If you’re like me, you’d do a lot in order to get the absolute best image quality from your gear when shooting commercial product and still life. This includes shooting at the best settings, having a specialised workflow and making sure you nail the focus. Today, I’ll share with you guys some three tips I found for easier focusing on the Sony a7 (or most cameras, really). Without further ado, let’s get started!
Laser + Zoom
If you did not know, the Sony a7 has a handy-dandy feature called “Focus Magnifier” that, as it says, digitally zooms in your frame by 11.7 times. With that you can really see the details of what you’re focussing on. So, here’s how the tip goes. First, you let the camera focus by itself - this will ensure you don’t turn the focus ring for days while being magnified in the image. Then, you enter Focus Magnifier. On the a7, you can change most buttons’ default functions and I recommend you to set the Focus Magnifier to the down button on the Control Wheel. So, you magnify in the picture and you then take your small cat toy laser and point it at the object you're photographing. Then, you manually focus by moving the focus ring on your lens until the laser’s point and your product becomes sharp. A word of caution, if you are using a quite powerful laser and pointing it at a reflective object, it may harm your camera’s sensor if it gets into there. Better safe than sorry!
Phone + Zoom
In the same fashion as the laser tip, you can try using your phone’s built-in flashlight to light the product and help you focus. The advantage of this technique is that the light is really contrasty (since it is a small point), thus, really sharp and helps you find the most in focus setting easily. Moreover, this tip can make your life easier if you wish to focus in a hole in your product that doesn’t get much light inside of it (e.g.: a USB or power port on an electronic device).
Have plenty of ambiant light
My third and final tip to help you focus in your commercial product and still life photography is to get plenty of ambient light in your studio (but not enough to actually have an effect on your picture, that’s where cameras with fast flash sync speed come in handy!). One of the disadvantage of using a camera with an EVF in studio photography is that, since it gets its exposure from the main sensor, and that the settings are set to have a black exposure when without flash illumination, well you get a pitch black image in the EVF too. Not so useful for focussing! Now, if you put more ambient light in your studio you will be able to go to a brighter exposure in order to focus without raising the ISO as much, for example. This will result in a clearer image that better lets you see how your focussing is going.
So, these were three tips to help you better focus in your product photography. Have you got something else that you found helps you? Let us know below!