I wrote a short guide on this subject years ago. A small book,
really. While there are certain requirements of the camera, it really
IS about the lighting setup. It is NOT necessary to buy a big
multi-light light box or a diffusion tent. Most of thgem do not work
all that well anyway, because they are rather inflexible. There are
better solutions, depending on the quality and size of image you
require. What might work for the web might not work for print
advertising, for example.
The small point-and-shoot cameras do NOT have the same quality
sensors as their larger cousins in the DSLR family, but the right
one might suffice, again, depending on your final requirements.
Basically, you’ll want a camera that has the following, and most do
The ability to be used in full MANUAL mode (You set the aperture and
shutter speed). No AUTO features are ever used in serious macro
The ability to record images in RAW format…this ends forever all
concerns about “white balance” and getting the colors right easily.
The ability to focus close without getting so physically close to
the subject that proper lighting cannot be applied. This means that
if you can fill 50% or more of the viewfinder with a focused image
and still have the camera six inches or more from the subject, you
are good. If you need to be closer, you’ll have problems and not oly
with a huge reflection of the camera in your jewelry. Best soluton
is an SLR like one of the Canon Rebels with a good macro in the
90-105 mm range. Sigma and Tamron make good ones that cost less than
Canon or Nikon, and are equivalent image quality to them. If you
prefer Nikon or someone else, fine, just make sure you use an SLR
with a reduced size sensor NOT a full-size sensor.
There are sound technical reasons for this, especially if you enjoy
good depth of field.
If your camera has a PC Synch outlet or a hotshoe for flash, you are
ahead of the game. Why? Good subject for another discussion, but the
short answer is if your image need to compete with pro-quality
images, you’d better cut to the chase and get the job done. Flash is
ultimately cheapest light source, it’s dependable, it’s a constant
color,there are tons of ways to control and modify it, it obviates
the need for a big tripod, and it’s POWERFUL, meaning you can use
small f stops to increase apparent depth of field.I wouldn’t own a
camera without that capability unless it was one for fun shots you
can stick in your pocket. But I have a cell phone for that!
You WILL need a good post-processing software like Photoshop
Elements or the free software GIMP, and you’ll need to learn how to
use it. Not optional. Post-processing is an integral and necessary
part of the digital imaging process. And it’s easy. I teach students
to crop to desired size and resolution, strip out the unwanted
background, adjust tonal values and color and apply final sharpening
all in 90 seconds or so. If you’d like to see some sample images
made my way in less than 2 minutes, send me an e-mail wayne_emery
(AT) msn.com. I’d love to post some here along with lighting setup
illustrations, but I’m not sure how or if that’s allowed.
How can I share files and pictures with the list?
Or… send the files to the attention of firstname.lastname@example.org and
we will upload them for you…