360 Product Photography and 3D Photography: What’s the Difference?

360 product photography

Both 360 and 3D photography are meant to give an impression of a rotating object. In 360 photography, multiple pictures of the object are taken from different angles on a 360 photo turntable. A software program that comes with the equipment controls both the turntable and camera.

In 3D photography, a product is pictured 360 degrees on multiple planes. In other words, the camera moves up and over the merchandise to capture a more comprehensive 360-degree view. This is helpful when you want to give customers an almost real-life experience of seeing a product.

A key difference between 360 and 3D photography is the number of images needed to be taken. With 3D photography, a series of images on multiple planes are taken, which increases the image count. Another difference is the process itself. 3D photography is more time-consuming than 360-degree photography. That’s because of the extra time needed to reposition the 3D equipment over the merchandise for each plane. It can also take more time to set up the product before beginning 3D photography.

3D product pictures also take more time to load in browsers because they involve more frames than 360 product photos. As a result, the file sizes are considerably larger. This is one of the main reasons behind the growing popularity of 360 photography over 3D.

Why You Need to Consider 360 Product Photos for Your Business

With online shopping becoming the norm for a growing number of customers, showcasing your products well is essential to boosting business. To elevate the overall shopping experience, online platforms like Amazon are also providing opportunities to businesses to present their products in new ways. This is where 360-degree product photography can make a difference.

If your product has multiple features that customers may be interested in, investing in 360 product photos will be a good idea.

Here are some benefits of 360-degree product photography:

  • Improved buying experience: With 360-degree photos, customers can view products properly from all angles
  • Fewer product returns: Because customers get a full view of the product, they are less likely to feel disappointed after the purchase resulting in fewer product returns
  • Enhanced competitive advantage: 360 product photography helps you stand out on the eCommerce sites where you can differentiate your products with high-quality images
  • Increased engagement: More 360 degree photos mean customers are more likely to stay on your site to explore other products
  • Better buyer experience: 360-degree photos provide a more interactive and engaging experience to your target audience
  • Better returns: 360-degree photos have better conversion rates when compared with static images on eCommerce platforms

 

360 Product Photography Equipment

To capture high-res 360 degree product photos, you need to invest in some equipment. Wondering what those are? Keep reading for a comprehensive list of all equipment you need to make the most of 360 product photography and where you can find them.

Camera

As with any type of photography, a great camera is key. For 360 product photography specifically, you’ll need a camera with manual mode. So consider a DSLR camera from one of the main manufacturers like Canon or Nikon, which you can use for traditional product photography as well.

Another option is your smartphone that can be also used for product photography. iPhone’s Camera app allows users to take panoramic photos.

Zoom Lens

Good zoom lens should be flexible enough to cover the entire range of your products. A focal length of 40-100 mm is considered ideal for 360 product photography. You can try Canon or Sigma lenses.

As far as brightness is concerned, lenses with apertures of f/4.0 is good enough to get the job done. For smaller products, you may need microlens.

Tripod

It’s also essential that your camera stays in the same exact spot throughout the shooting process. Since you can’t hope to hold it still for that long, especially while having to adjust the product itself, you’ll need a sturdy tripod to hold the camera steady, so the camera doesn’t move or shift slightly, as this could cause blurriness or even a distorted look in your images.

Rotating Turntable

At first glance, it might look like a 360 product photo is captured by moving the camera around the product. However, it’s actually done by keeping the camera absolutely still and rotating the product around in a circle. To accomplish this movement in a seamless way that won’t cause any distortion in your images, you’ll need a rotating 360 photo turntable that you can set products on. There are even electric versions you can plugin, so they’ll automatically rotate the exact same amount of degrees for every turn.

A good product photography turntable can create dual-row 360 product views to properly capture your merchandise.

Remote Shutter Release

A remote shutter release is a device that you can hold away from your camera to actually activate the shutter and capture photos. This is technically optional, but it can help you to take photos without having to press the actual button on the camera. Doing this, you’d run the risk of shifting the camera slightly and distorting the final image. In some cases, you might be able to get this product with your camera in a kit. However, there are also plenty of third-party products available. Just make sure whichever one you choose is compatible with your specific camera.

Plain Background

You also need to be able to photograph your product from every angle without having the background distort or distract from the product itself. So you’ll probably want a plain white or other neutral backgrounds to go behind your product setup. You can purchase plain white paper from a craft store or use a pre-made photo background. If you want something a bit more interesting, you could use a color other than white. But it’s a good idea to use a solid color so that the background doesn’t distort the image of the product.

Studio Lights

To make sure your product is properly lit and consistent in its lighting throughout every angle, invest in some professional photography lights with umbrella attachments. This should reflect the light throughout your photo area so that there aren’t inconsistent light and dark spots as customers view the product from every side.

When it comes to lighting, you have two options to choose from: LED and flash. With LED, you will be able to preview the image before taking it. In most cases, you are going to need two or three lights to get the best effect.

Photo lightbox studios are another great option to take high-quality product pictures. Easy to set up, you can use lightbox studios to take great photos with your smartphone.

360 Viewer

Once you’ve taken the images, you need to turn them into a file that allows people to view them as one consistent image, as if the product is simply rotating on the screen. A 360 viewer is a type of editing software designed specifically for 360-degree images. So you’ll need one of these programs to combine all of your images and turn them into a file you can display on your product page.

In technical terms, a 360-degree viewer is a JavaScript application, which can be installed on your website. Without the 360 views, you stand to lose out on a number of spin features such as lazy loading, zoom and interaction.

360 Product Photography Tutorial: Step by Step

Once you have procured all your equipment, you can start taking cool product photos. Wondering how to get started? Keep reading for a step-by-step process that will make your life easier.

Step 1: Set Up Your Background

A bright background is essential to capturing the best product photos. If you’re using lamps, make sure to put them on both sides so the area is bright enough. When placing your product on the table, cover it with a shiny acrylic plate for product reflection. With a lightbox, you just need to turn on the light.

If you don’t have the budget to go for a lightbox or lamps, you can count on natural light. Place your table near large windows where you get enough natural light. In case the light is too harsh, you can place a whitepaper over the window.

Step 2: Get Your Camera Settings Right for Perfect Product Images

When shooting 360-degree images, make sure your camera settings are in manual mode. That’s because, with the manual mode, you have complete control over the settings.

You also need to use the right aperture for the precise shot. A wide aperture (f/2.8 or f/4.5) will narrow the depth of focus. This in turn will leave some parts of your product out of focus. That’s why it’s better to use a narrow aperture (f/8 or f/16). If you have a lot of light, you can go for f/16. You can choose f/8 if you are working with LEDs.

To keep the background noise to a minimum, make sure you use the lowest ISO possible. ISO refers to the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. When it’s low, you have more time to take a picture. If you have low light, however, you can increase ISO.

The shutter speed defines the amount of time the camera sensor is exposed to light when taking a picture. In other words, how quickly the shutter opens and closes. Generally, the quicker the shutter speed the more an object appears frozen. Slower speeds, on the other hand, can create motion blur. Since you’re going to use a tripod for 360 product photography, you can go with low shutter speed to capture sharp images.

When taking product photos, make sure the product is in full focus. To do this, select the automatic focus setting on your camera and lens. It’s best to go with this option so you can avoid taking blurry pictures.

Another important thing to remember when taking product photos is the format. If you have the option, you must always save your images as RAW files. That’s because of their size and the quality of pictures they can help produce. Of course, in the post-production phase, you can convert them into JPEG files. But it’s always better to complete the initial adjustments in the RAW format.

Step 3: Make Sure Your Product is Presentable

Once you have adjusted your camera settings, make sure your product is presentable before you start clicking. Even a tiny speck of dust can ruin the images afterward. This is where a lint roller can make life easier.

Step 4: Place Your Product Correctly

This step may seem straightforward, but it’s always a good idea to spend some time setting up your product before the shoot. To start with, always place your product in the middle of the table so you can capture all angles properly. While the aesthetics matter when capturing the right images, it’s also important to pay attention to functionality. For example, if your product is an energy bar, it’s important the label is readable.

Step 5: Take Fantastic Images

Start by taking some test shots first. Once you’re happy with the results, you can begin taking photos. As you start taking pictures, pause and review what you’ve captured. What’s looking good? What’s not working? A clear understanding will help you make adjustments and capture fantastic images.

Since you want to take pictures from all angles, it’s important to make sure every angle is evenly spaced. Remember to have fun and be creative. Unless you experiment, you will not figure out which images work best for you.

Best 360 Product Photography Software

Thanks to the growing popularity of 360 product photography, a number of software programs and apps are available today to help businesses achieve desired results. So, depending on your needs you will find a host of options to explore. To make the right decision, you should ask yourself what is it that you are looking for. Do you need it to come with the cloud for additional storage? Do you need it to be fully automated? Is the 360 image viewer feature important?

Below you will find a detailed guide to the best product photography software.

Glo3D

Glo3D is a comprehensive software designed to help create 36o degree product images. With Glo3D, you can access a flexible frame number, which in turn can help create flexible 360 spin images. There are no limits on the number of times a 360-degree image can be viewed on any platform. Another cool feature is the high-res spin studio that offers up to 16K resolution for spin images.

Compatible with major eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento and WordPress, Glo3D comes with free add-ons that can be installed on online stores.

Compatible with: Mac and Windows.

360 Product View Creator Software

The 360 Product View Creator Software makes the process of creating 360 views simpler. 360 output is available in various interactive formats such as MP4, HTML5 and 360 Animate GIF. With this software, you will be able to compose multiple 360 image set shots in different rows, upload product views straight to the Stream 360 server and add Google Analytics tracking codes to analyze results.

Compatible with: Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.

WebRotate 360

WebRotate 360 is great when you are looking for user-friendly software to create amazing 360 product photography. It provides plug-ins for eCommerce and CMS platforms to create engaging views for websites. It also offers plenty of tools and advanced options to create full 360 product views.

Compatible with: Mac and Windows.

Shutter Stream Product Photography Software

Shutter Stream Product Photography is an integrated software program that brings all parts of the photography workflow into a single application. With this software, you get to create high-res product photos with white backgrounds in just seconds. It also comes with image composition and capture, camera control and image processing and output options to make the process easier.

Compatible with: Mac and Windows.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a cloud-based software that helps you create, edit, organize, store and share images from any device. It comes with tools like sliders and presets to edit photos. Cloud storage means images can be accessed wherever you are. Another cool feature is Adobe Sensei machine learning that recognizes themes and people to seamlessly organize all your images.

Compatible with: Mac and Windows.

Arqspin

Arqspin provides a quick and economical option for creating 360 product photos. With this software, you can create amazing product photography with a DSLR or smartphone. You can upload your images and edit them on a cloud-based editing suite.

Compatible with: iOS.

Adobe Photoshop

In the post-production phase, you need a software program that can help make your products shine. This is where Adobe Photoshop can make a difference. From helping balance light and dark areas to editing out unwanted objects, Photoshop can help you add final touches to your photography.

Compatible with: Mac, Windows, iOS and Android

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a software tool to edit 360 product photos in a jiffy. It comes with a host of retouching tools that can help you make corrections. Another great feature is the live filter layers. With this feature, you can add effects like distortions, lighting or blurs as live filter layers.

Compatible with: Mac, Windows and iOS.

How Much does 360 Product Photography Cost?

Different studios have different price structures for 360 product photography. Generally speaking, three options to pay are available to businesses: by the hour or day, by image, or by product.

By the hour or day: In this option, you will be charged a flat hourly or daily rate. Average rates are $94-$262 per hour. For a daily rate, you may have to pay between $300 and $2,000 a day.

By image: In this option, you will be charged for each produced image. Average rates range from $10 to $500.

By product: In this option, you will be charged by the product. This option can work for you if all your products are similar and the photographer is able to complete the work with the same equipment and techniques. Average rates range from $20 to $90.

Outsourcing Product Photography

If you don’t have the time, resources or technical knowledge to do this yourself, you can outsource product photography and leave it up to the experts. In general, you can outsource the following services:

  • Product photography
  • Product delivery
  • Image editing and quality control
  • Product return
  • Image format and delivery

Depending on your need and budget, you can outsource all or a few of the services to professional photographers. As far as cost is concerned, hourly rates can range from $75 to $500 per hour.

How do I take a 360 degree product photo?

To take a 360-degree product photo, you need to place the product on a 360 photo turntable. You will be able to control the turntable and camera with software. The turntable will rotate and stop at specific degree intervals during which the camera will capture an image. Using the software program, you can play the images in a sequence.

How do you make 360 objects into pictures?

In 360 photography, the object is placed on a photo turntable. Multiple photos of the same object are then taken from different angles. A software program is used to control both the turntable and camera and turn the 360 objects into photos.

How do I create perfect 360 product images?

To create perfect 360 product images, you must choose a good camera. You don’t have to buy an expensive one for this; a 24-megapixel crop sensor camera works fine. You should also procure the right zoom lens, a tripod, lighting equipment and turntable. In addition, good software to capture and edit images will come in handy when you try to get the best images.

How do I add 360 photos to my website?

Most platforms including WordPress and Shopify support 360 photos. You can use the same software to edit and embed 360 photos on your website. To do so, you will need a shortcode that can be created using a Shortcode block.

How do I upload 360 degree photos to Amazon?

  • Comply with Amazon Product Image requirements
  • Be an Amazon vendor
  • Select product category
  • Upload photo

Can I upload 360 photos to Instagram?

Instagram does not natively support 360 photos, but you can use an app to select the panoramic images and to upload them on the site.

Image: Shutterstock

This article, "360 Product Photography and 3D Photography: What’s the Difference?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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