Third Party Items
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Our goal is that you have the most cost effective efficient tools to produce your pictures & videos.
We do not sell or otherwise gain monetary benefits from our 3rd party recommendations.
We are not responsible nor accountable for 3rd party products, services, or business practices.

Camera and lens:

As of December 1,2016 we believe that the best quality to price is Canon's SL1 with the kit 18-55mm STM lens.

Of key importance is that unlike Nikon, Canon features a graphical visual aide for proper exposure, this is really helpful, especially for those who are not professional photographers. Our Tutorial Videos teach how to use this visual aide so that your pictures are properly exposed, because you cannot rely upon the camera's LCD screen picture preview, especially not for pure white background photography.

Best place to buy: We find that Amazon consistently offers the lowest prices, about $499.00, but it is also true, last we heard, that Best Buy will price match Amazon. However, Canon offers factory refurbished for $279.00 camera and lens. Because we're photographing shiny objects like jewelry, the white body won't reflect black on the metallics, but of course you can get a black body if you prefer. CLICK RED LINK:

Canon Refurbished SL1

Extra Camera Batteries:

As of August 2016 we believe that the best quality to price deal is the Wasabi brand because you get (2) Batteries and a Charger.

You need these because you do not want to be in the middle of taking pictures when your one battery runs out.

Best place to buy: We find that Amazon consistently offers the lowest price for this. CLICK RED LINK:

Wasabi Batteries - Canon SL1

Camera Software:

Canon and Nikon include software with their DSLR cameras, however, they are limited to basic editing. The main thing is that we use their utility software to tether the camera to the computer.

That said, we do have customers who quickly and easily get the clean white background and sharp images they need using this software, however, these are usually our customers who are in jewelry appraisal and their pictures need not be very large for the application of "Appraisal Reports"

Photo Editing Software:

Adobe PhotoShop is still the gold standard

Our Tutorial Videos teach how to use PhotoShop in easy to learn simple steps, and when needed, our Customer Support helps too. CLICK RED LINK:

Get PhotoShop directly from Adobe:

Choose the $9.99 plan.

Video Editing Software:

We show you how to use Adobe Premiere Elements. You can buy it from Adobe, but we find that Amazon or eBay offer better price.

Check to see if you qualify for the Educational Version Discount.

Be sure to get version 13 and not 14. Adobe seriously messed up the finished file size in version 14.

NOTE: we do not use Adobe PhotoShop Elements, so there is no value to get the Elements package having both the little photoshop and the premiere. PhotoShop Elements is not ready for primetime yet, but maybe one day it will be, we'll keep this up to date as we test the new versions as they come out.

Video Camera:

We use the same camera we take pictures with, the Canon SL1, and we use the same 18-55mm lens.

There is no need to buy a separate video camera.
Make sure that your DSLR camera is HD video capable.

 

Graphics Tablet:

Digital photography editing involves repetitive mousing around. Mousing around presents two very serious concerns.
Time: A graphics tablet is many times faster and accurate than a mouse, "Time is money".
Health: It is well documented that heavy mousing causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and you never want that, it never goes away.

There are a lot of choices in the market, but we prefer the Wacom Small. There is no need to pay for the medium or large versions.

Best place to buy, we find that Amazon offers the best prices, but you could ask your local retailer to price match. However, we find that the refurbished models are perfectly good and cost much less: CLICK RED LINK:

Wacom Pen Tablets on Amazon

Computer:

Most people have a Windows based machine. Windows is great for office work, but not for graphics, photography or video. The color rendering of Windows is terrible, and because photos are large files Windows has a nasty way of losing random access memory which in turn causes the computer to go into molasses mode making it necessary to reboot the computer several times. Apple Computers suffer neither of these ridiculous flaws.

iMac 21.5" with a quad core processor and at least 8gb of ram. You do not need to spend for more, this is more than enough power. Do not make the mistake of buying the dual core version

Do not spend for a 27" iMac because sitting in front of a 27" screen from less than two feet away is like watching a 27" TV at that distance; who does that?

You can get by with a MacBook, the practical size is a 15.4" screen, the smaller screens are cramped for PhotoShop.

Best place to buy: The Apple Store, but also check  maybe a local retailer for Special Offers. But I like to shop Refurbished first... CLICK RED LINK:

Apple 21.5" iMac

Color Calibration:

Have you decided that you're stuck with Windows?

Then you have to calibrate your monitor.

You can do a few things here: google "Computer Monitor Calibration" and also make the same search with Amazon and ebay. I would keep the budget below $100 because, well, it is my experienced opinion that you will get what you need there. But keep in mind that the calibration is only good for a specific ambient light environment ie: you calibrate in one kind of light, say your office, then you open the blinds and wham, the calibration is no longer correct. CLICK RED LINK:

Color Calibration

Other Cameras:

The mistake people make is to ask the camera store clerk for advice on photographing jewelry and products. The reason that a clerk is a clerk, they're not a specialized professional jewelry or product photographer.
So when the Clerk tells you to buy a Full Frame Sensor camera, know in advance that this is a bad idea. Keep our goal in focus, we're photographing jewelry/products to post to an online store, these are not big pictures intended for magazine prints, we do not huge megapixel images. Also, Full Frame Sensors suffer what is called built-in shallow depth of field. A perfect example of what this is a picture of a ring, the center stone looks okay, but then before it gets a third way round to the back of the shank the image rapidly begins to blur, by the time it gets to the inside back of the shank it's a mess. That's shallow depth of field, and you do not want it.

The word Photography is two words, Photo = Light, and Graph = Draw/Paint, and nowhere will we find camera and lens in the pure definition. The camera is a recording device, it cannot make or in any way change the light, it can only record it. No matter how much you spend on a camera and lenses, if the light is wrong your pictures will be wrong. But if your light is great then even a very affordable camera and lens like what we recommend will give you stunning images. Sure, you can say that with great light and a high end big dollar camera and lens that this would make the pictures even better, okay, but keep the venue in focus, we're taking pictures to post to online stores, not for billboards.

The newer four-thirds format DSLR cameras (mirrorless type): I recently purchased a new one to test. What I learned is that the lenses available are not good at close range, the macro lenses are terribly expensive, and of course being macro they would produce shallow depth of field. I also find the camera menu navigation to be painfully convoluted. I do not recommend them.

The Canon SL1 is super easy to use and takes amazing pictures as well as HD video, and is priced significantly lower than the 4/3rds cameras. CLICK RED LINK:

Canon Refurbished SL1

Other Lenses:

So, the genius clerk at the camera store told you to spend big bucks for a 100mm or 105mm macro lens to photograph jewelry.

These lenses are terrible for photographing jewelry, and yes, I am telling you that the rest of the world is wrong here. Long macro lenses have built-in shallow depth-of-field; example - picture a picture of a ring, the center stone looks okay, but before we get one third way round to the back of the shank the image begins to blur, by the time it gets to the inside back of the shank it's a mess. That's shallow depth-of-field that you will always get with a long macro lens.

As previously mentioned we use the basic 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most entry level DSLR cameras. There are other lenses; the 60mm or standard 50mm macro lenses, and if you're just locked into the best of the best, Carl Zeiss 50mm Makro Planar 2.0 ZE. As for other lenses, they cannot focus close enough for jewelry and other small items, and they do not have the aperture range needed for close-up deep depth-of-field photography.

If you have a four-thirds format DSLR we have not identified an affordable lens for properly photographing jewelry. Having recently purchased one these cameras and a few lenses to test I find that I do not like the results. Keep in mind, I did not buy this for fun, I bought it so that I could offer truthful advice based upon real experience.

CLICK RED LINK:

Canon 60mm Macro Lens... best choice for macro lens

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