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Thread: Jewelry photography

  1. #1

    Jewelry photography

    Hi, I am brand new to this forum. I have a small jewelry collection, silver charms etc. But I need to take good pictures. Any suggestions which camera to use? And which light setup?

    THe images need to look really nice. For now I used small compact canon camera, but I am not satisfied. The images really look bad

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Davey's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    I have seen a lot of good jewelry bts, workflows and setups on Alex Koloskov's site photigy.com He mainly does tabletop product stuff but has done some jewelry but there are a fair few jewelry related links and setups and links to likes of antfarmphotography blog and epicmind blog/

    Epicmind blog in particular is worth checking for jewelry setups etc. As for what camera I'd personally start with whatever you have and pus hit to the limit unless you already know what you need from it. If you haven't got a camera but are looking at starting then whatever is in your budget but for none commercial jewelry shooting I'd say get an entry level dslr not something mid or high end. Spend what you save on stuff like a few lights, piece of black acrylic, white acrylic, other interesting surfaces to shoot the jewelry on and light mods or materials to DIY mods.

  3. #3
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Honestly, don't get a dSLR. Get an enthusiast compact or bridge camera with a flash hotshoe, some flashes and triggering gear, and learn how to do off-camera light.

    Only get a dSLR if you're interested in photography generally. To do macro/closeup photography with a large-sensored camera, you typically need a special macro lens, or additional macro gear of some kind, and this can get very expensive.

    Most small sensored (1/2.3" format) compact digital cameras can actually shoot very close in because the sensor and lenses are so small that the minimum focus distance is reduced to the point where you don't need a macro lens.

    With product photography, and with jewelry in particular, it's mostly going to come down to the lighting. Learning to light with off-camera lights and diffusers, and controlling specular highlights is the big deal, as well as having good clean backgrounds. But you can do pretty good shots with just a P&S camera, and it will cost you a whole lot less than a dSLR set up.

    Jewelry photography
    Sheaffer Touchdown inside a $1.99 Fniss trashcan from Ikea, lit by three flashes.
    Shot with a Canon Powershot G9, and 580EX and 430EX triggered by an ST-E3 on the G9, and an SB-26 triggered by its built-in optical slave.

    Jewelry photography

    You just need a camera with a flash hotshoe, so you have some way of triggering an external flash from your camera. You can, of course, start with continuous lighting, but flash typically gives you a lot more power and flexibility and you won't fry under the heat of the lights. You just have to get good at visualizing light.

    Oh, and museum putty or museum gel is terrific at keeping objects in place as you photograph them.

  4. #4

    Re: Jewelry photography

    But will compact camera work for jewelry, that is my dream to do that, because dslr is too big. Do you have any jewelry samples?

    I think with small compact you cant achieve anything good, you get too much reflection from camera lense etc...

    why you think dslr is not necessary, in jewelry everthing gives reflection

  5. #5
    Davey's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    inkista's route is good too and possibly cheaper as the dslr route would indeed mean a macro lens which would set you back 200ish and over. Not substitute to dslr or as flexible but good enough for learning. There is always cheap DIY McGuyver route which although is not commercial work viable is great way to learn and on the cheap. Pushing things as far as you can often helps to learn more than if you have a fancy camera to do that for you.

    Eg. If you have a compact already with no hotshoe you can always use the pop up flash to trigger strobes in slave model, no substitute to having proper hotshoe/sync port trigger though but better than nothing if it's all you have. I've done this before now on point and shoot bridge camera and likes. Various ways to stop the on cam flash affecting photo too much or at all such as put card/flag 45deg angle over it to bounce light it away from scene, I've found it still triggers strobes but doesn't reach scene, dial down fec if cam has to as low as it'll go. I've also used ND gel from a 2 sample pack of Lee gels* or just heavily diffuse it and use it as weaker fill light.

    * as for gels it's handy to get one of these sample swatches since they're big enough to cover speedlight fresnel for all kinds of creative effects and white balancing mixed strobe ambient shots and so on. Worth it for such a small investment IMO. Dave Hobby's site (strobist) has much more on that kind of thing. That's where I started a few years ago and found it indispensable.

  6. #6
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Hi Gabriela,

    To give any worthwhile advice the below should be considered first.

    You say that the images need to look 'really nice', but beware, really nice is a very subjective standard. Can you say exactly what the purpose of the images is for? Will they be for web viewing such as ebay or at the other end of the scale for 24 x 18 inch professional prints.

    You also say your images look really bad, it may be worth posting an example of one as it could simply be your technique and advice can be given to assist.

    Grahame

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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gabriela View Post
    But will compact camera work for jewelry, that is my dream to do that, because dslr is too big. Do you have any jewelry samples?

    I think with small compact you cant achieve anything good, you get too much reflection from camera lense etc...

    why you think dslr is not necessary, in jewelry everthing gives reflection
    Perhaps if you post some of your images and indicate what it is you don't like in them, we could give more specific hints.
    If you could also include some information about your setup taking the pictures, that would be ideal.

    Don't forget that there are very good compacts nowadays (but their price can get close to that of a basic DSLR as well...).
    And the kind of camera has no influence on the reflections you'll get (the lighting will influence the reflections!)

  8. #8
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Quote Originally Posted by gabriela View Post
    But will compact camera work for jewelry, that is my dream to do that, because dslr is too big. Do you have any jewelry samples?
    Nope. I'm not into the shinies, aside from fountain pens. Note that I took that fountain pen image with a Canon Powershot G9, not a dSLR.

    I think with small compact you cant achieve anything good, you get too much reflection from camera lense etc...
    Look again at the links that Davey mentioned. There's a whole section of jewelry photographs that were taken with an iPhone and a plastic dome diffuser:

    http://www.photigy.com/jewelry-photo...d-dome-review/

    Trust us when we tell you--it's NOT the camera. Technique and lighting go a long long way, regardless of the camera.

    ...why you think dslr is not necessary, in jewelry everthing gives reflection
    Because it's not the small camera that's giving you the reflections--it's the lighting.

    You probably also need to learn post-processing, as well as basic photography skillz. Really great shots take time to create/envision, set up, plan out, and execute. You need good solid technique for composition, exposure, and post processing. Just pressing a button and having a gorgeous shot is not really how this all happens. The difference between a photograph and a snapshot is thinking time and effort. A really good shot can take HOURS to get.

    It's not the camera; the camera is just the tool. You have to know how to take the picture you want, and you have to master the techniques to get it. As everyone else is saying here, post one of your images with EXIF information, and we can tell you where you may have gone wrong, or propose gear (e.g., a tripod) or technique (white balancing RAW files in post or JPEGs in camera) that could help improve the image.
    Last edited by inkista; 23rd September 2013 at 08:02 PM.

  9. #9
    Davey's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    oh one thing I didn't mention which is important for macro distance with jewelry especially is focus. With dslr, especially full frame 35mm, not always but often you need to focus stack to get the whole piece suitably sharp. Due to wider dof with smaller sensor size for equivalent fields of view you can get away with smaller stacks or occasionally single images which means less of a learning curve since you aren't learning focus stacking on top of lighting and pp. Full manual options help with flexibility but some cheaper powershots are chkdsk compatible which helps extend them considerably.

    @inkista nice pen, don't see many of those around

  10. #10
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey View Post
    @inkista nice pen, don't see many of those around
    Thanks! I'm a sucker for a nice Sheaffer Touchdown with a triumph nib. I also love that those gold nibs are plated the right way. The platinum goes where the ink would go.

    One more thought--there is one type of continuous lighting you could use for jewelry which wouldn't fry you, and that could cost less than flashes and be easier to use, and that would be LED panels.

  11. #11
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    I would get a camera which can shoot RAW and learn how to work with RAW images. Achieving a correct white balance (pretty important when shooting jewelry) is easy when processing in camera RAW. Simply include a white balance target such as a WhiBal card and use the eyedropper white balance tool in camera RAW.

    Another advantage in Camera RAW is that you can correct a lot of distortion using the lens correction tool.

    Jewelry photography

    Camera RAW is supplied with Photoshop Elements which is a reasonably low cost editing program.

    Here is a selection of free, short video tutorials, many of which might be of use in your jewelry photography...

    http://www.prophotolife.com/video-library/

    The continuous light unit used in the first of these videos can be found in most home improvement stores at a very-very reasonable price. Usually under ten dollars...

    A very viable camera would be the Canon SX50 which runs in the neighborhood of $350 USD.

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-powershot-sx50-hs

    A small tripod would also be a very handy tool to have. Since this is such a small camera, you might be able to make do with a Gorillapod in lieu of a tripod but, you do need something to hold your camera steadily in place...

    http://joby.com/gorillapod/hybrid

  12. #12

    Re: Jewelry photography

    Hi, I borrowed my friend's Canon mkII with macro 100 lense. I used her setup with lights. He helped me to shoot. I still learn how to shoot but images look really good. They have a lot of reflection and noise so I had to retouch them. I send them to this company for retouching http://www.seoandwebdesign.com/ I will let you know how they turn out. I need to reduce my reflections, I need zero reflections..

  13. #13
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Gabriela... The Canon MkII (I assume 5D MkII) is a top-line camera and the Canon 100mm macro lens is among the top macro lenses. They should do an excellent job for you but, may just be overkill. However, working with the best equipment is always a joy.

    If you decide on a camera/lens like this; a tripod that articulates is a good investment. There are may different brands available, Giottos is just one brand. I am quite satisfied with my Giottos MT-8180 Graphite Tripod and it is surdy enough to support the 5D MkII and 100mm Macro rig...

    http://www.giottosusa.com/professional-tripods.shtml

    I don't know what type "retouching" you are needing but, I am pretty sure that with a program like Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements; you should be able to do just about anything that the company can do.

    A nice addition to either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is the NIK Software which allows a non editing guru to make just about any changes to any image. As an example, here is a YouTube video on making a gray background white. This is a problem that has been addressed in several CiC posts...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIUp6bGooE4

    Here is a YouTube video tutorial on changing a white background to a transparent background in Photoshop CS-6...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-JihLhJREQ

    There are lots of other videos available for editing with a large number of programs including NIK Software, Photoshop CS6, and Photoshop Elements. Just do a Google search.

    OR... post the examples that you need retouched for us to see and perhaps I or someone more proficient in Image Editing can help you.

    IMO: The most one can do in house, not relying on outside sources, is quicker and often less expensive than using the outside source...

  14. #14

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    Re: Jewelry photography

    Delete largely as written to earlier post
    The camera you use is immaterial, it is how you use it with what lighting you use and how you set up the subject.
    As to if anything is good or bad from a P&S depends on how well the photo was taken and to what size the result is being viewed.

    For some of the ins and outs there is this link
    http://www.tabletopstudio.com/docume...hotography.htm

    And after all that plug for Adobe I will mention Corel's Paint Shop Pro which costs much less than Photoshop, about the same as PSE and even less if you do not buy this years version from Amazon.... it is a different but comparable product to PS. .... to really save there is GIMP and I have done quite a lot with Paint dot Net another free download with the essential tools you need.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 27th September 2013 at 06:35 AM.

  15. #15

  16. #16

    Re: Jewelry photography

    http://www.photigy.com/

    www.epicmind.com

    www.facetflash.com

    Feel free to add me on facebook.

    Calvin Smith in Austin, Texas. I'm sure I could help you out quite a bit if you would like.

  17. #17

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    Re: Jewelry photography

    You can get away a lot cheaper if you don't bother about flash at all. For shooting small subjects that don't move, it is easier to find out how to light if you have constant light sources, and the small strobes won't help you with seeing the light.

    I would suggest that you take a look at Jim Talkington's videos on lighting and studio work. They are very informative.
    http://www.prophotolife.com/video-library/

    Often when shooting jewelry, diffusion is not the answer, but a small light source that makes your item glitter. Small spotlights may make wonders, and they are also dead cheap, compared to strobe units. They may be used with diffusion when diffuse light is wanted, and they may also be used naked, to create those reflected and refracted highlights. To use this kind of light, you might need a camera that can take images with long exposure times.

    If you use a compact or a bridge camera, rather than a DSLR, you won't even need a very sturdy tripod. Even a rather crappy one serves well with compacts. It is also a great help if the self timer can be set to just a couple of seconds.

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