3D Modeling & CGI

3D product photography: what are the benefits over normal images?

April 23, 2022

Many brands are leveraging 3D product photography, also known as CGI (computer graphics imaginary) photography or sometimes 3D modelling and rendering. Its use is increasing at a fast pace.

In layman terms, 3D product photography describes the process of creating computer generated photos of normal products. In practice these virtual photos are indistinguishable from actual product photos taken with any standard 2D cameras. This is not to be confused with 3D dimensional product models that can be rotated using special software applications (this can also be achieved, but that would be a different use case). So in summary, 3D virtual photos are exactly the same as standard photos, with the one difference being that they were not taken by a camera.

Remembering pixelated computer games back from the 90s you may doubt the quality of 3D product photos. Another common concern is around costs. You may be worried that 3D product photos are more expensive than standard product photography. Well, as a matter of fact the situation is completely reversed!

The reason therefore is that taking professional, high quality product photos is not easy and not cheap. Anyone who has ever managed a product shooting knows this. Many things need to be prepared to deliver top results:

- renting a photo studio

- buying and arranging props that match the desired theme

- installing proper lighting

- shipping all product samples (in impecable conditions!) to the studio

- hiring a photographer

Even when planning for all these factors, results may not meet the desired standards (think outdoor shoot).

In addition to that there are costs associated with sample production and returning samples to the other locations. Also, sometimes re-shoots may be required which will further increase costs.  

In contrast to that most of these factors can be controlled much better when producing computer-generated virtual photographs. They can simply be created with the help of specific computer software and will result in photorealistic imaginary that is superior to normal photos. So, in summary, by leveraging technology, photography and visual marketing content can be created in less time and at lower costs while allowing for more flexibility (editing is much easier) and reducing external risk factors that can be hard to control.

Original photo

Photoshoots are difficult to organise and costly: hiring photographers, talent, cost of shipping items and so on. Furthermore, external factors, such as weather conditions for outdoor shoots, cannot be controlled.

Virtual reality / 3d image

Virtually generated images, just like the one shown here, are basically indistinguishable from real photos. They also offer more flexibility as they are fully editable (it is just a computer file). Best of all, they often cost less – in particular when multiple shots are required for different settings or product colour variations.

The business case for great product photography

Any marketer knows that “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This saying is true especially for product photos. A consumer may be interested in buying a newly launched smartphone, car or gadget after seeing ads online or on TV. As a next step consumers will typically research a product online. According to Shopify “Eye-tracking studies show that store visitors are first engaged by visual elements, which makes them more likely to stick around and explore the site. The quality of your images will define this first interaction, the perceived value of your products, and your brand’s image. First impressions can make or break an ecommerce store and your product photos are at the helm of that interaction.”

Besides the use on websites and e-commerce stores, virtual product photos can also be distributed via email marketing, or shared on social media platforms like Instagram to market your product more effectively. This will create a consistent brand experience, capture your target audience and ultimately help drive revenue and grow your business.

3D Product Photography

Leading brands like IKEA have already made the switch

Many cost conscious and fast-growing startups, as well as established businesses like IKEA or Mercedes are already leveraging 3D virtual product photography. It can help them to lure the minds of their potential customers. Today, over 75% of all images in the famous IKEA catalogue are virtual images. Besides the photorealistic quality and lower costs, one of the reasons why IKEA is using virtual photos is that the brand recognises the importance of explaining its products to potential customers. Consumers are looking for an immersive experience that will help them understand how certain pieces of furniture will impact the look and feel of their homes. IKEA uses technology to achieve this. The 3D product image files can be imported into other IKEA planning tools, such as the IKEA AR app. This helps customers understand how much space a piece of furniture would take up in their home, or how it would fit with other existing furniture without the need to ever visit a physical store. Making such virtual augmented reality solutions available to customers reduces barriers to purchase and helps IKEA stay ahead of its competitors.

How can you get started with 3D product photography?

As a first step, you can reach out to us via the contact form below. Please describe the type of product you are making and provide some details on the number of photos you typically require. One of our consultants will reach out to you within 24 hours to provide you with a free consultation. At Impala we work with proprietary software applications that allow us to create best-in-class 3D product photos from either CAD (computer-aided design) files, simple snapshots taken with any standard smartphone, or in some cases even line drawings. Our stringent project management procedures further ensure a seamless integration with your in-house product and design teams. This efficient and well managed approach helps our global clients produce studio-like images of their products.