One question I get asked a lot (well, quite a lot anyway, considering the small size our team) in the Cult of Mac chatroom is "what camera should I get for taking better product shots?"
As reviews editor, this make me happy – of course I want better pictures on our reviews! – but the truth is that the iPhone is more than capable of making amazing product shots, especially as the target is a 640-pixel web-ready JPG.
With that in mind, Photojojo put together a tutorial for Etsy to help its users take better pictures of their home-made wares. The same advice also applies to your Ebay listings, pictures for your insurer or – yes – review shots.
You can shoot, edit, and list your photos in one go. And you won’t get caught up in cords to transfer photos from your phone to a computer. Secondly, if you don’t have a DSLR or a point-and-shoot, phoneography will save you money.
Wise words. The dirty secret of my reviews is that I use my iPhone to take the pictures roughly half the time, because it’s so easy to transfer the pictures straight to my iPad for editing (using Snapseed, usually).
You should certainly go read the guide, as it applies to cameras in general, not just the iPhone. Good lighting is key, as is getting the shot right in-camera (or in-phone, I guess) and snapping a bunch of shots to whittle down later. For product shots, watch out for camera shake and focus, both of which can go unnoticed on the little iPhone screen.
And that awesome shallow depth-of-field that you can wring from Micro Four Thirds and bigger sensors? You don’t need it for product shots: lots of depth-of-field is handy here to see the whole device in one picture. I’m as guilty as anyone else of taking artsy product shots, but if I used the iPhone more often I would be less tempted to throw the whole picture out of focus bar one single detail.