Customers value the ability to physically inspect products from every angle. It helps them make the right choices when shopping to avoid disappointment. If we had to look for one negative aspect of e-commerce stores, it would certainly be that websites don’t allow for physical product examination. This is where 360 photography comes in handy as the next best option available. Having this functionality on your website helps your customers experience the product without having to come into the store. Interactive 360 photography is especially useful if your product is multi-dimensional and includes features that the customer would benefit from seeing.
1. What is 360 photography?
360 product photography is a series of still images photographed in a sequence on a special turntable that rotates around on a single pane capturing every angle of your product. The table rotates and stops at specified degree intervals. In the meantime, the software triggers the camera shutter release and takes a photograph.
Once the images are done, they are put into a player that makes an interactive image out of the shots. This allows the viewer to manually interact with the picture, look around all angles and use the zoom option to get a closer look.
During the 360 degree photography, the camera remains still, mounted to a sturdy tripod. The product on the other hand, rotates around on a turntable to allow for multiple angle shots. For that reason, the first thing you will need to invest in is a steady turntable. We recommend purchasing an automatic, computer controlled table for best results. It will ensure accuracy in every shot and take pictures for you systematically. Alternatively, there are videos available online to help you make it yourself if you’re feeling up for a challenge. When using a manual table, make sure you mark it to indicate how far to turn it each time. For 36 shots, marks should appear every 10 degrees, for 72 shots every 5 degrees, and so on. If possible, use the remote shutter release to minimise the shake.
Another fundamental bit of equipment to achieve professional photography is a professional camera with a zoom lens. Ensuring the lens is clean before taking your images will get rid of dust that can prove difficult to remove in post-production.
To guarantee sharp focus in your images, a sturdy tripod is a must. This will eliminate unwanted camera shake and make sure all images are framed in the same way. In addition, a good set of lights, along with the optional lightbox will prove very helpful when controlling the lighting of your photography. You can refer to our previous blog articles to learn about the best studio lighting practices for achieving great results.
We recommend using a neutral background for your images to bring direct focus onto your product and refrain from any distractions. The backdrop should be wiped clean thoroughly to reduce dust marks, which can add unnecessary time to the post-processing of your images.
3. Taking your 360 photographs
The process of shooting 360 degree images is not as complicated as it might seem. Of course, you still have to know how to set up the studio equipment appropriately for your product. The rest, however, is pretty straightforward.
Experiment with using two or three lights for your product photography. We find it works best at removing unwanted dark spots and shadows. As mentioned before, a lightbox might also be a good addition to consider if you have one available.
Once you have your set up in place, take a few test shots of your product from different angles. Rotate the table and check the viewfinder to ensure it’s spinning symmetrically and without wobbling. If using a video camera, film your product rotating a few times while standing away from the table and the camera to avoid any shake.
Once you’re happy with what you’re seeing, you can begin the shooting process. 360 photography usually consists of 18, 36 or 72 product shots. The more shots you take, the smoother the animation will be. However, it’s important to keep in mind that too many images will slow down the video loading time, which as a result, can make the customers leave the gallery before even watching.
Alternatively, you can shoot a video instead of using images, though this will mean the customers will not be able to manually interact with your product image online. Instead, it will appear as a video on your store.
You will need photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to remove dark patches of the background. This can be achieved using levels or curves. In order to make your photographs ‘come to life’, you will require a 360 viewer application to playback your 360 degree images. You can find these online and in most cases, it will ask for a subscription to be able to use them.
Enabling the customer to preview the product from all angles can result in great benefits for your business. Most importantly, it’s an additional asset that keeps the customer engaged for a while longer, and ultimately provides the necessary experience they need to make a purchase. This is why ensuring a positive customer experience through product imagery is so important for your business. Your photographs work as an advocate for the products you sell, therefore, it’s essential they showcase their most important assets.
There are a few things to keep in mind when attempting 360 product photography. We hope this article helped you learn about the key aspects of this practice. If you require any help, please reach out to us here and we will be happy to assist.
We possess over 30 years of experience in professional studio photography. Our extensive experience has taught us the best photography techniques for spectacular results. Our photography studio is located in Leicester, but we offer remote services in the whole of the East Midlands area (Nottingham, Coventry, Derby & more), and most parts of the UK.
Take a look at our product photography pages to discover the work that we do.
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