Optimizing F Stops When Photographing Jewelry

  • Ok, so you have just read all about depth of field and f stops and how it affects jewelry photography and are wondering how to make the best use of your digital camera.

    The first thing we need to figure out is how to work with the functions that your digital camera has:

Working with Your Digital Camera


    • Get out your manual and figure out what the f stops range is for your camera.

    • Figure out if your camera has an “aperture priority” setting, which means that it lets you switch to a semi manual mode and choose your f stops such as f/8. The camera will usually then adjust the shutter speed automatically. Remember that the higher the number of your f-stop, the smaller the aperture opening becomes, and the more light you will need. Refer to the diagrams in the examples of depth of field article if you need to. Most “point and shoot” cameras won’t have this setting, but there are still some things we can do.

    • Figure out how your camera focuses on your subject. Does it average what you see in the viewfinder, or are you able to turn on what is called a “spot focus?” In spot focus mode, when you look in the viewfinder, you will usually see a circle dead center of the frame that determines what you are focusing on. And when you press the button to take a picture HALF-WAY, you set your focus point.
    • Does your camera have a picture taking delay, meaning after you push all the way down on the button, is your camera able to be set up so that it waits a few seconds before taking the picture? This is really handy when photographing necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, as you will probably need to use a tripod to keep your camera steady. When you increase your f stops setting, you will need more light and a longer shutter speed to take your photograph.

    • Also, when working with longer shutter speeds, it is best to mount your camera on a tripod, to keep the camera from shaking and causing more blurry pictures.

    • In addition to delayed settings, some cameras come with a remote control for taking pictures, which you can use to hit the shutter button once you have your shot set up.

Here's the Neat Trick for working with F Stops


  • Ok.  Here we go.  Take a look at the picture, it is what you would see when looking through your digital camera’s viewfinder.  This is the picture we want to capture.  Notice where the focus point is located:  dead center of our picture.

    photographying jewelry



Now we know that the depth of field diminishes as we get closer to the object, and we also know that we also need more light, and probably a longer shutter speed to take this picture.  I have my camera set at f/8, but I also know from experience that I will only get a portion of this necklace in sharp focus.  What do I do?

    • My camera is mounted on a tripod that allows me to pan, or move the camera sideways and up and down without changing the distance between my camera and the jewelry.

    • I determine what is most important to me for this jewelry photograph:  capturing the front pendant and the detail in the Bali sterling silver beads.

    • Without changing the distance between my camera and necklace, I use the tripod to pan my focus point to the top half of the pendant, push my button half way down to set the focus point, then pan back to the image composition I wanted to get.
  • jewelry photography

The Results


  • I then pushed the button all the way down, let go because I was on photo delay, and my camera took this picture:

    jewelry photograph
  • One Last Photography Tip


    One thing I would suggest you do is bracketing your jewelry photographs. In the photography world, bracketing is the practice of taking several shots of each picture you want to take: one at the exposure your camera tells you is the optimum, and then at least one overexposed picture, and one underexposed picture.

    You will, of course need a camera that lets you do this manually, although some cameras have this function built in, so once again, consult your manual. I personally like to take 5 shots: one at the camera’s suggestion, and two over exposed, and two underexposed shots. Doing this will give you a nice selection of jewelry pictures to choose the best one from, and give you more options if you edit your photographs in photo editing software such as Adobe’s Photoshop.

More Jewelry Photography Tips



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