[Again] Jewelry Photography

I would appreciate any help I can get…

My mother owns her own jewelry business, and she is looking for a
new camera to help her with the photos on her web site of her
jewelry. Here is the info on the type of digital camera she
currently has:

Nikon CoolPix 995, bought in 2001. It has 3.1 megapixels. She
doesn’t have any add on lenses. She uses a Photoflex Basic Starlite
Light Kit for lighting. She makes all the necessary changes to
saturation, image, etc. but the colors do not come out accurately on
her website. She particularly has trouble with greens and then

She is looking for a more robust digital camera but would like to
stick with Nikon. She wants to get the best that she can afford but
she wants to be reasonable in price also. She is looking for more
pixels, ability to take better close up shots (need add on lenses?),
true color, something good for professional quality via digital
imaging for a website, but nothing too complicated. She realizes
that she may have to get another light kit to provide more lighting.

Any ideas?
Thanks in advance!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Coolpix 995 for web macros
of jewelry. It has ample controls for proper color balance and depth
of field. The 3.1 mp rating is several times more than you need for
websized files. Be sure to compress these shots to much smaller file
sizes for web use.Large file size takes too long for the picture to
load on the customers screen, and statistics show that if your
pictures take more than aprox. 5 seconds to load, the customer
begins to lose interest or becomes concerned that the site has
problems. Simply buy a set of macro lenses made specifically for the
coolpix and you will have all the camera you will ever need for the
purpose. If you are having trouble with greens and blues in the
pics, make sure that there is absolutely no flourescent lights on in
the room while shooting. Most, not all, flourescents do not have a
complete spectrum of colors, and makes it very difficult to adjust
blues and greens in the picture. If you do not want to spend a
fortune on lighting, use 2 halogen desklamps and 1 full spectrum
incandescent bulb in a desklamp. Use one of the various brands of
light tents or cocoons for controlling glare on shiny items such as
jewelry. Also, learn to use various color reflector cards inside the
tent to create tones or moods of color on and around the subject. It
takes time and experience to learn proper placement of subject,
lights, and reflector cards, but experimentation is half of the fun
through the learning curve.

Ed in Kokomo

Also make sure that you look at the pictures thru a variety of
browsers, moniters, other’s PCs, to see how it looks to other people
when they view it, besides your own PC and moniter. There is always
a possibility that after compression to JPG or Bitmap for web use,
that it may only look bad on your screen and not others, or vice

Ed in Kokomo

The Nikon 995 is a great camera and you can do very nice pictures
with it. The lenses are unnecessary. For web type work you don’t
need any more resolution anyway because you’re going to drop way
down before you publish ayway. Pay atttention to your lighting.
That’s the key. I really like my clouddome for most items where I
can live with the viewing angle, (ie. straight down from the top).

Neil Beaty

For web photography, the camera she has is more than adequate for
her needs, and is quite adequate for an 8" x 10" print. She will do
better by investing her money into lighting, lenses and maybe a class
or two in digital photography at the local college.

For starters, invest in Charles Lewton-Brain’s book/video combo of
Small Scale Photography. Invest in a close up lens set or macro lens.
B and H Photo is a good place to start for getting the necessary
adapter rings and lenses. Invest in some natural daylight compact
fluorescent light bulbs and install them in bell reflectors. You can
now get them in different Kelvin temperatures as well. Use either a
Cloud Dome or a homemade drop shadow box (explained in CLB’s
book/video). Diffused overall lighting is best, and little LED snake
lights bring in sparkle where you need it. Make sure the monitor is
calibrated so what she sees when she downloads the pics are actually
the true colors that she shot. Hook up the digital camera to a TV to
compose the shots so you can see if it really is in focus, instead
of relying on the tiny LCD screen on the camera. Learn to use the
manual settings on the camera, which a class or two will really be
helpful. Research the past archives of Orchid for helpful hints and
websites. What is seen on a website by other viewers is subjective
and dependent on the monitor quality, settings and calibration, so
she might list something in her website as to the best settings for
viewing, and hard copy photos showing the true colors are available
for a small price. Oh yes, and the developers are an important factor
for hard copies, and if only the best will do, go to SlidePrinter out
of Colorado. It’s amazing what they can do.

If she really wants to stick with Nikon then I would recommend going
with one of the really high end digital SLRs. If she wants to spend
less than a few thousand dollars for the camera then perhaps she
should consider Canon. Canon uses all glass optics in all of their
cameras whereas Nikon does only on the really high-end professional
models. In other words Canon puts more effort into their mid and low
end models where Nikon tends to focus exclusively on the high-end
when it comes to quality.

Regardless of brand, if she gets an SLR model she can get different
lenses to do extreme close-up shots. I am camera shopping right now
as well and currently considering the Canon digital rebel. It is the
least expensive Canon SLR. You can get that online for anywhere from
600-900 dollars. The lenses on it are compatible with other
non-digital 35mm canon lenses like the AE1 35mm body.

In any case you can find some great info and review on digital
cameras at www.cnet.com. Keep in mind that for display on the web she
should never need more than 3-4 megapixels. Any more than that and
you are talking about enough resolution for prints larger than 8x10.

Hope that helps.

May I suggest the Canon Rebel or even better the next model up the
10D as I recall. The 10D is not the latest, so you may find a second
hand one from someone who upgraded. The new 20D is even better but
more than the average jeweler needs even for fine quality pictures.

The canon rebel or 10D takes any EOS lens, of which there are many
available new for about $200, or less on Ebay or second hand. The
film EOS camera is great and very popular, and it’s just wonderful to
put those older lenses to work on a new digital SLR camera. Canon
dominates this market based on sheer performance. AJM has published
lots of pictures my wife and I have taken. Like the cover art on the
October issue. If you own a film EOS just plan on buying the digital
camera body only.

For jewelry close ups get a lens that does macro well. The
performance is equal or better to 35mm film cameras.

I’m a huge fan of Canon digital cameras still or video. Not the
cheapest, but competitive and top performance.

My dealer is Camera Craft in North Hollywood, www.cameracraftnh.com

Daniel Ballard

Dear Price & Kim;

I just purchased a used Nikon Coolpix 995 camera, primarily for its
macro focus capability of around 2 cm (0.75"). It’s ability to
rotate the lens relative to the preview screen and the capability to
adjust the exposure setting manually make it an astounding camera
for jewellery photography.

If your mother is taking these shots for “showing” on the web, 3
mexapixels is more than you need. Is she sure she is using the macro
setting for focusing? Should show a “yellow” macro focus ((flower))
image on the screen: check the manual, or contact me “off-line” for
more details and info.

Tel: 905.566.0950
Fax: 905.290.9398

Nikon CoolPix 995, bought in 2001. It has 3.1 megapixels.  She
doesn't have any add on lenses.  She uses a Photoflex Basic
Starlite Light Kit for lighting.  She makes all the necessary
changes to saturation, image, etc. but the colors do not come out
accurately on her website.  She particularly has trouble with
greens and then blues. 

Wait - the Nikon 995 is a great camera. The problem is the light
source at 3200K. Set the white balance, and you should get the right
colors. Or, get a cloud dome and some of the little Ott lights which
are much closer to true daylight. The 995 does great closeups, with
auto focus even. There is no need or capability for additional
lenses. I use that exact camera for all my photos, and it’s great!
Is she setting the camera for close up shots - the little flower? and
then using the timer to get jiggle free shots? She must have a
tripod or the cloud dome to eliminate movement.

Go to my website and click on pendants - those are all shot with a
995 Nikon Coolpix. Look at each of them in full size, the colors are
true, and the pictures are appropriate for a website. I’ve taken most
of the pictures to 20" by 30" for display in my booth.

And if she wants to get rid of the camera, I’ll take it. In a skinny

Judy Hoch, G.G.

I’m probably late with this, but I have a Nikon CoolPix 995 and I get
very true colors most of the time. I set up in my front window
(facing South) and get the best pictures when the sun is shining (the
jewelry sits in a shadow, just out of the direct sunlight). If it is
a dark day, I use an Ottlight.

Sometimes if there is a lot of glare, I hold a piece of frosted
plastic to shield the jewelry. Also, I usually lay the jewelry on a
grey background, I’ve found the colors are better with grey than with
white. I then use PaintShop Pro 7. I often have to lighten the
pictures but otherwise no tweaking.

Very simple and the only expensive thing is the camera and the Ott light.

Hope this helps.

I recently purchased a Canon Powershot A75, 3.2 Mega Pixels camera
to take pictures for my pending website. It takes awesome pictures
and its easy to operate. It has a built in macro lens and you can
change lense. I was advised by Camera shop personnel prior to
buying that all you really need is 3.2 pixels for the web. Plus the
camera is really reasonable. All of the Canons were rated high
everywhere I went and I looked at them all.


Here is my two cents. I bought a Canon Digital Rebel (6.2) mega
pixels) with a zoom lense that also has macro capability. For really
close shots I use a macro ring. In addition I built a light box out
of milk white transluscent plexi glass and six daylight flourescent
screw type bulbs. The flourescent bulbs are in swing arm lamps to
adjust intensity and angle of lighting. The camera hooks directly
into my laptop computer and I can shoot the from the camera. A full
screen picture comes up on the screen and never even goes into the
camera memory. I can keep or reject the image from the keyboard.
Several of the camera settings can be changed without touchng the

I’ve enjoyed it.