View Full Version : Furniture/product shot lens for E-510

Don Kondra
04-09-2008, 07:59 PM

I really did try to keep this short, but <shrug>

When I was done with my "shopping" for a camera, I never realized this whole lens buying/learning thing would be another level, sigh.... And in hindsight I didn't really consider how important it could/will be.

The E-510 came with a 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 ED. In a moment of weakness I won a bid on ebay for a Zuiko 40-150mm, f4.0-5.6 which I haven't yet received.

For now my main focus, no pun intended :) is to document my work. I'm a furniture maker and I would hope to eventually achieve magazine printable quality shots. And of course shots of my dog, events, landscapes, etc... I don't expect one lens to do all of this.

I've been testing different constant lighting techniques and locations in my shop, so far my best results are with cloudy daylight and two 65w CF lights in Cameron stands from the sides. More work to be done on this...

Please excuse the wrinkled white sheet, this is just till I can determin where to permanently mount my paper backdrop.

This is a cherry entrance bench with a brown leather seat, a very rough average size of my work.


Now, finally, the questions !!!

What would be considered the most appropriate lens for this type of work? For now under $500 would be nice...

Should I consider a prime lens and what mm?

In terms of set up, the maximum distance from the backdrop to the camera can be 20'.

FYI my local camera shop lists very few Olympus lens for sale on their web site and I have yet to inquire if they rent any..

TIA, Cheers, Don

04-09-2008, 09:07 PM
Don, I honestly think that your current lens is going to be just fine. Lighting is going to be much more important and there are many books devoted to studio lighting. It can get very complex. Product lighting is a specialized area. You say 'magazine printable quality', but really don't define what look you are going for. I say this since the E510 certainly offers adequate resolution for this level of output. Can you post a sample of a similar product photographed as you want yours to look? I see furniture photos printed in room settings, isolated on bare flooring or just the piece floating on a background. Even then are you looking to have no shadows and very even lighting? This may show off the work's wood finish, but might also make it appear too flat and 2 dimensional.

Don Kondra
04-09-2008, 10:49 PM
Thanks very much for the reply.

The magazines I am interested in submitting to generally show a 3/4 profile with a non descript background. One publication I do deal with that requires in situ shots prefers to have me send them the piece for photographing.

This example still amazes me but itís a shot of a coffee table taken with a 2 mp Kodak P&S that was printed in Fine Woodworking Magazine in the Readers Gallery. I sent them the 5 mp image and they did the processing, I can only assume they Really liked the pieceÖ

My shot


Their version. Not sure of the rules on this. Credits to Fine Woodworking Magazine for this image.


I do appreciate your comments on lighting, originally I was hoping to develop systems to cover both daylight and continuous lighting at night. Perhaps I will focus on daylight but I didnít want to restrict my shooting to a time of dayÖ

And Iím a little stubborn, Iím not ready to give up on continuous lighting yet and move to strobes, if that actually would be "better".?

I do notice a bit of shine on one of the legs of the bench, I still need to try bouncing the light and/or using umbrellaís.

I am having fun and appreciate the feedback.

Cheers, Don.

PS. Just had to include this, they are so BIG :)


Norm in Fujino
04-10-2008, 07:51 AM
Don, I agree that for that use, the kit lens is probably sufficient; if you want to go up a step, I'd suggest the 14-54mm, since it's sharper and faster, but in studio settings, things depends more on how much light you pour on than the native speed of the lens, so it's kind of up to you.

Regarding your furniture, I'm amazed. I did woodworking for a while (and still have my tools), but only as a practical hobby. I did built an A&C cabinet (http://www2.gol.com/users/nhavens/htmlfile/kancab-e.html) for my daughter and a few other things before work got too busy a few years ago. I also took Fine Woodworking for several years before my subscription ran out last year. I'm ashamed to even mention it after seeing your work, though.

Don Kondra
04-10-2008, 04:42 PM
Thanks for the reply Norm,

I'll put the 14-54 on my wish list :) And keep experimenting with lighting....

I also took a look at your woodwork. NO need to be ashamed, we all start somewhere and my early work was more at the cabinetmaking level than the nice pieces of furniture you have made..

Cheers, Don.

04-11-2008, 07:24 AM
Since we are on the subject....My dad makes pepper mills, cutting boards, serving trays etc.
For Christmas we got him a light shed (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/386545-REG/Impact_DLS_XL_Digital_Light_Shed_.html) to help him take product photos. This helps to soften the light. My dad is a Nikon guy but we won't hold that against him. LOL.
Below are some of his pepper mills but I don't know if he used the shed or not. Of course you would need one hell of a big shed to make it work for you :D



You can see more of his wood working at www.how-wood.com