Photography of gemstones

Hi everyone! I have some questions on photographing mineral / gem specimens. I have built a small desktop light-box (cardboard box with white paper diffusion and surfaces on inside). I am using my Galaxy S20 Ultra as the camera with the default Samsung Camera app.

  1. Does anyone have a third-party app they use/recommend?

  2. Should i get one of the clip-on macro lens kits? Has anyone used these?

  3. How do I get the entire specimen in focus? I know focal length vs lens aperture is a factor, I think. However, I am a novice when it comes to photography. So any suggestions would be very helpful.

Thank you!.

Here is an example of what I have done so far… It took several hours of tweaking the ISO/Shutter Speed and white balance to get this one…


Nice image of the aqua and rough. I don’t think it always important to get everything in focus, a little background blur is fine. In trying to get better focus, using my S20, I move it at least a foot away and use the highest pixel setting and zoom in a little. That will sometimes capture a larger area in focus.

The idea is that the closer you get, the less area comes in focus. Using stacking programs is often used for photomicroscopy.

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So, i use the samsung galaxy s9. Its been my phone choice for close to 7 years. The reason why i have not ever upgraded is because of the camera . . Since the s9 was released , it has remained the best built in camera on phone for all these years. 2 weeks ago i finally has to decide to upgrade because my social media sires , fb, Instagram, tic toc, yourube , are all finally starting to take off after years of posting and ohoto , video documenting my watch restorations and gemstone importing, mostly natural blue sapphires, garnets, rubies, tourmaline, emeralds,spinels, peridot, aquamarine and several more . Ly entire business is ran online , aln work i recieve is based off my oosts to groups on line. Between the 5 social platforms i post and share my content thats made in house by me personally and on average i invest over 40 hrs a week(7) days. Unless i am adding effects have never used a filter or any other type of photo software or any type of image enhancements… Every 3 months i move over anywhere from 18-30 gigs of
photos and, 30 second reels of just colored gemstones , watch restorations since 2010. My s9 is getting And for repairs I wanna have to filed a claim to get I decided to go an upgrade to the S23 So I’ll be trying that 1 out while my S9 is getting fixed and I’ll just pay you out when I’m back up if the S23 works out. The only other camera that I use and not I’ve used for 15 years is the nikon cool picks There are lightweight I’ve got the macro lens I’ve never had a problem with any one of these as far as clarity color light adjustment There are lightweight I’ve got the macro lens I’ve never had a problem with any one of these as far as clarity color light adjustment Easy to use lightweight it’s not bulky to have some big camera system you’re toting around or taking photos with What I did but I did get this year Is a professional photobox And the only reason why I got that is because of the size of the orders of rough that I’m purchasing like for my Pakistan peridot and other orders of rough that i send to lapidary to be faceted Instead of me dealing with individual stones individual colors throughout the day Of say 600 carrots appear though until every one of them is photo dot So I felt it would be smarter to get the professional photo box where I can actually have controlled lighting and I can have a set stage inside the photo box for how I want them to look as far as background colors et cetera but app until just a few months ago I had never used anything I’ve always just used my camera that’s it. For photos on the computer that I transfer over from my memory card from my camera I use picasa to store and make my albums. Now for video production or adding effects or making short reels of your photos you know to put the nation into a like a video type setting I use a software called splice and capcut. But lately. Its been all splice for taking images or video and combining.

Feel free to go to my fb and shoot me a friend request. You ca My Instagram is being grown around the watch and jewelry service business lately the last 3 months everybody who’s came on and followed everything that I’m doing is jewelry related so you know if you get on board with me there you know there could be some potential networking or business for you.



Bear, Thanks! I have had good luck with the S20 camera. The 108 MP sensor definitely has the pixel count. My only drawback using it, is the field of view. I know there are several 3rd party apps that can correct the coma and flatten the field, which I was hoping someone had experience using.

I will try your suggestion of backing away from the subject to bring more into focus. Will post some new shots when I can.


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Elijah, Thanks for the comments. I have seen some of your work for watch repair on Instagram. Didn’t make the connection until you mentioned it. Really enjoy the content you have created!

The S9 is a great phone / camera, however, I really believe you will be amazed by the S23. I have used the S20 now for 3yrs. It has been an incredible phone/camera. I started with a Coolpix 2M pixel camera (had a macro lens integrated) way back when.

Several years later when cell phone cameras surpassed that “potato” resolution, I was happy with the images … however, they were always missing something, I was looking for, including a macro lens.

The S20 introduced the ability to capture raw format (lossless). I take my images with RAW in conjunction with the default JPEG files. File size is typically 12:1 ratio (24Mb for RAW to 2 Mb for JPEG). The RAW format allows me to make prints of the stones/rough in high resolution / detail. They are unfortunately too chunky to post online.

Thanks again for the feedback!


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Thank you for watching some of my content i would like to invite you to join me on my fb. I have some really good things going on . Once i get more buyers on board things will really be moving along. . I also got my 2nd affiliate this month for social media . Its an international jewelry company, i am giving all followers a 50% off coupon to use for purchases. My you tube channel is going to be built up with domain .

I still have not opened my new phone. . Maybe I should.

Again. Thank you

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I have a lightbox set up and small tri pod lights i can use. I also use the S22 phone camera and I think the pictures turn out very well. I have different lens attachments like the macro but try all different pics and see which reflect the stone’s true beauty. Also, have a small turntable if someone wanted a moving pic.

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do props , turntables, etc. something I have not used is the macro lense that can be attached. Do you or can you upload a few photos of colored faceted , so I can see that.

I started using turntables in the pro photo box, adjustable lighting , 30 seconds to go 360 degrees. then I throw my logo.undernearth the video using splice, save it. , now I have a live video of that gemstone.

hints the name of this portion of my business.

here is a a few screenshots off my phone, those light blue ones, got those from my main source in sri lanka, they hace been there forvthe last 25 yrs. but thats 2.37 cts oval cut GIA Certified cornflower blue no.heat, natural sapphire , match pair
going off of price guiides courtesy IGS… Because they are ovals, 20 percent more value added, over 1 ct another 15 percent added value, color grade , another 20 percent added value , i loaded close to an additional 60 percent to my investment because i study that guiide , these dont sit around long at the buying level (pricing) i am so thankful they offer these.

i dont have the first buyer , i dont mind . i know wgar needs to be bought when they come accoss my network. im in the building phase. . i am only biying very , very good quality , best certs. i prefer only GIA. I coukd be wrong. but. i think it will make for an easier sell once i started looking for buyers.
what do you think.?


Great photos and ideas! The use of backgrounds can give the stone’s color / cut more definition in some cases. You really need to unbox your S23… :smiley: The level of image resolution is 5x that of the S9. The ability to produce RAW formatted files will give additional “money-shot” options. Plus, the S9’s version of Android will be no longer supported (if it hasn’t already been dropped).

You, @Kend, and @beargems have pointed out some really good tips and suggestions! THANK YOU!

Couple of follow-up images:

I added the second aquamarine specimen into the mix. Really had a hard time getting both crystals in focus. But pulling the camera back a smidge helped! Too far back and the camera induced a weird “tunnel-like” focus ring. I think I found the “goldilocks zone” :smile:

It’s also not recommended to allow critters into the room when trying to image the stones. However, the light box I am using, is nothing more than a small cardboard box, that my furry friend believes is his personal heated napping bed. :roll_eyes:

But I couldn’t resist the opportunity. (this image was a RAW format that I cropped and converted to JPEG. Higher resolution but the tunnel-like focus is evident when you zoom in.



Thanks Troy. I havent played around with the RAW image information because when i first started reading about it, it sounded a bit cinfusing si i figured id better stick with what i know. Also, my lightbox is more professiinal with polyester fabtic vacground colors.

If you havevany suggestions for me on Samsung RAW or an overal area on it id greatly appreciate it. Goid conversation!!

Agreed! This is a good conversation.

My experience with RAW format has been solely “trial and error”. I have not jumped down the rabbit hole on the subject. (Which I will at some point) Can definitely talk about the pitfalls and “Eureka” moments.


  1. Memory Hog; The RAW format uses 12x the file storage size versus the JPEG. It is more challenging to send the RAW format to someone, as most email systems limit file size. You have to use a file sharing program like Dropbox or Google Docs.
  2. Not many 3rd party apps (Outside of Adobe Photoshop) work with RAW format (At least what I have found so far)
  3. Lighting and Contrast settings: I currently have the Samsung Camera App (using built in PRO Camera options) taking both native JPG and RAW images. The settings are adjusted for the JPEG file, so the RAW image seems “washed out”. Requires some post-production tweaks.
  4. Unfortunately, the lens is not figured correctly to generate a flat field across entire field of view. 3rd party software is needed to make corrections. (I have yet to find one that is “point-and-shoot”)


  1. Makes full use of the 108 megapixel camera resolution.
  2. Produces a large format image.
  3. Lossless. There are no compression artifacts with this format. (Unless you convert to JPEG, TIFF or other compressed file formats)

The Samsung Camera App is fairly decent. In the PRO menu there are a few different modes available that allow you to use the camera settings like ISO, Shutter Speed, White Balance, etc. You can use the Expert RAW mode to do this for RAW images but it will not take JPEGs in tandem. I just use the PRO mode and get both file formats.

Apologize for the long post. :grin:

Yikes Troy. No apologies necessary. In fact, your explanation was more than I would have expected! Very expert,derailed and concise. Raw is a hog.

I took a screen print of the conversation so I can review it and study it more but i think at least for the time being I’ll stick with the S22 camera which has a fantastic capability and it’s PRO functionality.

I can’t thank you enough for your reply and the time you spent explaining it all.

Best Regards,


Update: It seems I misspoke about the camera resolution. I have done some in-depth reading on the Samsung Camera App… and it seems the Pro Cam option (at least for the S20) does not use the full capability of the on-board 108 MP imager. The PRO apps use a 12 MP subset of the sensor. The 108 MP is currently only used with JPEG compression and for the Digital Zoom, when using specific settings.

Looking at the meta-data for the images I posted earlier, the RAW Format uses 12MP. If it were to use the full 108 MP, the 25MB files would be nearly 230 - 300MB in size.

I am still researching this. Hopefully, I haven’t steered anyone wrong here. :roll_eyes:



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I spent several days setting this 23 up. I like it. I love the video and options of the entire system. Im a little annoyed at myself for holding on to the 9 for so long. Since thursaday, i have not left this property for more than 5 minutes.
I have been working thru the day, night, thru the day, lol, nonstop. Doing images, folders editing , production, communication, downloads, creating tags, setting up seperate fb page for DiamondGemsTV. I have not stopped. With 4 more watches to do. I have not rven open the peridot because i know whatever is on the agenda goes right out the door as soon as I break that seal. My poor guy over there. I got him tracking hrs away from his place in pakistan to the lap. He even insists on staying till every piece of that 700 gram order of facet rough was on the table. 2,3 times a day He wants to know if i got to look yet. Lol. He is. More excited than I can allow myself to be and he has had them in his possession, packed them
and all. So… it must be very good which is probably another reason i wont open it till i know I can pull of of everything for a few days… The point of me telling you some of that was … the battery in this phone. Wow! Im. Serious. Since Friday morning. I have only charged my phone 2 times . Both sets of earbuds… at least 4 tines each.

You know what ? I think im going to go ahead and file the claim on that 9 … yep. That’s what im going to do. Then… im going to jump on that 24 they are fixing to release. That might Troy. The zoom on the 24 got an upgrade


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That is fantastic! The crispness of the Bulova in those images is quite impressive! Really glad you opened the S23. :grin:

The S20 has been my workhorse! I have had it for 3 1/2 years now. And even to this day, despite my high usage level, I still only have to charge the phone every other day. Will definitely be considering an upgrade sometime in the future, but for now, unless I break it; I’ll continue using it.

I probably should have included a cavate: “Pace yourself” You just leaped three generations of Galaxy S phone technology.

Can’t wait to see images of the Peridot.



I have tge S23 Ultra and i very rarely have to charge it. Although i usually do it nightly.

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Yep i cant believe i paid an extra 200 for the stilest… omfg i love it and how easy it is to take pics…

On a side note i use to do some… um …modeling

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