What You Should Know About Using a Macro Lens in Product Photography

February 3, 2022

What You Should Know About Using a Macro Lens in Product Photography

Excellent product photography provides online shoppers with the same level of visual detail as the human eye. In the case of a very small object, a high-quality, high-resolution image can capture it even better than our eyes.

If you sell circuit board components, screws, jewelry, or anything less than an inch in size, you’ll need a special type of equipment to get high-quality pictures of your micro products: a macro lens. This kind of camera lens allows you to photograph small items in clear focus, high resolution, and full frame.

Here’s what brands, retailers, and studios need to know about macro lens product photography.

How is a Macro Lens Different from a Standard or Wide-Angle Lens?

A macro lens is essentially a magnifying glass for your camera.  

If you’ve ever seen a close-up photo of an insect, it was probably shot with a macro lens. They are optimized to handle extremely close focusing distances and can take sharp, highly detailed images of microscopic subjects. It typically has a magnification ratio of 1:1 and a minimum focusing distance of 12 inches. This means that its sensor can reproduce the subject at the same size of the object in real life. The result is a high-resolution image of the subject at a greater size than the original object.  

With a standard camera lens, you can only get so close to an object while keeping it in focus. This would restrict the customer’s ability to zoom in on finer details. Standard lenses are generally used in street or landscape photography – these lenses are compact and capture scenes with a perspective similar to the human eye. 

A wide-angle lens allows you to photograph a wide field of view in detail without having to move further away from the subject.  If you tried to use a wide-angle lens to photograph something as small as a thumbnail, you would end up with a small, low–resolution image of the product, which would be almost useless.  

A Macro Lens Captures Tiny Items with Full Clarity and Focus

A macro lens maximizes the resolution, frame, and depth of field of an image. This lens brings out the intricate details while providing a full view of the product.

The following types of products photograph well with a macro lens:

  • Electrical parts and supplies
  • Small industrial pieces
  • Small automotive pieces
  • Jewelry

At 1WorldSync, we typically use the Canon 180mm Macro Lens, which has a longer working distance than most macro lenses. Using this type of lens allows you to stay further away from the product and keep the resolution high and the frame filled.

360 Degree Macro Lens Photography Requires Precision

A 360 degree photo is composed of 24 to 72 images, which is called a spinset. In a high-volume photo shoot, we use automated equipment like turntables and multiple camera configurations to speed up the process. In order to get the spinset to look just right, our photographers take meticulous care to ensure each image of a small item is centered and focused.

A 360 degree image gives online customers the maximum amount of visual information for a small product. Getting that image just requires a lot more precision and know-how than photographing large items.

Say you’re photographing a motorcycle for 360 spin. If the motorcycle is an inch or two off-center when it’s rotated for photos from different angles, you probably won’t notice it in the final spin experience. If you’re photographing a microchip, on the other hand, and it’s even a millimeter off-center in its rotation, the item will look like it jumps around five feet in the final spinset.

The Right Camera Lens is Key to a Winning Product Photo

In any product photo shoot, equipment, technique and expertise yields quality. The wrong kind of lens can leave you with a low-quality product photo that no amount of post-production edits will fix.

It takes experience with professional product photography to produce a high volume of high-quality product photos, especially when it comes to small items. Our experts at 1WorldSync’s cutting edge photography studio know their way around a macro lens. They can take the tiniest electrical circuit and turn it into a dynamic 360 degree spinning image that’ll drive big results on your website.