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Photography vs 3D Renderings for Product Images

Author: Ian Storck


You’ve seen high-quality photography, as well as breathtaking 3D renders, but how do you know which is the best to use for showing off your product? In this, we’ll take a look at what both product photography and 3D renderings bring to the table, and how you can choose the one that is most appropriate for your job.



Grabbing a camera and taking a photo of a product, whether it be on the shop floor or in a warehouse, is the quickest and most convenient way to capture an image. Even setting up a studio backdrop and lighting gear might be quicker than starting a high quality render from scratch.

Photography is also the most true-to-life visual you can capture in this instance. Despite many advances in photorealistic product renderings, photography allows for textures and colors that may not be perfectly replicated digitally.

The negatives of photography have to do with the environment that your product is in, especially the shop floor or warehouse. These areas can be dark, dirty, or cluttered, making a presentable photograph difficult to obtain. If the product is being manufactured in a remote location, it is time-consuming to photograph if your marketing personnel are not local to your facilities.



While renders can often be time-consuming, they offer numerous advantages over traditional photography, particularly the ability to change many elements with several clicks of a mouse.

Products can be placed in virtually any type of background, including clean, blank studio spaces. Lights can be placed and adjusted on the fly, without lengthy trial and error of moving studio lights. With this benefit, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of fixing a presentable physical space, as you would have to with photography.

Another benefit of renders is the versatility of what you are able to show. There is no confinement to tight spaces or the inability to fit something in a frame. Any angle is possible, from any distance. Instead of trying to place a camera inside of a tight, dark space, parts can be removed in the digital space, allowing a cleaner view. Cross-sections are also possible, allowing one to simply show off the inner workings.

AMROK Tombstone - Triag - Sample 1 - V2 RGB

While photography must invest in lights, studio space, and camera equipment, there is also a very hefty investment when it comes to 3D modeling and renders. To achieve the highest quality renders, there are few programs that offer that fully professional workflow and results, most all of which are thousands of dollars. And once you have this program, it needs somewhere to operate and produce the renders themselves. A fast and high-powered PC is a must, and can speed up your workflow exponentially.


Another overlooked part of the process is the need for someone with engineering experience. When creating a detailed render, where adjusting parts and layers is a necessity, the CAD file used must be of high enough quality, and with distinct parts. This will at least require someone with engineering experience and CAD software, another high priced investment. 


Which one is right for you?

While both of these processes can be costly, they’re a must in order to provide high-quality visual content. Weighing the pros and cons alongside the resources you already have at your disposal will assist you in making an informed decision. If you need the most realistic textures and colors, then photography is a good choice. However, be sure you have a well-lit, clean area for shooting. If you have the resources, and the time, and want to show intricacies of the product that may be difficult to capture through photography, then rendering would be ideal for you.

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