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How Do You Photograph A Diamond?

Always learning

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Perhaps this is a silly question... but when I try to photograph the engagement ring I recently bought, my camera just won't focus on the diamond. It focuses a little better with the flash, but reflects too much light.


The diamond is (From GIA dossier) Radiant 0.52ct D FL Pol Ex Sym Ex Table 66.7% Depth 67%


Do the parameters of a diamond affect the ability to capture an image of it?


Sorry if these are daft questions, but I thought there must be a few guys and girls here who photograph diamonds all the time. Just wondering if you have any tips :)


Some efforts (the best so far!) below...



Edited by Always learning
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It's a lot harder than it looks. You're taking a picture of a bundle of mirrors and that's not exactly what the automatic functions on cameras are designed to expect.


Here's some generic sort of advice:


put it in a place with a lot of difused light and a neutral background. Grey is good. Sunlight through a diffuser like a piece of tissue paper works pretty well.


Use the macro setting on your camera.

Crop the photo when you're done rather than try and take it from an inch away so that it fills the screen.

Depending on your camera, pay attention to the 'white balance' function.


No, the grading on the stone doesn't matter.

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Not at all daft questions. Fortunately, the techniques for photographing diamonds don't vary between diamond types (or at least, not any more than size and colour would let you think).


Number of tips that I have found work pretty well - as long as your camera has a minimum of settings. These photos were taken with a Panasonic DXM-F9, i.e. a $250 pocket point-and-shoot camera, and all the technical features I describe below are available on pretty much any stand-alone camera; using a mobile phone camera is - in my opinion - useless; they simply are not designed for this type of photography:






  1. Use "macro" focus mode. It is usually shown on the menu as a flower symbol or with the word "macro". This enables the camera to focus on very close objects.
  2. If you can set focus priority, set it on the narrowest possible area, and centre the photo on the diamond.
  3. Set white balance by using a piece of white paper in the same lighting as the photos you will be taking. Do this every half hour or so if you keep taking photos over a long period of time: daylight colour changes quite a bit during the day.
  4. Get plenty of natural light - set up in front of a window and use white paper sheets to diffuse light onto the diamond/ring. I prefer diffused light to take pictures; direct light is fine, but in my opinion more difficult to use.
  5. Don't use flash - or if you really have to, put a piece of thin white paper (normal white printing paper) in front of the flash bulb so as to diffuse and attenuate the light, otherwise as you have noticed the stone is overexposed and the rest of the image is underexposed
  6. Use a contrasting but light colour background. Neutral grey is ideal (IMHO) to get pieces looking "as they do in real life"; other colours are fine to get nice effects/aesthetically pleasing images. White runs the risk of not enough contrast/too much blend in, and black/very dark backgrounds play havoc with the exposure algorithms in the camera software.
  7. Take many many many many photos. On average, I end up keeping about 1 in 5, and that's after several years of practice. The good thing of digital photos is that taking one or ten extra shots is free, other than the time to look at them and decide which ones you want to keep.

Other than that, some practice really makes a difference, so keep at it! And post any more questions!

Edited by davidelevi
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Hi Davide,


Wow, thanks for taking so much time to pass on your tips. I have only ever been a point and shoot merchant and don't reall use camera settings. I will try again tomorrow but I'll be much better informed - I'll post my results up. Thanks again for your knowledgable and detailed reply, and for putting up some beautiful shots of diamonds.


Best Regards

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Well gentlemen, thank you very much for your tips. Using the macro function and keeping the camera steady as well as turning off the flash and placing the diamond in an natural light has helped enormously. Although I still have a loooooooooooooooooooong way until I am making images as beautiful as Davide's above...


I have a few more pics, but they will appear in another post as I had an ulterior motive! A question about bow-ties...


Thank you so much for taking the time. It is truely appreciated.


Best Regards





Edited by Always learning
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