Camera system for gemstone shots

Dear Orchid forum, Greetings–I’m a new member and need your
recommendation for a good digital camera and light box system for
taking photos of gemstones (and occasional jewelry pieces).

I want to set up the camera attached to a light box that gives good
consistent photos (both for JPGs and catalog-style pictures) that is
a “no-brainer”. I need an easy system that I can purchase as a
complete unit, rather than build myself.

Any suggestions, experiences, etc? Thank you in advance for your

Abigail Harris Magnata

Abigail, You might want to look at this system called an Internet
Studio Light offered by Photo Tech Inc. Here is the link.

I have not tried this product myself, but it looks promising.

David Luck

The only system you can buy complete, that I know of is the Cloud

Oh wait, there is another one, that’s more expensive, in the Rio

Building your own system is quite easy, however.

The Charles Lewton Brain book and video set describe the set up in
great detail and it’s easy to set up.

I used to work in a shop where we had a white plywood box on a side
counter top, with the camera connected to it with a bracket thing.
The camera had a ring flash on it. The box had a piece of non glare
glass at an angle in inside it. The blue background paper went
under the glass.

We used prop wax (from the camera store) to hold jewelry in place
when necessary.

This was very easy to use – camera settings were always the same,
just set up the jewelry, frame the shot and click.

This set up is not good enough for jury slides, but it’s good enough
for documentation and maybe catalogs.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

I use a Nikon 995 with tripod, three Ott-lights, a half dozen
semi-transparent pieces of paper for partial diffusion, and several
backgrounds. My photographs are beautiful. My entire studio cost
less than $300. And my head is big (ha ha)

The truth is I’ve seen and tested light boxes (ie cloud domes). I’m
not impressed with the prices or quality of photographs.

Kashmir Sapphire Microphotos: (with a milled
microscope attachment) Other photographs: (3/4 of which are old.
The learning curve is steep.)

Ed Cleveland

Speaking of Cloud Dome, are there any pics out there taken with this
setup that people wouldn’t mind sharing? I checked it out at the
Phoenix show and wasn’t too impressed. Everything was just to flat.
Now, I understand that Arena lighting is less than ideal, so I am
looking for some “real world” pics. Zach

My two Alaskan cents on photo systems for jewelry. I’ve used the
"Image dome " system and seen the cloud dome and another light box
system (MK industries?), and they all have advantages. Cloud dome
seems to be the cheapest and easiest. the problem I have with all
of them is they don’t give you total control over where you can
place the object, the camera, or the lights.

For basic, quick, documentation of work, these systems are fine. I
have been frustrated by the inherent limitations. I would be
curious to know what some of the very fine jewelry photographers
(Weldon, the van Pelts, Lee-Carraher, et al. use to get their
incredible images.

-BK in AK

 I would be curious to know what some of the very fine jewelry
photographers(Weldon, the van Pelts, Lee-Carraher, et al. use to
get their incredible images. 

Judging by the professional I use, the answer is, a studio filled
with many thousands of dollars of equipment, and the expertise that
comes from doing nothing else all day, every day. After many years of
struggling, I have concluded that if you want professional quality
shots, you need a professional–and a good one.

For anyone about to ask who these people are, check the archives–
there has been much discussion, and names of favorites.


Your photos are excellent! What type of surface are you using as a
background? How do you get the beautiful reflection? I am
photographing dichroic glass sculpture and beads. So far I just use
a white background and removing the background in Photoshop,
dropping a shadow. I have not posted any of my photos taken with
the Cloud Dome because I am not happy with them yet. Thanks for your
input! Patricia Stoll