Nikon d3000 for jewelry photography


I was wondering if anyone has experience with a Nikon d3000 (camera).
I was looking for a decent camera to take photos of my jewelry work.
I don’t want to use lighting or a white box, which I use now. I
really want to work with natural light. I live in Southern Calif. so
there is a lot of it here. Right now, I use a cheap ($100) Nikon 6.0
megapixels. It does have a white balance feature but I still need
lighting and a white box to get a decent photo. I’m finding that
sterling silver is very hard to photograph, especially the mirror
finish pieces. I don’t have to have a Nikon, that was just recommend
to me. My budget for a camera is around $550. Please share if you
have a camera that is working well for you and is in this price
range. You can also check out my photos on the web at - Some of the pictures I’ve taken and some
where taken professionally.



This site might help you, it’s a camera-reviewsite. They probably
know what you can do with you’re camera. If you’re camera is not
suitable, they can help you find the appropriate camera.



I do not have experience with the D3000 but have used other Nikon
DSLR cameras. The real advantage of the DSLR is being able to change
the lens. You can get a macro lens of decent quality and do better
overall than with a basic point and shoot camera. There are
exceptions, such as wonderful macro shots of bugs taken by a man I
appreciate and he uses a point and shoot with manual control
allowed. That is the exception and bugs are not metal jewelry. From
what I have seen of the D3000 you should be able to do well. The
camera will not be the limiting factor here.

You can use natural light but often that will be of no advantage, all
depending on the subject. With metals and a good photo of
one often compromises the image of the other. Shiny metal under
diffused light to avoid overpowering reflections may look great but
gemstones are often then dull, absent of sparkle and shine. A nice
single light for gemstone lighting may give you a wonderful gemstone
but the metal is all awash and the photo is useless. There can be
found a mix of light, natural or your set-up lights and diffusers of
some sort to render a decent photo.

By all means get a macro lens, shoot on manual, use manual focus,
take as many shots as you need. If the camera will allow preset white
balance do that and adjust exposure with a few trial shots.

With proper editing software and a series of photos shot with tripod
in exactly the same location to the jewelry, a stone shot sparkling
in proper light for that may be pasted onto a metal jewelry item
which was shot with properly diffused light. You can experiment with
glare and highlights for effect and with placing paper tubes or forms
in the vicinity of the jewelry to alter the patterns and deepness of
reflections on metal. The pros do notdepend on one photo to show the
jewelry in a wonderful manner but with experiment you can do a
credible job with all on the same photo.

Best Wishes. Tom.

I use that exact model. The challenge you will find is finding a
suitable macro lens to catch the detail of your pieces. I think it is
an awesome tool, as you can use it for other things as well. I have
even taken pictures of some watch movements with some pretty good

My problem is I take the pictures, then forget to put them on the

Then I have to figure out what memory card I was using…sometimes I
can be so scatterbrained!

I purchased it from someone on Ebay, new in box for a couple hundred
bucks below retail.


There is a typo in the link you provided. I found some really good
on photographing work and preparing images with photoshop
all over the web. Ganoksin has a number of articles that explain how
to photograph reflective surfaces. Crafts Report often runs articles
as well. One thing that is important with the camera for me for
taking images of my work is the micro/macro lens. It is specifically
for photographing the small detailed item up close. I like dslr
cameras because they allow you to change the lens. I also use a
tripod to for stability. Before I bought my current camera, I asked
the local photoshop, if I could test a couple. They let me try the
cameras for a week or so before purchasing to get a feel for cameras
that met my parameters.

Melissa Stenstrom


I was wondering if anyone has experience with a Nikon d3000

I’m using a D300S right now and it is excellent, so I’d say yes. I
have used a Fujifilm S3 Pro for the same tasks.

I'm finding that sterling silver is very hard to photograph,
especially the mirror finish pieces. 

Everyone else finds that, too, I suspect. :slight_smile:

You need to fiddle with the settings and find a good combination of
exposure time and aperture. I like to shoot silver with a dark
background, so I use manual mode to keep the camera’s automatic
settings from messing it up. I set up the camera as though I were
taking a picture of the silver piece in my hand, note its automatic
settings, then set those manually and go back to take the shot on a
dark background. Fiddle with the settings either way and shoot
several times, then compare them and see which one is best.


The camera will only capture the image of light coming from the
subject. A “better” or more complex camera won’t necessarily take a
"better" image after the amount of pixels is accounted for, and
these days almost all cameras have more than enough pixels.

Unfortunately, it always comes down to lighting, so there’s no way to
avoid creating or finding the “right” lighting for your shot. For
jewelry, soft, even lighting with tiny pin-spots set to bring out
highlights and gleam are often used. Softboxes and cones are common
tools, and pinspots small enough to make a gem sparkle or a
particular highlight gleam must usually be improvised – laser
pointers, gaffers tape and cardboard masks, etc.

The camera merely captures the image created by the interaction
between the subject and the lighting. The photographer is responsible
for creating that image, not the camera; it’s the witch, not the

Barry Lipman
Master Luthier

Dear Naomi,

You may know all of this already from your research but a
testimonial does not hurt. Several true macro (1 : 1) lenses are made
with mounts to fit Nikon. I have two, both made by Sigma. One is the
50mm f/2.8 and the other is a longer lens. The 50mm is the shortest
of the Sigma macros lenses and is very good in my opinion for jewelry
photography. I have put a link hereto a site telling something of
this particular lens. Please note, this lens also is very useful as
prime( no zoom) lens, meaning when used as a lens for normal shooting
and not macro. This site has a few shots of the lens used for normal
photography. Obviously, the versatality of using a lens for regular
shooting and for maco makes the lens more economically practical.

This is the link on the Sigma lens:

I have not used other brands enough to comment but many are made to
fit Nikon. I mention this lens simply because it is the one I use
for most jewelry photos at my workplace and I do know the

Again, best wishes and God Bless in your efforts. Tom.

Hello, I have come across a D5000 and wanted to know if that is as
good as the D3000? I don’t know about cameras but want to purchase
one and to start learning to shoot pictures of my jewelry…


Many will have seen my photographs of my work on the Orchid gallery
or perhaps in my book, which is full of photos taken by me. Although
my photos are not jewellery you may be interested in my camera
equipment. For my larger photos I use my Mamiya RB67 camera and Fuji
120 size film, each film gives me ten 70mm. x 60mm. negatives or
slides, which are perfect for larger photographic enlargements, in
fact I once had a photo printed, for a trade show, that was ten feet
wide by seven feet high and it was pin sharp. For my general photos
I have been a Nikon user for the past forty years, my only digital
Nikon is the Nikon D70 and I use a 60mm. Micro Nikkor lens for close
ups a lot of my flower photos shown on my Orchid gallery were taken
with this camera and lens. I have been a keen photographer for nearly
fifty years now and my best advice is that the lens is the most
important part of any camera, so my advice is if you buy the Nikon
D3000, buy a camera body only and add the Nikon / Nikkor 60mm Micro
lens. This lens will focus from infinity right down to under 9
inches, so it will suit all general photograpghy and include close
ups for your jewellery. If you are going to do natural, available
light photos then try using sheets of white card as reflectors and
always use a tripod and the Nikon remote unit. Using white card as
reflectors will brighten areas of shadow and also give a white colour
to bright polished silver.

I am so glad that I have kept a photographic record of most of my
life’s work, I only missed out the first five years. Without such a
collection of photos it would have been impossible for me to
complete and publish my book, “The Work of a Master Goldsmith;A
Unique Collection”.

My latest camera is a Panasonic Lumix LC1 with a Leica Summicron
lens, in my oppinion one of the best camera lenses in the world and a
cheaper camera than the actual Leica version the Digilux.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG

Tamron (my favorite), Sigma, Vivitar, and others, make macro lenses.
A 90mm macro lens, possibly mounted on a 2x teleconverter (also from
those companies), will get you super detailed 1:1 or better photos
and give you enough distance from the subject to put up whatever
lighting you need.

Barry Lipman
Master Luthier

There are a lot of good deals on Nikon cameras on Ebay… Not! Be
very careful what you purchase. As I guess with everything on
Ebay… But cameras especially. If they say call before you bid, it’s
a scam and the item will be removed if you bid. Nikon doesn’t come
with a lens, you purchase that seperately and all the deals are
usually packages including a lens. The price range for lens is
enoromous, which is directly proportional to the quality, and that’s
where they get you for that “good” package deal. You need a good lens
to take a good picture. And my last beware point, Nikons purchased
outside the country will not be warrenty serviced in this country.
That’s my understanding and experience purchasing a Ebay Nikon d200.

I don’t mean to start some big thread with this comment, nor to say
someone hasn’t been satisfied with an Ebay camera purchase, just
beware and know what kind of lens you are getting, the warrenty
status, and never ever buy without fraud protection. has some excellent tools and articles regarding
photographing jewelry.

I just got waitlisted for a good show (poor image quality) so am
looking for a good Nikon d200 - anyone have one to sell?

Susan “Sam” Kaffine
Sterling Bliss

I bought a Cannon G10 and find it excellent for closeup work. It will
also take RAW images if necessary.

I used to use, pre digital, a Pentax with a 250mm lens and a bellows
which was good for larger closeups as the front of the lens was about
40 cms away from the object minimizing reflection of the lens in pre
Photoshop days.

I used and still use a white tunnel about 1.25 meter long and 50 cms
D section. The floodlight is behind the photo area and directed
diagonally off the rounded roof.

This setup gives me great flexibility. My G10 can be in closeup or
normal mode depending on the size of the object to be photographed.

I have cut out a mask in white card so only the lens and range
finder can be seen in any reflection. This can be minimized by
judicial positioning. If there is a reflection of the camera it can
be removed in Photoshop.

ps. no connection with Cannon just an appreciative user.


A great camera with a mediocre lens will give you mediocre image
quality. If you go to the expense of getting a good camera, go all
the way and get a good lens.

I ran some tests with a good name brand 2X teleconverter and was so
disappointed I have never used a teleconverter again.

With that said, the camera may not be the most important factor in
getting good pictures. A solid tripod will do wonders for improving
image quality. I read in your message that you want to use natural
light. Still, I think some lights, diffusion material, and light
stands (or other means of getting the light where you want it) is
also very important.


I just finished a ring and wanted to get a quick photo before I go
off to do a couple of shows. 

I have a Canon SD 870 IS; 8.0 mega pixels. I like it and the digital
zoom usually works well.

I could get it to focus well; so I went to my old Nikon 950 2.3 mega
pixels. I got a good image and with a little 'photoshop it will be
decent. This 950 is from the old days.

I thought of David Pogue and a column he wrote about mega pixels. His
point was that mega pixels was not the thing. The size of the sensor
is what makes the difference.

I’m not sure what it is about the Nikon, but I remember Jim Binnion
remarking long ago that the optics of Nikon were really good. I’m
going to try sending the raw image of the ring before any

Yes the D5000 is just as good, with a few more bells and whistles. I
believe the 5k will shoot video and also has a moveable display. Look
into it if the price is right, I just couldn’t afford that particular
model at the time or I would have jumped on that one.

The need for a good lens is first and up with that is practice with
lighting. Getting good macro shots of a dragonfly, a rose, a chess
piece…well, those are not difficult with experience. As for
jewelry, those who have not tried it in macro photos may be very
surprised at the initial difficulty compared to other macro subjects
they may have mastered! It all has to do with radiance of the stones
and reflections of metals. As I mentioned previoiusly, sometimes
controlled glare or reflection is a plus. This depends on whether you
want a technical shot or something more akin to an advertising photo.

Practice and do experiment with lighting. Tripod and manual focus
are a must. (With enough light, you can skip the tripod but if you
want to overlay photos, tripod is totally needed.) Practice with
objects to control reflections such as first, diffusing light on
metal. Then, practice with things in the area such as papers rolled
up or hanging to control the color of reflections.

If shooting a gemstone only, that will need the point sources of
light. Anunmounted opal may be very well shot while immersed under
water with manual focus and no debris on the water surface to give
it away! Go for it.

I mentioned a Sigma lens, 50mm as one I use. I also have a 105mm
Sigma macro which is 1:1. The longer lens has less use outside macro
but in macro use does give more working room. These lenses do well.
Do not skimp on the lens. It does not have to be the best from Nikon
since some others do as well. Beware of cheap lenses in this
detailed work.

You will find the focus depth of field is quite limited, meaning
only some portion of the item may be in focus depending on the item,
lens and aperture setting. Experiment with where the focus is sharp,
on a prong, on the stone table or deeper into the jewelry. See the
effect of depth of field which can enhance the photo or ruin it to
the eye.

Best wishes overall. Tom.

I set up the camera as though I were taking a picture of the silver
piece in my hand, a really good way to get an exposure setting is to
use the back of your hand - skin is great (but possibly only if
you’re medium toned caucasian. i’m not sure about dark skin or
exceptionally light skin) or get a “grey card,” sold at the kind of
photo stores where you can get darkroom chemicals, etc. and, as
stated in previous posts, lighting is all.

I am not sure if anyone has seen this, but it seems like a fair

It’s a portable photo studio, including 2 lights, and adjustable
camera mount and stand, blue and white backdrops…plus it all folds
up and stores away.

At $35 bucks I thought it would be a cheap quality thing…but it is
really not bad.

Just thought I would share.