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Best lens for tabletop/product photography?

Andy Biggs , Jul 15, 2001; 01:47 p.m.

What is the most commong lens for a 4x5 for tabletop / product photography? What about for flower closeups?

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I ask this, because my 210mm isn't providing quite enough DOF for my given distance.

Responses

Nathaniel Paust , Jul 15, 2001; 05:12 p.m.

I could be wrong, but my calculations suggest that it really doesn't matter which focal length lens you use for doing close-up work. For example, a 150mm lens will give you more DOF than a 210, but it will have to be closer to the subject. In the end, you end up with exactly the same DOF for a given f-stop.

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The only way to get around it is to stop WAY down or use whatever tilts and swings are possible with your setup

Larry Huppert , Jul 15, 2001; 10:07 p.m.

210mm is very common for tabletop/product. I've know some who prefer a 180mm instead for a slightly wider feel of being more into the scene. From a DOF perspective, the previous reply is correct, but the lens matters a great deal in terms of what the photograph ends up being. It's no different than photographing objects at a distance from this standpoint. If you take a photo of some 3 dimensional object at a given magnification with two different lenses (moving the camera to achieve the same magnification), the photo's will look different because the perspective is different. With tabletop, you really have to use your camera movements to get the focus you require.

Scott Walton , Jul 16, 2001; 08:30 a.m.

Most of the time I use the 210 but a number of times I like a 300. Flower close ups you might want a 135mm or a 150mm (a 150 is more common) but it really depends how close you want to get. If you are doing alot of Macro work, get a 180mm macro. If you cannot justify, get a set of HIGH quality close up filters (my preference is B+W for all my filters). Cheers

Scott Walton , Jul 16, 2001; 08:32 a.m.

Most of the time I use the 210 but a number of times I like a 300. Flower close ups you might want a 135mm or a 150mm (a 150 is more common) but it really depends how close you want to get. If you are doing alot of Macro work, get a 180mm macro. If you cannot justify, get a set of HIGH quality close up filters (my preference is B+W for all my filters). Not enough DOF? Are you using Strobes or hot lights? Are you stopping down (especially with macro!!!)? Cheers

DK Thompson , Jul 16, 2001; 12:50 p.m.

A 210 is our std. lens for tabletop, but we also use a 300 when we can....one thing to remember is that it's nice to be able to back off from the subject a bit. This will help in terms of placing your lights, fill cards etc. If you're right on top of the piece, lighting is tough. For close ups, we'll use whatever works, which is usually the 210 or a 150 flat field lens, on an extended rail....although I've used some shorter lenses, like old MP3 lenses, 75mm etc., in the past as well...but lighting is a real pain...as for DOF, just use movements & stop down...or else you might actually have to back off the piece and accept a smaller image as the tradeoff....it kind of depends on what you're shooting as well.

Dominique Labrosse , Jul 16, 2001; 04:32 p.m.

My old photography prof (who makes a living shooting 4x5 illustrative/product work) uses a 90mm for close-up tabletop work.

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Regards

Armin Seeholzer , Jul 16, 2001; 06:00 p.m.

Hi Andy

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I prever also almost 135mm-150mm sometimes 90 mm then you have not so much DOF problems!

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Good light!

william blake , Jul 17, 2001; 04:38 a.m.

Choosing a longer or shorter lens won't solve all of your problems, but it will change working distance from camera to subject -- which will give you more opportunity to light your product...the more light you can get on it, the better (obviously) for stopping down. If your lens is too short, you will be unable to get fill cards closer to the front of your subject.<p> If you are photographing flowers, you can use swings and tilts to your advantage -- these are less availible when you are shooting things like cereal boxes.<p> A lot of product photography is done with a 210mm or so lens. If you are not getting enough DOF with your lens, I would increase exposure -- perhaps by shutting off your model lights and firing strobes twice (or even four times). If you need just a little more DOF or multipopping isn't an option, just back the camera off a little and refocus.<p>

Ken Sinclair , Jul 19, 2001; 05:04 p.m.

I was taught that you measure the distance (far distance minus near distance) that you need to have in focus, multiply that by either five or seven (I can't for the life of me actually remember) and then choose a lens at that distance that will fill the frame. That being said, I usually use a 240mm (on 4x5) to give the "working room" to get the lighting in the right position to cover the area.

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