Jewelry Photography: Equipment, Props, and Accessories You Need to Get it Done
Some jewelers may find it overwhelming when choosing the right equipment to use when photographing their jewelry products and designs. With a sea of options available on the market today, it’s not difficult to fall for rip-off purchases and overpriced tools that don’t really deliver the results you need. In reality, the quality of your jewelry product images is not dependent on the equipment you’re using. Although it does help in getting the results you need, much of the weight is put on the skills and jewelry photography knowledge you have.
Hence, if you think you fall short on the latter, it’s reasonable that you make investments. For instance, hiring professional photographers or purchasing advanced jewelry photography solutions that are proven and tested by other jewelers. This means the benefits outweighed the cost. Don’t forget to do a cost-benefit analysis before making a decision.
Not all jewelers will have the resources to make big investments like those jewelers in fully-developed jewelry businesses with established profitable business models.
If you’re still in the infancy of your business journey, testing the water, don’t have a huge capital, or a self-sufficient army-of-one who wants to learn every business process – there’s always a solution for you! In fact, we knew, from frequenting numerous industry-related forums, that you’re not alone. If you’re one of the many who are taking jewelry product images on your own, we’ve made a list of the equipment, tools, props, and accessories you need to get the job done.
Jewelry Photography: Equipment, Props, and Accessories You Need for Your Next Photo Shoot
1. Camera (of course!)
“What’s the best camera for photographing jewelry (sterling silver, diamond, closeup shots, etc.) for websites and professional product images?”
This question is probably the most popular. It frequently appears in various industry-related forums – a proof that the proliferation of options has sent people confused and overwhelmed; thereby, making it a bit difficult to identify the right and most appropriate choice.
Nowadays, most, if not all, DSLR cameras are fit for the job. In fact, more than the camera, one of the major concerns when deciding on jewelry photography equipment is the lighting system and the lens you’ll be using. Nevertheless, here are some cameras to check for taking jewelry images.
- Nikon D3400
Nikon D3400 is an entry-level DSLR that features a Snapbridge application, which lets you transfer your jewelry images seamlessly from your camera to any smartphone or tablet device via a Bluetooth- supported connection. It also lets you control camera settings that are critical in achieving high-quality results – the shutter speed and aperture.
As we’ve established before, any camera that enables camera settings adjustments is an appropriate choice. This is important when photographing jewelry as it requires you to shoot from 1 to 2 meters away from the subject. This distance will allow you to capture the details of your jewelry without appearing blurry, provided that you shoot with a wider aperture setting.
Nikon D3400 is sold starting at $499.95. The price may vary based on your preferred kit. You can also get a Basic Bundle D3400 (complete with different lenses, tripod, cleaning kit, and camera case among many others) from Amazon for $579.99 and above.
- EOS Rebel T5, Canon
EOS Rebel T5 is perfect for DSLR beginners. It can capture exceptionally clear jewelry images with its 18.0MP CMOS(APS-C) sensor while its 18 to 55 mm zoom capability makes it ideal for photographing small objects like earrings and rings. Rebel T5 is equipped with many advanced features that even experienced jewelry photographers will love it. Features like the DIGIC 4 Image Processor, an ISO of 100-6400, expandable to H:12800, and a scene-intelligent auto-mode among many others make photography easier no matter the environment.
HOW ABOUT SMARTPHONES?! Yes, smartphones will delight you with amazing results too!
If you think DSLRs are too pricey for your need, don’t fret! A smartphone is a good alternative for expensive cameras. It’s always accessible and comes handy all the time since it fits your pocket and is not necessarily pricey. Nowadays, smartphones, which disrupted digital camera sales, can deliver near-professional results and performance. Check out some of the 2017’s best smartphone cameras. Remember that you can start with the one you have given that most smartphones nowadays are equipped with functional cameras.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+
2. Macro Lens
The term macro lens usually comes up when discussing closeup photography. A macro lens can reproduce small subjects at up to 1.0x or 1:1 magnification at the closest focusing distance. It’s not necessary to be brand-conscious when deciding which macro lens to buy. However, don’t forget to consider the following factors:
- Focal length
“Focal length refers to the optical distance from the lens to the point where light rays entering the lens converge to form a sharp image on the sensor.”
Aside from the optical distance, the focal length also characterizes the lens’ angle of view and the magnification. For instance, how wide or narrow of a scene do you want to capture and how small or large the subject will appear in the frame. The focal length is expressed in mm. The shorter it is, the wider angle of view produced and the smaller the subject would appear in the frame. The opposite is also true. The longer the focal lengths, the narrower the angle of view and the larger the subject would appear in the frame.
- Image stabilization
The image stabilization feature can reduce any vibration commonly caused by handheld photography. It’s a must because it prevents you from producing blurry images. Some macro lenses like Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM EF lens has an optical image stabilization system that corrects any wobbles or camera-shake visibility. If you’re using any of Canon’s EOS SLRs, you might want to consider this as it fits any EOS camera. In other cases, a sturdy tripod can also do the work along with other shake-reduction techniques.
The macro lens also applies to smartphone devices. You can check Amazon for clip-on macro lenses applicable to your device. Check out some of the smartphone macro lenses we’ve listed here.
3. Lighting sources/system
- Natural lighting
The most accessible lighting source is natural lighting. It gives you an even distribution of light in either outdoor or indoor setting, which perfectly illuminates the subject provided that you don’t mix it with any artificial light sources. The downside to natural lighting is finding the perfect time to photograph jewelry. Avoid photographing jewelry in the midday when the sun is at its fullest as it might be too bright for the subject leading to unflattering results.
- Lighting fixtures
Some artificial lighting sources commonly used in jewelry photography are LED fixtures, single light bulb or multiple LEDs in one fixture (good for faceted gems), and bare bulb strobe among many others. Regardless of your choice, ensure that all your light sources are of the same color temperature. This uniformity will help create beautiful reflections on glossy surfaces and is easy to control.
Make sure that the jewelry and the light source are leveled by placing the former on the table.
5. Jewelry stands, holders, and other props
Capture professional-looking images by using appropriate jewelry stands and holders for each type of jewelry. For instance, when photographing necklaces, use stands that complement your background and ensure that it is appropriate for the length of your subject. Amazon has an enormous inventory of jewelry holders and props like this Jewelry Easel Display that features 14 slots. Those slots are designed to hold necklaces of varying lengths.
Props to hold rings are different but easier to find. You can use museum putty and other jewelry holding wax including Elmer’s putty. These are available in any online store like Amazon or visit the craft stores near you. They’re easy to apply and remove without leaving any residue. Make sure that you apply as little amount as possible, so it’s not visible in your images. Otherwise, you can just polish it when you get to the post-production process.
These props are integral to your achieving professional-quality jewelry images. Only use props that best represent your products. Avoid cluttered props and accessories as it may take your customer’s attention away from the subject.
White background photography is popular in online retail because it creates an impression of professionalism, sophistication, and neatness; thereby, making your online visual display relaxing and pleasing to the eyes. If this is the look you’re going for, achieving a white background for your jewelry images need not be expensive. You can use a roll of white paper, white foam boards, or fabric as alternatives. These props are also ideal for creating a diffused, soft lighting. They can serve as a reflector or light diffuser.
Check out these jewelry lighting setup ideas to have an idea on how to use these alternatives on your next photoshoot or click the link below for more tips incorporating more improvised materials.
READ MORE: How to Photograph Jewelry at Home
Photographing jewelry using a lightbox is your way towards convenience, consistency, and simplicity. If you have the luxury of time, you can DIY a lightbox through the materials mentioned above. However, this may not work all the time, especially if you’re photographing jewelry regularly as it may not be as durable as those sold in the market. In this case, a cost-saving doesn’t necessarily mean time-efficient or beneficial in the long run.
Find a lightbox that serves your need so that you can maximize the benefits. For instance, the GemLightbox was exclusively designed for jewelers. This is evident in its features and characteristics – the lighting system, portability, and the Sparkles™, which brings out the fire, brilliance, and scintillation of your diamonds and other gems whether you want it in still photographs or 360 videos.
There are plenty of options to choose from, but as long as you know what you need and what you need it for, you’re on the right path. Don’t forget to assess your needs, the benefits and consequences before arriving at a business decision or a business-related purchase.
8. Grey card
We find a grey card useful when photographing silver jewelry, although it can be used every time you need help in getting the proper exposure. The grey card acts as a reference point when adjusting camera settings like exposure and white balance.
To use a grey card, simply place it near the jewelry and inside the lightbox, if you’re using one. Finding a grey card for your jewelry photography doesn’t require much effort. You can purchase it at any photography tool shops. Alternatively, you can improvise by using a grey, non-reflective paper.
Shopping practices are becoming more digital and visual. In a world where customers are said to have an attention span shorter than a goldfish, the competition for attention begins with the quality of your jewelry product image.
What other jewelry photography equipment and accessories do you use? Feel free to share in the comment section below!