Zenith Watch Product Shoot

In this product photography class, Karl photographs the detailed inner workings of a luxury Zenith watch.

 Karl highlights the common difficulties one might face, including how to photograph shiny metal surfaces, how to achieve sufficient depth of field when photographing small items and how to balance multiple lights.

This detailed photography class addresses each of these challenges and clearly shows you simple but effective techniques to overcome them. Karl details each step, from selecting his props to how to balance his lights. See the result from each stage and follow along as he guides you through this intricate high-end product shoot.

In this class:

  • Product photography: How to photograph a watch
  • Macro photography: How to photograph small objects
  • Equipment for product photography
  • How to focus stack an image
  • How to balance multiple studio lights
  • Lighting modifiers for detailed product photography
  • How to use reflectors for product photography
  • Live view function in Phocus software

To see how Karl retouches this image, check out production process for this image, Zenith Watch Post-Production 1: Focus Stacking and Compositing.

If you enjoy this class, you may like Luxury Watch Photography Using One Studio Light or TAG Heuer Luxury Watch Shoot.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

© Karl Taylor


  1. Hello Karl,
    I guess Tilt/Shift lenses would be one of the fewest if not the only choices if I wanted to leverage maximum DOF and cover the whole subject plane in one go while bundling multiple flash units to freeze fast motion for a dynamic shot since focus stacking would not be an option? Is there anything I am not aware of that would allow me to use a 100mm macro and do focus bracketing while attempting to freeze fast action?
    Thanks in advance for the insight and the outstanding tutorials.

    1. Hi Myles, sometimes relying on greater depth of field through smaller apertures such as f22 and shooting from slightly further back to crop in later will give you the best option if you have to capture in one shot without tilt and shift. Tilt and shift lenses will get you depth of field along a given plane, you can obtain even more control using technical view cameras.

      1. When you say shooting from slightly further back to crop in later do you mean using a hyperfocal distance from the focus point on the subject to increase DOF more than 2/3?
        Thank you for being so patient.

        1. Hi, not quite. It can be much more simple than that. Other than the aperture selection there is really only one thing that reduces depth of field and that is magnification, so bigger sensor is more magnification, closer is more magnification, longer focal length is more magnification. Whenever you increase magnification on the original capture depth of field will be reduced. Therefore by moving back or shorter focal length and cropping in after will help you with depth of field. For example a 100mm macro shot of an ant will have very very shallow depth of field compared to a 100mm portrait of a person with a macro lens even if you used the same aperture and the reason is that the shot of the ant is much much closer and it’s highly magnified so depth of field is greatly reduced.

          1. Thank you, Karl. You’re an amazing instructor with lots of creative power and a huge skillset. Thanks again for your dedication and patience.

            Best regards.

  2. Hey!!

    Have you ever considered using a Cambo actus or something similar to use the tilt-shift instead of having to focus stack? Wondering if there are any benefits to that?

    Thanks so much,

    1. Hi, yes. My first choice would actually be the Linhoff M679 camera and just mount my digital back on it but this would require the purchase of the camera and new rodenstock lenses and would become quite an investment for the rare occassions it was needed, especially as I already have the tilt and shift adaptor which you can see being used in these classes:

  3. Hi Karl,

    Where do you buy the following cards?

    Mirrored Card
    Silver Card
    Matte Silver Card

    Thanks for the info. 🙂

  4. hey karl
    great video
    i just have one question why u didn’t use the pico light direct to the inside of the watch instead of let light hit the the acrylic then reflect
    and id its about physics i hop u explain it

  5. Gary Stasiuk

    How would you describe the different results when using the 3mm acrylic as opposed to the 5mm.. I have and use a sheet of the 5mm frosted, one of my best background/lighting props in which I have invested. Other than less heavy and bit easier to set horizontal above the subject, is there an end result you are seeking that is different from the thicker acrylic?

    1. Hi Gary, not really that I’ve ever noticed, the 5mm will let less light through as it’s thicker so you’d need to increase the power of the light a bit but as always I just look at the results and adjust. I never really consider the details, I have lots of 5mm and 3mm in both frosted and plain and often I just grab the sheet that is the right size (area) for what I need to do.

  6. hello sir,
    i just want to know the difference between using reflector on acrylic and bare bulb on scrim, is there any difference in gradation and spill of light on product?

    1. Hi, both will give you very good gradations. Acrylic can be too heavy if you need a big piece and you have to be careful that you don’t melt it with your modelling lamps.

  7. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for this very interesting video.
    Is there a difference if you place your multiple focus points for the stack with the focus wheel or by adjusting the distance to the subject by moving the camera slightly (f.e. with a adjustment slide)? Of course it could cause problems with the reflector attached around the lens in this case, but does it have an impact on the “stack quality” if you use one or the other option?

    1. Hi Mitch, I’d love to answer this question but I don’t like to comment on things that I haven’t done and I can tell you I’ve only ever done focus stacking with the camera staying still and moving the focus only. For me this has always been successful so there has never been a reason to do anything different. The points you raised would give me concern with the other technique.

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