Digital Photography Review

best canon lens for jewelry photography | Topdeblogs

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There is no such thing as the best lens or best camera for jewelry photography. Why? Because you can get the same quality jewelry product photos using so many cameras and lenses. The question should be what is the best camera and lens that you need and can afford.

Cameras for Jewelry Photography

When photographing jewelry, you need to click from 1-2 feet away from the product. When shooting from so close, to get the entire product in focus, you have to be able to control the aperture setting. Any DSLR or mirrorless camera lets you do this. But there are so many models and brands to choose from that it can get confusing.

Which camera to buy: A basic DSLR or mirrorless camera will do.

You can photograph any type of jewelry for the web using a recent model DSLR or mirrorless camera. Each of these cameras has slightly different features but they are all suitable to photograph jewelry. Buy based on your budget and the look and feel that you prefer. Then learn camera usage basics like how to set aperture and shutter speed.

If you’re on a budget, here are some affordable cameras that’ll work for jewelry photography.

  • Nikon D3500 (see current price on Amazon)
  • Canon EOS Rebel T7 (see current price on Amazon)
  • Sony A6000 (see current price on Amazon)
  • Canon EOS M50 (see current price on Amazon)

Read on to see examples of shots with different cameras.

Updated Aug 2021.

Why not a point & shoot or your phone camera?

While you can get similar megapixels in point and shoot cameras, the advantage of owning a DSLR is that you can tweak the settings like shutter speed and aperture to match your lighting and the product you are shooting.

Point and shoots could work for larger items like necklaces because you don’t need to shoot those from too close. But it’s better to start with a DSLR and take a product photography course to learn the basics.

Why not use a more expensive camera?

  1. You don’t need the features: Higher-end cameras have features that you rarely need for any product or jewelry photography. For example, if you’re shooting sports or wildlife or shooting in dim lighting conditions, higher-priced cameras will help. For product photos, where lighting is abundant and controlled, a basic DSLR is all you need.
  2. Image quality is not very different: For example, I have couple images below shot with a Nikon Z6 (costing about US $2000 for camera and lens) vs a Nikon D5500 (currently discontinued but it retailed for about $600 for camera and lens)

Both pics below are shot using the same camera settings (aperture F14 and shutter speed 1/5 sec). I chose the below product because it has different colors and is good for illustration purposes.

  • Shot with $600 camera
  • Shot with $2000 camera

Note that the more expensive camera has more contrast (e.g. orange and green is slightly brighter). However, this is very minor and you need to look hard to see the difference. Plus, if I slightly increase brightness or contrast in Photoshop, I can make both images look the same.

My point is that image quality is not a reason to buy an expensive camera. Higher priced cameras have more features and are better for different reasons but for product photos like this, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

Here is a jewelry image, again, notice that the higher priced camera image is brighter overall. But like I mention above, adding a little bit of contrast or brightness in Photoshop or any image editor on your phone or computer can make both images look identical.

  • Shot with $600 camera
  • Shot with $2000 camera

Removing the background: If you want to remove the gray background from product images, see this post on background removal tools.

FX (Full frame cameras) v. DX (cropped sensor cameras)

The Nikon Z6 is an FX (full-frame) camera and the D5600 is a DX (cropped frame) camera. Full-frame means that the camera captures a wider range. This is important when shooting landscapes or other nature-related photographs because you can capture a larger scene from the same distance. For jewelry, since products are small, a DX camera works fine. The bigger frame size means the camera has a bigger sensor, which is the main reason for the higher price.

Now, there is more to it that the size of the sensor i.e. higher end camera’s are quieter, auto focus faster, built more sturdy, better for large prints etc., but for online sellers, the size of the frame is the main reason to move to FX, not web image quality.

For jewelry or most other product photography related work, you don’t need an FX camera. Any starter DSLR or mirrorless camera will do.

If you plan to use the camera for other types of photography like landscapes, sports etc. as well and have the budget for a higher end camera, here are some suggestions.

  • Nikon Z6 – I use this camera (see current price on Amazon)
  • Canon EOS R6 (see current price on Amazon)
  • Sony A7R III (see current price on Amazon)
  • Nikon Z7 (see current price on Amazon)

Best Lens for Jewelry Photography?

For web images, the 18-55mm lens that is included with your DSLR or mirrorless camera kit is sufficient for almost all products. In most cases, you don’t need a macro lens or any additional lenses. For smaller pieces like rings or small studs, a macro lens will give you a better quality picture in a bigger size. However, images used on the web don’t need to be too big so the 18-55 is good enough for small items too.

Here is a sample image of some studs taken with an 18-55 lens. Each of these earrings is about half an inch wide.

Best Camera for Jewelry Photography

Another example – the below pendant is about 1 inch wide and was photographed using the 18-55mm kit lens.

A macro lens is useful when you want to get really large images of small products like rings or small studs to print on poster size sheets. Here is a selection of macro lenses that I’d recommended.

Macro lenses for Mirrorless cameras

  1. Sony macro 90mm
  2. Canon 85mm macro

Macro lenses for DSLR cameras

  1. Nikon 105mm macro
  2. Canon macro 100mm

More on macro lenses

If you want to print a full page ad of small products like a ring or studs in a glossy magazine, then a macro lens will help you capture the image in a better quality for print. For images for your website or even to print in thumbnail sizes (e.g. 3 inch square) for your line sheets, you can use a regular lens and you won’t be able to tell the difference.

If and when you do buy a macro lens, it’s not going to magically take better pictures. You need to learn focus stacking – here is a post on macro jewelry photography that gives you a focus stacking example.

Lens Focus Range

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of all the lenses available. Sure, some lenses are technically superior to others. However, for jewelry photography, since your camera is so close to the product, the important metric you need to pay attention to the “macro focus range” or “minimal focus distance” number mentioned with each lens. Here is a screenshot from Amazon showing this number for the 18-55mm lens.

Macro lenses let you focus on the product closer than other lenses. The smaller the distance, the better it is to photograph jewelry. The 105mm macro has a 0.31m distance (about a foot). The 18-55 has a minimum distance of 0.28m. However, the 105mm has double the zoom factor so the 0.31m distance gives you double the closeness to the 18-55mm.

Note: without getting technical, the number on the lens e.g. 105mm, indicates the zoom on the lens. For example, the 105mm has close to double the zoom of 55mm or triple the zoom of a 35mm.

Prime lenses give you sharper images than non-prime lenses. These are lenses that are of a fixed zoom and are optimized to work best at that zoom level. i.e. you cannot zoom in and out like you can with the 18-55 lens. You have to physically move closer or away from the camera to get the product in the frame.

Macro lenses are prime lenses. The 18-55 kit lens is not a prime lens. How can you tell? When a lens is marked as 18-55 or some range, it indicates a range of zoom. Notice that the 105mm macro and 100mm macro, do not have a range. They just say 105mm or 100mm. Similarly, there are prime lens for 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 85mm and others.

If you do photography full time, it helps to have a few different lenses but if you’re photographing jewelry for your own ecommerce store, the kit lens plus maybe a macro lens is all you will need.

When to buy a prime lens? Consider a prime lens if the products you’re shooting are of a similar size – otherwise you’ll be moving back and forth a lot trying to get your product to fit well into your frame. Portrait photographers typically use prime lenses because they photograph different people from the same distance i.e. they don’t have to move back and forth between shots and the image quality is better.

Summary

If you know how to use basic functions like aperture and shutter speed, you can get great pictures of your jewelry with an entry level DSLR and the basic 18-55mm kit lens.

The difference between a starter camera and a more expensive camera (like the Nikon Z6 or Z7 II) is more feature related – for example, the higher-end cameras let you take faster pics which can be useful when you’re shooting sports or wildlife. When photographing jewelry, you’re shooting in a still setting with light pointing directly at your product – for such a scenario, any DSLR or mirrorless camera is sufficient.

Similarly, for lenses, the kit lens works in almost all scenarios. If you decide to get a macro lens, learn how to focus stack to get bigger images of small products.

If you need help picking out lighting and accessories as well, check out my recommendations on product photography equipment.

If you’re looking to outsource your photography project – view our product photography pricing.

Can we answer any other questions? Comment and let us know.

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