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iPhone vs Camera: How to Take Great Product Photos No Matter What Camera You Use

Published 5th May 2022

The importance of great imagery is paramount in the digital world. More and more brands and individuals are moving online, making quality and eye-catching images more important than ever. With the dramatic improvement of phone cameras and technology there has been a rise in influencers and content creators the world over. Gone are the days where photography and videography was solely for professionals with DSLR cameras.

In this article we will go through some tips and tricks for using both cameras and smartphones for product photography as well as exploring different lighting and accessories that can be used. We want to show you that no matter what you shoot with you can create great content. 

 

iPhones/Smartphones for Product Photography 

Product photography set up with Terrazzo flat lay backdrop showing Glow Lab hand cream on sandstone stone styling prop with round mirror behind

Smartphones and iPhones have come a long way in terms of quality and performance. With higher resolutions and improved cameras they are better than ever to capture picture-perfect images without the assistance of add-on lenses. However, while smartphones come with a range of quality features, we cannot deny that lighting can be challenging to control with a phone camera. 


Although technology has come a long way, there are a few things that will improve your smartphone photography. Investing in good quality lighting will help you get better and more well-lit content every time without relying solely on natural or ambient lighting. As well as using accessories like tripods or mounts and using a timer or mobile shutter to prevent any camera shake. 


All-In-One Lighting Tents

Hands holding phone taking a top down flatlay photo of a bottle of perfume inside a dome light tent

A lighting tent is one of the most useful tools an influencer or content creator can use. While each lighting tent is different in size, they follow similar features, including their portability in folding away and producing an even light for product photos.


The Spectrum Studio Buddy II is an ideal lighting tent for content creators. The LEDs provide perfect lighting for small to medium products with three different sizes to choose from. In addition, the design repels stray light from entering the final shot, ensuring exposure is consistent in value. Another model worth considering for use with an iPhone is the Folido3 25" All-in-One Photography Studio Tent Box. Its triple LED system enables the lighting tent to provide consistent light through dimmer control to dispel any shadows. To obtain the best shots, all you need to do is position an iPhone on a tripod and take the photo.


The light tens are created with the phone photographer in mind, with brands like Orangemonkie offering apps to help achieve great results with your iPhone or smartphone. Although they do cater to phone photographers these designs are still great all in one solutions that can be used with larger DSLR or professional cameras as well. 


Continuous LED Lights

Photographer taking a photo of a man standing on a tie-dye muslin bakdrop using a continuous light and softbox

Continuous LED Lights, more commonly referred to as Point-Source lights, offer flexibility as a spotlight or soft light when an optional softbox is added. The power output is dimmable, making them ideal for use with a DSLR or iPhone in a wide range of product photography applications.


The Spectrum Mini Beam 60-S Continuous LED Light is an excellent add-on to your kit. Depending on the optionally attached softbox, it offers flexibility in the type of light it produces when shooting in a studio or smaller room. Designed for use with a camera or iPhone, controlling the dimmable output power via a remote or on the back of the unit is a breeze.


Ring Lights

Woman standing in front of ring light with mobile phone mounted in the centre taking a selfie using a wireless shutter remote

Ring lights offer a unique look and are often seen within the beauty, hair and make-up industries. They are much more than that though, they are also exceptional product photography lights as well. Using multiple LEDs in a ring-like design, these lights produce soft, flattering and even light. 


The Spectrum Aurora 18” Diamond Luxe III LED Ring Light offers the flexibility and control many iPhone users and photographers are looking for. With the included phone mount, creators can easily adapt their iPhone in the right position without the worry or fuss that they need to compose their shot correctly. They only need to focus on how bright they want the ring light to get stunning results.


Tripods

Man taking product photo in a square Foldio light tent using a smartphone

Tripods are essential indoors and outdoors to ensure footage remains stable and photos blur-free. Thanks to their excellent stability, tripods are typically used as part of every product photoshoot. While people may generally think of a tripod for a camera, there are also dedicated tripods and stands for iPhones and tablets. 


Consider the Tablet/Phone Bracket With Light Stand Kit as a good example; this universal kit equips product photographers and influencers with stable product photos or videos. The adjustable legs and mount make it easy to connect your smart device so you can get closer to the action. Or, if you find a tripod isn't what you are after, there's the Spectrum Black 'Presentation Buddy' iPad/Tablet/iPhone Smart Phone Holder Mount - Heavy Duty Floor Stand, which is perfect for mounting a larger device for assistance with streaming, filming, watching or picture taking. 


Getting the right angle is also critical for a product shoot. Traditional tripods are ideal for assisting with stability, but some also have another trick up their sleeve. For example, the Beike Q202F Convertible Flatlay Tripod for Smartphones & Cameras provides the right angle for content creators to photograph product flat lays.


Quick Tips For Smartphone Photography

Woman taking product photo using smartphone of a beauty product
  • Make sure you clean your phone lens
  • Adjust brightness in the camera app as necessary 
  • Only use digital zoom if your phone comes with two or more cameras: otherwise it may reduce the quality 
  • Use the rule of thirds to frame the image and place emphasis on the product 
  • Add some professional touches using editing apps to adjust contrast, saturation, cropping and sharpness. 
  • Use a tripod and a timer or bluetooth shutter release to prevent any camera shake

Cameras for Product Photography

Photo of a perfume bottle on a white marble flat lay backdrop with a mirror behind it and three clear acrylic styling props surrounding

Cameras have been industry standard for all types of photography for many decades. DSLR and neewer Mirrorless cameras offer high resolution images and adaptability through interchangeable lenses. Cameras also give you more control over your settings and the look and feel of your shoot. However, lighting is always key, whether using a phone or a camera. 


For product photography we recommend investing in some Styling Props and Flat Lay Backdrops which can instantly add visual interest, depth and texture to product photographs. Explore the options available to you, test them in your studio space, and work out a visual concept. When used correctly, these simple tools can elevate a flat photo and turn them into a scroll-stopping image.


Quick Tips for Camera Photography

Man using camera taking a photo of a pair of black shoes in a small Foldio light text

  • Whether it’s natural, ambient or continuous always be mindful of the lighting
  • Use a tripod to gain the sharpest images.
  • Understand how white balance can affect the colour of a product
  • Experiment with lighting accessories such as softboxes or grids to help shape the light.
  • Control the depth of field in a photograph using the aperture. 
  • Tether your camera to the computer to check focus and offer easy importing.
  • Dedicate some time to post-processing as well.
  • Get creative with backdrops, styling props and other accessories to make your images pop 

Enhancing Your Product Photography

Photo of three beauty products positioned on white foam styling props with a peach backdrop and greenery

Editing can completely change the images you’ve captured, making them look more refined and professional. There are many apps and programs out there that are great to use for both phone and camera editing. Our favourites are Tezza, VSCO, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop Camera, Pixtica, Snapseed, and PicsArt. There are also lots of tutorials online to help if you get stuck.


Results 

image of a yellow flat lay with a beauty product and lemon slices showing an image taken on a smartphone compared to a camera

Smartphones and iPhones have shown massive improvement in photography and videography capabilities. So you can rely on these camera devices to capture sharp and bright product images in most situations. They do have their limits, though, so it's important to invest in the correct lights, tripod and accessories to explore your creativity within any scene. The last thing you want is to be held back creatively because you don't have the right tools on hand.



On the other hand, Mirrorless or DSLR cameras have always been the go-to for professional product photography. This is due to the impeccable quality of images and the better flexibility and control they offer. While quality between an iPhone and a camera is now harder to tell, cameras can capture better photos in low light. Their ability to change lenses is a plus for many professional photographers so do consider your options when choosing a camera or phone to take photos.


Which One is Best For You?

image of a mojito cocktail sitting on a mirror with tonic water and fruit on a green backdrop

Depending on your budget, availability of equipment, the scale of the photoshoot, and many other aspects, you need to decide whether to opt for an iPhone or camera for a product photoshoot. While both have their advantages, you’ll find the choice comes down to where the photo will be published. For instance, iPhones are perfect for all types of social media product photography shoots as the output quality doesn’t need to be as high as a commercial magazine shoot.


We would recommend beginners always start with smartphone photography, experiment with composition, and nail the craft of product photography. You’ll find them great for personal projects and providing ease-of-use when publishing social media posts.


On the other hand, as you progress towards professional photography, you can always consider investing in an enthusiast or professional camera. Their ability to change lenses offers greater flexibility over an iPhone making them suitable for commercial use.

 

Final Thoughts

person taking flat lay photo of a beauty product on a terrazzo flat lay backdrop using a smartphone

You won't notice much difference when looking at side-by-side images taken on a camera and iPhone - both products perform exceptionally well. So which one should you choose? An age-old saying answers this: "the best camera to use is the one in your hands". 


So keep the basics of photography in mind whenever you have a camera in hand. Your product photography will undoubtedly get better over time, especially with practice and the right accessories. 




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