Thursday, May 10, 2012

Will a Better Camera Make You a Better Photographer?

I get this question all the time during my small object photography sessions and it's one of my favorites!

Before I answer, I'd like to give you a little pop quiz:

Which photo was taken with a standard point-and-shoot camera and which was taken with an entry-level DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera?

If you've been wondering if you *must* buy an expensive, big, fancy, complicated DSLR to replace your vacation point-and-shoot camera in order to take great photos of your work for your online shop, I'm pretty sure I'm about to make your day.

Buying a new camera won't guarantee that you will take better photos! In fact, many point-and-shoot cameras available on the market today are capable of taking wonderful product photos IF they have the right settings available.

After all, taking great photos is about much more than just the kind of camera you have. Great photos happen when you know the functional limits of your camera and how to use them to your advantage.

So, before you rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on a new fancy camera with more features than you might ever use, please break out the manual for your current camera (or find it online) and look for the following settings in the index:

Macro capability (tulip icon)  
This is the setting that takes your photos from blurry 
to sharp in one push of a button.

EV / exposure value compensation (+ / -)
This setting helps you brighten (or darken) your photos instantly

Custom white balance
An optional setting, but valuable especially
if you will be shooting at night under artificial light sources

If your camera already has these three settings, it is likely that you will be able to take better, sharper photos than you imagined with that camera you already own. Use the macro function, increase the exposure value to +1 to brighten your photos and set a custom white balance to tell your camera what you want it to consider "absolute white" in any lighting condition and you'll be well on your way to better photos with practice!

If you'd like to know more about product photography, be sure to check out the archive at and stay tuned: I'll be talking about these settings in depth in future product photography posts!

Have questions? Keep in touch with me on my Facebook page: IMakeCuteStuff on Facebook

Oh yes. I bet you're wondering about those photos...

The photo on the LEFT:
Entry level DSLR: Canon Rebel XSi DSLR with a 60mm macro lens attached

Photo on the RIGHT:

Really old point-and-shoot: Samsung S630 with the macro setting enabled
Pretty amazing, right?

Just to be clear here: I'm not saying point-and-shoots are better or even comparable to the photo quality of a DSLR. They are two different camera types for two different types of camera users.

What I am saying is that if you have been wondering if buying a DSLR would instantly make you better product photographer, the answer is NO. The only way to take better photos is to get to know the limits of the camera you own...and practice. LOTS of practice!

What kind of camera do you have? 
Leave a comment below and let us know!


  1. I'm a fine art photographer using a Samsung NX10 DSLR, but some of my best-selling photographs were taken before I got my DSLR, with my point-and-shoot Olympus!

  2. I have this exact Canon DSLR, which I LOVE for my art photos, but not as much for my product photography. In 2010 I could only afford about $200 for a camera, so I bought a Fujifilm FinePix Z200fd ( It's not available on Amazon right now but most of the photography in my Etsy shop was taken with that camera, along with some pretty awesome self shots of fancy make-up I used to do.
    It's manual mode isn't as good as I'd like, but really, with the perfect lighting, it's amazing because of it's macro settings.

  3. Hi Carolyn! Thanks for your comment! I have an "entry level" Canon DSLR as well. For my small objects I found that I needed to purchase a macro lens to make my product photos really work. I got the cheapest one I could find: 50mm F/2.5 macro lens. They run about $300 bucks now.

    An alternate thing to try is extension tubes or lens magnifiers - they are super cheap and might give you better results for small stuff! I'm experimenting with the magnifiers and extension tubes now so I'll post my findings soon! :)

  4. Such a great post! I'm a firm believer in point-and-shoots... you can get great photos by using all of those features your camera has. It may take a little reading of the manual, but it's worth it.

    I recently was in the market for a new camera, because I really wanted control over the aperture for some of the pictures I take of my work (for mid-depth-of-field), and my $60 guy couldn't handle it.

    So, I bought a Canon S95, which is a 'high end' point and shoot. Much cheaper than a DSLR, but almost all of the features... even shooting in RAW. I absolutely love it!

    Keep in mind, I only did it after I was *sure* I had exhausted all of the features on my smaller one :)

  5. Hi Stacey! I love the idea of a high end point and shoot. I'll have to check out the Canon sounds fabulous! Thanks for your comment :)


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