Ever since I bought my compact Modahaus 216 photo set up, I've been delighted with the ease of use and the much better quality jewelry pictures I have been getting.

But there is one angle I still have to shoot without a tripod - the overhead one.  The resulting photos are not ideal as no matter how steady I try to be, there is always a slight blurring.  Trying to get the focusing right with a hand held camera is another issue.

Us starving artists sure can't afford the expensive overhead equipment used by professional photographers. And even if we could, we most likely won't have a place to put it all anyway.

So when Lex McColl, the Modahaus inventor sent me his latest product, the Steady Stand 200 (the medium size one) for review, I got quite excited.  It is a foldable stand with a peephole at the top to allow either smartphones like the iPhone or a regular compact camera to be mounted.  It can be used with or without the other setups equipped with infinity backgrounds.

The Steady Stand 200 has been a resounding success since it's launch late last year. Check out this promotional video to see it in action including the amazing ability to pan pictures with it. No wonder professional video photographers are all buying it.

The Steady Stand comes with several accessories as shown in Lex's picture below. The smaller panels with slits or holes for different cameras. Lex says, "The distance between the platform and the copy board is also the optimum distance for the smartphones and compact cameras."

The steady stand comes in a neat package where the outer cover called the Smart Wallet is also put into good use. As you can see Lex is well up on QR codes on products as scanning it takes you to his Steady Stand guide.

You do have to crease the folds before assembling. It took me a while to figure out how to place the tabs as it is not clearly shown in the instructions.   It helps to place the unit upside down on its side and then slide the side tabs behind the M. The second side took me all of 2 seconds!

I was pleased that the steady stand is strong as my compact camera is rather heavier than most.  As my camera is red in color, I used the opaque panel B above on the top to block any color effect it might have on my photos. I also had to remove the Modopocket, my tiny mounted camera stand so the camera could lie flat when pointing down into the hole. All my picture taking was done in natural light using the tricks Lex taught us before (see links below).  Not having to deal with lights is one less thing to do.

I've been so frustrated in the past because I could never get good bird's eye view shots of necklaces such as my wire coiled design below.  It's important to show people the whole design and its relative proportions including any extension or charms placed at the clasp end. Thanks to the Steady Stand, I can now!

As you can see from the set-up shot below, I also used the cover or Smart Wallet itself.  Lex explained in his guide, "When you have a highly reflective subject like metalwork in jewelry, eliminating cluttered, distracting reflections will greatly enhance your photographs. The translucent side walls of the Steady Stand give clean uncluttered reflections and when you position the Steady Stand on top of the Smart Wallet, you can fold up the two large flaps at either end of the wallet so your subject is completely surrounded and all unwanted reflections are eliminated."

The Smart Wallet proved very useful in my less than ideal natural lighting situation where the light is mostly coming from a window sheltered by a porch. The flap of the cover does help bounce back more light so I don't get a darker side in the pictures.  I also tried rotating the whole thing to see if I could get better lighting. The mug I added to the above picture shows how compact the Steady Stand is. It's small enough to leave as it and store it on a shelf or inside a cupboard.  You could also fold it flat for storing or transport.

Lex also has this picture below showing a couple of other Steady Stand configurations. It's from his blog post Product Photography Tips for Crafters and Jewelry Artisans.

I tried them both out.  The hanging configuration took some patience waiting for the necklace to stop swinging completely! Otherwise, I like how the set up gives me a slight shadow at the bottom for my funky embedded resin pendant. I hung the necklace low down like the one shown above to get this pleasing effect.

Below is how Lex does rings as shown in his post mentioned above. 

I really liked both the Modahaus 216 and the Steady Stand 200 to give me alternative views of jewelry like for my shrink plastic earrings, the former for side views and the latter for overhead views. I previously had so much trouble with the clear shrink plastic as it is difficult, at least for me, to photograph. The picture below was an overhead one with the Steady Stand with the earrings on the card placed on a mug. It is still not perfect but believe me it's loads better than what I got before.

 Something opaque might be a better idea than the translucent card D I used. I did get a ring like effect from the mug which is not very visible if you set your camera correctly for white backgrounds or use a photo editing program to lighten it. Lex sometimes uses some sort of mirror like surface like for the ring shoot.

The overhead shots are very useful if you also sell supplies.  These Swarovski components look really lovely when taken from above.

However, when I tested out crystals which are not flat like these Swarovski butterflies and hearts, I actually preferred the shot taken from the side.  The overhead one did not flatter these crystals. So it depends on the subject which angle you need and your personal preferences.

Side view vs top view

I also appreciated using the Smart Wallet itself as a background for group shots. My 216 is the smallest of the Modahaus infinity curve models and could not accommodate all four bracelets together. You can see the background distortions as I struggled to compose the original group shot in the tutorial post about crochet and chain bracelets.

So I experimented by placing one of the colored panels from the 216 on top of the steady stand's cover and viola!  Problem solved for all future group jewelry shots!  This is what pros like Lex call a "horizon shot".

While there is no infinity curve with the Steady Stands, it will still allow you to take good sideways pictures if you don't have the Modahaus 216 like I do. Just use the Smart Wallet.

I also found you can take hanging earrings pictures by propping up the small card (D) against the Smart Wallet :

I am not that fond of straight on pictures so I experimented with angling the small card across the corner after propping up the flaps of the Smart Wallet with books on the other side.  I didn't use this particular shot but all the pictures except the first one in my recent tutorial post on how to make recycled jewelry from a leather belt were taken on both Modahaus set-ups, the 216 and the Steady Stand 200.

If you need to take pictures of larger things or documents, consider the taller Steady Stand 300.

The tiny Steady Stand 100 is the smallest of the 3 and it will definitely suit jewelry artisans as we make small things like earrings! This one saves having to use a mug to raise the earrings and rings. Note that there are 2 types for this size - the SS100SP is for smart phones and the SS100CC is for compact cameras.

The Steady Stands are available on their own or in a bundle with the other setups for extra savings.  Owners of the Modahaus are eligible for a discount if you purchase the Stead Stand. All products now include free shipping as global demand has now picked up for these really innovative products.
If you'd like to win one of 6 Steady Stands in any size, then all you have to do is make a comment below. Yes - SIX lucky people will win!  Make sure you mention in your comment :
  • what you are going to use the Steady Stand for if you win one (jewelry, photos, cupcakes, craft supplies etc)
  • which model (100SP, 100CC, 200, 300)  you prefer if you win one
Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower or also on Facebook Fan page or Twitter - even more entries if you do it for not just me but Lex's sites too. If you also publicize this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too!  Please say so in the comments.

This international giveaway ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, February 27, 2012. I will pick the winners  randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Good luck!

Subscribers : To comment, click on the post title to return to the blog. At the bottom of the post, click on "Comments". If you do not have a Google account, website or online store, use Name/URL - and leave the URL blank. 

Before You Go :
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips