The Traditional Jewelers’ Loupe Goes High-Tech

We’ve all experienced it…a customer wants to see a picture of a gemstone or jewelry design ASAP. But you have no camera, no light box and no professional photographer…so the next best thing is your cell phone camera, right?

Then for nearly 15 minutes you incessantly try to take photo after blurry photo while zooming, futzing with settings, trying new apps, and running from inside to outside hoping lighting will improve your situation.

Once you finally think you’ve got a decent picture…your frustration grows as you skim through countless out-of-focus shots that don’t properly represent your product…all while your impatient client is refreshing their inbox every two minutes and calling to say “Where is that photo I asked for?”

So, before you pull out any more hair, take a deep breath and relax as we show you what’s sure to become a trick of the jewelry trade! And all you need is your cell phone and a loupe!

Grab your cell phone and loupe to take some quick and crisp shots!

For demonstration in this blog we used an iPhone, but we also tested with a BlackBerry and Samsung Droid with pretty good results (see end of blog for sample shots).

We’re warning you, this is not an exact science, but with some practice and a steady hand, the results are pretty amazing considering it’s a cell camera. And when it’s all said and done, this method should give you a decent, in focus photo, which better represents your product.

Step 1: Grab your phone and bring the lens of the loupe directly up to the lens of your phone’s camera (we’ve found the bigger the loupe, the better). The loupe and the phone should touch and be flush against one another.

Hold the loop close to your camera lens.

Back view of the loupe flush against the iPhone camera lens.

Step 2: Bring the phone and the loupe as close to the gemstone as it allows while remaining focused. If you think you’re close to the stone but aren’t getting focus, get closer…the loupe will almost be touching what you’re photographing (about 3/8″ away). For better lighting, you can use an LED light-up loupe, but that also takes some playing around because it can cause reflections.

Get very close to the stone.

As you position your shot, you may see an out-of-focus portion of the loupe. Do your best to move the phone and loupe back and forth until the least amount appears. If you end up having a bit of the loupe edges in the photo, you can always crop them out later by using cropping apps like Crop for Free or photo editing software on your desktop.

A sample screen shot of how it looks on your phone as you work to get your shot in focus.

Step 4: Now slightly move the loupe and phone in conjunction until the focus block (the little square that flashes telling you “Hey, I’m in focus!”) shows up (or whatever you phone does to let you know it’s focusing). The movement you’ll be making is basically the same as when you focus with your eye through a loupe.

Play with your positioning until the focus block shows up to guarantee a crisp shot.

Step 5: Once you have your shot perfectly positioned, steady your hands and snap your pic. With a little maneuvering and a few tries you’ll be amazed at the quality of your cell-loupe photo. Then instantly email or message the client your sharp gemstone shot!

Be a hero when you send a great picture fast!

Here are a few comparisons shots we took while snapping up this blog:

Pink sapphire oval shot with iPhone. Left side taken without loupe, right side taken with loupe method.

Left side of sapphire and diamond ring photographed without loupe on iPhone, right side is with loupe.

Left is a fancy peach sapphire without loupe on a BlackBerry. The right is with the loupe.

There’s also a quick youtube phone video recorded through a loupe, but this guy’s marveling at a mosquito sucking his blood versus a beautiful blood-red ruby. Happy cellouping!

We’d like to give a quick shout-out to Troy from Liberty Diamonds for showing us this useful trick! Thanks Troy!

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