There is no such thing as the best lens or best camera for jewelry photography. Photographing jewelry requires sufficient white lighting and a starter DSLR camera. For lenses, the kit lens is all you need for most types of jewelry photography.
Camera for Jewelry Photography
When photographing jewelry, you need to click from 1-2 feet away from the product. To do this, you need a DSLR because it lets you control the aperture setting. Have you photographed a ring from up close and the back of the ring is always blurry? Did that frustrate you? To fix that, you need to shoot at a wider aperture.
What to buy? Buy an entry level DSLR. Both Nikon and Canon have DSLR’s in the <$500 price point. For example, the Nikon D3400 (or prior versions d3200, d3300) is a 24mp camera.
Why? While you can get similar megapixels in point and shoot cameras, the advantage of owning a DSLR is that you can tweak the settings like shutter speed and aperture to match your lighting and the product you are shooting.
Point and shoots could work for larger items like necklaces because you don’t need to shoot those from too close. But it’s better to start with a DSLR and take a course to learn the basics.
Why not a more expensive DSLR? Because higher end camera’s have features that you rarely need for jewelry photography. For example, if you’re shooting sports or wildlife or shooting in dim lighting conditions, the higher priced cameras will help. For product photos, where lighting is abundant and controlled, a basic DSLR is all you need.
Options: I’ve mentioned the Nikon entry level DSLR above. Canon also has equally good camera’s in the same price range. All DSLR’s let you control the shutter speed and aperture settings so you can buy any brand. The differences between these cameras are mostly about look & feel – how heavy they are, how they feel in your hands, price/deals going on, etc.
Lenses for Jewelry Photography:
What to buy? For web images, the 18-55mm lens that is included with your camera is sufficient for almost all products. Even with rings and other small items, the basic kit lens gives you good images. You can use Photoshop to make images a bit sharper if needed. You don’t need a macro lens.
Why? Because for web images, you don’t need pics that are poster size magnifications. For example, if you want to print an image of a ring on a 2 feet wide poster, then a macros lens will help. For web images in a 1000×1000 size, the basic lens is sufficient.
Options: Again, both Nikon and Canon make all the same types of lenses. Some might argue one is better than the other but for the most part, the differences are too minor to be picky about.
Do you need a macro lens?
For web images, you rarely do. However, if you want to print a full page ad in a glossy magazine, then a macro lens will help you capture the image in a better quality for print. For web, you can use the non-macro lens and you won’t be able to tell the difference.
So to summarize, if you know how to use basic functions like aperture and shutter speed with a DSLR, you can get great pictures of your jewelry with the basic 18-55mm kit lens. The difference between an expensive DSLR (like the Nikon D750 or D810) is more feature related – for example, the higher-end cameras let you take faster pics which can be useful when you’re shooting sports or wildlife. When photographing jewelry, you’re shooting in a still setting with light pointing directly at your product – for such a scenario, any DSLR is sufficient.
Which camera do you currently use?