Jewelry photography requires skill as well as a decent camera. While you may think that it is quite easy to choose the best camera for jewelry photography, there are a bunch of features you need to think about to get the best results where jewelry photography is concerned.
So, to help you get started, we have created a guide to help you select the best camera for jewelry photography as well as provide you with top tips for the photography of jewellery.
What Is The Best Camera For Jewelry and Product Photography?
The best cameras for product photography can be divided into macro lenses and DSLR cameras. For the purpose of this article, we will give you some recommendations for each of these types.
You will find that a number of DSLR cameras meet the strict requirements of jewelry photography. If you have no idea which camera is best, check out our overview to find your best camera for jewelry photography.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is considered as the best camera for jewelry photography, but it is also one of the most expensive. Still, despite the price, photographing jewelry with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is a piece of cake.
Being one of the most advanced cameras, the Canon EOS comes with a stunning 22 megapixel resolution. It also comes with a great optical viewfinder and a rapid autofocus that can save you heaps of time.
Of course, one of the biggest downsides to this camera is the price. When you choose this model, also take into account that this DSLR camera does not work with EF-S lenses.
2. Sony A5000
Looking for a more affordable DSLR camera to shoot jewelry? Then the Sony A5000 is the right choice for you.
The Sony A5000 is a 20 megapixel DSLR camera. It is a mirrorless camera that actually uses the same APS-C matrix of the Canon camera. The Sony A5000 camera also comes with a 16-55 mm lens out of the box, ensuring you can capture your quality jewelry in the greatest detail.
3. Canon EOS 70D
This camera is a staple for almost every photographer, as it is so wonderfully versatile. Although this is one of the best cameras around, it is considerably pricier than our previous suggestion.
There are still a bunch of reasons to invest in the Canon EOS 70D. Firstly, the camera comes with a whopping 19 focus points and a 20.2 megapixel APS-C sensor. There is also a minimum shutter speed lag, which proves useful for more than just product photography.
One of the few downsides of the Canon EOS 70D is its overheating problem. Some photographers have found that the camera can overheat somewhat if it is used for a longer period. But, despite the overheating issue, photographers find they get outstanding results were jewelry photos are concerned. In other words, do not discount this camera just yet.
4. Canon EOS T8i
Another solid choice in our overview of best cameras is the Canon EOS T8i. As it is considerably cheaper than some of the other Canon cameras in this overview, you may expect lesser features. However, this is not the case. In fact, the Canon EOS T8i produces some of the best image quality.
One of the standout features of this DSLR camera is the autofocus with 45 AF points. With this autofocus feature, you can count on more dynamic image capturing.
We must mention that the Canon EOS T8i is not only one of the best cameras for product photography, it is also one of the favorited DSLR cameras for jewelry photographers. The DSLR camera makes it easier to shoot your jewelry with a white background, even for photographers who have never worked with a white background before.
When you use the Canon EOS T8i, it is advised to choose the matching lenses for this DSLR camera. If you use the matching lenses, you will get much better results and less hassle along the way.
If we would have to mention something negative about this particular DSLR camera, it would have to be the smaller touchscreen. While the smaller touchscreen did save a little in terms of camera weight and size, not everyone likes smaller touchscreens when it comes to sorting out settings and reviewing photographs.
5. Nikon D800
There are many things to love about this Nikon camera for jewellery photography. Firstly, it has a 36 megapixel sensor, which is obviously one of the better resolutions for DSLR sensors on the market today.
While it is one of the pricier pieces, it does provide an amazing ISO performance, incredibly fast focus, two memory card slots, easy handling and so much more. But out of all the features you need to remember, the sheer range of manual settings is out of this world.
Considering the price of the Nikon D800, we only recommend this for big resolution photographs. While this camera is amazing in every sense of the word, this camera would be wasted on basic catalogue images.
6. Nikon Coolpix P900
Another camera that is in the mid range where price is concerned is the Nikon Coolpix P900. Arguably, this is one of the best cameras for beginners, as it provides a bunch of features that are easy for beginners to get their head around.
One of the best features associated with this camera is the 83x optical zoom. When it comes to take snaps of jewelry pieces, it does not get more powerful than that. Add to that a proper electronic viewfinder, inbuilt wireless connection, GPS and so much more.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 has outstanding performance in low light, but it can take some time to focus. Nevertheless, despite the slower focus, you will not find a better camera when it comes to low light performance.
When using the Nikon Coolpix P900, we suggest getting sturdy tripod. Once again, a tripod will provide better and more stable results. While the Nikon Coolpix P900 does not necessarily need the tripod, we find that the results are pretty seamless when using one with this particular camera.
7. Nikon D3500
If you’re looking for a great all-rounder, this DSLR is a fantastic choice. It uses Nikon’s f-mount system for its interchangeable lenses. This means you’ll be able to tweak and improve your setup to your heart’s content.
Try out a fixed Nikkor macro lens or sharply focusing zoom lens to maximize your close-up results. While most professional product photographers will take advantage of image stacking software, the onboard processing on the D3500 also does a spectacular job.
The “EXPEED 4 image processor” handles image work quickly and effectively. Expect crisp shots with vivid details and minimal noise.
Whether you focus on product photography in general or jewelry photography specifically, even the best cameras need a good macro lens. The stock lens can give you decent results, but if you need to get up and close, you’ll need a good macro lens.
But which are the best macro lenses for product photography? Let’s find out!
1. Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II
The finest camera lens in the Canon range for jewelry photography is the Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II. Of course, since this is also one of the most advanced lenses in their catalogue, it is also one of the more expensive options.
With this Canon camera lens, you can count on one of the best zoom ranges, complemented by perfect sharpness for your product images. The focal range of this macro lens is also quite impressive thanks to the presence of aspheric and glass lenses. You can also count on an updated optical system, ensuring images captured with this macro lens only provide top quality.
- 24 70 millimetre focal length, 38.4 112 millimetre equivalent focal length on Canon APS C cameras
- F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum, ring type ultrasonic type AF motor with full time manual focusing
- 82 millimetre filters, closest focusing distance: 0.38 meter/1.25 feet
- Image Stabilization : No. Focus adjustment: Inner focusing with USM. Diagonal angle of view: 84° - 34°. Weight 1.7 pound
- Purchase this product between May 1, 2016 and July 30, 2016 and get 13 months of free damage protection from Canon. The product must be registered within 30 days of the purchase date to be eligible
2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70 mm f/2.8E
Another lens that provides great functionality but is also a little on the expensive side is the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70 mm f/2.8E. Still, despite its high price, it should still be a serious consideration for all your jewelry photography efforts.
With this Nikon lens, you can count on immediate and outstanding picture quality. Like our previous suggestion, this lens has a recently upgraded optical design. In addition to that, the manufacturer also improved the lens’ vibration control system. As a result, you can count on a bigger shutter speed range.
- Fast f/2.8 constant aperture with an electromagnetic diaphragm
- Sensational image quality and sharpness with virtually no distortion, Focal Length Range : 24 to 70 millimeter
- Minimum Focus Distance : 35 to 50 millimeter focal length : 1.2 feet (0.38 meter) from focal plane; 24, 28, 70 millimeter focal lengths : 1.3 feet (0.41 meter) from focal plane; Dimensions : Approx; 88.0 millimeter maximum diameter x 154.5 millimeter (distance from camera lens mount flange)
- 4 stops of Vibration Reduction for handheld and low light shooting, Nonstick glass makes it easier to wipe off water, dirt and smudges
- Evolution of Nikon's legendary 24 to 70 millimeter workhorse.Type:Fmount, Type E AF S lens with built in CPU and F mount.Lens Elements:20
3. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
Sony is known to create more affordable cameras and lenses, which are also counted among some of the best camera lenses out there. So, if you are looking to save some money but still get a lens with a bunch of features, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 should be on the list.
One of the things that stands out most about this camera lens is its lightweight. Many macro lenses are exceptionally heavy, which can make long photoshoots a bit more uncomfortable. With the sony FE 50mm f/1.8, this is less of a problem, especially when you consider that the lens is lighter and more compact than the majority of its competitors.
Another major benefit of the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is that it corrects the balance for brighter images. So, if you often find that jewellery remains difficult to shoot in spite of owning a lightbox , you can easily remedy that with this lens.
Despite additional benefits such as an absolute minimum of chromatic aberration and sharp contrast, there is one downside to this lens. When you start working with it, you will quickly notice that the autofocus is a little bit on the slow side. The autofocus is also a little noisier than some of the other macro lenses available today.
- Large F1.8 maximum aperture enables beautiful defocusing effects, 7-blade circular aperture creates beautiful defocused bokeh
- Compact, lightweight design ideal for full-frame E-mount cameras, Aspherical element controls spherical aberration and coma
- Double-gauss configuration suppresses field curvature & distortion, Metal mount adds solid durability as well as a sophisticated feel, Fast DC motor focus actuator system drives all lens groups
- 75mm (35mm equivalent) focal length with APS-C sensor. Angle of View (APS-C) : 32 degree
- In-the-box: Hood (ALC-SH146), Lens front cap (ALC-F49S), Lens rear cap (ALC-R1EM)
4. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8
When it comes to well-known brands, Canon, Nikon and Sony rule the roost. However, this does not mean that there aren’t any great lenses from lesser known brands out there. If you are new to photography, you may have never heard of the name Tamron before. Still, there is a lens you cannot afford to miss in the form of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8.
You may wonder why we added this wide-angle lens to this overview with best cameras and lenses. Well, that’s quite straightforward. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 is brilliant at taking sharp photographs.
The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 also has quite the solid construction. While some of the more advanced models have a solid construction, those in the lower and mid price range can have their faults. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 is in the medium price range and spans a durability comparable to that of the most expensive lens models.
- Fast f/1.8 aperture;Minimum Object Distance [m]: 0.2m (7.9 in);Maximum Magnification Ratio :1:2.5
- Dynamic close focusing capability
- VC (Vibration Compensation) system
- Fluorine coating on front element to repel water and fingerprints
- High speed AF with USD (ultrasonic drive)
5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
Supplied with a 1:1 magnification ratio and a fast autofocus, this lens has everything in store for the aspiring jewelry photographer. The camera has one of the best stabilization systems, a macro range that is fully equipped with a focus range limiter and proper dirt and water protection. In other words, everything you need to shoot jewelry photographs in a variety of conditions.
So, are there any downsides to this advanced lens? Well yes, the sharpness of this lens is very much dependent on the aperture. If the aperture of this lens is open, it produces images with some of the best sharpness we have ever seen. However, if the aperture is closed, you may find that there are some unsharp areas.
With the obvious aperture problem, is this lens worth the price. We certainly think so. The photo sensor is lovely and sensitive, making it easy to detect and focus on your subject. The stabilizer in this lens also provides benefit, since it ensures you won’t encounter any image blurring. So, despite the aperture issue, this lens is worth the investment.
6. Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G
If you are a big lover of Nikon lenses, but do not want to pay the high cost associated with some of our other suggestions, you can choose the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G instead.
This Nikon lens is very portable and light, making it suitable for anyone who wants to snap photographs over a longer period. Add low chromatic aberration and a good sharpness with an open aperture, and you have a decent lens for a really affordable price.
Much like some of the other lower cost lenses, the only downside to this Nikon lens is its slower autofocus. Still, if you don’t mind waiting a bit to get that perfect shot, then you can save hundreds of dollars on this option.
With the NIkon AF-S DX MIcro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G, you can focus completely on your subject while blurring the background. Doing so puts the attention of your photograph where it belongs, on the jewelry piece you are trying to photograph. It also enables you to take focussed photographs in dim lighting.
While there are better lenses out there in the Nikon range, this Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G is the best option in the more affordable range.
- Compact and lightweight DX-format close-up lens. Lens Construction (Elements/Groups) - 9 elements in 7 groups
- Maximum reproduction ratio is 1.0x. Focal length is 40 mm
- Sharp images from infinity to life-size (1x), autofocus to 64 inches
- Close-range correction system (CRC). Silent wave motor (SWM)
- Angle of view is 38 degree 50 feet. Features focus distance indicator 0.53 feet to infinity having minimum focus distance as 0.53 feet
Buyer’s Tip — Lens Focus Range
The main thing to keep in mind when considering lenses for your jewelry photography is that overall performance isn’t necessarily what you need to focus on. Don’t get us wrong — the quality of your lens is still important.
It’s just that when photographing jewelry, the focus range of a given lens is what’s most critical. When you consider how close you’re going to be to most of your subjects, your top priority should be what’s called the macro focus range. This is also sometimes referred to as the minimal focus distance.
This number tells you how close you’ll be able to get to your subject before things start to get blurry. For example, a lens with a minimal focus distance of 0.5m will perform poorly if you hold your camera closer than 0.5m from the subject.
As a general rule, aim for smaller distances when considering lenses for jewelry photography. We recommend using distances close to or below 0.3m.
Check out this Amazon screenshot from lens #5 on this page.
A macro lens is designed to focus very sharply at close distances. They can be an excellent addition to a jewelry photographer’s kit, especially if their pieces are of a similar size.
Just keep in mind that macros don’t typically offer zoom functionality — if you want your image to move in closer, you’ll have to physically move in yourself.
Primes offer superior sharpness than many non-prime options. They’re designed to focus at one fixed distance rather than a range of distances. You can spot a prime lens by looking at the number used to describe it.
A lens described as “20-60mm” can zoom between these distances. A prime will only ever be described with one figure, eg “100mm”.
Jewelry Photography — Macro Tips
While macro lenses can be a great choice for this type of photography, they’re not miracle workers. It’s important to get to grips with both using macro equipment and editing your images once you’ve taken them.
Get these two things right and your jewelry images will dramatically improve. We have two helpful guides on both of these subjects. We’ll give a brief overview below, but it’s worth reading our full linked guides when you have the time.
For a more in-depth exploration of macro photography, check out our full guide here.
The thing to keep in mind when working with a macro lens is that the focusing distance is typically fixed. This means you won’t be able to zoom in on your subject without physically moving closer to it.
For this reason, macro lenses are a perfect fit for photographing jewelry pieces of similar sizes. If you regularly photograph sets full of differently sized pieces, it might be best to incorporate a zooming lens into your kit instead.
Keeping your setup stable is important for all types of photography, but it’s especially key with macro lenses. You’ll be working with significantly smaller tolerances for things like camera shake and image noise.
Use a tripod whenever possible. It’s also a good idea to lay your jewelry subject on a flat, clear surface to maximize results.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to get to grips with the manual focus settings on your camera. Autofocus can do a great job, but for something as intricate and small as jewelry, fine-tuning your focus is a must.
Focus Stacking Software
We recommend some great focus stacking software here.
If you want to produce jewelry photos professionally, you’ll probably have to use some decent focus stacking software. In short, this type of software is designed to help photographers create incredibly sharp, vivid images that far surpass the results of an individual image.
They work by combining, or “stacking” multiple images of the same subject and combining their best features. When used correctly, your images will capture your jewelry in all its glory.
There are plenty of open source and premium options out there so be sure to read through our guide before pulling the trigger.
How Do You Photograph Jewelry?
As we mentioned briefly already, jewelry photography requires a little bit of skill. While some skills you learn over time, there are certainly some beginner skills you can pick up from this guide. So, let’s start disclosing some top tips so you can get started with jewelry photography too.
Clean your jewelry first
The best jewelry for photographers is clean jewelry. Even if you use the best camera in the world, your jewelry photos won’t look great if the jewelry you are shooting is dusty and cloudy.
Most pieces will be relatively easy to clean. To remove dust from the jewelry, grab a clean microfibre cloth and wipe down all the required pieces before you start shooting. Make sure to wear cotton gloves when you place down the jewelry too; this ensures you won’t leave any fingermarks.
Always use a macro lens
The macro lens is a staple for jewelry photography, so you should always have one on hand. If you are familiar with micro lenses, you already know what kind of results they deliver and that they are compatible with most DSLR cameras.
One of the downsides of working with macro lenses is that they are quite pricey. Still, you always need macro lenses for jewelry photography. Ideally, you want one macro lens with short focal length and one with a longer focal length. Having both types of macro lenses ensures you can capture detail, but also shoot your jewelry product at a distance.
Don’t make it too busy
You may be tempted to set up a spectacular background for all your product images, but simplicity is actually better when it comes to jewelry photography. So, choosing a simple surface or a single background color is always better when photographing jewelry.
Since you can keep the background simple while you photograph jewelry, you don’t need much more than a simple cloth, fabric, glass or wooden surface. Simply have a look at which background fits your chosen piece of jewelry best before you start shooting.
You want to use something that provides a good enough contrast to make your jewelry pop out.
Use a tripod
Even if your camera is quite advanced, keeping your stabilized as stable as possible will deliver the best jewelry photography results. In fact, using something as simple as a tripod is guaranteed to provide sharper jewelry photography.
Also, if your camera settings and features allow it, use the remote shutter release for even cripsier images. With the remote shutter release, you get some extra time to adjust the focus if you need too. In fact, you can even adjust the lighting for even better results.
Focus on what demands attention
Image quality by using the best camera for jewelry photography is one thing, but using the correct skills to create the perfect photos is another. With product photography, it is always recommended to focus on the point that demands the customers’ attention. For example, if you are doing product photography for a stunning ring, then focus is on the large diamond in the front of the ring. By focussing in on the diamond, you get a stunning image that needs little to no retouching.
Please note that in most cases you will need the entire piece into focus. For example, if you are doing jewellery photography for a catalogue, it is beneficial to have an image of the entire piece. of course, this image must still show all the detail of your chosen product.
It is possible to create catalogue photos that provide all the detail. To do this, you will need to learn something called “focus stacking”. For focus stacking, you will need a tripod, a DSLR camera with manual camera settings, and some photoshop software.
First, you start by taking a photos of the same subject but with different focal points. Once you have taken these photos, you load up your photoshop software and create a new image by using all the photos you have taken. In other words, you will get detailed quality you would not be able to obtain with any kind of lens.
To merge your photos into one new image that shows the highest quality product, open your photoshop program and create each image as a new layer. Then, head to file and click on scripts > load files into stack. Then, hit the browse link to select all the image layers.
Once you have selected all the images, click on automatically align source images. After clicking on okay, open up your layer palette and select all layers. Then, browse to edit and select auto-blend layers. Next, click on stack images and seamless tones and colors. You can also experiment with filling transparent areas, which can increase image quality further.
Finally, click on ok and then flatten your image by clicking on layer/flatten. Once this is done for your photos, don’t forget to save!
Mind the white balance
The white balance is something many new jewelry photographers struggle with, even though those problems can be easily avoided. Remember, the wrong white balance can cause your colors to look completely off and this influences the image quality of your photos. After all, you don’t want rose gold earrings looking silver or vice versa.
You can remedy a white balance problem by using one of two methods. Firstly, you can use a grey card in jewelry photography, which will automatically correct the balance for your current environment. If you rather not use a grey card to correct image quality, you can also shoot in RAW and then make the adjustments in your photo editing program.
Don’t forget about reflections
Photographing jewelry also means learning to shoot photos when there are loads of reflections around. When you do jewelry photography for the first time, you will notice that reflections block some part of your jewelry. Evidently, this is caused by the light being reflected by the metal. Unfortunately, it does mean you have to experiment with your light setup a little.
One way to block some of the reflections that affect your image quality is by using a simple piece of paper just underneath the bottom of your lens. By placing a piece of paper there, you are basically bouncing the reflected light back on your jewelry piece, giving a much better result.
Lighting Tips for Jewelry Photos
See our full guide here.
Getting the lighting right is everything when it comes to this kind of photography. The shiny, intricate elements of your pieces have to be illuminated in the right way to bring out their best features. Check out our tips below.
Unless you’re an absolute pro and have a very good reason to do so, avoid using your flash when capturing jewelry. The harsh, direct lighting will blow out your shots and cause too many reflections.
Use Soft, Indirect Lighting
As a general rule of thumb, indirect, soft lighting is the way to go for this kind of photography. This usually means taking advantage of your available natural light. Shooting in an environment with a large window that lets in plenty of diffused light can be super helpful.
If opting for studio lights, make sure you have the experience and skill necessary to set things up properly. A soft box that doesn’t target direct light at your subject will probably work best.
Use a Plain White Backdrop
White reflects light, meaning your subjects will be better lit when using a plain white background for your images. The reflective properties of most jewelry mean that it’s far more likely to “absorb” other colors in its environment.
This is what makes white such a great candidate for your background color. It also distracts far less from your pieces.
How Do You Photograph Jewelry Without Reflection?
As we mentioned before, there are a couple of ways to remove the reflection during jewelry photography. The easiest method is by using a small piece of paper underneath the bottom of your lens; this will reflect the light back to the subject. Of course, you can also play around with the jewelry positioning and the surrounding lighting to minimize reflection as much as possible.
Do Jewelry Photographers Need Macro Lenses?
Yes. Even if you have the best camera for jewelry photography, you need the right lens to shoot jewelry pieces accurately and in detail. A macro lens basically allows you to move closer into jewelry compared to other types of lenses. As we mentioned before, you should get a minimum of two macro lenses, one with a short and another with a longer focal length.
The information we provided today may be a lot to take in, especially with a large number of camera recommendations and photography tips to think about. When it comes to jewelry photography, you will go through some trial and error.
Don’t expect everything to go perfect when you start out. Jewelry photography takes time to master, but one of our recommended DSLR cameras should make the path towards mastery just that little bit easier.