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Choosing digital camera for jewelry photography?


I would like to buy a new camera to photograph my work. I know this
topic has been done to death from time to time. But, I have
unsuccessfully searched Ganoksin archives for recent posts, so here
we go again. Could somebody recommend the latest camera model that
would service me well? I can spend up to 700 USD, but would of
course prefer to spend less if possible.

Thanx very much and keep shining,

Hi Devora,

There are many options but in my mind if you want to spend about $700
I would go for a good used camera body and a new lens. For example I
enjoy Canon equipment. I might suggest a 20D body that you can pick
up for a few hundred dollars and a good 100mm macro, or a zoom that
can handle close up work. Typically people will get a great camera
body and update every few years…so that the camera body is in great
shape. Please forgive the pun, but focus on the lens for the work
that you want to shoot.

Just a thought.

May I recommend the LUMIX FZ1000, for sale on Amazon for under $450.
I have an older version FZ38 and find it good for all types of
photography, and it is great for close ups and to top it all it has a
Leica lens.

James Miller FIPG

I have been taking pics of my work and other jewelers with good
success after going through film cameras then when digital came out.
You can have decent pictures with the Nikon and Canon dslr bodies
that have interchangeable lenses. Get a refurb or used from a good
rated buyer on ebay or Cameta Cameras in New York has some good
buys. The only reason I am suggesting a Dslr is the fact that a point
and shoot 10 megapixil and Dslr with the same megapixil have
different sensor size which is the digital “film” that coverts the
pixels into an image. you probably know that but the sensor size has
a lot to do with the quality you want. Get a 50 mm f2.8 dedicated
macro, invested in a good TTL flash, TTL meaning through the lens,
gets a idea of how much light to create the image. A mini studio set
up for the quick on thy fly, buy a Gary Fong clear diffuser. This get
light to the object with out shadows with true to life color of the
oblect. Get the light cloud colored disc, Rio Grande sells them in
needed color for jewelry shooting, the best is the neutral gray for
accurate color of the picture. this is just the start. The fast macro
you can even hand hold the camera with little or no shake. Hope this
helps, I have tried and tested many cameras and the ones on the last
3 to for years are so much better then what came out 10 years ago.


I suggest that you do some comparison shopping at this website:


You can do a side-by-side comparison of features for any cameras,
and look for the one that suits you best.

The main thing, if you’re using it for jewelry, is to make sure that
you have macro capability, so you can do very clear close-up shots.
Having manual controls as well as presets is good, too, because
sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and lie to the camera to
get it to do what you want it to do instead of what it wants to do
in preprogrammed mode.

Personal recommendation? I’m pretty impressed with the specs for the
Nikons and Fujifilm cameras, but those are the ones I’ve the most
personal experience with, also. The nice thing about that website is
that they’ve played with all of them, and will give a pretty
unbiased assessment.


i can recommend the nikon L100
very nice close-up shooting, also shoots HD movie

Hi Devora,

I have shot for several years and continue to shoot all of my work on
6.1 MP Nikon D40 . currently is offering used D40 bodies in
Like New, Excellent plus, and Excellent condition ranging from $275
to $325. Even an excellent rated camera from KEH is pretty much
pristine. And you get a fourteen day return privelege and a two
month warranty. As a disclaimer, I do not work for nor do I know
anyone at KEH. I am a satisfied customer, however.

They also have the Nikon 60mm f/2.8 D Micro (which will do 1:1 on the
D40) in a used unit from $374 to $379. While this lens is an auto
focus lens it will not auto focus on the D40 or on any of the entry
level DX cameras. But. You don’t want auto focus for close up
photography because the depth of field is usually so minimal precise
focusing can only be done the old fashioned way. By the time you
throw in shipping and an SD card or two you’ll be at your $700 limit
and have the best set up possible regardless of dollars spent
(IMHO). On a DX camera like the D40 the effective focal length of a
60mm lens is equivalent to a 90mm lens on a standard 35mm camera (or
the full frame digital units). This gives a very nice working

You could go even more economical by purchasing a used manual focus
Nikon Micro 55mm f/3.5 Micro. However, the meter will not function
with these lenses so you have to do some trial and error to get the
proper exposure. Not insurmountable but in the end a nuisance.

While there is a 10.2 MP version called the D40X for about the same
money the D40 makes superior images. Assuming you don’t want
anything larger than 18" X 12" print size. See below about ISO.

Here’s what’s so good about the D40:

It is about the smallest DSLR body on the market. Menu system and
controls are very simple but very effective. While it has some auto
exposure functions it has all the manual controls. It has no video
function which generally means that more of what you’re paying has
gone to more of what you bought it for.

While a mere 6.1 MP the sensor size is the same as the sensor size
in cameras in this class with more megapixels. This means that each
pixel is actually larger by almost double which means the D40 has a
wider value latitude than the others.

The base ISO on the D40 is 200 while the D40X and all other entry
level cameras to date start at ISO 100 - a full stop slower than the
D40. This is important because the D40 allows you to use smaller
apertures (which means more depth of field and more of your work - in
any given image - in tight focus) while using the the camera’s slowest
“film” speed which is the one at which any digital camera gives you
its best images.

Flash sync speed is 1/500" on the D40 and only 1/200 on the D40X and
other entry level cameras. Flash sync speed is the highest shutter
speed at which flash will coordinate with the shutter. When you begin
using off camera flash to light your setup you’ll find you more than
double the ability to stop action than the larger megapixel cameras.
This may seem unimportant for table top product photography but at
some point you’ll have a pendant or earrings or some component in a
piece that you just can’t get to hold still - the higher flash synch
speed then becomes essential. In more advanced flash work it gives
you more control of how light or dark your background is if you’re
using a two light source system.

You can check out the photos on my much neglected website, with the usual www in front. Everything there was shot
with my D40. I use a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro because I like the longer
working distance.

Good luck,
Les Brown

1 Like

Hi Devora,

You don’t need a super duper expensive camera for photographing
jewellery; just about anything with a decent macro facility is quite
capable of giving excellent results. The MOST important facility is
lighting. A cheap camera with a purpose made light tent will produce
better results than an expensive camera without the tent. A well
known internet book seller sells a very good value “Portable Photo
Studio Kit” that comprises a light tent, two lights and tripod.

Regards, Gary Wooding

Chosing a digital camera under 700$~ I do not know much about cameras
but I recently purchased a Nikon Coolpix100 for around 400$. I had
several other cameras before this one: all small non professional
cameras.The Nikon Coolpix100 is the last camera you can buy in Nikons
line before buying an SLR camera which is 700$ just for the body and
then all the lenses are more. This camera has several manual
settings. The macro on it is great and you can set it to focus on
multiple points in your field. I love the pictures it takes. Changed
my picture quality of my images completely. You can check out my pics
at my website if you want to see them:

All the pics on there are taken by me with my Nikon coolpix100. Like
I said before I have no education in cameras or photography~ just
experimentation and this camera has really been simple (in
comparison to an SLR), reasonable price, nice results.:slight_smile:

joy kruse

Great advice Jim.

Here’s a little different take on the lens. When I bought my Canon
DSLR, I bought a nice Sigma 105mm Macro. Great lens, as has been my
50mm Sigma Macro that I used with my Canon 35mm SLR. But I regret
buying the longer lens since it limits me to shooting in larger
spaces. I can’t get back far enough in the tight space that I had
designated for photography. I now want a 50mm…

Oh-- and a word about lights. I cheaped out and bought a set of 3
photo lights from Ebay. There’s a ton on there. 2 of the 3 lights
lasted for 2 photo sessions. New fuse, new bulb, pop, pop, the lights
are dead.


Hope all is well,
Great to hang at SNAG.

Almost all of the newer digital cameras will allow Macro shooting.
The feature really required is the ability to adjust the “F” stop.
This is required to work with the depth of field, i.e., keep the
whole image in focus front to back in the case of a ring. I usually
stop down to f22 all the way up to f 36 depending on the size of the

1 Like

Our photos are used mainly on our website, for customer appraisals,
and for newspaper and small magazine ads. We use a Canon Rebel
Digital SLR, an older model with (I think) 6 or 8 megapixel
resolution, which is plenty-- great box. Imhop, you really don’t
need any higher MP than 8 unless you are doing posters or large
magazine shots. I’ve read that some of the ultra high megapixel
cameras take very grainy images in some instances. The entry level
Nikon DSLR is also plenty of camera unless you are shooting
professional level.

I think the secret is in the lenses and lighting-- we use a 60 mm
Canon macro lens-- a great piece of glass- for the bulk of our one
on one jewelry shots, a 100 mm Canon macro (Big Bertha) for extreme
closeups of gems, etc, and even the cheapy telephoto that came with
the camera when we shoot a larger piece or group.

Our lighting is mostly the ImageDome stage-- great tool, pricey, but
very versatile and convenient. We had a Cloud Dome, got good pix,
but was kind of clunky and large for our small studio. We add
incandescent occasionally for phenomenal stones.

Backgrounds can also make a big difference-- I like large grain
aquarium sand for some yellow golds, and have been getting nice pix
with a black paper napkin! Works better than velvet, nice matte
background with some characters. Also use colored tiles, but the
reflective surfaces can add another complication.

My 2 cents
Jim Sweaney

With a good macro lens of either 5omm or 100mm sort the cameras
mentioned should do fine and other lenses may be used depending on
the particular shot to be made. The secret if there is one is the
set-up. Lighting, control= of reflections and good editing software
make it work after you get a feel for this sort of shooting. Having
done this with film, you have that feel for it. Of course, with
digital you can to some extent see what is happening in the lcd and
adjust while shooting. Fine tune later in software. The lcd is in a
way akin to shooting with a polaroid back with film to set up the
shot and lighting for the real shot.

Do use a tripod so you can take duplicates with different lighting,
depending on how particular you want the final image to be rendered.
Lighting of metals and gemstones is contradictory and may require
more than one shot and a composite into the final view.

I use Sigma macro lenses on Nikon DSLR cameras, one lens being a
50mm and the other is 105mm. These work fine. Best wishes with it
all. With the 105mm you also can do some good work in nature macros
with more working roomfor skittish vritters. Of course, jewelry sits
tight for the entire shoot.

I personally like some hightlights on some jewelry metals, contolled
by objects in the light zone such as rolled white or dark paper
which hides some reflevtion and allows others.

Hi Devora,

I am going to suggest that a better question would be what is a good
lens for photographing your jewellery. There are a zillion good
cameras on the market. As long as you can set the white balance,
focus and f stop manually with a good resolution to the image (ie how
many megapixels) then you’re OK. But the image can only be as good as
the lens the camera is looking through.

When choosing your lens get something with macro capabilities that
will focus fairly close to your jewellery. Big lenses that require
you to be 4 feet away from your subject in order to focus can take up
a lot of space. Also you want to be able to open it up nice and wide
so that you can control what is in focus and what is blurred into the
background (ie get down to around f2). I almost never use any of the
automatic settings on my lens as I like to control what is in focus.

My favourites are an old pentax 50mm macro lens from 1984 that is
manual everything that takes the crispest pictures I have every seen
and a cheap zoom that really gets in close. The focus on the zoom
lens isn’t as good as the 50mm, but it’s plenty good enough for
shooting internet jpgs.

BTW, if you don’t already have one, pick up a light box. They really
help with production jewellery photography.


You don't need a super duper expensive camera for photographing
jewellery; just about anything with a decent macro facility is
quite capable of giving excellent results. The MOST important
facility is lighting. A cheap camera with a purpose made light tent
will produce better results than an expensive camera without the
tent. A well known internet book seller sells a very good value
"Portable Photo Studio Kit" that comprises a light tent, two lights
and tripod. 

Yeah tell me about it, it’s almost like buying a new computer, no
matter how whizz-bang and up to date, a week later it’s out dated :frowning:

Bought a Sony SLR, with all the bells and whistles, cost me a pretty
penny, bought my wife a pocket snap camera from Pentax, the
resolution is better, it comes with more features than you’d need, a
decent lens, it comes with a built in editing studio, and it can take
high definition movies… all for under 100 bucks :frowning:

Regards Charles A.

I have a very old Olympus SLR (Model C-2500L ) which I love, but
then, it is the only camera I know… It can be set at Macro or
Super-Macro without having to change the lens. Is this unusual? You
can find a very detailed review at

It comes with a remote control (which I always use for jewelry). Its
only drawback is no RAW…

Janet in Jerusalem

Hi, I just wanted to thank everyone who has responded on and off
list. Makes me proud to be able to count myself as part of our
community! Thank you, Hanuman, for making this possible.

Keep shining, D

Someone mentioned a Lumix. I second that recommendation.

Mine has not only macro, but macro zoom. Its a nice feature. Its a
good camera for jewelry and ‘life’ without being terribly expensive
or advanced in terms of use (its basically a really nice ‘point and

Don’t shoot on auto:

Set the ISO low - I keep mine for studio at '100’
Use manual white balance
diffuse your light (can be a purchased ‘tent’ or a home device)
Use a timer AND a tripod (the smallest shake will cause some blur)

you can view photos of my work on my blog (inbetween a lot of
non-jewelry related posts!) including this post which I used a piece
of paper as a tent and my regular bedside lamp:

It really is the camera and knowing how to use it. I LOVE my camera.

However, most cameras have macro and I really think they will do a
decent job if you read the book - shoot at ‘100’, manually set the
white balance, and a few other things of that nature.

Good luck!