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12-12-2007, 11:46 AM   #1
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best lens for jewelry?

specifically diamonds, mostly set in various rings/necklaces/bracelets.

A family friend owns a store, and wants to start having someone take pictures to email to possible buyers, etc (who knows, maybe even get a web presence).

My brother in law told me about this just now (he was in scouting a ring for me to purchase). Since I am new to this, but friends with the jeweler, it may present an opportunity to let my hobby earn me some small amount back, so I wanted to see if anyone on here has taken such pictures, or actively takes them.
My assumptions thus far:

1- A lightbox is probably a wise investment, whether I buy one or find DIY instructions

2-Probably will need additional lighting beyond my 360 flash

3-Doubt any of my current lenses would be best suited for what I expect would be macro type pictures.

My main reason for posting this here, is that I am actively debating purchasing at least 1 new lens, probably two.

1-either/or da* 16-50 or 50-135. Leaning toward the 50-135, if either

2-tamron 28-70 2.8, and perhaps the 70-300

3-open to suggestions

I don't yet know if anything would come from the diamond photography, but I wouldn't be surprised if I was given a trial run to see what I could produce, and I am just trying to see if this possible opportunity might steer my next lens purchase a little (in a perfect world, it comes through and finances some lens purchases, but I am not holding my breath just yet)

Just to save you from looking at my sig, my lenses currently in my bag are:
18-55 and 50-200 kit, 10-17 fisheye, 40mm limited and 50/1.7.

and yes,I do have a tripod so I am not worried about stabilizing

12-12-2007, 01:05 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmdeegan Quote
specifically diamonds, mostly set in various rings/necklaces/bracelets.

A family friend owns a store, and wants to start having someone take pictures to email to possible buyers, etc (who knows, maybe even get a web presence).

My brother in law told me about this just now (he was in scouting a ring for me to purchase). Since I am new to this, but friends with the jeweler, it may present an opportunity to let my hobby earn me some small amount back, so I wanted to see if anyone on here has taken such pictures, or actively takes them.
My assumptions thus far:

1- A lightbox is probably a wise investment, whether I buy one or find DIY instructions

2-Probably will need additional lighting beyond my 360 flash

3-Doubt any of my current lenses would be best suited for what I expect would be macro type pictures.

My main reason for posting this here, is that I am actively debating purchasing at least 1 new lens, probably two.

1-either/or da* 16-50 or 50-135. Leaning toward the 50-135, if either

2-tamron 28-70 2.8, and perhaps the 70-300

3-open to suggestions

I don't yet know if anything would come from the diamond photography, but I wouldn't be surprised if I was given a trial run to see what I could produce, and I am just trying to see if this possible opportunity might steer my next lens purchase a little (in a perfect world, it comes through and finances some lens purchases, but I am not holding my breath just yet)

Just to save you from looking at my sig, my lenses currently in my bag are:
18-55 and 50-200 kit, 10-17 fisheye, 40mm limited and 50/1.7.

and yes,I do have a tripod so I am not worried about stabilizing
Run, don't walk to your dealer and purchase a 50 macro. For jewelery I would suggest a focusing rail as well.
12-12-2007, 01:10 PM   #3
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For jewelry, especially diamonds set in bigger pieces, I would think that you'd want a macro lens. 50mm macro lenses are pretty cheap and the F and FA 50mm macros are among the sharpest lenses that you can buy. Last time I checked, KEH was selling a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro.

There are also cheap 100mm f/3.5 macros sold by Pentax, Vivitar, Phoenix, and maybe others, but those require a macro adapter to focus to 1:1. They focus to 1:2 without the adapter. A 50mm lens might be better for jewelry though.
12-12-2007, 01:17 PM   #4
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is there a recommended 50 macro? I've seen pentax ones for 370, I saw one from Sigma on KEH that was mentioned.....curious if one is dramatically better than the other

thanks

12-12-2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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I have seen somewhere people doing an light-table top (sorry I dont know the technical name for this in english) using a trash can with a light inside and a glass in top. That way you reduces shadows produced by flash-strobes-lamps. Hope it helps
12-12-2007, 01:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmdeegan Quote
is there a recommended 50 macro? I've seen pentax ones for 370, I saw one from Sigma on KEH that was mentioned.....curious if one is dramatically better than the other

thanks
You can't go wrong with any of the Pentax F, FA, DFA 50mm macro lenses. I've seen the F and FA lenses go for about $200-$250 on eBay. Reviews for the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 seem pretty good too.

You won't really need AF for photographing jewelry, so another option is to find an older, manual focus macro lens.
12-12-2007, 01:24 PM   #7
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Hi jmdeegan

Hey, ask your friend if he does custom modifications, because I've always fancied showing-off with a '24 carat-encrusted' K10D.
Maybe if I ask real nice, he could produce a matching Diamond Adorned lens to go with it ? THAT'S what I'd call real BLING !!!

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 12-12-2007 at 01:37 PM.
12-12-2007, 01:30 PM   #8
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Another Pentaxian here, betsypdx uses a 50 macro to great effect for jewellery. You can view her pbase gallery here Super-Multi-Coated MACRO-TAKUMAR 1:4/50 Photo Gallery by betsypdx at pbase.com.

12-12-2007, 01:37 PM   #9
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He definetly does custom work, but I'd think he's more apt to do that on jewelry LOL

So I am torn. I can get a used macro from KEH at around 180, or a used one from Adorama for about the same (adorama's would be an M series 50mm f4 macro).

Or I can get the newest pentax, brand new, for just shy of 400 from another local shop.

The benefit is I can get to either adorama or the other local place easily enough that I'd have the lens with me, and based on the "run, dont walk" comment, I am guessing the implication was have a lens with me that can do the job?
12-12-2007, 01:45 PM   #10
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The 50/4 has a great rep... and the price diff is a lot. And since you can stop by Adorama... (I know the feeling, my nyc office is across the street from B&H)


(I'd suggest any version of the Tamron 90, new with rebate they go around $400 also, but perhaps there's a reason for a 50mm with jewlery).

My cheap-o macro that I tried out with great results this weekend, and I mean rock bottom pricing: Takumar 50/1,4 (though any version would work), a freebie 2x teleconverter that came with it or something else, $8 set of screw mount extension tubes, and a screw mount adaptor for the body. By going screwmount, the accessories are ultra cheap. And the results are gorgeous! There's color, there's sparkle, there's life.

While technically my Tamron 90 adaptall may be better - and is no slouch by any means - I was surprised by the Takumar magic.
12-12-2007, 02:24 PM   #11
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i think i may go with the cheaper 50 from adorama for now just because its cheap and close by.

if i make anything from the opportunity, then i can improve equipment as needed (especially if this is something that earns me money)
12-12-2007, 04:40 PM   #12
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I've always heard that 50mm was a little short for doing macro work, that 100mm works better. I've toyed with the Nikon 60mm macro and when I was focused the closest that I could the front of the lens was no more than 6 inches away from my subject. Since you're so close to adorama, go in, put your watch on the table, and shoot it with both 50 and 100. see which you like best.
12-12-2007, 04:45 PM   #13
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100 has longer working distance, but will have a smaller FOV which might be problematic for larger pieces of jewelry. Good advice to go and try 'em out.

Also, throwing this out there to other lens experts: Any thoughts on # of aperture blades, as there will be lots of specular highlights in these photos...?
12-12-2007, 04:50 PM   #14
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Definitely snag a macro lens. If you can swing the $$$, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 works excellent. I shoot Jewelry & Gemstones all the time, it is my Wifes other business, she sells retail as well as wholesale and sets the stones as well.

You will quickly find out that this is one of the most difficult forms of photography, shooting gemstones & jewelry.

To be honest, I have found that a nice P&S camera tens to work a bit better for this type of work due to the better DOF.

The most important thing is lighting though.

I actually wrote up a small tutorial. goto Gems By Jennifer About Me Page and scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a link to the tutorial.

Here is some of the shots I have done, some are with P&S and some with a dSLR.
Jewelry & Gems Photo Gallery by JameyS at pbase.com
12-12-2007, 07:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by clawhamemr Quote
I've always heard that 50mm was a little short for doing macro work, that 100mm works better. I've toyed with the Nikon 60mm macro and when I was focused the closest that I could the front of the lens was no more than 6 inches away from my subject. Since you're so close to adorama, go in, put your watch on the table, and shoot it with both 50 and 100. see which you like best.
The longer focal length is better for field work because of the working distance. For jewelery and similar non-moving objects that don't run away from that big bad machinery when it gets too close, the additional depth of field is really helpful. Now if Pentax can copy a certain C***n 35 mm macro ... Sorry. but not very.
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