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A car turntable is a motorized rotating platform. Turntables are used by car and truck dealers to help take high quality photos. This article looks at what they are and how they’re used. Turntables can also be called car carousels or rotating platforms.

How Does a Car Turntable Work?

Auto photographers take a lot of vehicle photos from different angles so car buyers can see the full vehicle.

Turntables allow auto dealer photographers to easily capture a 360 degree view, including the front, back, and sides. The turntable rotates vehicles on the platform at a constant speed. While the table is rotating, one or more fixed cameras automatically takes photos or a video to create a 360 degree spin.

Compare a Turntable to a Push Booth and Manual Shooting

Turntables are often used in place of manual shooting or push 360 booths to create exterior spins. There are many advantages to using a carousel. A motorized table is made with steel to support vehicles that way up to 10,000 pounds. So they are highly durable.

Turntables will not blur photos, require less photography space, take less time to shoot, provide more consistent results, and can be fully automated.

Manual shooting is the process of taking a photo frame by frame. Getting consistent results can be time-consuming and difficult, especially for 360-degree shoots. This is because it can be difficult to keep the camera still and take the photos at the same angle.

Push booths have a circular track, a wall with lights with an opening for cars, and a camera attached to the wall. To take a 360 spin an operator drives the car through the wall opening. He turns the camera on to take a series of photos. He then pushes the side of the booth to rotate the wall and the camera around the car.

Push booths have to be light enough to be easily moved by an operator. They are not made of steel and so aren’t as durable as a turntable.

The push booth method of shooting spins is manual. The spin production quality will vary based on the speed and consistency of the wall being pushed by the photographer.

Parts of a Turntable

The main parts of a motorized turntable are:

  • Platform: This is the rotating surface that the object sits on. It is usually made of stainless steel or fiberglass and designed to be smooth and level.
  • Motor: A motor connects to the platform and frame through chains and belts or spokes to power turntable rotation.
  • Motor control: A wireless electronic control unit feeds power to the turntable motor and regulates the turntable speed. The unit includes wireless communications so the operator can use a remote to start and stop the table and change directions.
  • Base: The turntable base supports the platform top. A steel track provides a level foundation on the floor for the table. Wheels distribute the vehicle weight and enable the table to smoothly rotate on the track. A frame connects the platform top to the wheels and track. The steel is typically galvanized to provide long-life and resist rust and corrosion.

Where Are Turntables Used?

Turntables are used in a variety of applications, including photography, marketing and advertising, product visualization, scientific research, and industrial applications for test,  inspection, locomotion, and product display.  They’re often used  where there is limited photography space, photo quality is critical,  and carousel longevity and rotation consistency are important.

Large turntables can rotate vehicles, locomotives, and restaurants.  They are used at auto dealers, commercial office and residential garages and driveways, and rail and road terminals and junctions. 

Where Are Auto Dealer Turntables Installed?

Top HD tables are corrosion-resistant and channel water away.  They can easily be maintained, driven over if in the middle of a facility,  and used to store or show cars.

Turntables are located wherever a dealer has space for an installation.  It’s typically in the back of the dealership in the reconditioning center, service center, car delivery bay, service entrance, any warehouse, or a dedicated photo studio building.  These locations will have a room or area set up specifically for photography or even a full photo studio with lots of lighting, light and clean walls and flooring, fixed cameras and electronics, and walls or curtains to separate the photo booth from the rest of the facility. 

High-end and luxury car dealers may install a turntable in their showroom where the rotating platform will draw foot traffic and showcase a specific vehicle and manufacturer.

Ideally tables are placed next to detailing and wash bays so cars can be cleaned, driven a short distance, and then shot at the photo studio without going outside where it can get dirty. 

Contact us today to learn more about our car turntables and how they can help you take your vehicle photography to the next level.