B00009XVDP” title=”Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8″ /] lens isn’t quite as good as the previous option, but it’s also about half the price, and that makes a difference when you’re buying a professional-quality lens. The most important thing to know about this lens is that its focus offers a slightly compressed perspective, but it still creates well-corrected images.
[amazon box=”B00009XVDP” template=”horizontal”]
The Best Budget Option
Finally, sometimes the price is the primary concern when you’re looking at the best lenses for product photography. Here’s a lower-priced option.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
This [amazon link=”B0058NYW3K” title=”lens from Sigma” /] usually retails in the mid-hundreds, which is about as affordable as a professional lens suitable for product photography will ever get. Although designed mainly for cameras with full-size sensors (more information on sensor size is below), you can also use it with compatible cropped sensors to get a wider effective focus.
Meanwhile, its optical stabilizer system improves performance for handheld photography, and the Super Multi-Layer Coating drastically reduces the effects of all flare and ghosting. Business environments don’t always make it easy to turn and deal with lights, so these types of coatings are especially helpful for taking great pictures.
Overall, this lens isn’t quite as good as any of those listed above, but it’s an excellent choice if you’re on a budget, and it fits on most full-frame digital cameras.
[amazon box=”B0058NYW3K” template=”horizontal”]
How to Choose the Best Lens for Product Photography
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right lens for product photography.
Image quality is the most critical factor for businesses. Any product photography that looks dull or poor-quality will make customers think the product is also bad, so it’s always better to get the top lens you can afford. However, this does need to be balanced with other considerations.
Quality of Lens
High-quality lenses are worth the price in the hands of a skilled photographer, and the best lenses are universally the most expensive ones. However, most companies don’t need the best lens possible. Instead, try to determine the minimum quality of the lens that your company requires.
What determines quality varies with the intended use of each lens. For example, a high-quality macro lens is quite different from a lens designed to shoot landscape shots. The second option is clearly going to be worse for macro photography, but that doesn’t make it a bad product. It only means it’s not the right choice for a certain situation.
The focal length is a measure of the optical distance from a particular point inside the lens to the digital sensor inside the camera. Focal lengths are not a measure of the size of the lens. A higher focal length means greater magnification, and therefore more detail in a smaller field of view.
The best lens for many companies has a high focal length because companies usually prefer great detail on small objects, rather than broad fields of view.
A 100mm F28 lens is an excellent option for most companies, offering outstanding detail with a small aperture to minimize problems. 100mm F28 lenses are relatively common, too, making them easy to find and learn how to use.
A 100mm F18 lens would be even better, but that kind of quality isn’t usually necessary for product photography. Most businesses are willing to settle for lenses that are good enough. F18 lenses are some of the best options on the market but are only necessary for larger compositions that require exceptionally fine detail.
Also, there can be such a thing as too much detail in your photography. If the focal length is too good, it could show manufacturing or packaging defects. F18 lenses are particularly prone to this, so consider getting a different type of product instead.
Closest Focusing Distance
The closest focusing distance on a lens is how close you can move the lens to the subject before it becomes blurry. This is determined by the physical qualities of the lens, so it does not change even if you adjust the focus. Most cameras have a relatively small minimum focusing distance, but you’ll still need a little room to work with.
Lens speed is a slightly inaccurate phrase that refers to how much of the aperture of the camera will be open. It is not about how fast any part of the lens is moving, just about how much light can get into the camera.
“Fast” lenses, which are lenses that are compatible with a high shutter speed, are excellent for product photography because they can sharply isolate a product in the foreground while blurring the background. This is useful when taking photos of products against anything other than a white background.
Budget models are cameras, lenses, and other equipment that are less expensive than other options. These are often poor choices for product photography because they aren’t as good as high-quality equipment, but with a few camera tricks, they may be suitable for the task.
Close-up filters are caps you can screw onto the end of a lens to make it similar to a macro lens (see below). These are affordable alternatives to proper macro lenses, although they don’t have nearly as much overall image quality.
Polarizing filters are special filters that help block light reflections, particularly those of the sun. While blocking light is usually the wrong idea for a camera, exposure to extremely bright sources like the sun can permanently damage a camera.
Always use a polarizing filter in any environment where there could be a reflection from the sun. It does slightly degrade the quality of the final image, but it’s better to accept that slight loss of quality than to accept damage to your camera.
Macro Reversing Ring
A macro reversing ring is a special piece of equipment for a regular lens (see below) that allows you to mount it backward and turn it into a macro lens. This is a cheap way to get more out of a single lens, although it’s usually not as effective as buying a proper macro lens.
The Big Debate: Prime Lens vs Zoom Lens
Prime lenses, sometimes known as fixed lenses, have a predetermined focal length. The only way to change the size of something in the image is to move the item or move the camera. Prime lenses have less flexibility than zoom lenses, but because every component is made with their focus in mind, the overall image is higher in quality.
Zoom lenses have a variable focus length. While their overall image is slightly worse than a prime lens, the ability to rapidly change the focus length is extremely useful for some types of product photography.
Which lens is best depends on the type of products you need to photograph. For many companies, the best lens is a prime lens because all products are relatively small and the photographer only needs to move around a limited environment.
For other companies, the best lens is a zoom lens because they have products of many sizes, or they want to take photos from different ranges. Zoom lenses are also more cost-effective for companies, which is an important consideration in its own right.
Cropped Versus Full-Frame Sensor
The sensor in a digital camera is the part that detects light and creates the image, making it the most important part of the entire photography process.
A full-frame sensor is 36mm x 24mm, which matches the 35mm film format. This is widely regarded as the ideal size because it offers great image quality at a portable size.
Cropped sensors are anything smaller than 36mm x 24mm. These sensors usually require more light to take a picture, which also means there’s more noise and distortion in the final image.
Product photography should be as sharp and clear as possible, so cropped sensors are a poor choice.
What is a Macro Lens?
A macro lens is a special type of lens with a focal length designed to take pictures of small objects such as insects or flowers. Macro lenses are often the right lens for product photography because they can take high-quality photos of small products to capture their detail and show them on websites.
Macro lenses often require some form of image stabilization, such as a tripod, but this is usually not a problem in a business environment where you can control the setting completely. Macro lens typically run from the low hundreds to the low thousands in price owing to the difficulty of manufacturing them. Macro lenses are specialist tools, but also extremely useful for companies.