5 Best Cameras and Lighting for Tattoo Artists in 2024

best cameras, lighting and lenses for tattoo photos
This is my actual tattoo. Do you like it?

So you want to grow your Instagram account. You want more tattoo customers and you want a good camera to use so people can see how good your work is. 

But, you don’t know anything about photography.

Don’t worry. I’ve been reviewing cameras for around 10 years.  Here I’ll explain everything to get amazing photos of your work so you can grow your tattoo business.

This is the only equipment guide that you need. You’ll find the best cameras, lenses, and lighting for tattoo artists:

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What to look for in a camera for tattoo photography?

The best option is a camera that can work well in low light.

Most tattoo studios are a bit dark. And even though you can work well in a place like this, cameras need more lighting to capture high-quality pictures.

That’s why we’re recommending cameras with an APS-C or full-frame sensor. They can capture a good amount of light that is enough for you to work indoors.

Full-frames are the most expensive option, but they’re also the best sensors for low light.

Also, you probably want something that can deliver great colors — because beautifully colored tattoos are great to attract customers —, right from the raw file without any postproduction.

Our favorite recommendation for tattoo artists is Fujifilm because they achieve the best, most close-to-reality colors of all brands.

Besides, they are arguably the best for photography this year — not so much for video —, right next to Nikon.

We’re not fans of Nikon colors. They usually require some good production, so that’s why we’re sticking to Fujifilm and other good alternatives for this article.

Sony A7R IV – Best Quality

Sony Alpha 7R IV Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera w/High Resolution 61MP Sensor, up to 10FPS with continuous AF/AE tracking
SensorFull-Frame
Megapixels61
Weight665g/1.47lb
video resolution4K
Screen3-inch tilting
​Stabilization Yes
Our Rating 4.8/5
​Price$3,198.00

The Good

  • Full-frame sensor
  • 61 MP to achieve images with high detail
  • 5-axis sensor shift stabilization

The Bad

  • Expensive

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Since you’ll probably be working in a dark place, a full frame like this one will make sure you can take good pictures without problems.

It will help you make sure you don’t get a blurry photo due to having to use low shutter speed because of the poor light. And it will give you pictures with 0 image noise since it has a big sensor — even if you work in a cave.

But the biggest deal about this camera is the insane 61-megapixel sensor. This allows it to capture highly detailed images like almost no other can.

The camera also has one of the best in-body stabilizations with its 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE system to help you against blurry pictures in low light.

Also, the full frame allows you to work with the limited space in your studio since you don’t need to keep a long distance from your subject.

And finally, the last advantage of a full-frame sensor is that it achieves the best Bokeh Effect. You know, that “blurry background” effect that makes any picture pop:

Sony also has great color science, meaning that their cameras can achieve beautiful colors that are really close to reality.

This is the kind of camera for tattoo artists with a good budget and who are truly looking for the best.

However, it might also be way too much just for tattoo photos. You don’t need something this expensive to achieve amazing tattoo pictures.

You can get away with one of the cheaper APS-C cameras below.

Fujifilm X-T4 – Best Value

Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera Body - Black
SensorAPS-C
Megapixels26
Weight607g/1.34lb
video resolution4K
Screen3-inch articulated
​Stabilization Yes
Our Rating 4.5/5
​Price$1,379.00

The Good

  • Great color quality
  • Tons of useful features
  • Internal stabilization

The Bad

  • Little improvements over the X-T3

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If you want to have the best quality possible without spending an outrageous amount, then you’ll love the Fujifilm X-T4.

The previous model, the X-T3, has been praised as the best camera for photography with some basic flaws by many experts.

Now, the X-T4 is fixing the flaws that the previous model had: in-body stabilization and an articulating touchscreen.

The in-body stabilization will help to capture photos in low light — like inside a tattoo studio. It will allow you to decrease the shutter speed to get more light into the sensor while shooting, without your image ending up all blurry. 

The ISO range goes from 160 to 12,800, which gives you a lot of room to work in low light.

Besides this, the camera achieves excellent colors. 

It also comes with environmental sealing — to protect it from rain and cold —, 2 SD card slots, and a headphone port.

So if you have the budget for it, you can’t go wrong with it.

It looks like this year, Fujifilm will continue to be one of the best APS-C brands for photography thanks to this camera.

Canon EOS RP – Best Priced

Canon EOS RP Full Frame Mirrorless Vlogging Portable Digital Camera with 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4K Video Recording and 3.0” Vari-angle Touch LCD Screen, Body, Black,
SensorAPS-C
Megapixels26.2
Weight440 g (16 oz)
Video resolution4K24p
Screen3-inch articulated
​Stabilization No
Our Rating 4/5
​PricePrice not available

The Good

  • Great quality for the price
  • Compact size for a full-frame
  • Affordable for a full-frame

The Bad

  • No image stabilization
  • Poor battery life

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This camera is Canon’s latest mirrorless release. It is a full-frame camera with a price that can compete with smaller sensor cameras. This makes it a great choice for low-light photography, which can help you take pictures in a dark tattoo studio.

But the Canon EOS RP is not only good for dark. You can achieve a beautiful—non-digital—bokeh effect with it if you combine it with a fast prime lens.

It produces sharp images with great color reproduction, which is characteristic of Canon. It offers full-frame functionality in a package that’s notably smaller, lighter, and cheaper than almost all its rivals. Its fully articulating screen makes it great for recording yourself, like for vlogging.

It doesn’t have a lot of megapixels like its full-frame counterparts, but if you’re mostly taking pictures for your social media, this is not a big concern.

Despite these drawbacks, the Canon EOS RP is a big success. It’s far from an entry-level camera, but it’s ideal as an entry-level full-frame camera.

Great alternatives for good pictures + video recording

These alternative cameras are also really good for video recording.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty good for photos, but they were also made with video performance in mind.

It will give you some good options if you’d like to record videos too.

Sony a6600

Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera
SensorAPS-C
Megapixels24
Weight503g/1.11lb
video resolution4K
Screen3-inch articulated
​Stabilization Yes
Our Rating 4.5/5
​Price$1,198.00

The Good

  • Good color quality
  • One of the best Autofocus
  • Good battery life

The Bad

  • A bit heavy for a small camera

Check on Amazon

This Sony camera is a mirrorless APS-C that almost looks and feels like a compact camera. 

So if you want to also record videos of your work, the Sony a6600 is a good option if you also want it to be easy to carry.

As I said before, Sony offers great color science. Also, this camera’s autofocus for both video and stills is one of the best in the market. The continuous autofocus is fast and reliable.

It also has a flip screen, which makes it easy to record vlogs or take selfies.

When compared to the Fujifilm X-T30 and the Canon EOS M6 II below, the Sony a6600 has internal image stabilization, environmental sealing, a headphone port, a higher ISO range, and a much longer battery life than both these options.

The only thing worse than both these competitors is its weight, but the difference isn’t big (120g difference with the X-T30 and 95g with the M6 II)

It’s my favorite option if you also want a camera for video.

Canon EOS 90D

Canon DSLR Camera [EOS 90D] with Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DIGIC 8 Image Processor, 4K Video, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and 3.0 Inch Vari-Angle Touch LCD Screen, [Body Only], Black
SensorAPS-C
Megapixels33
Weight701g/1.55lb
video resolution4K
Screen3-inch articulated
​Stabilization No
Our Rating 4/5
​Price$1,199.00

The Good

  • Good autofocus, especially for video
  • Easy to use

The Bad

  • Heavy body
  • No image stabilization

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This is the only DSLR I’m featuring in this article.

Most mirrorless nowadays just feel better to me, especially for people who aren’t too used to professional photography.

DSLRs are bulkier in every way. They’re heavier and larger. However, some people like the “feeling’ of a DSLR in their hands.

If you like them, the Canon EOS 90D is a recent release that has the top DSLR technology.

It has good autofocus thanks to Canon’s famous Dual Pixel AF. It also has the best battery life of all the cameras on this list.

The sensor is good for low-light photography — it’s the same sensor as its mirrorless cousin, the M6 II —, and the video features are also up to par with Sony.

Still, I’m not a big fan of Canon colors. As I’ve said before, they usually need a bit of editing for the colors to look good.

It also lacks internal image stabilization, which is a shame for a camera that was also made for video.

Luckily, Canon has arguably the best lens lineup in the market, which gives you a lot of options to choose from.

Best Lenses for Tattoo Photos 

For tattoo photos, the right lens is a pretty straightforward choice.

What you need is a 50mm prime lens. These are also called Macro lenses because they’re able to capture close shots that really make the subject stand out.

These lenses are fast, which is vital to get good-quality shots inside a tattoo studio without good lighting. They also produce sharp focus, which will make tattoos pop.

I’ve done the work for you and compiled the 50mm prime lenses for each brand below

You’ll have a couple of options per brand. The reason some of them are more expensive is that they’re faster and some come with OIS.

A faster lens has more aperture capacity that allows you to work in worse light conditions and still achieve a sharp image.

You’ll need a lens with optical image stabilization (OIS) if your camera doesn’t have internal stabilization.

And don’t hesitate to get the fastest lens that your budget can afford. The difference between f/1.8 and f/1.2 is striking. It will be worth the price difference since you’re using it to market your business.

Fujifilm

1. Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
  • 35mm equivalent - 85mm
  • Max aperture F1.2, Min aperture F16
  • Number of blades - 7(rounded diaphragm opening)

2. Fujinon 50mm f/2.0 XF R WR Lens
  • Equivalent to 76 millimeter (in the 35 millimeter film format)
  • Maximum aperture of F2.0 for beautiful bokeh
  • Weather and dust resistant, operates in temperatures as low as -10 Degree Celsius, making it ideal...

Canon

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • Standard focal length 50 millimeter lens is effective in a multitude of shooting situations and...
  • Elements, Groups: 7 by 6, Diaphragm: Blades 8, Filter Thread: Font 58 millimeter. Minimum focusing...
  • An f 1.4 maximum aperture provides clear imaging in low light situations and shallow depth of field

2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
  • 50 millimeter focal length and maximum aperture of f/1.8
  • Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography; Angle of view (horizontal, vertical,...
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet (0.35 meter) and a maximum magnification of 0.21x

Sony

1. 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM for Sony E
  • Completely redesigned and reengineered
  • Exceptional image quality
  • Incredible focal point sharpness when wide open

Sale
2. E 50mm F1.8 OSS Portrait Lens
  • Built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization and 7-blade circular aperture for beautiful defocus...
  • Minimum Focus Distance : 1.28 ft (0.39 m), Maximum Magnification ratio : 0.16x, Focal-Length : 50 mm...
  • Large F1.8 maximum aperture enables beautiful defocusing effects. Angle of View (APS-C) : 32°
Sale
3. FE 50mm F1.8 Standard Lens
  • Large F1.8 maximum aperture enables beautiful defocusing effects, 7-blade circular aperture creates...
  • Compact, lightweight design ideal for full-frame E-mount cameras, Aspherical element controls...
  • Double-gauss configuration suppresses field curvature & distortion, Metal mount adds solid...

Nikon

1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum
  • Ultrasonic type AF motor with full time manual focusing, 58mm filters
  • Minimum focus Distance : 0.45m/17.72 Inches. Lens Hood: HB 47

2. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135)...
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)
  • Newly developed optical system with aspherical lens element, exclusive Nikon silent wave motor (SWM)

Best Lighting for Tattoo Photography

I’m going to assume that you work in a pretty dark and small tattoo studio.

The big problem in this workplace when it comes to photography is:

  1. The lack of light
  2. The lack of space

So, to fix number one, you NEED to get some type of lighting.

If you don’t have a good window with a lot of lighting that you can use to take your pictures, then you need to buy some type of light for photography — some options below.

WARNING: I don’t care if you got a $2k camera. If you don’t use lighting, your pictures will be USELESS — and then you’ll blame me for thinking I recommended a bad camera.

Now, for number 2 (lack of space), the kind of lighting that can work in a place like this is probably a simple flash to attach to your camera’s hot shoe — don’t use your camera’s internal flash or you’ll get an awful result.

So the first thing I’m going to recommend for you is to get the following flash.

Camera Flash

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite for Canon Sony Nikon Panasonic Olympus Pentax and Other DSLR Cameras, Digital Camera Speedlight with Standard Hot Shoe
  • 【Flexible Angle Adjustment】 Vertical Rotation Angle: 0~90 degrees, Horizontal Rotation Angle:...
  • 【Wide Compatibility】 This camera flash light for photography is compatible with Canon compatible...
  • 【How to Charge】 Switch to the ON, the flash will start charging (the charging indicator is dim)

I’m selecting this one because it has great reviews and it can swivel. 

This latter feature is VITAL because you don’t want to point the flash directly to your tattoo.

Instead, point it toward the ceiling so the light bounces off and becomes softer on the tattoo.

Another thing I like about this flash is the little diffuser it comes with. You can experiment with it until you get a good result.

Ring Lights

If you have enough space, get a ring light. They don’t occupy a lot and are great for all kinds of photography.

Here are the best options:

NEEWER Ring Light 18inch Kit: 55W 5600K Professional LED with Stand and Phone Holder, Soft Tube & Bag for Tattoo Lash Extension Barber Makeup Artist Studio Video Photography Lighting, RL-18
  • Please note: 1. The light stand is packed in a separate box inside the big package box (under the...
  • Kit includes: (1)18"/45cm Outer 55W 5600K LED Ring Light+(1)61"/155cm Light Stand+(1)Soft...
  • Dimmable 18"/45cm Outer 55W 5600K 240 Pieces LED bulbs with a wide dimming range from 1%-100%....
UBeesize Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand and Phone Holder, Portable and Circle ringlight for Phone (Black)
  • Dimmable Ring Light Featuring 3 Color Lighting Modes: Warm Light (3000K), Cool White (4500K), And...
  • Upgraded Tripod Stand : 1, No-Twisting-To-Lock That Collapses Over Time, Belsize New Tripod Adopts...
  • Rotatable Phone Holder: 1, You Can Easily Adjust The Phone Holder To Find One Angle You Desire...

No products found.

How to Make Tattoos Pop in Pictures

There are two simple things you can do to get really nice pictures of your tattoos, even if you have NO knowledge about photography:

1. The key to almost every good shot is lighting.

You really need to have a good lighting source. If you don’t have a window with good lighting intake that you can use, then you need one of the lighting recommendations above.

If you go with the flash mounted on the camera, don’t point the flash directly to the tattoo.

If you do so, you might create a glare that won’t let people appreciate the greatness of your work. Like this:

Tattoo

You want to avoid that. Instead, point the flash to the ceiling or walls. It will bounce there and “go back” to your tattoo more diffused.

That’s the key: don’t use a hard lighting source directly onto the tattoo. Let it be diffused.

You’ll get a soft, even light that will allow people to appreciate your entire work and will look more professional:

Tattoo

That’s why it’s important to bounce the light or use a diffuser (umbrella or softbox) if you’re using a lighting stand.

2. Get close to the subject.

This might be obvious to you, but I’ve seen many people stand too far away from the tattoo.

You want the tattoo to cover most of the picture. That’s how it will REALLY pop:

Tattoos

It’s amazing how much of a difference just getting closer to your subject can make.

The good thing is that if you get a 50mm prime lens, you’ll most likely not run into this problem. 

The lens will naturally make you get closer to your subject than if you used a lens with zoom.

That’s it for now. This should answer all the questions you have about tattoo photography. 

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask below.

Good luck with growing your tattoo business 🙂