Photographing jewellery and macro lenses in general

dangerdoormouse

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Hi guys

I have a Canon 5D and I usually do weddings, events, portraits etc, so my lenses very much reflect that (85mm 1.2, 50mm 1.4, 24mm 1.4 and 70-200 2.8). A friend has put me in touch with a guy who owns a jewellery shop and who wants photos done of his jewellery. Now at this stage I am not sure of the exact nature of the job, and it is possible this may all fall through, but I want to be ready should it happen. There is the possibility there will be regular work, maybe once a week or so. I have never done this sort of thing before - I am not especially worried, I will have plenty of time to perfect it, and the previous photographers he has paid to do it haven't produced anything stunning. But I don't have a dedicated macro lens to I am looking to make an investment. I have the attitude that if you are going to do something you may as well do it properly, so I am willing to shell out for a good lens (obviously I wouldn't do it until I knew the work was going to happen). Does anyone regularly shoot this sort of thing and have any recommendations? I have been looking at the Canon MP-E 65mm, the 100mm 2.8 and wincing at the price of the 180mm. But then I was reading somewhere that sometimes people went with tilt-shift lenses for jewellery. Are there any other lenses anyone would recommend? And does anyone have any thoughts on the tilt shift (I must admit I have always fancies trying one, but I never realised they could also be used for macro) Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
 

HASHASHIN

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never used a tilt shift, but i do have a 100 mm 2.8 macro , it's a very sharp lens. I would recomend it to anyone trying to get into macro photography.
 

nagoshua

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the 180mm (are you talking bout the L?) does look like a lovely lovely piece of glass if its the one i am thinking about. The 100mm f2.8 is an incredibly good lens, the optical quality is close to those of the L range, the only thing it is lacking is IS but i imagine you will be shooting on a tripod if you are taking pics of jewelery.
 

Happy Hour

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I tried a 50mm f2.8 1:1macro lens for photographing jewelry the other night, And I think it was more of a pain in the rear than help. On a tripod it's very hard to get it close enough to say a ring. now I have a 70-300 macro 2:1 and that took incredible pics, with ease. Just IMO a prime was not ideal for jewelry in a light box. The zoom worked out great though
 

Garbz

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A tilt shift's main benefit here would be the ability to tilt the film plane in a way to increase the depth of field when photographing jewellery which is long and being photographed from the front. Taking photos of necklaces for my mother the Nikkor Macro at f/56 (not f/5.6) was unable to get the entire thing in focus, and a tilt shift lens would solve this.

However more important than any lens is the lighting (that goes for photography in general, but it goes triple for jewellery) Find a way to mix both soft and hard lights at the same time.
 
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dangerdoormouse

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Hi there
Thanks for all your thoughts. Apparently he has one of those lighting tents, and I will go down and use it. And then I think he wants me to do loads of tidying up in photoshop. I understand people who do this on a regular basis have mini lights, with mini snoots. I imagine that is for shooting for the big companies though. This is a guy with a shop who sells on ebay as well and needs regular photos.
Really interested in what you guys had to say about zooms and tilt shifts. I suspect the tilt-shift is the sort of thing I would buy after having played around with a macro for a while first then?
Happyhour, what sort of length were you shooting at on your zoom? I am starting to see the benefit of the 100mm 2.8 if you guys say it is so sharp. And yes, I would shoot with a tripod so the IS would be less of an issue.
 

Happy Hour

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Hi there
Thanks for all your thoughts. Apparently he has one of those lighting tents, and I will go down and use it. And then I think he wants me to do loads of tidying up in photoshop. I understand people who do this on a regular basis have mini lights, with mini snoots. I imagine that is for shooting for the big companies though. This is a guy with a shop who sells on ebay as well and needs regular photos.
Really interested in what you guys had to say about zooms and tilt shifts. I suspect the tilt-shift is the sort of thing I would buy after having played around with a macro for a while first then?
Happyhour, what sort of length were you shooting at on your zoom? I am starting to see the benefit of the 100mm 2.8 if you guys say it is so sharp. And yes, I would shoot with a tripod so the IS would be less of an issue.
I think I did it 200mm which gave me a nice distance between the subject and my tripod. As for the Mini lights and light boxes I use Foam board from wal-mart 3'x2' 1 for the bottom and one on the back wall.they are only a couple of $$ and come in a variety of colors other than white I mainly use the colored ones they are a flat color (no gloss) which seem to give a nice offset to the items I photograph. And for light you can use just about anything from a lamp to a flood light. I have studio lights and umbrellas and I don't ever use them! You don't always need a elaborate setup to get quality results.
 

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