7 Essential Items for Simple Product Photography Setup On A Budget

product photography setup on a budget

For a budding eCommerce venture, tackling your own **product photography** probably crossed your mind. Setting up a home studio might sound intimidating, but it really is possible to snag top-notch equipment without breaking the bank.

Setting up your own product photography studio can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll be able to take professional-level pictures that look great, and you can save a lot of money in the long run by investing upfront in your own equipment.

In this guide, we will cover seven essential items for setting up a simple product photography setup on a budget. We aim to make sure that you can get enough quality out of your equipment to get started while not breaking the bank.

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DIY Product Photography: What Do You Need

There are several components necessary to set up a basic product photography studio that would be suitable for eCommerce use: equipment, lighting, and backgrounds. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.

product photography setup


Don’t think you need to invest in a pricey full-frame DSLR camera system for your product shots. Sure, the Nikon D810 (~$2K) combined with its 105-mm f/1.4 lens ($740) are surefire ways of taking exquisite photos, but they’re totally unnecessary.

You can find a good camera within the $300 to $500 range that gets the job done. If you’re going to use digital photography, you don’t need a pricey camera body. A 12 MP option is perfectly sufficient for capturing beautiful shots. Big image file sizes can cause your websites to load slowly on the consumers’ end. Taking advantage of a camera with fewer megapixels is the key to getting quality images for web use, even if you have an advanced high-resolution device. Reducing its file size typically reduces its resolution, so utilizing one that has less than ten megapixels should be your go-to option.

If you have the financial resources to invest in a new camera system, we highly recommend reading discussions on forums for guidance. On the other hand, if your only tool is your smartphone – that’s great too! Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on how to master product photography with just a smartphone here.

Memory Card

Your memory card will be essential for storing your shots. Increases in memory capacity mean you can pick up a fairly substantial card for around $10. If you’re going to be taking a lot of shots, get one with at least 8GB of space.

sandisk sd memory card ecommerce product image


Tripods are a must-have for product photography. They will keep your camera steady and prevent any shake from ruining your pictures. And if you’re shooting a product in a flat lay, a tripod will keep the camera level with your product.

There are many great budget tripods on the market for around $20, such as those from Amazon. Look for one with adjustable legs and a ball head that can tilt in multiple directions so you can capture shots from different angles.

a tripod in white background

White Backdrop

A white backdrop is necessary for product photography, but you don’t need to invest in an expensive backdrop setup. You can purchase a white muslin backdrop for around $20, which will give you the same results as a more expensive color backdrop. Or, if you’re looking for something cheaper, you can get away with using paper and cardboard as long as they don’t have creases and folds in them.

White reflects light evenly, which gives you control over how your image turns out. A colored backdrop may introduce miscellaneous hues, which may be difficult to edit out. Also, most eCommerce platforms would require you to upload a white background shot of your product so that the customer can get an accurate depiction of what they would be purchasing.


The purpose of the tape is to be able to fix your white paper or sheet in place, ensuring that nothing moves when you are taking your shots. It’s also useful for taping down any products that might move when the camera clicks. Any type of tape should do, but if you want to ensure that it won’t tear or damage your backdrop paper, you can look for special tape designed for photography.

White Foam Boards

White foam boards can be used as reflectors or light diffusers to modify lighting and soften shadows created by your camera’s flash. Foam boards have a white coating on both sides, but they can easily be cut into the desired shape with scissors or a craft knife. They are also lightweight and easy to store when not in use. To get the best possible results, try using two foam boards to create a large light tent effectively.

white boards used for ecommerce product photography


Your best friend is the sun! Nothing gets cheaper than using natural light for your product photography shoot. However, you need to avoid shooting directly under the sun reflector is also important to bounce light back onto the product.

If it’s a cloudy day or you’re pushed to schedule your shoot at night, a tungsten bulb or studio light is a great substitute for natural sunlight, as long as you have enough space for your setup. In terms of price and portability, LED lighting is the best option. You can buy them from anywhere between $20 to $200 depending on your needs.

A Table

Whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors, having a table will make your job of setting up easier and faster. A good-sized table also allows you to spread out your products for better composition and placement. You can find a sturdy table from any furniture store that should be able to fit within your budget.

If you’re searching for a table to use while shooting, choose one that can collapse and be easily transported. Opt for a width between 24-27 inches.

a table with white background


Free locations are always your best bet. Take advantage of natural light and take your shots outdoors. A park, garden, or even a beach can be great spots to shoot at during the day because you won’t have to worry about paying for studio lighting.

When capturing images indoors, a room with huge windows near to the wall is ideal. Also, if you are closer to these windows, your pictures will have softer light and darker shadows; whereas further away from them yields an evenly lit photograph but with lighter shadows.

10 Product Photography Trends

In this guide, we’ll go over 10 of the most important product photography trends set to take over. Keep in my that your branding still plays a factor in what product photography trends you ultimately choose to follow. It is not necessary to take on every new trend, but you should at least be aware of them so that you can decide what’s best for your business.

How to Take Professional Product Photos on a White Background

About 93% of customers rely on visual cues when making a purchase decision. If you can provide great visuals to assist them in their research, they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable investing in your products. Let’s go through the steps for creating stunning product photos that will draw in potential customers and increase sales.

  • Set up your table

Assemble your items and find the optimal position for your shooting area by placing them as close to the window without blocking it with a windowsill shadow. Begin by keeping the window to either side of your setup, 90 degrees apart. The closer you are to the window and its size, specifically larger ones, will give off softer lighting that works in favor of better photos.

Most importantly, turn off all lights in the room to prevent ambient light from ruining your set. This is by far the most common error people make when shooting photos.

You can rotate the set so that the window is positioned at a 45-degree angle. For a unique style of natural lighting, you could also experiment with shooting through the window directly at your set. If there’s no window available to you, consider shooting at an open garage door. This should provide similar qualities of light as a window without glass.

When shooting, you must be sure to keep direct sunlight away from the set. Such intense light can appear unflattering on people and products.

  • Set your sweep

Sweeps are a perfect choice for Amazon-style product photography, as they provide an ideal white background. This creates a seamless visual effect of a floating product and eliminates any sign of natural table or wall surfaces.

To setup your sweep, you must use a sheet of white fabric. The thicker the fabric, the better as it will create less wrinkles. Place it underneath your product and fold the excess around it to cover all sides. Secure your sweep in place using clips or tape (not pins). You can use painter’s tape if you’d like to avoid leaving marks on the table.

  • Adjust your camera

Every camera is unique, some with the ability to make manual adjustments and others limiting you to automatic settings. However, this Window Light setup allows for remarkable results regardless of your level of expertise; simply switch all your camera settings to auto mode if necessary and still capture outstanding photographs.

  1. Set the white balance (WB) to Auto.
  2. The flash setting must be turned off.
  3. Maximize your image quality by setting your camera to its highest possible settings. If you have a point-and-shoot with a raw photography option – choose that! Raw is the biggest file format and uses all of the available bit-depth capabilities of your camera. If your camera doesn’t have a raw setting, make sure to select the biggest JPG option available.
  4. To reduce noise in your photos, it is best to set your camera ISO as low as possible. Ideally, you will be able to adjust the settings on your device so that its sensitivity level can reach 100. This number of “ISO” will provide a clear image with minimal interference.
  • Exposure settings

You have three options for exposure:

  • Set your camera to Manual (M) 

To get optimal pictures, manual mode is your best bet. By adjusting the f-stop to its highest number, this will allow you to achieve greater depths of field and ensure that nothing’s moving or altering while capturing images.

    Preview the image on your camera’s back screen through liveview. Everything might look a bit dark, but that is to be expected for now. Subsequently, switch to shutter speed and rotate your dial until it brightens and properly exposes the image before you. The number associated with this setting will rise accordingly—for example, from 1/60th of a second up towards ¼ . Keep in mind that these numbers represent how long the shutter remains open. The lower the number, the more light enters. Make sure to adjust them until you get a clear image output.

    • Use Aperture Priority (AV)

    If your camera has it, make sure to switch the f-stop setting to its highest value. This should then modify the shutter speed according to what the camera considers correct – although this may be wrong and you could instead need to use the exposure compensation dial for extra lighting.

    • Auto Exposure

    If auto exposure is your only option to adjust light levels, don’t worry – there are still some solutions! If you have an exposure compensation dial available, try setting it to +1 or +1.5 for the most accurate result. Or if all that’s left is preset options like ‘running man’ and ‘sunset’, select something similar such as sunset. With iPhones, simply tap on whatever area needs correct lighting at that moment in time.

    Utilize the histogram on your camera’s back to ensure that the graph leans more towards its right side.

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    • Use your Zoom

    Cameras usually feature both optical and digital zoom, so it’s best to stick with the optical one. Digital zooming will reduce the quality of your photo because it simply crops out parts of the image. To fully take advantage of your camera’s capabilities, try using only its longest optical zoom—this will help remove any distortions caused by a wide-angle lens that is especially common on smartphones.

    • Set up your product

    While setting up your product may seem simple, it can take some effort and finesse to get the positioning just right. For example, if you are dealing with bottles, make sure that the label is centered correctly.

    • Set up the reflector card

    This simple white card is the most valuable resource in our photo studio. You will use it for nearly every shoot. By simply bouncing off light from the card, you can fill in all those pesky shadows that can otherwise ruin a great shot. Placing this card at various angles to your product allows you to experiment with taste. Don’t hesitate to try different angles until you get the perfect shot.

    • Take the picture and evaluate

    After taking a picture, spend time examining the photo and consider what is successful as well as what needs to be improved. This requires experience and knowledge of photography—make adjustments that will enhance your image, allowing you to sharpen your skill set over time. Experiment with various approaches to making even better images that truly stand out.

    To get the most accurate representation of your images, upload them onto your computer. Your camera’s liveview display cannot accurately show you an image in its full clarity and detail, meaning that what you see may be distorted or off-color. By uploading the image onto Adobe software like Photoshop, you can get a much more accurate representation of how they look, and allow you to make tweaks or adjustments where necessary.

    • Retouch your pictures

    Now that you have achieved the perfect image, let’s get it perfected in editing and post-production. Generally, unedited product photos will appear to have a light gray background and the colors a bit dull.

    With product photo editing, you can fix the white balance, improve color accuracy, sharpen the images, and ensure that the lighting is consistent throughout your pictures. Editing also makes sure your product images appear crisp and sharp. If they don’t, it’s likely due to a low file size, which can affect your page loading speeds and the overall user experience on your website.

    The main goal of post-production for product photography is to make the colors look natural and realistic. You want customers to be able to accurately envision how this product will look in their homes or on them.

    • Optimize images for your website

    Optimizing the file size of your images is essential for website performance. Unoptimized images can slow down site loading speeds, which can have a negative effect on user experience and ultimately lead to fewer sales. Image optimization involves finding the perfect balance between image quality and file size to they are optimized for eCommerce.

    Finally, make sure to use keywords throughout the alt tags and titles of each product image that accurately reflect the content of the photos themselves. This way, your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for on search engines like Google. This also gives search engines another opportunity to index your product images, allowing them to appear in image-related searches.

    Check out this cheap and easy alternative product photography basics setup: 

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    At Pixel by Hand photo editing service, we’ve taken all the guesswork out of product photography. Our team of experienced eCommerce editors has created a perfect system for creating stunning product images that make your products look their best on any platform. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started with product photography, our services are sure to get the job done quickly and perfectly.

    We can guarantee you get the perfect images to showcase your products and make them stand out from the competition. We handle all your product photography needs, including product photo retouching, ghost mannequin photo editing, color correction, background removal and changing background to white, and other post-production needs. Give us a try and see why we’re becoming the go-to choice for eCommerce retailers everywhere. Chat with us below!

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