Save The Money You Might Have Spent Buying An Expensive DSLR By Using The Powerful Technology Right In Your Pocket!
Practically everyone has a smartphone nowadays, but not everyone realizes just how powerful the built-in cameras are. With 12MP, image-stabilization, and the ability to adjust manual settings, the iPhone 6 I’m using for this tutorial has all of the necessary components for creating beautiful product photos.
Going this route will be easy on your budget, and you won’t have to waste time doing camera research. Let’s get started!
What You’re Going To Need
#1: Your Smartphone
Two of the most common smartphone choices are Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. Whether you’re the proud owner of one of these models, new or old, or have another brand with a built in camera you’re going to be able to take high-quality photos.
It’s actually quite bewildering how many accessories have been manufactured specifically for smartphone cameras. Although you’re entirely welcome to invest in them all, you really only need the following: Lights, a sturdy table, a backdrop and a tripod. Many people have found success buying lenses that attach to your phone, but they are by no means required.
If you’re planning on shooting a lot of inventory in the next few years, it might be worth it for you to invest in a cheap lighting kit which can be purchased online for under $100.
While you can get away with shooting without lights, we recommend using them as they will assist you in filling in shadows and making the product look more appealing. If you’re on a budget all you need is to set up next to a bright window that doesn’t have direct sunlight coming through.
Most lighting kits come equipped with standard fluorescent bulbs, which means you can take desk lamps or shop lights from your home and use those instead. Just make sure they have the same bulbs, as mixing light temperatures will affect the White Balance of your photo.
Any card table or desk will work fine! Using an elevated surface makes the capturing process much less strenuous, and allows you to position the objects next to the window.
The easiest material to work with is a roll of white paper. This allows you to create the “infinity curve”, which is the technique for having your subject appear in floating white space. If there isn’t a place to purchase rolls of white paper you can always use a blank wall, or iron out a white sheet.
Most new smartphones are built with image-stabilization, but with how we’ll be shooting, it’s much easier to have your phone firmly planted so you can easily use two hands to make on-screen adjustments.
FAVOLCANO Mini 360
The FAVOLCANO is currently only $5.99 on Amazon and can adjust to hold practically any phone.
With a pivoting head and 360 degree rotation it’s incredibly easy to allign your shots.
If you already have a tripod, and only need a new head to hold your phone, the DaVoice Cell Phone Adaptor is $7.99. This is the same adaptor I’m using for this tutorial and should fit most phones.
Using a lense on your smartphone adds a higher level of optics, allowing you to take sharper and more detailed images. This route is great for those of you with smaller items like jewelry where the macro details are important to capture so potential customers won’t doubt what they’re buying.
TECHNO offers a universal kit that comes with a wide angle and super macro lens for only $24.99.
It’s been rated as one of the best kits on Amazon and has excellent customer reviews.
Selecting Apps For Your Phone
The native camera app built in to your phone works great, but using one of the following apps will give you more manual control for selecting focus, exposure, and greatly assists with streamlining the export process.
Apps for Shooting
Android- Camera Zoom FX
If you’re using an Android smartphone, this is by far the highest rated camera application in the Google Play store, and adds several great manual control options to your shooting abilities.
For this tutorial I’m using Camera+, which you’ll see adds advanced options to the shooting menu, giving greater control for adjusting exposure, and selecting focus. It also organizes the phones in ‘Lightbox’, which saves time in selecting and exporting images to your camera roll.
This app is available in the iTunes store for free.
Apps for Editing
Photoshop Express (Free)
When it comes to editing, some of you may already have Photoshop CC which is the best tool out there for bringing your photos to the next level. However, it does cost $9.99 a month, and if you’re looking for a free alternative, the creators at Adobe offer Photoshop Express for both Android & IOS.
Due to it’s “Photoshop-like” versatility and creativity, Picsart has been reviewed as one of the best photo editing apps of 2015. Free of charge, this app works on Android & IOS.
Time To Shoot!
Step#1: Your Set-Up
Now that you have everything you need to get the job done, it’s time to set-up your studio. In my setup I’ll be using: two soft-boxes, a paper roll, the iPhone 6, the DaVoice tripod adaptor, all set up next to a bright window to add to the ambient light.
If you’ll be shooting without lights, I’d recommend using a white piece of foam core to reflect light onto the dark side of your inventory (The side away from the open window).
1. Adjust the Settings In Your App
Once you have everything set-up and looking good, it’s smart to go through your menu settings on the camera app prior to capturing any photos. As I’m using Camera+ for the iPhone, here are some of the settings I’ll be using:
- Zoom- Make sure you have zoom enabled so you can appropriately frame your items.
- Grid- Having the grid on will help you frame your items, and keep the horizon level.
- AutoSave- Specify where you want your images to be saved. In Camera+ the images are temporarily stored in Lightbox where you can export to the camera roll.
- Live Exposure- Under the advanced controls make sure this setting is on as it’s very helpful to see how your photos are being exposed prior to capturing them.
- Quality- As you can see, the default setting is normal. We need to change this to High so our images look their best.
2. Manually Adjusting the Camera Settings
Now that our application knows what we want to adjust, it’s time to head over to live-view and begin adjusting the exposure.
Off to the right hand side there’s three options for on-screen adjustments:
Exposure: The exposure ‘circle’ can be placed on your screen so the camera knows where to meter to properly expose your product.
White Balance: While you can use a WB circle to try and measure the color temperature with a specific point, I use the Auto setting which typically works just fine.
Focus: One of the most important settings is where you place your focus. Enabling the focus ring (Lower right) will ensure you can adjust and lock the focus where it looks best.
Currently my image looks a little darker than I would like it. Off to the right hand side you can see the EV value is reading at +0.3. To make my product image stand out, I can use the slider to brighten the image even more.
At -1.5, this image was way too dark.
Right at 0 where the meter wants the exposure it still looks a little dark.
I manually slid the EV value up to +1, where I think the photo will look much better. It’s important to bring Once you have the settings you like, zoom in to take additional photos to bring out the details.
Once you’ve captured all of the images, you need to select the best of the batch. What I like about Lightbox is it allows me to select the best images from the session, and then export them into my camera roll. On Android, this will be your gallery.
Once you’ve exported (Saved) all of your best images you can then pull them open in your editing application.
Editing Your Images
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who enjoy editing their photos, and those who’ll do anything to avoid it. Personally I love the editing phase because I get to watch my images become more attractive than they were straight out of the camera.
Now that all of the images are in my camera roll, I’m going to pull open Photoshop Express and make minor adjustments to give my product that extra POP.
Here’s how our photo looked before we edited it in Adobe Express.
And here’s how it looked after! Notice the difference?
The six basic adjustments I made were: Increased the exposure, increased contrast, brought up the highlights, straightened the photo, sharpened it slightly, and bumped up the vibrance.
Once you have the photo adjusted how you like it, it’s very easy to use the DropBox application to get your photos online where they can easily be accessed and uploaded to your online store via your laptop.
Having Trouble Getting Your Photos To Look Right?
The quality of your images goes a long way in converting sales. If you’ve gotten to the editing point, and your images aren’t looking how you want them to, we can help!
Here at Thumly we can edit your photos and remove the background, leaving a stunning image with no distractions. Take a look at our case studies and see why enhancing your images will increase your revenue today.
Check out our pricing and get in touch!