Buying the Best Digital Camera for Your Jewelry Business

Looking for the best digital camera for photographing jewelry?

Digital cameras have advanced by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and features that once were only available for cameras costing over $1000 now come standard.

Some smartphones even have cameras good enough to take product shots, but they don't always make the best digital camera. There will come a time in your business when you have to get serious about how you present your work to potential buyers and customers and purchase a dedicated device.

  • If you are looking to buy the best digital camera for photographing jewelry, here are some things you should know and consider when making your decision:

  • Types of Digital Cameras:

    • Smart Phone Cameras:  Some smart phone cameras are capable of taking decent product shots.

      One of the drawbacks with using a smart phone though, is that it's a multi-use device, which means it does many things, some better than others. Take some test shots to make sure that your product shots are comparable or better than your competitors' photographs.

    • Automatic Digital Cameras:  These are the most commonly available, and the simplest to use with their automatic focusing/shutter speed features.

      Often called "point and shoot cameras," the drawback is that you may not have enough manually adjustable options to take the most effective jewelry photographs.

    • Semi-Manual Digital Cameras:  These have point and shoot capabilities, with some manual options available.

      Semi-manual cameras are probably the best digital camera choice for most home jewelry business owners because they give you a bit of room to experiment with and are mid range in price.

    • DSLR Cameras:  Also known as Digital SLR Cameras, SLR standing for Single Lens Reflex. These are digital cameras that have automatic focusing capabilities but allow fully manual operation of the camera.

      They offer the most flexibility in a digital camera set up, allowing you to adjust all camera settings to you heart’s content. In addition, you are also able to buy and use specialty lens for your camera, allowing you the flexibility and freedom to shoot many types of pictures.

      Entry level DSLR cameras start at around $500.
  • Get a Tripod

    Whatever photography set up you ultimately choose, you MUST get yourself a tripod!

    Half the reason pictures turn out blurry is because of slight camera movements when a picture is being taken. The blurry results you get are because the camera captured the picture as it was slowly moving in your hand.

    And on that note, make sure you have a delayed timer function on your camera to use in conjunction with the tripod.

    Other causes for blurry pictures: understanding depth of field and how to use f stops with your digital camera.

  • How Many Megapixels Do I Need?

    The minimum number of megapixels you need depends on what you intend to use the photos for.

    A megapixel is a fancypants way of saying one million pixels.

    To find out how many megapixels a camera is capable of, simply find the largest image resolution the camera takes and multiply the numbers and divide the results by one million.

    For example, if my camera has a maximum picture resolution of 4320 x 3240, I multipy those two numbers and get 13996800 then divide by 1 million to get 13.99 megapixels.

    If you only need jewelry pictures for posting on the web, a 3 megapixel camera will do just fine.

    If, however, you intend to use your pictures for postcards, or posters for craft show displays, you will need more depending on how large of a print you need to make.

    Printing companies normally require a minimum resolution of 300 dpi to produce photo quality prints.

    To find the maximum image size you can print from your camera at 300 dpi, you can simply divide each of the camera's maximum picture resolution by 300.

    For example, taking the previously mentioned maximum resolution of 4320 X 3240, if I divide each of those numbers by 300, I will find that the largest photo quality print I can make is 14.4" X 10.8"

    If you are the type of person who likes to have the flexibility of cropping photos, try to get more megapixels in your camera so that you can take bigger pictures than you need and have room for cropping.

  • Megapixels vs. Photo Quality Printing

    To help you determine how many megapixels you may need in your search for the best digital camera, I went ahead and reverse engineered this for you in the following table.

    Actual pixel resolutions will vary from camera to camera, so this is a general guide.

    Megapixels and Printing

    *print sizes shown do not take into account full bleed prints, which usually require an extra 1/8" border around the entire finished print size. Check with the printing company you are using for requirements.
    Print Size at 300 dpi Minimum Resolution Minimum Megapixels
    2" X 3.5"
    (business cards)
    600 X 1050 0.63
    4" X 6"
    1200 X 1800 2.16
    5" X 7"
    1500 X 2100 3.15
    8" X 10"
    (look book/flyer)
    2400 X 3000 7.2
    11" X 14"
    (full page ad/poster)
    3300 X 4200 13.86
    16" X 20"
    4800 X 6000 28.8

Best Digital Camera Features

    • F-stop Range:  What is the f stop range for your camera?  For example, “f/2-f/8.” The higher the range of your f-stop, say, f/2-f11, the better. Ideally, you should also be able to manually control the f stop setting as well.

    • Macro Mode:  Does the camera have a macro mode function that allows you get really close up to your jewelry?

    • Delayed Timer:  This function is handy when taking jewelry photographs on a tripod, as it allows you to position the camera and focus perfectly, push the button, and let go so your body movements don’t cause any blurry shots.

    • White Balance:  The best digital camera will allow you to adjust your picture quality based on lighting conditions?  Some common built in light quality adjustments are:  daylight, cloudy daylight, incandescent lighting, fluorescent lighting, and night photography.

    • Film Speed or ISO:  Film speed can affect both image quality and shutter speed. Common ranges settings are:  100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.

      Most jewelry photography is done on the 100 setting for maximum quality and clarity, but it is nice to have a range in case you need to use your camera for other things.

      An example ISO range is:  100-800, meaning you can choose between, 100, 200, 400, or 800 film speeds. The higher the number of film speed you use, the grainier your pictures become, so be careful when experimenting.
    • Shutter speed:  What is the shutter speed range for the camera?  The number can range from 10 seconds to 1/1000th of a second.

    • Zooming:  Find out what optical zoom range the camera’s lens is capable of, and also what the enhanced zoom is.  Be careful with using enhanced zoom, since that is an electronic procedure and can distort your images.

    • Tripod:  Make sure that you can use the camera with a tripod.  Usually there is a place on the bottom of the camera to screw it into the tripod, or the camera may come with a special adaptor for use with a tripod.

    • Warranty:  When buying the best digital camera for your home jewelry business, make sure it’s a good one, and if you spend more than $300, consider getting an extended warranty, but make sure you read the fine print before signing!

    • HDR:  If you are looking at getting a D-SLR camera, you might want to look for one with HDR, or High Dynamic Range imaging capabilities. What this function basically does is take bracketed photos of a shot, say, one at the correct exposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed. The camera then combines all three shots together to give the finished photograph a larger range of values than what one shot could ever give. It is also possible to do this using specialty software such as Adobe’s Photoshop or Photomatix. The best use of the HDR technique that I’ve seen is photographing dichroic glass.  For High Dynamic Range Jewelry examples, you can try going to Flickr.

Best Digital Camera Recommendations

  • Point & Shoot with Manual Options

    Great features for mid-range point and shoot cameras, with some manual options available for you to fine tune your photography.

    These cameras are able to shoot videos and allow you to make adjustments such as lighting mode, iso settings, and bracketing options.

  • Entry Level DSLR Cameras

    The above cameras are great starter digital slr cameras.

    They all have great features such as HD video, interchangeable lenses, and various lighting adjustments and affects.

    They have many professional features that will serve your jewelry business well for many years.

More Jewelry Photography Tips

  • More Business Tips:

    jewellery display ideas
    jewelry making
    selling handmade jewelry online

  • Likes, Pluses, and Comments!

      Jewelry Business Ideas


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