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12-08-2010, 04:19 PM   #1
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Lens for jewelry photos?

I shoot jewelry for friends. Been using my Fuji S9000 for a few years and it does exactly what I need it to do. But, I've recently upgraded to a K-x. I'd like to add a lens that can do macro for jewelry photos and would love to find one that can also be used as a walk about. I love the primes that I shoot with my old Canon F-1 (especially that 50mm 1.4). I currently have the 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses. I'm sure I can make one work, but I'm looking to put together a set of primes for my various interests.

So, anyone do jewelry or product photography have a favorite?

Tamara

12-08-2010, 04:35 PM   #2
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I do not to product/jeweler photography, but have a good look at the DA 35mm macro lens... it would emulate the FOV of your old 50mm on film (but not the speed).
12-08-2010, 04:44 PM   #3
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Already have that one on my wish list for exactly that reason. Also want a fast 50, knowing that the FOV will be different, but I think I'll love it anyway. Thanks!
12-08-2010, 04:53 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by chasintrail Quote
Already have that one on my wish list for exactly that reason. Also want a fast 50, knowing that the FOV will be different, but I think I'll love it anyway. Thanks!
The various 50mm 1.7 and 1.4's are very very good, same with the 55mm 1.8. If you want all the modern conveniences, look at the F 50mm 1.7 and the FA 50 1.4.

However, I don't think they will be too useful for photos of jewelery, because they are softer by design (looks great with people, not so much with jewels).

Fantastic portrait lenses, and general purpose lenses really, as long as you feel comfortable with a tight composition.

Just as a side note, the DA 35mm at full macro means you will be VERY close to your products, which might be frustrating with respect to getting good lighting. I selected it because you wanted the normal FOV, but you should also have a look at the 100mm 2.8 macro... same magnification, but a much greater working distance.

Then instead of a fast 50, you could do the FA 43 1.9, which is a good in-between between the 35mm and the fast 50.

I didn't do that because I actually prefer the softer look of the 50mm 1.4, but you might feel differently! There are so many options in the 35 - 55 focal length range.

12-08-2010, 05:04 PM   #5
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I would use a lens with greater FL than 50mm, for example, a Tamron 90mm macro or a Pentax 100mm macro.

I don't know what kind of jewelry you're working with, but if you need 1:1 mag ratio, a lens with short focal length doesn't give you much room for a ring flash.

If you don't have a ring flash already, you should try to get one. It doesn't need to be fancy. Something like a Sunpak DX-8R will do the job.
12-08-2010, 05:40 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
I would use a lens with greater FL than 50mm, for example, a Tamron 90mm macro or a Pentax 100mm macro.

I don't know what kind of jewelry you're working with, but if you need 1:1 mag ratio, a lens with short focal length doesn't give you much room for a ring flash.

If you don't have a ring flash already, you should try to get one. It doesn't need to be fancy. Something like a Sunpak DX-8R will do the job.
usually, a macro lens would be the ideal choice for this type of photography, and a longer focal length as well. cheapest would either be a Sigma 105 and Tamron 90 which are sold used at less than $300 (cheapest). on average this may cost art around $300-$350.
12-08-2010, 05:41 PM   #7
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Sorry, it got a little off track there with the 50mm discussion. I'm pretty sure that the 50 won't work with jewelry for exactly the reasons that you all have stated.

For the jewelry I usually do use a shallow DOF, but not less than 2.8 (that's only for some of the "artistic" shots. But I also want to be able to drop the background, it's a fine line.

Soldbear, the 90 or 100 is probably more what I'm looking for. I don't have a ring flash yet, mostly because I couldn't find one that would work with my Fuji that I thought was worth the price. I'd love to get one to experiment with. The other reason is that for high-polished pieces and gem stone pieces, a flash doesn't work well. Most of my lighting for those is top and side. Fortunately I don't do a lot of gem pieces, the sparkler light that really makes them pop is EXPENSIVE!

I usually shoot on semi-reflective glass pieces in a light tent with 2-4 lights depending on the piece.

Like I said, I've been working with a Fuji super-zoom that does a great job, but why not add a good macro lens to my dSLR kit? If I was smart, I'd set up some pieces this weekend and see what focal length I really use, I've never paid attention to that...

Thanks for all the help and suggestions, keep 'em coming.
12-08-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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Here's an example...

Attached Images
 
12-08-2010, 06:24 PM   #9
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The DA35 f2.8 Limited 1:1 Macro is more than capable of handling your task. You can use it with your existing lighting arrangement just fine. A good ring flash will run you $300+.



I'm not knocking the suggestion of a 90-105 mm macro, they are all fine options. The DA35 however is infinitely more useful as a general all purpose lens as well.

12-08-2010, 06:30 PM   #10
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Jeff - Wow! The 35 is on my wish list anyway (yeah, I have a thing for the primes). After seeing that, I'm impressed with the close in ability. Didn't expect that. Thanks.
12-08-2010, 07:00 PM   #11
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I prefer more moderate focal length macro lenses on APS-C, but I tend to shoot larger objects.

Three suggestions:

1. DA Ltd. 35mm f2.8 macro is simply great and versatile. I take it into the field for some flowers, and in the studio for some products. The wider angle is useful for fitting into the frame longer items like a necklace. Works well with a tent.

2. Pentax FA 50mm f2.8 is considered one of the sharpest lenses in K-mount. Slightly heavy and well-built but not bulky. Very handy focal length as a moderate telephoto.

3. Sigma 70mm f2.8. I've only owned this for a week and mine's in EOS mount, but I'm already very impressed. Excellent color rendition. Kinda heavy and bombproof, but the focal length is very useful. Also good in the field. Some say this is as sharp as the above FA 50mm and my Voigtlander 125mm f2.5. We'll see.

M
12-09-2010, 03:47 AM   #12
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For a fraction of the cost of one top-of-the-line AF macro lens, you can get bellows and several fine flatfield enlarger or bellows-macro lenses. Macro tubes are also useful for some setups. You'll lose P-TTL or ring flash capability and must exploit controlled lighting.

I recently (2 weeks ago) fleshed-out my bellows collection: a small M42 Bellowscope mounted with a Steinheil Culminar VL 105/4.5 bellows-macro lens for US$41 shipped. The Bellowscope's rails are calibrated with magnification factors, 105mm on one side and 50mm on the other, so it's a good home for an EL-Nikkor 50/2.8. And I have a big Schneider Betavaron 50-125/4.5 enlarger zoom (US$70 marked down from $3500). Normally it's on 30mm of tubes for general non-macro work, but on bellows it allows incredible flexibility for close shooting.

If money is no object, forget that I suggested this.
12-09-2010, 04:52 AM   #13
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Not exactly a lens recommendation but a good discussion about jewelry photography: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/general-photography/62459-high-key-jewelry-look.html

… and the resulting guide: how to photograph diamond jewelry | emuu.net
12-09-2010, 09:53 AM   #14
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I have done a little bit of jewelry photography as well (and I hated it, which is why I've only done a little bit), but I would also recommend something between 70 and 100, and with macro abilities. This gives you a better working distance with more room to get around your subject and arrange/adjust. The first lens that pops into my mind is the Voigtlander 90. Though technically only close-focus and not macro, it'll focus plenty close for jewelry. You're going to be manually focusing anyway, why not get a lens that's designed for it? They are so much more pleasurable to use, and that Voigt 90 is a honey! I know Wieland (blende8) has shown us some stunning images from that lens. If you do decide on it, though, you'd better hurry!
12-09-2010, 10:12 AM   #15
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Jewelry photography is all about shallow DOF. The A50 1.2 is definitely one way to go for the shot taken at a distance.

Other than that, I think the 90mm, 100mm, and 105mm focal lengths from Tamron, Pentax and Sigma are exceptional macro lenses. I have the DFA 100 myself and its been great for all my trinkets photos.

Lastly don't underestimate the value of a slow but long telephoto. Setup a tripod and get out to 200mm+ and you can get a really good shot of your jewelry. That's what I did when I got engaged.
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