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Photographing jewelry - Digital camera

I need to take photographs of my jewelry for my web site and for
contests & printed material. I would like to purchase a digital
camera to take the photos but am not sure what type of camera to get.
I prefer to keep the cost under $400 if possible. I’m wondering if
anyone knows of a good digital camera to photograph my pieces with.
I’d like to purchase a camera I can use for both web photos and print
photos. Thanks.

Julie Maniha

In my opinion, a digital camera that will work for web and print
photos doesn’t exist (unfortunately) at under $400. Or even under
$1000. I use an Olympus 3030 digital camera and it takes wonderful
pictures for the web or even to print out for my own use or for
classroom instructions. But I wouldn’t use it for jury slides. I’ve
been reading up on this subject and as far as I can tell the
technology just isn’t quite there yet. I also have a 35mm SLR
although it’s not working at the moment. Now that I’ve got the
cameras I better learn how to take photographs! :slight_smile: I’m struggling
to get a good lighting setup but in the meantime I do what I can.
All the photos at my site have been taken with a digital camera
although any book covers and a very few of the necklaces were scanned.


I use a casio 770… it features macro and a rotating lens… by
positioning the lens sideways, i built a box of opaque plastic and
made a cradle for the camera to shoot through a hole without letting
ambient light in. i made an adjustable platform and use it to put the
subject in focus. the ring is held by a small nail which can be
dopped on or you can superglue…a black velvet cover on the platform
and only the nail coming thru is easy to eliminate in the shot.
Ringman John

Hi Julie, My digital camera is indispensable for my Web site, but you
may find the technology isn’t “quite there” for high quality print
work. The computer monitor from which you view a Web page is only 72
or 75 DPI resolution (depending on Mac vs. PC) and a digital camera
does beautifully.

For high quality print and competition images, you’ll probably find
that a professional photographer using conventional technology is
really the only way to go. The image quality standards for these
circles are much higher than Web work, and unless you are a really
good amateur photographer, your images will fall by the wayside in
favor of professional work.

As far as suggestions for a digital camera, I’d recommend checking
the Orchid archives earlier this year. There was a lengthy discussion
on the subject with some specific products and techniques identified.

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I’m not sure if you’re going to really find something that will meet
all of your needs (especially for Print needs where the dpi needs to
be much higher) within that price range. I’m interested in what other
people have to say…

I can offer you several things to consider::

  1. We own a CoolPix 990 and it rocks. It meets all of our needs for
    both our website and for print. It lists at close to $900, but if you
    shop around on some of the shopbots you should be able to find it much
    cheaper. (We found it cheaper, but ended up making up for it with a
    close-up lens [well worth the money], extra memory, carrying case,
    plug-in adapter [a necessity] and a tripod [another necessity].

  2. MacDesign magazine (March/April 2001 Vol9, No.2) reviewed several
    different brands of digital cameras, the least expensive of which was
    $599. Their two favorites (4.5 out of 5 stars) were the Nikon CoolPix
    990 (3.4 mega-pixels, $899) and the Canon Powershot G1 (3.1
    mega-pixels, $899). The Kodak DC5000 (2.0 mega-pixels, $559) was the
    least expensive and rated 2.5 stars.

  3. You’ll need to create some sort of photography setup in your
    studio to make taking pictures easier. A good starting point is
    Charles Lewton-Brain’s book “Small Scale Photography”. We own the
    book [oversized paperback] and the accompanying videotape. Both have
    their serious weaknesses, so I’d suggest trying to borrow either one
    from a friend/colleague before buying if possible.

  4. I’ve also found that taking the picture is only the first step.
    After that you’ll need to clean the digital image up with some sort of
    imaging software. The full-blown version of Photoshop is overly
    expensive, but Photoshop Elements comes in at around $99.00 and has
    received rave reviews from the magazines I’ve read.

Good luck!
Tom & Bonnie Franklin

Julie, I am finishing writing a book about photographing jewelery,
icluding proper and inexpensive lighting setups. I have abou t 35
years expeience in small object photography in the studio, including
jewelry. I presently own and operate e retail outlet where we
specialize in one of a kind custom pieces. We use various CAD
softwares for illustrating in 3D and we ha ve extensive “albums” of
our work both on computer and in printed form on our counters. You
won’t find what you want for $400. I think I have used every digital
camera that exists, and for your purposes, woul d very strongly
recommend the Nikon 990 or 995. Other cameras will work nearly as
well (or as well), but there is a TON of tutorials and other info
available for the Nikon, and a VERY large user base available on the
newsgroups. Also, the a lgorithms used by Nikon (proprietary) for
downsizing the images to a more practical size are far and away
better than ANY other vendor, and this has been demonstrated by
graphics professionals many times. I have oodles of full-bleed 8x10
images printed out that are INDISTIGUISHABLE from any print from a 35
mm negative. (And I am very critical). But…you need to use a 9
megabyte image TIFF file and a very good printer to get that result.
For Web work almost any digital with macro focusing capablity will
do. The secret is in lighting the subject properly an d exposing the
subject properly. The camera, mostly, is secondary. Point and shoot
mostly will not work, there IS a lea rning curve, but it’s not tough.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of poor and misguided info out there.
If you need some help, email me at wmemery11@home com or the above
address, gald to help anyone I can.

Wayne Emery
Jewelry design Studio

Julie, A good quality Digital camera with a decent algorithm is the
Canon digital Elph. at about $400. It’s certainly the cutest digital
out there, and I’ve had good experiences with it. It’s got much
better picture quality than the Sony Mavica, but not as good as the
Nikon 900 models. If you can, buy a Nikon, the compression and lenses
are so much nicer that you can really see the difference. Right now I
have an older Nikon Coolpix 900 which is great. It’s been said before,
the thing about digital cameras is the image size (how many
megapixels) and the algorithm used to compress the images. Some of
these algorithms are very “lossy” creating compression artifacts,
while others are not bad. Be sure to get at least 2 megapixels of
resolution for print work at about 5"x7" My gut feeling is to buy one
made by a “camera” company, (Nikon, Olympus) not a
video/computer/accessories company (Sony, Hewlett Packard, or Kodak).
They have different priorities to meet, and add needless features that
real photographers often won’t use.

Oh, and please take my advice at your own risk… :slight_smile:

Andrew Horn
Fiodh Furniture Company
105 Seaview St.
Port Hueneme, CA 93041

Hi David and all on Orchid!!! I’m not bragging, but, I might,eh? I
use always now my Sony, Cyber-shot and have the pix’s rated at 640
pixels or up to 1000 pixels +, the more the merrier. But it takes up
too much available memory chip space. So what I do is to download the
pix and use it again! If you guys/gals go into my web-site and look
around, you will see my pictures, all taken at the 640 pixel range. I
never use any additonal lighting, it sometimes ‘burns’ the picture!
Even with my Minolta-SLR, I always used ‘avalable lighting’. A good
camera is $1,000+!!! Or as it goes,…you only get what you pay
for,eh?..gerry, the cyber-setter!
( click on to the…“gallery”)…:>)

For anyone interested in the Nikon Coolpix 995, I just saw one listed
for $549.99 at Regency Camera. I have no connection with Regency and
know nothing about their service, etc. This link will take you
directly to the listing.

Joel Schwalb

    For anyone interested in the Nikon Coolpix 995, I just saw one
listed for $549.99 at Regency Camera. 

And I am wondering if any one has any experience wit the difference
between the 990 and 995?

thanks -

Ivy, A good web site for in depth on digital cameras is
Imaging-resource. Click on this link and then clik on “compare
cameras” on the left side of this page.

Joel Schwalb

         For anyone interested in the Nikon Coolpix 995, I just saw
one listed for $549.99 at Regency Camera. And I am wondering if any
one has any experience wit the difference between the 990 and 995? 

To compare the 990 vs the 995 visit this site…Bob Williams

I’ve owned both the Nikon 990 and 995 and given a choice the 995 is
far superior. It has many better features as well as a higher
resolution (# of pixels) If you are using Photography for
advertising, postcards etc the extra resolution is necessary. The
other features are less important but add up to a lot: easier to use
menus, USB connection to computer, timer for shake-free long
exposures, etc. I haven’t yet discovered anything worse.

Tom Kruskal wrote:

I've owned both the Nikon 990 and 995 and given a choice the 995 is
far superior.  It has many better features as well as a higher
resolution (# of pixels). 

BUT, The Nikon 990 and 995 are BOTH 3.14 Megapixel cameras. The
highest resolutions of both are identical, e.g. 2048 X 1536 pixels.
Perhaps you were thinking about the Zoom range. 990 = 3X, 995 = 4X The
site below gives a feature by feature comparison: