Photographing gem stones
I need some help with this. I am not a pro, even in my over active imagination. I am trying to take high quality, realistic representations of gem stones for my website. My equipment is limited to a Fuji Finepix S5600 with a GroBartiG digital macro lens attached. The resolution is not an issue but I need suggestions on lighting techniques to keep colors true and how to keep the focus sharp on manual focus at a few inches. I have to use the optical zoom to keep the camera shadow out of the shot.

'We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.'George Orwell..

Comments (7)

Polarizer is unlikely to distort the color..

You might find backlighting to be useful..


Comment #1

Plus... sharp lighting, from something like a small halogen desk lamp, instead of flat lighting, as in bounced from a reflector..


Comment #2

It appears to me you may have the wrong camera for the job. I have that camera also, and could not possibly imagine a worse use for it than photographing gems!! It is a GREAT camera, but NOT for macros, and I cannot imagine it ever doing well with them even with another lens attached..

HOWEVER, there is something called a macro ring light. Type that into Ebay to see one. It is the solution to your problem, and if you find one that will fit your add on lens, and the lens really does what I think is impossible with that cam, it will be the answer..

With that having been said, here is a macro from my S5600, perhaps I am too picky!!.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

It's not what you spend, it's what you buy!..

Comment #3

Thanks Jim.How did you get the focus so sharp. That seems to be a major issue..

Todd Brewer..

Comment #4

Gems are tough to photograph! I've shot gems before for a training guide and for show. Your lighting technique depends a lot on what your intended use is..

If you are shooting for a sales effort (brochure, advert, etc.) then tightly focused protector spot halogens (at least two of them) are good. That will create interesting reflections and areas of high contrast from the various facets of the stones. Each stone will require careful and separate setup of the lighting. It's very time consuming to get it perfect..

If, OTOH, you are shooting for educational purposes (e.g. diagramming), then more even lighting from a surrounding dome might be in order. This is much faster. But, of course, the photos will not exactly be "inspiring" which is fine, and preferable, for forensic/educational use..

Determine your final use, then select your lighting method..


Comment #5

Not sure what Jim does, but when I shoot macros that needs a decent amount of DOF, I shoot as far as possible, close down the aperture to F11/f14 depending on the lens, and crank up the light (if indoor using strobes).

Of course, outdoors on a sunny day (which is probably the case for Jim's flower) affords tons of light, which lets him increase the aperture considerably..

T Brewer wrote:.

Thanks Jim.How did you get the focus so sharp. That seems to be a major issue..

Todd Brewer.


Comment #6

Thanks, These are rubies and sapphires I have for sale on my website, or will have once I can get a picture that will inspire some one to buy. Took 1 today that turned out fair. Was in direct sunlight and the star on the sapphire showed really well. Have tried to do this inside and artificial light seems to scatter to much and get much more glare. The star ruby that looks great in my hand looks like a piece of shiny red gravel insideTodd Brewer..

Comment #7

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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