Photography of gemstones

My cheap phone has a macro option for the camera. It screws up the white balance but it’s fixable in post processing. The pics I posted are straight out of the camera. They could be much better with post processing. See if your phone has a macro option

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I have a very cheap but for me, functional photo tool. I bought a cheap Wifi microscope on Amazon and use a fairly featureless app to display on my phone. Since I do all the adjustments to the photo after it’s taken, I don’t need much more than this, but the resolution is good and for maybe $30 all in, it’s a steal.

The one caution is that the app demands full access to all your photos to take pictures, which as a rule, I won’t allow, so I simply screenshot the images. Here are some examples, but all the close ups i’ve posted in other threads use the same set up.

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The camera app on my phone has several options but not specifically a “macro”. I did some experiments with the “portrait”, and “Food” selections, just to see what they did.

I can only imagine that my phone was silently yelling at me that it couldn’t find a face, and didn’t understand why the potatoes had too much glint…" :smirk:

Jokes aside, it did give me better focus over a larger area at shorter distances, so I guess that is a “macro” feature of sorts. They both applied some contrast, sharpen, and WB corrections automatically. Which isn’t a bad thing for quick-pics. But post processing the images created more pixelated views.

With your setup using the macro feature, could the white-balance (WB) respond differently, if the stones were on a solid color background?

I have found some relief in WB and focus, if the background is homogenous. Shadows become problematic with white backgrounds though, unless you flood the field of view from all directions. A black background has its own problems, but certain colors and saturation really display good contrast when the background is dark.

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Paul, those screen-captures have good image quality! Can’t complain about low cost options like that! :smiley:

How much magnification can you get with the digital microscope?

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I got a cheap ligjtbox…

Best picture quality improvement for the cost ever!!!


Agreed! Simple and cheap is always a good approach. :smiley:

I’m not sure what my phone does when I switch to macro but the background doesn’t seem to have any effect at all on its WB change. I have a cheap phone and for what it is I’m happy with it. Like I said above I do have very very good camera equipment and lenses. Including the 105mm f2.8 micro lens from Nikon. I do a lot of wildlife photography and flower and insect photography. I can get excellent photos of my gems if I spend the time using my white box ect ect. I’m just lazy. Lol.

I am not sure exactly how much magnification I can get, but the unit is maybe 5 inches long and about an inch in diameter and includes a flimsy but effective stand. I’ve stuck stones right under the lens and I have no had problems focusing, so whatever the level, it seems it starts with the distance from the lens, and for the money, its pretty great that I can get that close.

I bought two initially, and returned one because it could not focus on anything more than roughly 3-4" away from the lens. The one i kept seems to have the same degree of magnification but i can take decent pictures from as much as 10" or so away from the phone.

One caveat if anyone buys one of these, the apps they come with, at least from my experience, are pretty terrible, one didn’t work at all. But it seems that the protocols are standard in many cases, as I used apps from other microscopes and a few worked. Unfortunately, the pro apps don’t seem to work (the Leica and other pro micro apps), but as I mentioned in the last reply, I have not needed the photo or video function to work, just the display on my phone. I didn’t want to give the app full photo access (which, annoyingly it requires), so I just take screen shots of the display.

If anyone wants the make of the scope and the various apps that I’ve found to work, please PM me and I’m happy to share (who knows how secure they are, though, so buyer beware).

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Hi Bob,

Definitely becoming very familiar with how arduous taking images of gemstones can be. “Trial and Error” was my motto for way too long. Have been recently attempting to write notes down, so when I actually capture a successful image, I don’t find myself asking… “Now, how did I do that?” :smiley:


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Great insight! Appreciate and share the concern on how much access we allow apps to control our phones. I am very hesitant to give any app access to essential features these days. They are just way to intrusive.


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Yeah, it is not cool, IMHO; kinda crazy it’s only in the last year or so where there was even an option to gate anything but access to your entire photo album (and email, and contacts, and calendar, and…), but all that is way off topic. I’m happy you found that a bit helpful.

I agree Paul. I’m very hesitant to put ANY apps on my phone no matter what there usage is. Ie banking etc. Nowadays high end phones have such great camera abilities ( that’s about the inly thing they can change yearly on them) tgat one can use them alone especially srltudy7ng the PRO features. Or there are many inexpensuve lens for phones sold on line that can help. Getting a perfect picture tgat truely effects all great aspects of a stone is hard.



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