You've probably seen many of the product images I create on this site, but ... did you ever wonder what lens I used to capture them? No, it was not with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
shown in this photo.
I take a lot of photographs of products and, somewhat uniquely, my most-frequently photographed products are cameras and lenses. Taking pictures of a camera and lens of course requires a ... camera and lens.
The standardized product images found in the site's comparison tool
have been captured by a Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L USM Macro Lens
. Off topic, but in case you were also wondering, this lens is semi-permanently locked onto a Manfrotto 400 Deluxe Geared Head
on a slightly customized (wheels removed) Manfrotto O800 Static Camera Stand
. The head is great and the stand is sturdy and compact, though it permits a significant amount of vibration. As long as I use mirror lockup along with the self-timer to release the shutter, vibrations stabilize and, they wouldn't matter anyway as my studio lights have a very short duration that would freeze any movement.
While I use this setup for a significant percentage of the product images I create, The 180 L is not my most-used product photography lens. That honor goes to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens
. Why use this telephoto zoom for camera and lens product photography?
The focal lengths in the 70-200mm range create a reasonable (slightly compressed) perspective that works well on camera gear. The focal length range of this lens also makes it easy to keep the white shooting table
background completely in the frame. Wider angle lenses must be closer to the shooting table to avoid extraneous subject matter. While that closer distance can work, there is some flexibility lost (and a closer perspective results with parts closer to the camera appearing larger than those farther away).
This lens is very sharp, corner to corner, even on a full frame body. Ticking the CA removal check box seals the deal.
While I also have the f/2.8 version of this lens, I don't need an aperture that wide when I'm shooting with studio strobes (f/11 is the aperture I most-often use). The narrower max aperture allows for the f/4L IS to be a relatively lightweight lens, inducing less fatigue (along with less wear and tear on my body).
Very helpful is that this is an image stabilized lens. While the studio strobes are fast enough to stop any camera motion, image stabilization greatly aids in subject framing.
The 70-200 f/4L IS is a very useful lens for other purposes, including landscape photography. The additional versatility makes having this lens in the kit a better business proposition.
The weakest aspect of this lens for product photography use? It does not focus close enough to frame smaller subjects tightly. If I need to more maximum magnification, I'll most often use the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
, though extension tubes
can remedy this issue to some extent.
Products come in all sizes and most lenses can be used for product photography of some kind. The range of sizes covered by a telephoto zoom, especially if you have plenty of working space, are great.