Macro Lens for Jewelry Photography.

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jacob_kim, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone.
    Currently have: Canon EOS Rebel Xsi with EFS 18-55 mm lens.
    I need to take rhinestone jewelry picture as shown in the picture but I am not very satisfied with the clarity of the jewelry.
    I need to clearly see each stones of the jewelry.
    Following were the settings:
    Shutter speed: 1/64 sec
    Aperture: F/5.7
    ISO: 400
    I am thinking of buying a macro lens hoping that I could get a better picture but wanted get some opinions on this before I make my $$$$ purchase.
    I read from other posts that 100 mm f/2.8 Macro lens was a good lens to take jewelry pictures. Is there any other lens that would do the job for less $$$?
    Thank you!
  2. How was your shot lit? Were you on a tripod? That's going to make more of a difference than the lens, once you're stopped down pretty well - especially if you're shooting larger pieces like that, and not small things like individual rings. Try to get closer to f/8 or f/11, and use a rock-solid tripod.
  3. Jacob,
    What Matt wrote. You filled the frame (actually, you cut the base off the stand, which is a bit distracting), so you don’t need to get any closer.
    As always, “It’s all about the light.” And it’s the light that’ll make or break this shot. I’ve never shot jewelry, so I won’t offer any suggestions other than to do something other than what you did.
  4. I agree with Matt and Ben. Beyond their suggestions, a macro lens will ONLY help if you need to get much closer than you are in this shot--closer than your current lens will focus.
  5. Bright lighting of rhinestones would seem essential. Too bad the stand is light grey; can you get one in a contrasting color? Last thought, if you want to include the stand in the photo, you might want to use portrait orientation, by rotating either the camera or the subject 90 degrees.
  6. I'm not so sure that stand is light grey. If the camera's meter is allowed to guess how to expose the scene in question, it would always default to treating that entire white area as 18% grey. That's why you always go with a manual exposure when shooting a scene like this. The camera can't read your mind, and doesn't know if it's seeing white, charcoal, light greay, or anywhere inbetween. You have to tell it how to shoot the scene. As shown, it's certainly underexposed.
  7. Taking photos of that piece of jewellery against a white background is asking for trouble in my opinion. I'm not saying it's impossible, it just makes it so much harder to get the light right so that the background is bright white and the stones and silver aren't burnt out. I agree with the others on here that you don't need a macro lens. You need to get the lighting right. If possible, try a bolder background such as a deep crimson velour which will set the piece off beautifully and give you far less trouble balancing the exposure.
    Like others have said, a macro will merely help you get closer, that's all. If you plan on photographing small items like rings and earrings then a macro would be useful but for jewellery like your example you don't need a macro lens.
  8. I agree with all the comments here, but I would add a couple things. (My wife makes Jewelry and I take pictures for her and I have to say I have never had more trouble with any subject than jewelry; practice and experimentaion is the key.)
    1. Try a contrasting stand, you might like the results more.
    2. If your going hand held try a tripod.
    3. Manual setting for the win.
    4. What kind of lighting setup are you using? I often use a cube to soften the incoming light, this helps a lot. Practice with your lights and see what works the best with your setup.
    Hope this helps!
    Ted Tahquechi
  9. Yes, as the others say, this (your example) is not an area for a true "macro" lens, but simply a place where you need close focusing . This is the sort of application where the so-called "macro" function of lenses like the EF-S 17-85mm, the EF 24-105, or other zoom "macro" will work quite well. A real macro would be useful for things like earrings, perhaps. The main advantage of a real macro would be the lack of distortion (barrel or pincushion) and greater sharpness. Of course, they are primes, so you have only the one focal length to work with. I should not think that the distortion problem would be very noticeable in jewelry, however. It is, of course, relatively easy to fix in post-processing, in any case.
    Sharpness can be improved by using a tripod, if you didn't. Your little kit lens can do this fine, but of course, there are more "advanced" lenses and you could spend anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars improving the lens, but it may not be necessary.
    As for the color of the background in this case, here's a quick and dirty reworking of the tonal levels just as an example, of how different it can look depending on what is done after the image is captured. (If you put in a caption as well as sizing the image to a max of 700 pixels, it will display in-line)
  10. JDM, if that's massaging a photo, remind me never to ask you to massage my back. I would end up needing surgery ;-)
    A slightly more subtle approach in Photoshop would give the following result without blowing the highlights to hell:
  11. Thank you so much for all your responses!
    Yes! Tripod was used to take the pic.
    For lighting I used one daylight lamp placed directly above the necklace.
    I played with the lighting cube and other light settings before but I seem to get best result with this particular setup.
    Jamie, what did you do in PS to massage the picture?
    Thank you.
  12. Hi Jacob
    All I did was crop the photo to a square format followed by a quick levels adjustment. After that I used the eraser tool with a very large smooth edged brush to clean up the white background around the edges of the frame. Total time was around 2 minutes max.
  13. How about Canon 50/2.5 macro.
    You may be able to get by with your kit lens. Lighting setup looks pretty good. I think you need a bit more dof. I say stop down to f/11 (or f/16 for web-sized images). Be sure you're as perpendicular as possible to the jewelry.
  14. I'll save you the trouble of looking at another edited version of your photo, mine looks like Jamie's; took a couple of minutes. I photograph mostly shiny metal objects and have (mostly) used a solid white background for the past 10 years or so. When you use a color background on metal or glass (read jewelry), the background color is reflected in the object making it harder to re-purpose the image later. You can eliminate the color cast later, but it's easier to start off without it. My advice on getting closer is, on subjects like this, to turn the camera 90 degrees to portrait orientation, you'll use a lot more of your frame.
  15. try light tent techniques and manual exposure and raw mode please!
  16. Your best lens for this is the Canon 60/2.8. 100mm will be too long and not convenient. Cheaper options are the Sigma 50/2.8 and Canon 50/2.5. The latter only goes to 1:2 but that does not seem to be a problem with shots like the one you posted.
    Happy shooting,
  17. Thank you for all your responses!

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