5 Lenses For Jewelry Photography That Pay For Themselves

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Jewelry photography can be a challenge without the right type of lens, especially if you intend on making money with it. While it’s possible to capture the general look of most jewelry without specific equipment, anybody looking to take fine art product photography to the next level should invest in a proper lens that can get really close up with the details. 

Ideally, the best lenses for jewelry photography lenses are macro lenses. These lenses are specially made to keep everything in a small radius in focus, allowing the details and beauty of the jewelry to be captured.

With that in mind, there are a few lenses from major manufacturers that truly stand out among the plethora of macro lenses available. Ensuring that the lens properly fits the camera and the environment where the jewelry will be photographed is another major aspect to consider.

What Aperture Is The Best For Jewelry Photography?

Before we continue, it’s important to note that each lens has its own “sweet spot” for sharpness which can also go against some of the best practices for jewelry/product photography. In most cases, the best aperture for jewelry photography is between f8-f14. However, the sharpest image that your lens can produce will be 2-3 stops smaller than its widest aperture.

Essentially what this means is that if you have a lens with an aperture of f2.8, the sharpest image will be in the range of f5.6 – f8. To make things even more complicated, an adjustment in aperture for a macro lens doesn’t necessarily mean that the focus distance will have a meaningful difference.

For example, the area in focus at f32 wont be as sharp as the area in focus at f8, even when increasing the distance to get the whole ring/item in focus.

This is why I don’t recommend shooting with the smallest aperture possible for any of your commercial product photography, even though the temptation to get everything in focus in one shot is there.

In most cases, you will still need to implement focus stacking. For a more in depth look into aperture sweet spots, check out this post from B & H.

The Best Lenses For Jewelry & Product Photography

Jewelry photo taken in our studio with a 90mm Macro lens

Whether you shoot with Sony, Nikon or Cannon, the best lenses for this line of work are macro lenses. I’ve alluded to this in the beginning of the post, and it’s because macro lenses allow us to get very close to our subjects so we can set up compositions that are suitable for advertising, in high detail.

As the world evolves deeper into the online world and eCommerce is becoming more mainstream, it’s not enough to simply show what your product looks like anymore. People are no longer captive audiences browsing a Sears catalog, and thus we have to get more creative to capture their attention.

Macro lenses allow you to take listing images of your jewelry just like anything else, but also give you more flexibility to create imagery that you simply can’t get from regular lenses – at least not in the same way.

Then there are many different focal lengths of macro lenses, ranging between 15mm to 200mm. So when shooting product/jewelry photography, you’ll want to use something that will accurately represent your item and give you room for artistic expression.

200mm is simply overkill in our opinion. Foreground compression is too much and small details are too large to identify what the item even is.

For us, we’ve found the sweet spot to be 100mm and is often the most popular recommendation by most product photographers. So with that said, let’s take a look at some of our favorite lenses for jewelry photography!

For Sony: 18-135mm Zoom Lens For Jewelry Photography And Lifestyle

Focal Length18-135mm
MountE-Mount
Minimum Focal Distance17.76″
Maximum Aperture3.5-5.6
Filter Thread Size55 mm
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A zoom lens!? Surely I’m kidding, right?!

I’ll let you in on a little secret: most of our product photography is shot on the Sony 18-135mm lens.

This lens may seem like an odd choice for jewelry photography, but it is one of the best zoom lenses available for product photography because of how versatile it is. The zoom given at 135mm focal length makes it perfect for jewelry of any size, and images are sharp and crisp.

This zoom lens is perfect for capturing jewelry in a variety of settings for smaller spaces too. This one lens is versatile enough to capture lifestyle, studio, and advertising shots without having to change lenses, which is a huge time saver. It has a very smooth focusing ring and a switch for moving between Manual and Auto focus.

Although this lens is slower than some others on the list, with an f-stop range of 3.5-5.6, most of your jewelry photography is going to be shot with an aperture above f 8.0 anyways, and will likely involve some focus stacking. 

However, there is one major draw back. Technically it’s not a macro lens and it has a minimum focusing distance of 1 ½ feet.

The lens is widely available and can be found on Amazon here.

Sony’s 90mm f2.8 Macro Is One Of The Best Macro Prime Lenses Available On The Market

Focal Length90mm
MountE-Mount
Minimum Focal Distance11.04″
Maximum Aperture2.8
Filter Thread Size62 mm
ShopAmazon

I like to shoot with Sony because their Autofocus system is the best in the world right now and we also do video, so I might be a little biased.

With that said, any time we’re dealing with small items like jewelry, the way to get those sexy close-up detailed shots that you see in advertising campaigns is with a “prime” Macro lens. 100mm seems to be the sweet spot for jewelry photography, and Sony has a 90mm f2.8 Macro lens that is incredible.

Unlike the zoom lens we just looked at, prime lenses cannot change their focal lengths. While this results in much less versatility, it’s a tolerable trade-off for the increased sharpness and clarity. The main draw back is that you lose a lot of flexibility when it comes to space.

Macro lenses are specifically made to get real close to your product and capture all the fine details, rather than portrait or landscape photography. For showing off the gleam of diamonds or the effects of light on a band in so much detail you will spend hours cleaning up scratches in post, this extra focused zoom sets up compositions nicely. 

As a top of the line offering from Sony, it includes some truly amazing glass accompanied by high tech, easy to use options like automatic internal focusing, manual focus ring, focus limiters and lens-based optical image stabilization. It even has a minimum focus distance less than 12″. 

Sony users who are focused on product photography and specialize in jewelry should look no further; this is the holy grail.

Unfortunately, it comes with a price to match. But you should be able to make that back in a single job with the images you can get with it. Check it out on Amazon here.

Nikon’s 105mm f2.8 Macro Lens Is A Lightweight And Quick Lens For Jewelry Photographers On The Go

Focal Length105mm
MountF-Mount Lens/FX Format
Minimum Focal Distance12″
Maximum Aperture2.8
Filter Thread Size62 mm
ShopAmazon

My wife, on the other hand, shoots with Nikon (and she’s still with me).

I like to joke that shooting with Nikon gear reminds me of those analog liquid level indicators in those red gas tanks from the hardware store, but I have to admit that the image quality is superb (and I’m secretly jealous).

Among Nikon’s best offerings for jewelry photography is their 105mm macro lens, which features much of the same technology as the previously mentioned Sony 90mm lens. There are a few key differences though, such as:

  • A more compact, 105mm focal length
  • A lighter frame
  • Slightly less advanced technology
  • A cheaper price point

So if you shoot Nikon, this will be your bread and butter. The glass has extreme clarity and accuracy for stunning pictures of jewelry and is one of Nikons best offerings for an entry level product photographer. It’s also lightweight and small enough to easily carry around, which is really important when trying to maneuver around a small studio. 

It is available for purchase here and tends to sell out quickly, given its mix of price and quality.

The Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Is A Slightly More Budget-Friendly Option

Focal Length100mm
MountCanon EF
Minimum Focal Distance12″
Maximum Aperture2.8
Filter Thread Size58 mm
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Canon’s offering into the macro lens area is one that matches Sony’s and Nikon’s in many ways while coming in just slightly cheaper than both. 

Canon is known for their high quality across the photography world, coming equipped with:

  • incredible color accuracy
  • a quick f-stop
  • a low minimum focal distance of 12 inches
  • ultra low dispersion (good for chromatic aberration)

While Sony’s 90mm may be too far out and Nikon’s 105mm too close, a 100mm macro is often the sweet spot for jewelry. Of course, differences are fairly minimal and will largely come down to personal preference, especially if you have a cropped sensor.

A unique aspect of this macro lens for jewelry photography is the ultra-low dispersion element. This is meant to eliminate color fringing, chromatic aberrations, and ghosting to provide clear and very sharp images. This is particularly important if you have demanding clients that will inspect every pixel.

The Canon 100mm Macro is a great choice for enthusiasts who prefer sticking to Canon gear or professionals who are looking for one of the best lenses available for jewelry on a budget. It can be purchased here.

Sigma’s 105mm f2.8 Lens Is A Great 3rd Party Choice

Focal Length105mm
MountCanon EF
Nikon F
Sony E
Minimum Focal Distance12″
Maximum Aperture2.8
Filter Thread Size62 mm
ShopAmazon

Official lenses by their respective brands aren’t your only options out there. In fact, third party lens manufacturers like Sigma, Samyang and Tokina are providing some of the most flexible options, and are starting to take up significant market share. Some of those reasons are:

  • They are competitive on price
  • Often have better technology
  • Are available for major camera brands, like Canon, Sony and Nikon

That’s where Sigma comes in, and their 105mm macro lens is likely going to be the best available at its price point.

The lens is incredibly sharp, has all the technology of the Sony 90mm such as Image Stabilization (if needed), range limiter, M/AF switches, etc., and the 105mm focal length is perfect for capturing every detail of the jewelry you are shooting. This lens is meant to fit on Canon’s EF series joints, but Sigma offers a variety of lenses that fit on Nikon F as well as Sony E-Mount. 

At the time of this writing, Amazon has some bundle options for the Sigma 105mm:

PreviewProductShop
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Bundle for Cannon EFAmazon
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Bundle for Nikon FAmazon
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Bundle for Sony EAmazon
Benjamin

Benjamin

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist and product photographer for Skyline FBA. I have been involved in content creation for over 10 years and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are Product Photographers that are experienced in Amazon FBA, eCommerce, Lifestyle, and Advertising photography.

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