360° product photography (also referred to as 360° photography, 360° packshots, or 360° spin photography) is a method of photography where a number of still photos of a product are taken from different angles (in increments). These still photos are then converted to an interactive video where the users can move their mouse pointer or touch the screen to rotate the product as per their wish.
360° product photography is mainly used in eCommerce websites, product pages, and social media stores to give the customers a more detailed and realistic impression of the products being sold.
One of the greatest drawbacks of online shopping is that consumers can not see, touch, and feel the products for real. For this reason, having 360° product photography videos on an eCommerce site has an outstanding advantage over still photography.
When products are presented with still images, customers can not get the touch and feel experience associated with in-store shopping. But 360° product videos allow the buyers to interact and engage with the products. They can zoom in on the products for more details and quality inspection. They can also rotate in different angles, click and drag the products as they wish until they are completely satisfied. This way customers can have a better shopping experience and fetch more information about the products.
Roughly, 30% of all the products bought online are returned for some reason. The main reasons for this are- the received product looks different from the ordered one, receiving wrong items, etc.
Watching 360° product videos, the customer gets more detailed exposure of the product and as a result, gain more confidence during the buying process. So, chances for returning the product get significantly reduced.
When you are selling products online, competition might be stiff as there can be thousands of other sellers selling similar products. Using 360° product photography can be an innovative way to grab the attention of the customers and make your brand stand out from the crowd. Showing the product details from different angles helps satisfy customer satisfaction, increases the buyers’ trust and confidence.
Adding 360° product photography can dramatically increase the conversion rate of an eCommerce product. Potential customers get more information, engage and spend more time with the product, and gain more assurance about the quality of the product. And, the more the customers get involved with the product page the more is the likelihood of sales conversion.
360° product photography requires almost all the equipment needed for normal product photography, besides this, a few special tools are needed, which are described below.
Most photographers use a low-resolution entry-level camera to avoid working with large amounts of data as this can slow the webpage displaying 360° photography. The camera used also needs to be compatible with turntable software.
Usually, a 20-30 megapixel DSLR or mirrorless camera is preferred for 360 product photography.
Product photographers need to deal with products having a wide range of sizes, for example from a small piece of jewelry to a big car. To capture products of varying sizes, it is best to use a zoom lens. A zoom lens is a type of lens in which focal length can be varied. A zoom lens with a focal length of 40-100 mm can capture a great range of products. All you need to do is zoom in or zoom out to frame the objects.
For better camera positioning, you should use a stable and heavy tripod. In this way, you can make sure your product images are not trembling, and are of the highest quality.
Remote control for your camera is useful as this can prevent you from accidentally moving your device while taking 360° photos.
To get the optimum result from 360° photography, you will need a bright light source. Mostly, you will need 2-3 lights to get the desired illumination. You can use either LEDs or strobes.
You will also need 2-3 softboxes and of course, 2-3 light stands to support the light sources.
Image Source: Ortery Infinity 360M Turntable
You will need a 360° turntable that rotates the product on a single plane. Several manufacturers sell turntable that comes with software that also controls the camera.
A 360-degree image viewer is a web application that is embedded in the website displaying 360° product photography videos. It compiles the still images captured at different angles and produces a 360-degree view of the product. It lets the consumers get interactive with the display of the product in their browser. Consumers can rotate, drag, touch and zoom the product for checking out different aspects of the product.
Image Source: 360 Product Photography with Orbitvu MIDI turntable
To make a 360-degree product video, the product needs to be placed on a 360 turntable. The turntable rotates the product on a single plane and stops at a specific degree interval. The turntable software provided by the manufacturer triggers the camera shutter to capture frames at those intervals. For example, if 72 still images are taken, the turntable stops after every 5 degrees interval, and the camera takes photos at every stops. Those 72 still images are then combined and showed in a 360° photo viewer app on the website.
Flat Wooden Chopping Board
There is a substantial amount of costs associated with 360° spin photography, and not every product can greatly benefit from 360° photography. The deciding factor about whether to use 360° spin photography is whether it provides additional information to the customer. For example, any flat items like wooden chopping boards might not need 360° photography to yield more information to the customer. Mostly, 3D products with complex shapes and special features need 360° photography.
360 product photography bridges the gap between shopping at physical stores and online shopping. It is one of the most effective ways to present a product to the page visitors in an interactive way. It boosts customer engagement as well as the conversion rate. Every aspiring eCommerce seller should try out this technique for their business.