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How to setup your camera for studio photography

The starting point for setting up your camera for studio lighting

So, you have your camera, you’ve got a lens that you want to use for your first product shot, and you have a few strobes or speedlights to light your product.  Now what?  Where do you start with your settings?  What should your shutter speed be?

In this tutorial, Timothy Kou shows you the importance of starting an image with a “clean slate,” which means killing the ambient light before it kills your photograph.  The first half of this tutorial shows where our starting point should be; the second half explains why shutter speed is irrelevant to motion blur in a studio setting and some ways to understand flash sync speeds.

You will learn…

  • How to properly expose an image before you add studio lighting
  • A basic starting point for studio photography
  • Tips on how to kill ambient light
  • Basics of flash sync

Correct camera settings for best lighting control

Maintain camera settings for high-speed flash

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This is a tutorial from Photigy Studio Basics program

15 responses on "How to setup your camera for studio photography"

  1. Hi Tim..

    Thanks a lot for ur explaination..
    I want ask, is it enough if I want to capture the dropping orange/lemon fruit (get freeze effect of natural bubbles) in water aquarium with 1/160s of shutter speed? or would get the blur image?

    thanks Tim..

  2. 對不起,不知道,你可以在它的視頻添加字幕?

  3. Great video Tim. Thank you…What kind of snoot do you have on your einstein that you are using for your rear spot? I dont like my buff snoot.
    Thanks again

  4. Hello Tim, Thanks for the video.
    I’d like your attention or the webmaster’s attention to two technical issues:

    1. Break in video streaming:
    I have been trying to watch this video ever since yesterday and having serious issues with streaming. In-spite of using a 10mbps broadband connection, the streaming breaks every 5-10 sec. Other videos are streaming fine but there seems to be a issue with this one prompting me to manually press the Play button every time it happens.

    2. Absence of browsing history

    Another issue I came across after logging in afresh is that there was no browsing history of this course and I had to manually come to the Studio Basics section and reload. I am not sure whether I missed something. Pl help and kindly check your server where this video is hosted.

    Thanks once again for the wonderful video.

    • Hi, digiram.

      Thank you for your comment and letting us know about the issues you’re having. I’m sorry things haven’t been working super smoothly for you. Let me see if I can address these issues.

      The video is being streamed directly from Vimeo. It isn’t hosted on Photigy servers, so the issue you are running into with the pausing is a Vimeo server issue. I have an 18mbs connection at my office, and it still does that with me during heavy traffic times with various videos on Vimeo. There’s a possibility that when you tried to watch it, there were quite a few other people trying to access the same video. My best advice is to try again at a different time or pause and let the video load for a couple minutes before playing it.

      As for the browsing history, I’m not clear on what the issue is. Are you navigating away from the page or signing out? Also, are you looking under your browser history, or is there another history that you’re looking for? Do you see that history with other videos, and not with this one?

      I’ll try to help as best I can. If there is any issue with the site, I’ll pass it on to Alex.

  5. Thanks Tim, what about the White Balance? do we keep it in Auto mode or should customize it? appreciate if you can show us how to setup a customized white balance, thanks.

    • Yazan, thanks for that excellent question. I should have covered that in this video. :P
      HAHA, I’m actually realizing I should have talked about that in JPG vs. RAW as well. Oh, well.

      Like all of your other camera’s settings, white balance should be done manually. But, WB is a unique camera setting because you can actually change it in post! If you shoot in RAW, the exposure is taken, but all of the color information is recorded separately from the actual exposure, making it a very versatile file and allowing you to customize your WB after the exposure is taken without losing any information.

      This is actually a worthy topic for another video. I’ll talk to the instructors and see who wants to cover it. :)

  6. Just a couple of questions. First, you discuss starting with shutter speed of 1/160 sec, and you show how this actually relates to synch speed. Are you saying to set camera’s synch speed to 1/160 sec as well?

    If my camera supports higher synch speed, is there any justification in actually using it rather than 1/160?

    I use Einstein’s so I should be able to change them to shoot the faster speeds to get no blur with splash.


    • Hi, Cindy. Thank you for your question.

      Sync speed is generally understood as the amount of time that your camera shutter needs to be open to properly communicate with your lights. This is mainly a function of your lights and your camera’s connection with your lights, it’s not really a setting. By setting my camera’s shutter speed to 1/160, I’m setting it within the sync speed.

      According to my tests, you can safely go up to 1/200s with Eisteins. Once you get to 1/250s, you start to get part of the shutter causing vignetting. So, if you wanted to shoot at 1/200s, I think you should be safe. I personally don’t shoot at 1/200s because I can get my studio plenty dark enough at 1/160s to get a clean slate.

      If you’re able to get a clean slate with 1/30s, you actually won’t see a difference between 1/30 and 1/160 with triggered lights. It’s utterly, completely all about your flash duration if you want to capture moving objects.
      So, there is really no reason to shoot at higher shutter speeds as long as your base exposure is a clean slate.

      I should mention that light duration has nothing to do with sync speed. You can’t speed up your sync speed by lowering the power on your lights. You need to allow your camera the time to tell your Einsteins to trigger and capture the exposure, and anything faster than 1/200s will start to cut off that communication.

      I hope this helps. I’m thinking I will create a supplement video to talk about flash durations.

  7. Lovely video Tim. Very very informative. 1 question though. What are you using for remote trigger ? I have TriggerTrap but that one needs to be wired to my iPhone.

  8. Another video with great info, Tim.
    Now i just have to convince my wife that it is safe for me to play with liquids inside. :^)

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