The best Canon cameras and lenses for product photography

What's the best gear for product photography and video? Canon Ambassador Erik Tomašák and Canon Europe Product Marketing Manager John Maurice explain how to make the right choice.
A small cup of espresso sits on a white table framed by a white chair and a black chair.

Advertising photographer and Canon Ambassador Erik Tomašák took this promotional shot for a new cafe with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens mounted on a Canon EOS R5. "The high-resolution sensor of the Canon EOS R5 is perfect for product shoots, as you can leave a 'safe area' around the main composition and crop the shot later to suit the image requirements of different online platforms," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1.6 sec, f/8 and ISO500. © Erik Tomašák

When it comes to choosing the best camera kit for product photography, what features should you be looking for? High resolution stills and video capture, along with colour accuracy, will give prospective customers a real insight into the design and texture of a product. And reliability is, of course, essential if you need to photograph a large volume of items on a daily basis.

Product photography covers a large spectrum, from home-based businesses creating images for online marketplaces, through cafes and restaurants who want to showcase their wares, to big-brand advertising and ecommerce sites.

"Every company or individual has a different product, and you may end up shooting in different environments, either in situ or in a studio to show the item at its most appealing," says John Maurice, European Product Marketing Manager at Canon Europe. "You may be shooting quite general lifestyle product photography or very specific and detailed product photography. All of these factors will influence your choice of equipment."

To help with your decision-making process, John and Canon Ambassador Erik Tomašák, co-founder of Visual Gang, which specialises in advertising photography and video, list the best cameras and lenses for producing outstanding product shots and videos.

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A croissant and two cups of takeaway coffee arranged on a cafe counter. A coffee machine can be seen in the background.

The EOS R5 captures the highest resolution stills and video in the mirrorless EOS R range. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1.6 sec, f/4.5 and ISO100. © Erik Tomašák

Best mirrorless camera for product photography and video: Canon EOS R5

Capable of recording both 45MP photos and cinematic 12-bit 8K RAW video, the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R5 produces the exceptional image quality you'd expect from a flagship model. "The high resolution of the EOS R5 enables me to maximise the image quality I get from the lens," explains Erik.

"The EOS R5 also offers lots of scope for cropping and retouching," adds John. Thanks to the camera's large files, customers can pinch and zoom whilst browsing online to get an extremely close look at fabric texture and other product details – which is important when you are not able to physically touch or see the product in a store.

A Canon EOS R5 camera.

Canon EOS R5

A professional full-frame mirrorless flagship camera offering photographers and filmmakers high-resolution stills and 8K video.

"The EOS R5 focuses using Dual Pixel CMOS AF – an on-sensor autofocus technology which has extremely high precision and accuracy. But you can easily double-check your focus point by magnifying your view on the display," John continues. "It also has focus peaking functionality. That's very handy because you can see precisely where your plane of focus is on a product. You can also assign depth of field preview to a button of your choice on the EOS R5, so that's a good customisation option, as you can show that critical parts of the product are going to be sharp in the final image."

A curly-haired model in skinny jeans and a denim jacket poses in a StyleShoots photography machine.

Canon's software development kit (SDK) allows cameras such as the Canon EOS R5 and the EOS R6 to be integrated into large setups used for ecommerce photography, such as StyleShoots' photography machines. "The SDK automates some of the shooting process," explains John. "So it can plug into the software the company uses to trigger the camera, download the image and also adjust the settings on the camera." © StyleShoots

The camera's high-resolution video is also an advantage. "If you're shooting 8K or 4K, then you'll give the customer the ability to zoom and rotate the product at the same time, depending on the software platform that the client is using to allow interaction with the product on its website. And obviously you can shoot RAW, so you can still do some degree of post-production on the video. It will also shoot at 4K HQ, which is made from oversampled 8K to deliver the highest level of detail rendition."

If you don't need the 8K video and high-res stills of the Canon EOS R5, then the 20MP EOS R6 offers a near-identical set of benefits. "While the EOS R6 doesn't offer as much resolution as the EOS R5, it will work for a lot of the requirements of impressive product photography," says John.

A side profile of a man holding a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV photographing a model in a white dress.

The accurate colours and clarity delivered by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV help to give customers a true picture of a product – which is important for reducing the number of returns.

Best DSLR for product photography: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a workhorse camera with robust build quality and an intuitive interface that makes it easy to use. With its 30.4MP CMOS sensor, 4K movies and built-in Wi-Fi, it's a powerful tool for product photography. "It's an industry favourite," says John. "A lot of the commercial photographers continue to use it, although some are gradually moving to the Canon EOS R5."

A significant advantage of the Canon EOS system is that the colour science across the sensors and camera bodies is very much aligned. If you move between a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and a Canon EOS R5, you can rely on the colours being realistic. "The big commercial ventures want to provide a real representation of what the product will look like, because they want to minimise returns," says John. "They want faithful colour reproduction. This is where the Canon colour gamut is so important, as well as the ability to represent the tones and colours as you will see them when they arrive."

A Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The EOS 5D Mark IV’s 30.4MP sensor delivers images that are packed with detail, even in the brightest highlights and darkest shadows.

Although the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is a camera that's more at home in the kitbags of sport and wildlife pros, this flagship EOS DSLR is also useful for product photographers. "It's a professional camera body and the shutter life, build quality and durability reflect that," says John. "It works in extreme temperatures and conditions, so it's ideal for location-based product photography. It's a very fast camera too, capable of shooting at up to 20fps. The resolution isn't as high as the EOS R5, but sometimes that's not the only factor when choosing a camera for a commercial solution."

Best standard zoom lens for product photography: Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

Part of the trinity of professional RF lenses, this high-quality standard zoom maintains a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the focal length range. As well as boasting a 5-stop Image Stabilizer and Nano USM motor for fast focusing and shake-free results when shooting handheld, it has an advanced optical design to ensure a critical level of sharpness.

"The Canon RF 24-70MM F2.8L IS USM is an all-purpose lens that covers the typical standard-to-mid telephoto focal length range that you'd use for product photography," says John. "We never do product photography at particularly wide focal lengths because then it starts to distort the subject. When we've done product photography of our own cameras, if we shoot them at 35mm or wider then the camera or the lens looks disproportionate and too large at the front. It's almost impossible to modify and looks unnatural to the viewer. Instead, we photograph at 50mm or slightly longer for a more natural rendition of the product."

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

Give your full-frame mirrorless photography the professional edge with a 24-70mm zoom boasting a fast aperture and 5-stops of image stabilisation.

A standard zoom such as the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM, with its additional telephoto reach, would make an excellent alternative to the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM. "The RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM gives you a bit of extra light, but the RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM will give you a bit more range," explains John. "It's a general-purpose lens that's perfect for clothing and shoes."

Tilt-and-shift lenses give product photographers more control over the plane of sharp focus (using the lens's tilt mechanism) and enable the correction of converging verticals (via the shift mechanism). Being able to fine-tune the depth of field and correct subject distortion brings a new level of fidelity to images. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS with a Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro lens at 1/10 sec, f/5.6 and ISO100.

Best lens for close-up product photography: Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro

Tilt-and-shift lenses are beloved by professional architecture and landscape photographers, but the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro's close-focusing ability makes it the perfect precision lens for product photography too.

"TS-E lenses enable perspective control and they also let you adjust the plane of focus. This can be particularly useful for dealing with logos," says John. "Even at Canon when we do product photography, we want the front of the lens to be sharp as well as the front of the camera. To achieve this, you'd traditionally need to stop down the aperture. But with a tilt-shift lens, you can potentially overcome that somewhat by tilting the plane of focus."

A Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro lens.

Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro

Control perspective and depth-of-field in portrait and product photography thanks to carefully calibrated movements, outstanding optical engineering and precision moulded glass.

You can also use the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro lens to draw attention to specific features of a product. "If you're photographing a watch, for example, and you've got the brand in the middle of the watch face, then you can tilt the lens and just have the plane of focus running through the centre at an angle," explains John. "A key tip is to ask the customer what is of interest on the product and adjust your technique to meet that need."

The Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro is designed to fit Canon EOS DSLR cameras, but it can be attached to mirrorless EOS R cameras with an EF-EOS R adapter, such as the customisable Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

A close-up of pearl and diamanté jewellery.

The macro function in the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM lens enables you to capture product close-ups in superb detail. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM lens at 1/6 sec, f/2 and ISO100.

Best lens for fashion product shots: Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

The Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM has a classic full-frame portrait focal length, making it a go-to lens for head-and-shoulders fashion product shots. It's a compact lens that's easy to accommodate in any setup and it benefits from a macro function that lets you focus as close as 35cm from a product. It's a very sharp lens too.

"The standard zooms won't allow you specialist control or some of the additional magnification that is sometimes required," explains John. "That's where the TS-E and macro lenses come in because of their closer focusing distances."

Both the TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro and the RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM have half life-size macro capability, enabling you to capture jewellery and other tabletop products in close-up detail.

A Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM lens.

Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

The RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM offers close-up versatility with subtle telephoto compression and 5-stop image stabilisation in a compact, lightweight body.
A promotional shot showing a glass pitcher of tea and a small black cup set atop a small tray on a marbled coffee table.

The Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens combines a fast maximum aperture with razor-sharp Canon glass. "The RF 50mm F1.2L USM is super sharp and the perspective is similar to how humans can see," explains Erik. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/8 sec, f/2.8 and ISO100. © Erik Tomašák

Best lens for creative product photography: Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

When it's attached to a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens gives a similar perspective to that of the human eye, which lends product photographs a natural look. The Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM offers the same fast aperture as the classic Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, giving you the ability to focus the viewer's attention on the product and away from the rest of the scene.

Erik chose a Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM mounted on a Canon EOS R5 to take the promotional shots in this article. "The client's brief was easy," he says. "Create the most delicious photos of a new cafe. I had to capture the atmosphere of the location – although not too much of it, as the place wasn't 100% finished. The combination of a fast 50mm lens and full-frame camera gave a natural perspective and allowed me to capture a 50:50 ratio between the product and the place.

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens.

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

A 50mm f/1.2 prime lens for supreme sharpness, plus remarkable low-light performance.

"I wouldn't normally use the maximum f/1.2 aperture for product photography, as I generally require more depth of field to capture all the necessary details. But if the product is further from the camera and in a natural environment where the light atmosphere is important, it's a great choice," he adds.

A man photographs a male model sitting on a mountain bike in a dark car park with a Canon Speedlite EL-1 flashgun.

Whether you're photographing models on location or small products on a tabletop set, the Canon Speedlite EL-1 offers a host of features to make the job easier. "If the type of product photography you're doing involves action, you need flash power and you need wireless control," explains John.

Best professional flashgun for product photography: Canon Speedlite EL-1

If you need a powerful but highly portable light source for your product photography, consider the Canon Speedlite EL-1 professional flashgun. Able to deliver up to 335 shots at full power, it features an active cooling system to reduce the risk of overheating. Its rechargeable Li-ion and accurate battery level indicator makes it easy to keep on top of power management too.

"With its guide number of 60, it's a very powerful Speedlite as well," says John. "But you've also got very wide control over the power. Sometimes with product photography, you only need a glint of light, particularly when photographing optical products or objects that reflect light."

The Speedlite EL-1 has a wide range of power levels – right down to 1/8192, should you need it – and a built-in modelling light with both brightness and colour temperature controls.

Canon Speedlite EL-1

Fast, precise and completely dependable – the EL-1 delivers the kind of performance that professional photographers demand when the pressure is on.
Marcus Hawkins

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