Highlighting the best parts of unique product designs requires exceptional product photography prowess, and that’s difficult to achieve if you don’t have the right equipment and the right environment to snap photos in. Most living environments aren’t exactly as clean as they appear in picture-perfect lifestyle photos, and in order to capture detailed product shots, you’re going to want a pristine and brightly-lit background — showing off every detail, right down to the pixel. If you’re interested in learning product photography for yourself, you’ll want to make sure you have a nice DSLR camera with a wide aperture, which can capture photos in RAW (this allows dynamic range for color correction and other tweaks in post-production).
That said, it’s one thing to vaguely send you off looking for a DSLR camera with no further advice, and it’s another to tell you exactly what you’ll need — right down to the lighting. That’s the purpose of this list, which should point you in the right direction as you shop for your in-home product photography setup. By the way, the best “DSLR camera” you can buy and begin snapping product shots today (if you aren’t already a skilled photographer with an investment in a proper $2,000 DSLR, lenses, and other fancy camera accessories) isn’t actually a DSLR at all; it’s a brand new smartphone, like a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or an iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 recommendations for the best tools and accessories you can buy for any home product photography area in 2023.
1. iPhone 15 Pro Max – best smartphone camera for color accuracy
As I mentioned earlier, the best DSLR camera alternative you can buy for product photography is a beefy new smartphone. If it’s time to upgrade anyway, you can’t beat the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s robust integrated software and swanky new camera features — like its 5x telephoto camera. Both the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max grapple for the title of “best smartphone camera of 2023”. The former has a 200 megapixel sensor with 10x optical zoom, which is phenomenal for capturing wide-angle photos and taking shots of faraway points of interest thanks to its vibrant color tone.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera, on the other hand, lacks the same raw horsepower — and for what it’s worth, a few users also had some issues with overheating, which was meant to be resolved in iOS 17.1 — but it takes the cake for capturing the most visually crisp close-up shots that simultaneously deliver the most true-to-life color accuracy. In product photography, you want to be able to reproduce the most realistic color tone, and that’s where the iPhone 15 Pro Max succeeds; meaning it’s the one I personally recommend over the two.
2. Foldio360 Smart Dome – best product turntable
The Foldio360 Smart Dome (which Yanko Design covered while it was still in Kickstarter!) is a compact, dome-shaped structure, filled to the brim with LEDs that fill its non-reflective all-white interior with light — completely obliterating soft shadows. Its killer feature is the built-in turntable that uses light to indicate where your product is supposed to sit on top of the turntable surface, and once it’s all set up, it continuously rotates in a 360-degree radius. You can mount your phone onto the front opening with the included mounting kit for stable shooting, and then you can use the foldio360 app to remotely adjust color temperature and turntable speed as needed. This is a really convenient way to get your shots done in a snap, especially when you’re low on time and don’t have a ton of shooting space.
The Smart Dome can hold up to 6 lbs of weight, but if that’s not enough leeway, you can instead buy the sturdier Foldio360 Smart Turntable, which is optimal if the product you’d like to rotate weighs between 6 and 11 lbs. Just make sure you have other light sources and a white or green backdrop on hand.
3. eucos 62″ Phone Tripod – best smartphone tripod
There are many smartphone-compatible tripods on the web, but the eucos 62-inch phone tripod has a nice balance of form and function that make it an easy buy at its listing price of $29.99. First of all, its body (which is made of durable nylon) comes in two distinct color schemes that both look stylish: Inferno Mix Carbon Black, and Mineral White.
You can adjust the tripod’s height up to 62 inches, as the name suggests, but reviewers generally report the eucos 62-inch phone tripod remains stable even at such heights thanks to its aluminum locking mechanisms and grippy rubberized feet. It’s compatible with smartphones between 2 and 3.6 inches in width, which means you can use it with basically any modern smartphone. There’s also a cold-shoe expansion port to equip additional fill lighting, and you can use the nifty included Bluetooth remote trigger to capture photos while keeping your phone camera stable.
4. Neewer Photography Acrylic Display Boards – best portable display surface
Solid-color acrylic display boards can sit on any surface, immediately turning your desk into an optimal product photography surface without needing to go out and set up an all-white table or all-white desk specifically for shooting product photos with. These 12 x 12 and 24 x 24 acrylic boards come in packs of two — one white board, and one black board. You can switch between the matte or glossy side based on your needs, and reviewers seem to agree that it’s a sturdy and well-designed product overall, albeit with some issues related to scratching on the surface. That seems to be a common problem with acrylic boards in general, so it’s best to take extra care when handling these.
5. Glendan Portable Photo Studio Light Box – best photo tent
This Glendan portable photo tent is a less expensive alternative to the Foldio360 I mentioned earlier. You can get it in a handful of different sizes, but the one I own is 12 x 12 — and it’s excellent for capturing photos of smaller products (around the size of a Nikon DSLR or a PlayStation Dualsense controller). It surrounds the product with dimmable light from 112 LED light beads, and it comes with four reflector boards (two silver and two black), a detachable light diffuser sheet, and six different solid-color backgrounds to place behind your product, letting you compose the perfect shots. It also does away with the strobe other light boxes use, and combined with its built-in dimmer switch, it’s easy to shower your subject with the right amount of soft light. You can even detach the top part of the photo tent to reveal a small window, letting you take top-down photos.
I love that it comes with a little carrying case for the photo tent itself, plus all of its packed-in accessories. Overall, its portability and ease of setup make it a convenient way to show off a product without investing a ton into a clean or immaculately-designed shooting environment, and that can be especially useful if your shooting space is on the smaller side.
6. Elgato Collapsible Green Screen – best backdrop
If you want to design a shooting environment with a specific style, it can be easier to set up your space with a green screen. This lets you digitally inject an environment into the background, making for a simple and easy approach to composing your shots. Elgato’s collapsible green screen backdrop is widely rated as the best-designed compact photography green screen thanks to its durable green fabric and its ability to deploy anywhere via a unique pneumatic collapsing mechanism. It only weighs 20.5 lbs when concealed, which makes it a low-profile item to carry around with you, despite its rather large impact on your shooting environment once fully deployed.
7. Neewer 43-inch Light Reflector Discs – best bounce lighting reflectors
Getting your environmental light perfect can be challenging, which is why light reflector diffuser discs are an important tool — both for blocking certain light wavelengths, and enhancing others. Neewer’s 43-inch light reflector and diffuser discs are widely rated as the best you can buy for the price, and they come in white, black, gold, silver, and translucent coloring. They’re collapsible as well, making them easy to carry around.
8. Fovitec 3-Light Fluorescent Studio Lighting Kit – best fluorescent studio lighting kit
Fluorescent spot lighting is the quickest way to pour light into an underlit scene, and when capturing product photos in larger environments, these are extremely important to have around. Fovitec’s 3-light fluorescent studio lighting kit takes care of a lot of shopping — adjustable stands, boom arms, and a carrying case come included —and the lightboxes themselves, which can push up to 5500K color temps, are rated as some of the best you can buy for the price.
9. Neewer Heavy Duty Light Stand with Casters – best all-purpose light stand
If you need to expand your lighting with additional stands, the Neewer heavy duty light stand has a wide range of potential uses. It’s an adjustable stainless steel tripod which can rise up to 10 ft in height. But you can throw pretty much any lighting equipment you want on top; whether you need to add extra lightboxes, ring lights, or even want to hang your light reflectors or diffusers up high. Reviewers love the build quality, calling it the “best industrial heavy duty tripod C stand” and saying they “should have bought this along (sic) time ago”.
10. Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit LITE Edition – best budget surface lighting
If you’re shooting product photos on a desk surface and you want an extra light source in a pinch, the $49.99 Lume Cube LITE Edition laptop-friendly ring light is a quick and easy way to add such light to your shooting environment. It plugs into a power source via USB, and can be fully powered through any regular laptop, meaning you can also use it for other purposes — like conference calls. Reviewers love the amount of extra brightness it can add to any space, and it sounds like the build quality make it a winner. It’s dimmable as well, if you only need a certain amount of light in your environment.