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DSLR Camera Settings for Jewelry Photography

dslr camera settings for jewelry photography

This quick camera settings guide skips the theory and walks you through how to determine the ideal DSLR camera settings based on your lighting set up.

Who this guide is for.

Ideal for beginners starting to use a DSLR to photograph jewelry to sell online via Etsy, eBay, Amazon or your own website.

The process.

1. First, figure out which buttons or knobs you to need to use to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings on your camera. And how to switch from Auto mode to Aperture mode and Manual mode.

Sample Nikon dial used to switch between shooting modes.

2. Put the camera on Aperture Mode and set aperture to F14 and ISO to the lowest setting your camera will allow — usually 100 or 200. Based on my experience, when the camera is 10–20 inches away from the product, F14 is an ideal aperture.

3. When you’re in aperture mode, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed. Take a pic and look at the shutter speed setting which was set. If the colors are accurate and the image is clear, you’re done — those are your settings. If it looks darker or lighter than what you want, then continue below.

4. Switch to manual mode.

5. Set aperture to F14 again and set the shutter speed to what you saw in Aperture mode.

6. For more light in the image, tweak the shutter speed to be a little slower (if you want more light) or little faster (if you want less light). For example, if your shutter speed in aperture mode was 1/5th of a second, change it to 1/3rd of a second to make the image brighter or make it faster to 1/8th second to make the image darker.

7. Take another pic. Your image should be brighter or darker based on what you did to your shutter speed. If the image looks like how you want it, you’re done. If not, go back to step 5.

That’s it. Use those camera settings for all your products. That is the ideal setting based on your lighting set up.

Consistency: These settings will give you the best image for your type of product with your lighting set up. For example, if you determine your settings in a room with only product lighting switched on, then take all future pics in that same set up.

Don’t determine settings like above and then shoot in daylight near a window with those same settings. That won’t work. If you plan to shoot with different lighting setups, repeat the process for each environment.

More tips…

  • Why F14? The larger the number, more of the product will be in focus. Through trial and error, I find that F14 gives you an ideal blend of clarity and focus for jewelry photography.
  • Quick Photoshop editing tip: Use Unsharp Mask with a setting of 70 and radius of 2 to sharpen your image. If you’re shooting with a entry level or mid-priced DSLR with the kit lens, this is sufficient in most cases. You can move the sliders around to see if a different setting works better for you.
  • White background: These settings will give you accurate product images. If want a whiter background, then point more light at the background. Just because your background is white, doesn’t mean the camera sees it that way. For example, if you look at a white wall in a dark room, its not going to look white. So point a light on the background and your background will be whiter. It’s hard to get a perfectly white background for every shot so get it as white as you can, and then edit in photoshop. There are many tutorials on YouTube on how to edit for a white background or use a service like pixc.com who will do it for you for a low cost.
  • Settings based on product: In some cases, if you are shooting a white product or black product, your settings might need to change again using the above process but shutter speed is the primary setting you should tweak. Go through the above process with 3 products — a light or white product, a dark or black product and medium color like blue or green product. If the settings turn out to be different, you change your settings based on the color of the product you’re photographing.
  • What setting should you change and when? Aperture should be tweaked only if your image is not clear. Shutter speed should be tweaked if you want more light. For product photography, don’t change ISO — keep it at it’s lowest setting.

For a bit of theory, here is some information on what aperture, shutter speed and ISO do.

For more DIY tips, view our jewelry photography page. Looking to outsource your project – view pricing here.

Did you try the above process? How did it work out?

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