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Advice please on camera and lens for shooting wine bottles

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by Alex's Dad, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Alex's Dad

    Alex's Dad New Member

    Hi, I am new to the forum, and new to photography. So, hello everyone.

    I am starting a website that sells high end wine and need some good imagery to go along with it. I will do the bottle shots in house using a table top studio / lightbox, and I think I have found what I am after, but I need to get a decent camera. My budget is around £300 but I want to get the right thing, so if a few quid more then happy to go up.

    So I need shots of bottles which have a white background so I can edit later, but I think i need a camera/lens with low distortion.

    Is there a specific camera or lens that anyone could recommend? Many thanks
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The most important consideration is how much space you have to work in. It is best to be not right on top of the bottle because if you are very close you need a wide angle lens which may affect the perspective. It is better to be a bit further away and use a longer focal length. I'd think a good compact camera should be able to do this. Check it can use a remote release so you don't have to keep leaning over the camera to take the shot. It will autofocus OK but if it has a manual rather than a power zoom you will find it easier to do consistent framing. Get a tripod. Practice to get the lighting just right. If you are doing hundreds of shots then you don't want to be spending any time correcting anything in post production.
  3. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    I would be looking into something with fixed focal length, something like a second hand eos 600D or a D5100 with a 35mm and or 50mm prime lens. This would give you good quality picture to start PP from, going second hand would give you an option of great quality at very good value.
  4. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    I'd agree with Snorri, although a 60mm full frame macro lens (135 format equivalent) becomes a 90mm/100mm (135 format equivalent) when used on Nikon/Canon crop sensor (smaller APS sized sensor) DSLR. The quality will be fine. A DSLR is the best bet for this job, in my view, although other cameras will do the job, it will be easiest with the reflex viewing. The next thing is learning how to light wine bottles for attractive pictures.
  5. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Any half decent camera and standard lens will do the job well enough to print posters or double page in a glossy posh magazine.
    The problems are concept, design and construction of the mini set, lighting, post process ,and sourcing additional material for backgrounds as needed. The camera and lens are trivial to this excercise. Look at any successful advert for posh wine, or posh anything, and you will see what I mean.
    Also remember that the really high end product is adverised in quite a low key way. Anything brash promisses nothing better than supermarket fizzy plonk.
    I have clearly taken this subject after consuming some of the product, however I am confident that I will stick with my answer in the sobriety of tomorow.
    Get the concept right.
    Geren, Roger Hicks and EightBitTony like this.
  6. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    I would almost agree, Learning, except the DSLR viewfinder, if correctly aligned with the sensor, allied to manual focus will make life a lot easier than squinting at a rear screen or tiny EVF and hoping to get focus in the right place with everything aligned. It's true that quality lighting is big part of the exercise but it is fairly straightforward. The hardest part will be finding a bottle with an undamaged, unmarked label that is on straight!
    Geren and EightBitTony like this.
  7. Alex's Dad

    Alex's Dad New Member

    Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.
  8. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    A lot of good advice above but just to add a little of my own I would suggest a higher crop factor (than APS-C ) as that will bring with it greater depth of field* - which would suggest that the micro four thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic would be ideal. Between them they have a vast array of lens and cameras (both new and second hand) Even the now obsolete four thirds cameras would do an excellent job but you would. be confined to second hand lenses. The next point I would look for is an articulated screen as this makes for easy composition on a tripod. Finally the lighting and artistic vision is likely to be much more important than the camera.

    * Every time I photograph a wine bottle I find I struggling for good DOF as most bottles a curved!
  9. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    A good point, Roger, except the pros would have done it on 5x4 in the good old days where d.o.f. is reduced further but there is swing, tilt & shift available to help compensate. No, thinking about it it, I think a DSLR is best, not least because later - if our OP is successful & earns some money - he can invest some of it in a tilt & shift lens which will make life even easier. Cheers (with a coffee mug containing only coffee - honest!), Oly
  10. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    If you can borrow a copy of Light, Science and Magic by Hunter, Biver and Fuqua (it's quite expensive at approx. £25) you will learn all you need to know about photographing bottles and glass.
  11. Alex's Dad

    Alex's Dad New Member

    Thanks for all the advice so far. I chatted to a pal earlier today, a photography grad, who says the Canon EOS 600D would be a good choice as suggested here with a 50mm lens, so this is looking a good option. Is there any reason why I shouldn't get this set up for my mini studio in my darkened stock room?
  12. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    No, no reason, except you will need to mask down the soft boxes. 'Thin' rectangular ones are better although be warned, all have slight hotspots (or worse) even if the interior baffling is good. A friend does stuff for Diageo and other drinks manufacturers & retailers and he prefers strip lights - flash heads with long, linear tubes - for that very reason. They are expensive and difficult to get hold of for some flash packs. His are Elinchrom.

    As an alternative, consider LED strip lights if you are good at DIY. You will need to put them in diffuser boxes with a tripod socket so they can go on light stands. Battery power should be sufficient for what you have in mind as the bottle ain't goin' anywhere! You will need a tripod for the camera anyway.

    You will find it helpful to build a large darktent around your shooting table.

    You can shoot wine bottles with just one light, some way underneath the bottle which is not on a translucent shooting table but on an opaque surface on a smaller, taller table or stand. (Think projector stand or keyboard stand with a lump of kitchen work surface on it.) The light is then bounced off two card reflectors, with possibly a white or silver or gold reflector one also behind the bottle in question. There will be essential additional accessories, flashmeter, supplies of silver/gold/black/white card, Stanley knife, steel rule, cutting mat, industrial quantities of BluTak and similar amounts of patience. Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017

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