Digital Photo Set Up for Jewelry

Happy New Year to all and thank you for this great well of

One of my goals for this early 2000 season is to set up an area
in my studio for digital photos of my work. The budget is just
under $2000.00. I would like input on what type of digital
camera to buy, what features the camera should have, what type
of lighting works best, films,etc. Also what pointers people
would have on the set up of the digital photo area.

Is this a practical thing to do at this time? Are the images
from digital cameras still too grainy for the close up photos of

Cathy Wheless

One of my goals for this early 2000 season is to set up an area
in my studio for digital photos of my work. The budget is just
under $2000.00. I would like input on what type of digital

Precedence: bulk

Hello, 	I just purchased a Mavica FD88 camera and am totally in

love with the thing! It has three picture sizes and even the
smallest looks incredibly sharp. One very important feature it
has is the manual focus. This model has a 16X zoom and handles
close ups very well. It loads the shots onto a floppy drive in
the camera which can be loaded easily into the computer. It cost
about $900. I use the traditional lighting set up with the
graded (light gray to black) background as illustrated in Charles
Lewtin Brain’s Book “Small Scale Photography” available at the
books database on This set up is a
platform about 3 ft high with an adjustable top and a curved
shooting surface to get the gradation. It uses 3 photoflood
bulbs on stands. You could put the whole thing together for
$100-400. It’s the same set up and lighting I use for my 35mm
cameras, the digital camera sits right on the tripod and handles
the lighting perfectly. It fact it handles the gray to black
background even better then the 35mm. So much better and easier
I’m having second thoughts on using my regular cameras now… I
don’t have any pictures up with the digital camera on my website
yet (I bought it to shoot stones for my stone gallery/shop). I
will by next week. All I can say is it totally exceeded my
expectations! If anyone wants me to send them a sample shot done
with the Mavica I’d be happy to, just e-mail me privately. I’d
say the whole set up would cost about $1500, but I would start
with the book and follow the instructions on building the set up.
It also has lots of good on taking slides with a 35mm
camera as well.

Good luck and enjoy!!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

I have tried several cameras including sony, kodak, among
others. The camera that beat all of them for macro work is the
Nikon coolpix 950. This camera now sells for around $850.00 or
less if you shop around. In my opinion it is the best out there
unless you really want to spend several thousand dollars.

Robert Grey Kaylor
R. Grey Gallery Inc.
818 W. Idaho St.
Boise, Id. 83702

Cathy, First let me say that digital imaging is great for web
publishing. And if printed on the proper paper could be great for
printed material as well. The higher resolution camera you buy is
going to dictate the quality of your photo’s. Please take a look
at my web site… All of the
pictures taken on my site are taken with Gesswein’s Picture
Perfect digital imaging system. This camera isn’t your ordinary
camera however. It is a digital video camera, it takes a number
of pictures and combines them to form the high quality you see
on the web-site. I have seen other hand held cameras, but they
just don’t come up with the quality of the Picture Perfect
system. Also the software that goes with the system has a lot to
do with the results. I suppose you could use a regular graphics
package like Adobe or Corel to touch up anything, but I never
have to touch anything up with this system… One other camera I
know takes awesome pictures is a camera called the Nikon Cool
Pixs ( i think that is the proper name) I will have to find out
more about that for you, maybe someone on the list here will know
which one I am talking about… Now as for money being spent. To be
honest with you, the setup I have is now going for somewhere in
the range of $4500.00 When I got it, it was cheaper but not
much. I have no idea on the cost of other cameras. But I know the
other cameras don’t come with a self contained light box, or the
software that comes with this system, The software has full
cataloguing features and is filled with all kinds of great
gadgets…Call Gesswein if you are at all interested and ask for
Elaine Corwin. She can tell you more about this camera… You
won’t be sorry… Marc Williams

Hanuman’s Note:

Discussions over this topic took place many times already on
Orchid. You can check the archives for more info. You can
retrieve the threads by running a keyword search.
Check out the following address to learn moRe:

Also Check out our jewelry_photography_how_to_do section, at

Best Regards

Dear Cathy: I am in the process of upgrading the photography on
my site. Follow this link and if this is what you are looking to
accomplish, I will share with you what I have learned over the
past years. Ernie

Hi Cathy, Since my budget was very tight, I bought a Kodak DC-120
and a set of 10x, 7x lenses. Its available from Kodak for $350
to $400. I think. This camera does a very good job, it is kind
of a pain to use because of all the little buttons you have to
push, but is hard to beat for the money. I use a tripod, set it
for timed release, turn off the flash and ususally use the 10x
lens. I set it in front of a window on a fairly bright day and
use no other lighting. I bring the images into Paint Shop Pro
for cropping and any other manipulation. Usually the only
adjustment I make is to sharpen the image, especially when
resizing it to a thumbnail size. You can see how it looks on
this page of my site:
that page has some thumbnails and the larger images are on the
links from that page. There are lots of very good digital cameras
on the market now, I think you will be happy with the results you
get whichever camera you buy. Jan

Thanks for the plug Marc. We think it’s a great system too.
(Hint: if you are interested in the Gesswein Image System
(Picture.Perfect) come to any of the major trade shows. Not
only do we display and demo it there but we’ll take pics of any
jewelry you bring so you can see how your good will look.
Better yet, it is ALWAYS on sale at the shows, so that’s the
time to buy. Bigger tip: even if you are not ready to make a
purchase at the show, tell us to put your order on “Quote Hold”.
That means we will NOT ship it until we confirm with you at a
later date that you want it. But it DOES mean that you lock in
the show special price.)

Best Regards,
Elaine Corwin

Marc, I had a New York City designer ask me my opinion of the
Gesswein system and I will stand by what I told him…those who
use this poor resolution digital system are spending a relative
fortune to get images that present virtually no detail compared
to any of the higher end digital cameras. I think you hit the
nail on the head saying it takes “video” images, but “high
quality”? No way! With all due respect, all of the images on
your site are even grainier than the poor quality shots the Sony
Mavica line yields. They all have that super-grainy look, with
halos on the edges, looking more like drawings to me. There is
virtually no detail in any of the images on this site.

I have been doing hundreds of shots for a new site with the
Nikon CP950 and it is nothing short of magnificent in its ability
to capture detail and with its great range of manual controls.
This camera can capture virtually microscopic aspects of a
jewelry piece, matching many shots taken with my Canon AE-1
SLR… If you really think the Picture Perfect system doesn’t
match hand held cameras, I wonder what kind of digital shots you
have been looking at lately! The Gesswein system is idiot proof,
for sure, but simply isn’t even near the ballpark of image taking
of Nikon, Olympus or any number of today’s top digital cameras.
And for this poor optical system they charge a fortune! Sure,
you “never have to touch up anything” (Adobe and Corel are really
the “darkrooms” or processing labs of digital photography), and
it is immediately apparent in the Gesswein output. And that
gets reflected in poorer sales…regards, Marty R.

Hello Cathy, I am ready to upgrade my digital camera also and
there are quite a lot of choices out there. First of all, do your
homework. Putting out $1000 for a camera that gives you inferior
results is really depressing. I would recommend you check out the
NG, or the website as a start. Do a
search on “digital, photo,camera” and that should keep you busy
for a year. Eventually, you will have to make a choice and I
would really appreciate your feedback. I have a few high end film
cameras that I need to dust off and use with a good scanner for
my next project. More as this thread develops, regards Will

Cathy: glad to see you here! These days you can get an awful
good digital camera for $1000 and even less. Nikon makes one in
this range but has been criticized for having too many features
for the amateur. They have a cheaper one with just as good
resolution thats more user friendly. Unfortunately there’s a new
digitial camera coming out just about every week now and there
are way too many to choose from. Some have recommended the Sony
Mavica but those are kinda old technology at this rate. Recently
the megapixel breakthrough has given us cameras like the Nikon
that give really good crisp images. I assume you’re doing this
for web page use and you are limited to what a computer monitor
and browser can display. The images on my website are shot on
35mm film and scanned on a slide scanner, so what you see there
is pretty much the limit of quality a website can display. I’ll
dig out some websites that review digital cameras tonite and post
them. I would highly recommend that you buy from someplace like
Ciruit City (barf…) that you can return it if you don’t like
it. Digital cameras are still CCD technology and they tend to
block out shadow detail and burn out highlight detail as well.
The images on my site are scanned on a CCD slide scanner (Nikon)
so thats one way to see what you may get. As for lights you may
be stuck with photoflood lighting. The Nikon has a hot shoe for
external strobes but they have to be Nikon which would make it
expensive. Charles has a book on photography for jewelry which I
would recommend for lighting setups on a budget that would work
for any camera. Later…Dave

I also have some questions about digital photography. Do the
digital cameras have something like a 50mm macro lens? What
about auto focus? Can you alter exposure to compensate for
jewelry reflection. Is the exposure done on a center spot or
averaged on in the entire image? I plan to use the pictures for
my web page, and in e-mails, not for print. I can’t see well
enough to focus manually so auto focus is a requirement. Also
what about the kind of light you use - do you need to pay
attention to color temperature of your light source or how do
you get the right color on your stones? I’ve tried the direct
digitizing of jewelry on my scanner and it is awful, so I would
really like some more from the innovators out there
successfully using digital cameras. If you need to manipulate
the image on your computer - what software do you recommend?

Last - which ones work best and how much do they cost and where
did you find a good deal?

Thanks for all the good stuff from Orchid and all its
participants. Hope you can help.

Judy Hoch

Cathy, I just purchased an Olympus 2020.It is great.I looked at
the Nikon Coolpix an the Sony mavica before deciding on the
Olympus.The ease of operation,size of the camera(it is smaller
than a standard 35mm camera body),resolution 1600x1200 and media
it uses smart cards comes with an 8meg but you can get 32meg,were
a few of the reasons I went with the olympus.I tried my friends
Nikon. Thought it was too complex.The Mavica was large and uses
floppy’s which to some might seem like a +.The smart media cards
are smaller and I bought a flash path to transfer photos.It is a
device that looks like a floppy but you slip your media card into
it and then put it into your floppy drive to download pics it
works great.This camera is equiped as many are with 1 minute of
video which I have yet to use.It also takes black and white
photos.I have used it in my shop quite a bit so far and it is
way cool.One thing I did also was to go to web sites for the
three cameras I was interested in and checked out all the specs.I
also looked at reviews in digital camera mags which enlightened
me to some points I might not have noticed on my own.I also went
to a couple of Camera shops that were like state of the art type
places the sales staff will educate you for free in hopes that
you will buy from them.I got to see the Mavica and the Nikon.No
one had the Olympus in stock.I did major searching on the
internet for pricing.I saved over $150 buy not buying it from a
local camera shop.I ended up getting it from Harmony Computers in
NY.I believe list was $749.So I hope this helps and happy

Best , J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio

The best digital camera URL I know is: The author is good about keeping
it up to date. Standardized test photo’s (including macro) are
taken with every camera and may be compared side to side.

Dale Frank

A friend of mine is an engineer for a medical company that
produces extremely small endo-fectors for retrieving tissue
samples in arteries etc. These small forceps are photographed
using a simple toy produced by Mattel and Intel. It is a
microscope that actually interfaces with your parallel port and
the quality at 10X was incredible. I would say that other than
professionally taken pics, these are by far the best pics I have
ever seen, especially on detail and clarity. The best part is
that it costs approx. $90. Do not be fooled by this toy, it is
for real.Best Regards. Neil George

One quick note: on ZDTV show a week or so ago they listed the
top three digital cameras. lowest price range, and not good for
reproduction was the Hewlett Packard.

Mid range was the Olympus 450…it runs around 435.00- $590.00
depending on where you buy it.

Top range is the Nikon 950 you can buy for around 900.00 But it
has so many bells and whistles it seems like it is not worth
spending that much on a camera where you will be using only 1/3
of the features. But Nikon is a wonderful camera, digital or not.

Just thought I would jump in here, since we were looking for a
digital camera for web use also. m

I looked up that Mattel play microscope. It is called a Q-X3
Computer Microscope. It sounds great but here is a catch. It is a
USB device according to the reports. USB means Universal Serial
Bus, which is a an I/O port that a older computers don’t have.
Some motherboards allow a retro fit but others, mostly made before the fall of 1998, don’t. Geo.

USB became a “way to go” with the advent of Apple’s imac’s.
Wonder if it will interface with the Mac OS? Teresa

First; What will the be the primary use for the camera? . . . If
for the web, then a pic rate above 300 is not required . . .
However, if for other uses, then the pic could be much higher,
depending on your printer. . . best ‘home-pc-printer’ for pics is
the Epson with a printer able rate of 1740/770 (appx.)… this
means that horizontally the pics will provide a rate of 1770 and
vertical 770 … I believe this to be the best home printer pic
rate todate . . . I have the printer and it sound like a ChoCho
train when it starts but on good photo paper . . . WOW!!! I would
coordinate my equipment as suggested above. . . as in a music
system, great amp with poor speakers provides poor quality. . .
Jim Chambers

I, too would like to know the answer to that. But how will it
work does it photograph the item or a picture of the item and
put into computer??

Geo, Very interesting. My workstation is a dual 300mhz
Intergraph and that came USB ready and I bought this in late 97.
Seems this is an area where the IBM clone was way behind the Mac
again, as these comps used USB ports for years :-). However my
laptop is not USB ready and neither are the computers that DNC
to my mills and the sanders,therefore your comments are to be
taken as such…seriously. For those that are able to take
advantage of this little microscope, you will not be
dissapointed. Maybe I should buy Toys R Us shares tonight before
the store is swamped with eager jewelers:-). Good Luck.
Neil George