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Digital Cameras

   Sherris wrote, "One thing I really love about the digital camera
is that you can see immediately if you like the picture. No waiting
for developing and wondering if you have to do the whole
photo-taking process over again. Take the photo, look at it, make a
decision. It makes the whole process easier. I will now be able to
document every gem I  cut. I have never been able to do that before" 

You are so right! If I had to pick my favorite thing about the
digital camera, the immediacy would be it. I wasted so much time &
money on pictures that weren’t quite right. That’s why I got my
digital, also an Olympus by the way. I love it! I am also a big fan
of SLRs & take many, many pictures with it. And I also travel with
my digital & like it for indoor & night shots. But then when they
turn out really well (which they usually do) I am disappointed that
they are not on regular film. One day it won’t be so expensive to
print the digital ones. One day, maybe, when I have my own color
printer! Anyway, I love SLRs, but not for shooting my work.
That’s where the digital works wonders. All but a very few of the
pictures on my website were shot with it- the ones that look "flat"
were scanned, the rest are digital camera.

Happy holidays,


Designs by Lisa Gallagher

Thanks to all that sent tips for my lead soldering manual project.

To clarify the steps we have decided to purchase the Nikon 990 based
on all the wonderful suggestions in the recent thread on Orchid.

Based on a TV commercial we decided to give a try. They
advertise that they can find the lowest prices for just about
anything. For a camera that was listed as $999 we found many suppliers
in the low $700 range. The site also gives a multiple star rating for
the suppliers so you can evaluate whether you REALLY want to buy from
the lowest price.

I, too decided to order the Nikon 990 and I’m expecting it to arrive
tomorrow. I found it for about $780 on after
searching on . I’ve never used a digital camera and I hope
those of you who own this beauty will help me out. I ordered the
macro lens and the ac adaptor so I can plug it in when I’m taking
jewelry pictures in my studio. Any studio setup suggestions would be
helpful. Merry Christmas! Wendy Newman

I have been using the Sony Mavika for the last couple of years. It
took me one year to figure out how to take decent photos of silver
jewelry. For months I got incredible reflections and distortions.
Believe me, I tried everything. Outdoor light, pricey photographic
lamps, etc.

What I finally discovered to work is a cone made out of white
photographic filter paper. The cone is about 18 inches high, the
opening is about 8 inches in diameter. I have a circular platform with
dark gray paper at the bottom of the cone which is removable. I do not
use the flash. On the outside of the cone I have set up three lamps:
one 150 watt bulb and two 45 watt bulbs. I put my camera on a tripod
facing down (between the legs of the tripod) and into the top of the
cone. My jewelry is placed on the platform in the cone. The light is
very soft. I take my shots about 12-14 inches above the jewelry using
auto focus. I don’t bother with the timer. I hope this is helpful and
understandable. You can see my photos at


Hi folks Being relatively new to computers and self taught, and
knowing only a little about photography I was wondering if anyone
out there can recommend a digital camera for taking photos of my
jewellery. I did borrow a friends for a time, and it did work
somewhat, but I could not get a good enough detail of my pieces. I
just could not get a close enough picture to show the details or

Would it actually be better to just get a special lens for my 35 mm
camera so as to take close up, detailed photos and then scan them on
my scanner?

I need the pictures both as photos and as jpeg pictures for the
internet. Some of the shows I would like to get into want photos of
my jewellery, others want jpegs. I only started to take photos of
the jewellery I have created a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I
didn’t get all pieces, nor get them well. Now I find clients would
like to see my work and I have limited pictures.

Also can anyone recommend a good book to teach me how to take good
photos of jewellery and crystals? I am starting to get a few long
distance customers and have plans for a website within the next

Thanks ahead for I have seen most questions get quite a few answers.
Looking forward to seeing the posts.

Karen Seidel-Bahr
the ‘ROCKLADY’ @Rocklady
K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always “Sparkle”

Hi Karen - I have a Nikon Coolpix 775. It takes pretty detailed
pics. Most of my pieces are pretty small, but the pics turn out good.
I haven’t had any printed - so can’t be sure about that, but the pics
on the net are great.

There is book called, Photographing Your Craftwork. It is good, but
it covers lots more than jewelry. A good place to start though. I
just went to a workshop on it, and the photographer talked about
using a white shower curtain to diffuse the lighting - do not use a
flash. Also, use foil or something white to reflect light back on the
piece. If using a 35 mm camera - use tungsten balanced film to reduce
yellowing (but don’t use with any daylight, b/c it will create a blue
hue in the pic).

Good luck, Sarah Philbeck

Well now here is a chance for me to contribute something to this fine
group. Both paths have their own pros. I used to go out to take
pictures (close-ups) of wild flowers in my younger years. I didn’t
have enough money for a good macro lense so I used what we used to
call cheater filters. They are actually a set of diopter filters that
fit on the end of the lens. I used them with my 125 mm Telephoto lens.
The depth of field is shallow (area of focus) but with a little
practice you’ll get used to it. If you are confident that you took
some good pictures than have them put on CD by the developer. This
way you will have your digital pictures and your negatives for hard
copies. This would probably be your least expensive start-up. A
digital camera with the image quality you need (4 megapixal
minimum)will start at around $700.00 new. And of course if you want
to become totally indendent you could purchase a photo printer as
well. I don’t know what type of 35 mm camera you have or what
equipment you have but if you have the telephoto lense than I would
suggest going with the diopter filter method. Atleast until the
digital cameras have progressed far enough to bring the better
quality image cameras to within a reasonable price.


Karen, If you want to save yourself some money, continue
photographing with your 35mm camera and have your photos processed
through Kodak. You can have your photos developed on a CD for around
$10 depending on your area. The other option available is to have
Kodak upload your pictures to a website. They will provide you with
a password when you pick up your pictures that will allow you to
access them for a period of 30days. This is how I did it for about a
year until I purchased my digital camera.

If you want to pursue a digital camera, I purchased the Nikon
Coolpix 990. It takes fabulous pictures with nice detail. I use
Gemvisions Image Dome for lighting. It is a very expensive piece of
equipment, but I found it to be worthwhile for what I’m doing.

Best of Luck,
Kevin Fertenbaugh
Hasko Jewelers


   Thanks ahead for I have seen most questions get quite a few
answers. Looking forward to seeing the posts. 

While you’re waiting to see what’s coming in new comments, you can
go to and type in “digital
camera” or some such and see what’s been said before.

I’ve got a Nikon CoolPix 990, (superseded by the 995, of course)
that suits me pretty well. All my pictures are taken with it, now,
though I still have my regular SLR someplace. Most of the pictures
on my website were taken with it. I recently took a CD with some
graphics files on it to my local photography shop and had them turned
into prints on the same sort of paper you get with regular film, and
they’re indistinguishable from analog photos, at least to normal
examination. I can print them at home on regular paper with an
inkjet, of course, too, but it’s not the same.


Before investing too heavily in a camera, and since you already have
a scanner, why not try using the scanner as a camera? I’ve been
using my scanner in this way and it has finally made it possible for
me to have good quality images of every piece I make. I use these
images to email to clients and am in the process of building a
website using these images. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t use these
images for a full page ad in Town & Country, but for archival
purposes, as well as marketing, the scanner has really made my life
easier. It may not work for all jewelry, however. The depth of
field is only about a quarter inch. My work is basically cabochons
set in bezels, and while the stones are sometimes high dome, the
pieces are essentially two-dimensional. Polished metal surfaces
lying directly on the glass will give you a bit of a flare, but this
can either be corrected or ignored. The stones come out with great
color. You need to rig something to prop up the scanner lid (I use a
piece of paper folded up). If you want, contact me off list and I
can send you some sample images. I hope to get a gallery up on
Ganoksin at some point in the near future, and I will be using these
images for that as well.


To Kevin: I read your post and was wondering what the Gemvisions
Image Dome Lighting is. Is there a website to see that, or a phone
number to call? Also, I would be interested in seeing your pictures
with this image dome and the 990 camera. We have the Nikon 995 and
have our own lighting set up with a homemade “light box”.The newer
pictures on my website are all taken with the Nikon 995.

Thank you,
Diane Sadel

Karen, you can go into Orchid’s archives, there you will find loads
of on digital camera’s. I believe the general consensus
was the the Nikon 990 (995 now) is a really good camera. You know
you can place your jewelry directly on your scanner, put a box lid
over it and scan. The results may suprise you. :slight_smile: Have fun – Lisa
Hawthorne @Lisa_Hawthorne

Hi Karen, About the special book, there is a member of Orchid who
literally “wrote the book” on jewelry photography, so I am sure he
will respond to your post. If he doesn’t then ask again or look in
the archives… I’m afraid I can’t remember who that was.

However, about digital cameras, I can tell you one thing… Nikon,
Nikon, Nikon. There are many digital cameras out there, but each
uses it’s own mathematical jpeg algorithm and video CCD chip for
taking and storing the pictures. Nikon, originally being photo
people, seem to have made a chip that most closely resembles old
style photography, while many of the cameras from Sony etc, are more
like video stills in picture quality. The Mavica line is a perfect
example of this. The “quality” I am speaking of is not related to the
megapixels or resolution per se, it is more like the color and
contrast range is subtler on the Nikon. (I’ve always wanted to say
the words “per se” and now I have!) I myself have a Nikon Coolpix
900. It has a pretty good macro setting for the lens too, so you can
take fairly close up photos, like about 6".

Lots of people have great setups for shooting jewelry, little boxes
with diffusers, etc, but I just use natural soft light and no flash,
and then enhance the images in Photoshop. It’s not necessarily
better, just easier for me.

-Good luck!
Drew Horn

Hi Diane, To answer your question, the Image Dome by Gemvision is a
specially designed lighting system for photographing jewelry. It has
a specially made platform with many jigs to hold jewelry in different
ways. It also allows you to control the amount of light and it’s
direction from 3 different sources. Another great feature is the
mount for your camera slides 45 degrees on a rail system allowing you
to take photos at different angles. A very slick and fast setup.

We use it to photograph all our jewelry, especially custom design
work. My jewelry store is beginning to look like an art gallery, but
boy , does it ever get customer’s attention. My regulars are always
looking for the new pictures on the wall. Anyway, we also use it to
take photos of Customer’s jewelry since all our remount work and
custom design are done with Gemvisions Digital Goldsmith , which is a
2D system and Jewelspace, which is our 3D Cad design software.

You can take a look at our photos on our website. I only have a few pictures uploaded at this
time. We are re-designing our site at this time. You can at least
get the idea.

You can also go to Gemvisions website at . Select
products on the tool bar and then Image Dome. They also have photos
posted. If you have questions, give me a shout off line and I will be
happy to speak with you.

Take Care,
Kevin Fertenbaugh

Hi Karen,

  About the special book, there is a member of Orchid who literally
"wrote the book" on jewelry photography, so I am sure he will
respond to your post. If he doesn't then ask again or look in the
archives...  I'm afraid I can't remember who that was. 

The author is Charles Lewton-Brain & the book is ‘Small Scale
Photography’. There’s also a companion video. Try for a description of Charles’
books. His email is

It’s a great book!

Hi Karen Last year I purchased a Sony Mavica MVC FD75 digital camera
for taking close up photos for internet use. I did this by taking
the advice of many, many E-Bay sellers. There used to be an entire
discussion group for photography on E-Bay (I think it is still

I have found many tremendous advantages to this camera. First, it
records on a standard floppy disk. You can get up to 35+ pictures
on one diskette. The advantage is that all computers have a floppy
drive so no matter where you are you can view your pictures.
Second, it has tremendous close-up capabilities. Third it has a
great depth of field.

The major disadvantage is that it is designed for internet/computer
use. Very good quality prints can be made up to 4 X 6" but after
that the definition becomes fuzzy.

One key item to remember when displaying your photos on the internet

  • keep the photo file size as small as possible. You may have the
    greatest photos and the greatest products in the world, but if the
    prospective buyer has to wait more that 5-10 seconds to view your
    WEB site, he will leave your site before they download and you will
    lose sales.

Clare Hewson - the 'olderminer’
e-mail: @Clare_Hewson

Hi Clare, I also use a Sony Mavica and have been very happy with it.
I have the Sony Model MVC - CD 300. It is a little bulky compared to
some of the other makes, but offers several unique features. The
camera has a built in CD Writer which writes onto a mini Cd in the
camera. This offers 156 Mb of space per CD, which means about 150
pictures at full 2048 x 1536 resolution. Carl Zeiss lenses are
standard. It also has a very good macro feature and 3.3 Mega Pixel

If you enjoy holidays then this camera is the answer. No more
lugging the laptop with to download the pictures when the Flash Card
is full. Simply stick in another CD.


Hello All,

Just a quick note–my husband and I went digital two years ago. We
rely so much on our camera while doing field research, and for years
we were slaves to Nikon and film. Then, the Fuji S1 Pro digital was
introduced to our lives and we have NEVER looked back. It’s
expensive, but worth every penny. I use it extensively to photograph
my jewelry, and I am by no means a professional photographer (my
husband is), yet the shots are simply amazing. I have tried other,
less expensive yet high-end digitals, but nothing compares with the
Fuji. I think the S1 has been replaced with the S2–around $2000.00
or so. Can’t say enough good things about this idiot-proof,
fantastic camera. Oh, and investing in a good macro lens is also
vital–for that we stuck with Nikon.

All the best,

Karen McGovern
Rare Species Conservatory Foundation