Lenses for Jewelry Photography

The good news is you do not need a macro lens for jewelry photography destined for the web. Both Canon and Nikon provide the option of purchasing an 18-55mm zoom “kit” lens with their introductory level DSLR’s that is very adequate. While it’s optics are no match for the usual 90-105 mm macro lenses preferred for fine jewelry photography, it is adequate for beginners or users on a budget.

This lens has changed significantly in the last couple of years and now allows considerably closer focusing and improved optics. As your other photographic skills and techniques improve you may wish to move up to a macro lens, but many are quite happy with this lens.

If you DO choose to use a macro lens, I recommend one in the 90-105 mm range, as this will allow a good working distance between the lens and subject, allowing easy use of diffusers and reflectors.

The differences between macro lenses in these focal lengths from different manufacturers is primarily one of build quality. The more expensive lenses are built to withstand bad weather conditions and are made of more durable materials. Optical differences that affect what we use them for are minute, so if you choose on the basis of price from offerings by Canon, Nikon, Sigma or Tamron, you are generally paying for build quality and none of these are poor quality.

I will note that the Canon macro has a lens whose front element is rather exposed, and if used without a good lens hood the possibility of damage to the lens is always there.  Sigma’s lens is buried inside the lens body and I prefer it for general work, although, as a rule, a good lens hood should always be used to block stray light from hitting the front lens element and creating flare.

B&H Photo, Adorama and Ritz Camera are all reliable suppliers in my experience..