What equipment and accessories should be used to photograph jewelry, watches or gemstones?
If you're asking yourself how to photograph gemstones, what is the best camera for photographing jewelry or what is the equipment needed for product photography and gemstone photography in particular, you're in the right place. To photograph jewelry, precious stones or watches, choose equipment adapted to macro photography for the best image quality. The goal is to quickly obtain high quality visuals, highlighting multiple details, ornaments and a colorimetric rendering faithful to the original. You’ll find all our advice in this tutorial and become your own product photographer.
1. Choose a DSLR camera for your jewelry
For macro photography involving these types of items, opt for an SLR camera. There are two types of sensors for this range: APS-C and Full Frame sensors. They are composed of photoelectric cells capturing light for each pixel of the image. The full format thus offers a better rendering of the image.
Depending on your budget, you will have to find the right balance between camera and lens. There are some very good entry-level DSLR cameras with APS-C sensor (Canon EOS 800D). For full-format sensors, the entry model is the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, followed by the 5D Mark IV.
2. Macro lenses: essential for your jewelry photos
Choose a macro lens with a fixed focal length. This type of lens is much more sensitive to light and offers a better quality rendering than a zoom lens. Their focal length is generally between 35 and 100 mm, with a large aperture (F2.8) and a 1:1 ratio to visually reproduce the photographed object at its actual size. There are good, affordable macro lenses available for both SLR cameras (Canon EF-S series) and full-format SLR cameras (Canon EF series). Expect to pay between 300 and 800 euros.
- Our detailed tutorial on the best lens you should choose for macro jewelry photography.
3. The photo tripod: find the right compromise
Finally, equip yourself with a quality tripod. It is essential to stabilize your camera and keep your focus (discover our tutorial on how to avoid blur when shooting jewelry). As the diaphragm is often very closed, the tolerance to movement is therefore zero. Several major brands offer quality tripods: Manfrotto, Gitzo or Vanguard. Choosing an aluminium tripod is a good compromise between stability, weight and price. Carbon fibre raises the price up a notch and plastic tripods are clearly to be banned because of their poor quality.
Another solution is the specialized accessory: the MacroStand. This custom-made tripod with a ball-and-socket joint system is adjustable in height and distance with a rail system. The head can also be used to tilt the device degree by degree.
4. Opt for continuous, multi-source and point source lighting
When photographing jewelry, good lighting plays a key role. You will avoid, for example, unwanted shadows and reflections, offer a faithful rendering of colours and materials. Multi-source LED lighting with dimmable intensity is ideal for this. It has a colour rendering index (CRI) of over 90.
On a software-controlled “lightbox” type studio, modulate its intensity on several tracks. The one located around 3000°K offers a “warm” rendering. Ideal for photos of gold jewellery, for example. Between 5000 and 6500°K, the intensity is equivalent to daylight. This temperature offers you a perfect natural rendering. Thus you can reveal small details such as ornaments or engravings. Spot lighting is a direct beam of light that can be moved around your jewelry and can complement fixed lighting. It is used to obtain a quality rendering on precious stones that are complex to illuminate, such as diamonds.
5. What if you used a software for jewelry photography?
A packshot software is used to remotely control the steps of the shooting process. You avoid any direct handling of the camera and therefore any movement of the camera during the shooting of your jewels. With this system, you can adjust the lighting and camera settings (like the shutter speed for example) remotely and view them before shooting. Once set up and saved, you can reuse all these settings.
For example, the settings specific to an emerald, a diamond, a sapphire or a gold ring. A software dedicated to jewellery photography is essential if you are equipped with a 360° shooting system.