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EME Digital Photo Studios Tested

EME Digital demonstrate their latest product photography solutions for 360 and rotating product displays. We have a look to see how it performs and what kind out output it produces.

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Features and Performance

eme DIGITAL logo

EME Digital provide complete solutions for product photography and sell these systems to companies like Next, Argos, Sony and other smaller companies as well. They can produce still, 360, hemispherical and spherical photos of objects, with some companies using these systems to photograph large leather sofas, clothing, cars, motorbikes, as well as the more ordinary, shoes, hats, clothing and even fishing tackle. NB. Flash is needed to view examples on this page, and it may take some time for the examples to load.

EME Digital Setup

The systems are designed so that even complete beginners to photography will be able to use the system. Setup was quick with all three solutions (360, hemi/sperical and large lighting kit) setup in around 1 hour (including setup of two PCs), meaning that each solution could be setup in well under an hour.

EME Digital Features and Performance

There is a choice of solutions available depending on your needs with a choice of four different turntables depending on the size of item being photographed. There are three systems available for hemispherical and spherical images with the lighting provided for either enclosed environments, or high key setups to ensure the products are shadow free.

The systems are designed to enable people who may have very little photographic knowledge the ability to take professional quality 360+ photos of objects and output straight to the web (ftp is supported for example), with the software producing the output as HTML5, Shockwave Flash (SWF), or GIF images. This enables you to put the product shots straight onto your website with ideally no time spent post processing or tweaking images.

EME Digital

Large 360 Photobox Studio
- The 360 unit features a removable USB connected turntable, in a specially designed light box with lights in each corner for consistent light. A camera is positioned in the opening and is connected via USB to the control computer. The software is setup to take a number of shots, with one shot being taken each time the turntable rotates to a new position. The object is put in the middle of the turntable and to make sure it's centred correctly, you are able to view a live view of it on the computer screen, where you can also set the crop factor and camera settings to ensure the background is white. This way you are able to avoid having to spend any time post processing. However, if you do need to adjust the brightness, or contrast and any other settings, the software gives you the ability to adjust one photo and apply it to all photos making any adjustments very quick.

The 360 uses a desk attached camera support, the Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Arm, as having a tripod setup in some offices can be a hazard for people walking through with cups of coffee! The entry level solution is setup with a Canon Powershot G10, which means that objects are sharp front to back, thanks to the compact cameras great depth of focus. This does mean that often a slow shutter speed is used (1/10, at ISO80/100) and a delay can be set to objects that wobble when rotated.

360 example, ePHOTOzine hat - non-zoomable example, click and hold to spin.

The 360 example shown allows you to zoom in with a loupe/magnifying glass view (the size of the loupe can be enlarged - press + or - or use your scroll wheel on your mouse), as the system stores both small images (500px wide) and large images (1500px wide). Another example can be seen in our Kodak Easyshare Z5010 review.

EME Digital

Hemispherical / Orbital using the Photostudio Multi - this has a mounted camera and rotating turntable, but the camera also moves from a normal view, to directly above the object, this gives a fully movable view of the object being photographed. Then to create a spherical view of the object, you reposition the subject upside down in the box, retake all the photos and then the software will put together a fully movable view - an example can be viewed here. The hemi/spherical system used a DSLR and with a narrower depth of focus some parts of the subject can be out of focus.

Hemispherical example: Showing the Panasonic Lumix FZ48 - this shows you the camera with the whole top half of it visible:

Example shown above using HTML5 - click and hold to spin around and move up and down. Another possibility is to enable full pixel to pixel view, where you can zoom in to view the object in great detail, which EME digital call "Deep Zoom", however as there are so many photos (upto 500mb of images) this involves using a tiled display of the object, to speed up viewing on the web, an example can be viewed here.

EME Digital Large 360

Large 360 objects - Using a larger USB turntable, a large white lightbox background and 4 lighting units, it's possible to photography larger items such as clothes, etc the camera and turntable is controlled by the computer in the same way. Clear perspex tables and mannequins on perspex stands mean that, again, post-production can be avoided because exposure can be controlled to enable the perspex supports to be invisible in the photo, giving you a photo of just the subject and nothing else is shown. EME Digital have even developed a mannekin with the neck removed so that literally all you see is the item of clothing. These are photographed the full 360 degrees. The EME digital branded lighting has been specially selected due to the high demands of product photography - for example the lights could be spending all day taking 36+ photos of each object.

T-Shirt - zoomable example, click the zoom icon to zoom and then drag the magnifying glass around.

The system is ideal for anyone with an e-commerce or product based website as it lets you very quickly take high quality 360 photos of a number of products one after another. Another feature of the system is the ability to save settings, if you need to take photos of the same kind of object repeatedly then you can save your settings (crop, exposure, number of photos etc) and then simply re-use them again and again.

Compatible Cameras: The systems are compatible with the majority of Canon EOS digital SLRs, with the newer models (EOS 450D, EOS 1000D, EOS 7D, 5D Mk2, 1D Mark IV providing live preview), a number of Canon Powershot models (A620, A640, G6, G7, G9, G10, S80, SX100 IS, SX110 IS), the Ricoh GX200 and a number of Nikon Digital SLRs (D90, D300, D300s, D5000, D700, D7000) all of them providing live preview. The benefits of the compact cameras, apart from increased depth of field, is the ability to use remote zoom.

Prices: These are some of the kits available which include the software, tripod, friction arm, product stand, camera power supply and accessories, with a compact camera or Digital SLR, and includes support (excluding Multi). Prices are correct until 31st November 2011. For the latest prices please visit emedigital.co.uk.
  • 360 Photostudio Large: £4295 - with 14.7megapixel compact or 12megapixel DSLR
  • 360 Photostudio Small: £3695 - with 14.7megapixel compact or 12megapixel DSLR
  • Shooting Kit (High Key): £3495 (Large background) - with 18megapixel DSLR
  • A variety of turntables are available with different weight support from £1595 (9kg) - £5995 (450kg)
  • Photo Mannequin - transparent stand with removable arms and neck cap £365
  • Photostudio Multi: £12495 - with Canon EOS DSLR
Value For Money: To get a similar setup, you would need a turntable, tripod or support, camera, lighting (enclosed lighting to enable consistent results, so that shots and white balance aren't affected by external lighting / weather etc), software / camera control (tethered DSLR), plus the ability to output the images to web. The system is available with or without a camera and if you already have a suitable camera, then you can save money that way, but as a complete solution it provides reasonable value for money, particularly if it's going to save you time, for example if you have a lot of products to photograph.

EME Digital Verdict

The EME Digital solutions provide a complete product photography solution, with the software setup to give publishable results straight to the web. And yes, with the right knowledge it would be possible to setup your own turntable, camera and lighting system to achieve similar results, however the software control, speed and output produced by this complete system is where it really shines. The system makes high quality product photography possible even for complete beginners and for a business that needs to get product shots on the web, without the expertise or time for professional photographers, this system makes a lot of sense. Support from EME Digital was also good, with a prompt reply to emails and follow up phone calls to see if we needed any additional information or assistance.
  The EME digital solutions provide excellent quality product photography and an easy to use system.

EME Digital Pros

Complete solution
Once setup, easy to use
Consistent and repeatable results
Lighting provided
Can photograph difficult subjects such as white on white background
Outputs web ready files

EME Digital Cons

Doesn't suit the enthusiast, who may be interested in a more DIY approach
High price - however speed, quality and time saved could quickly recover outlay
Use of DSLR can create shallower depth of focus
Mac support not available, although it's on its way

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