DSLR overhead photography of products is now incredibly easy and effective with this revolutionary Steady Stand SS300 Kit.
Until now, the only support options to shoot DSLR overhead photography of products has been bulky, heavy and expensive boom arm tripods or column mount camera copy stands. These options were also far from ideal as maintaining balance and avoiding shadows cast by the tripod legs or copy stand column are inherent problems with these methods.
Now with the Steady Stand SS300 Kit there is a smart, neat option that doesn’t cost the earth! Whilst the SS300 Kit is compatible with all smartphones, tablets, compact cameras and mirrorless cameras it is also easily adapted for DSLR use.
DSLR Overhead Photography – Steady Stand SS300 Kit
The Modahaus Steady Stand SS300 Kit is a three-part, flat-pack set that comes with a convenient messenger style carry bag. The three stands come in heights of 295mm (11.6″), 200mm (7.8″) and 125mm (4.9″). The largest stand is best for DSLR overhead shots. You’ll need a DSLR lens that can handle a closest focussing distance of around around 320mm (12″) or less. There are many DSLR lenses that fall into this range. Nikon and Canon, for example, you’ll find the following are generally suitable: prime lenses from < 20mm to 40mm, wide angle zoom lenses (including ‘Kit lenses’) and dedicated macro or micro lenses. Pentax, Olympus, Sony and other DSLR’s models will typically have similar compatibility. The accepted convention amongst the DSLR manufacturers is to measure the closest focussing distance from the focal plane to the subject. Compact and mirrorless camera manufacturers can sometimes take this measurement from the front of the lens to the subject, however , compact and mirrorless cameras often have closer focussing distances than DSLRs.
Let’s start with the Canon 5D MKII with a 100mm macro f2.8 lens as shown above. This full frame camera and large macro lens is a pretty heavy combination and the larger Steady Stand copes with the weight with ease. The Steady Stands are constructed from an advanced translucent polymer that is durable, semi-rigid but still pliable. Here we’re using this configuration to shoot a macro close up of a postage stamp.
Maintaining edge to edge sharpness is not easy with such close macro photography using a boom arm tripod. With the Modahaus Steady Stand SS300 Kit, it’s a breeze.
The above watch was shot overhead with the Canon 5D MKII with an EF 28mm f1.8 lens. This took in the full watch and strap from end to end. Overlay shows detail from full frame. The translucent side walls of the Steady Stand diffused our light source (LED Gooseneck lamps from Ikea) and helped control reflections in the watch.
Let’s now move on to a much smaller and lighter DSLR configuration, the Canon EOS 100D with the ‘kit lens’ the EF-S 18mm-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III. This is the cheapest kit lens without IS or STM.
The zoom lens was set to 25mm, camera was set to spot metering with exposure compensation +1 EV, 2 sec delayed self timer, AWB, 100 ISO, f6.3 and 3.2 secs exposure using daylight prevailing from the right of shot. The translucent side walls of the Steady Stand diffuses the light and we’ve maintained a pure white background with a nice soft shadow to the left of the cherub.
Next shot shows some jewelry shot under the same settings and conditions. This also demonstrates how the Steady Stand SS300 Kit helps control reflections in shiny subjects giving us nice soft highlights in the gemstones. We used the Canon EOS 100d in ‘Live View Mode’ which is really handy as you have touch screen control of your focus point and shutter release.
Next up we have the middle sized stand from the Steady Stand SS300 Kit. Here we’re using it as a camera peep-through mask for a straight on shot of a watch set up on the Modahaus Tabletop Studio Pro TS320 using the black backdrop.
We selected this particular watch as at has a domed glass face and a very reflective multi-facetted bezel which normally presents a nightmare for lighting and controlling reflections. We set this shot up in a couple of minutes using two LED Gooseneck lamps again from Ikea (called JANSJO). These lights are not daylight so you need to set ‘Custom White Balance’ on your DSLR. We had one light to the upper right slightly behind the watch and catching the right hand side wall of the Steady Stand. The second light to the lower left slightly in front of the watch to highlight the texture on the watch face.
In this shot we see the largest Steady Stand suspending the subject set up on the Tabletop Studio TS400 using the opaque white and translucent blue backdrop for another straight on shot. This set up is also useful for suspending pendants and necklaces.
Adaption for DSLR Overhead Photography
The Steady Stand SS300 Kit out of the box has pre-cut apertures for Smartphone and Tablet lenses. Surrounding these apertures are part pre-cut templates for Compact and mirrorless Camera lenses and DSLR lenses.
It’s a very simple operation (for an adult 😉 ) to cut the template with a craft knife or sharp knife to suit your DSLR lens diameter. You may still use the Steady Stand with a Smartphone or Tablet after this modification.
For wider bodied lenses such as the Canon EF 100mm F 2.8 Macro shown above, you first insert the throat of the lens up through the lens aperture and then attach the camera body from above. The EF-S Kit lens with a slimmer body will just pop through the lens aperture whilst attached to the camera body. Canon lenses have a larger throat diameter/lens mount than others such as Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, Samsung and Olympus so these cameas and lenses are a simple fit.
As the shot above demonstrates, DSLR cameras come with many different profiles. The DSLR camera front face profile will determine how the camera rests on the support platform of the Steady Stands un-propped. With the EOS 5D MKII on the left, the hand grip is proud of the rest of the body whilst the EOS 100D on the right, the prism head/built in flash stands proud. If you’re happy to shoot your subject at a slight angle this is fine but leveling your particular DSLR is simple for a straight on overhead shot.
As the images above and below show, it’s simple to prop you DSLR to achieve a level overhead shot. If you have a reflective subject it’s best to use a transparent or white prop. Clear lego bricks and white foam rubber work well for this.
The Steady Stand SS300 Kit was originally developed for use with Smartphones, Compact and Mirrorless Cameras and Tablets. Making these small modifications for use with a DSLR is well worth the effort and a much more effective and inexpensive option to a boom arm tripod. This has been an absolute boon for us. We’ve just finished shooting a vintage watch and jewelry catalogue using the Steady Stand SS300 Kit and the Modahaus Tabletop Studio TS320 and TS400. This set up improved our productivity and final results considerably on previous years.
The Modahaus Tabletop Studio Range are great companions to the Steady Stands. Checkout Steady Stand/Tabletop Studio bundles and save 15% on individual product prices. And remember we also offer Free Shipping Worldwide!