Read the Cloud Dome Review before you spend one dime. The Cloud Dome is a great way to photograph your jewelry but it has its limitations. I’ll show you some ways to work around these limitations and you can decide if this is the table top photo studio for you.
I've seen people use plastic containers of all shapes and sizes to substitute for the cloud dome. The problem with using a square rubber container is the degree of opacity. Some are really grey, some let in too much light, and some don't let in enough light for jewelry photography.
I wanted to see if a square plastic container would work but I had a hard time getting the lighting just right. At first it was too bright so I threw a white sheet over the top of the container and then it was too dark.
I wondered if the dark table and paneling were muting my lights so I put white foam board from Staples on the table top and against the wall to reflect the light. This helped but it wasn't the solution.
The other thing I didn't like about the plastic container is that it isn't level. It has an edge around the opening and anything I wanted to photograph was tilted away from me. So I moved the container to the edge of my table but I didn't like it hanging off the edge.
Well, the plastic container is now being used for supply storage and not for jewelry photography if that tells you anything.
I like my cloud dome for photographing jewelry from directly above. But I have found that I have to put the jewelry on a riser to move it closer to the camera lens even when in macro mode. This involves stacking paperback books and bracelet display blocks to get the jewelry to the right distance from the camera lens.
The other drawback is that every time I want to move the jewelry just a little bit I have to lift the cloud dome up and set it on the floor or hold the darn thing while adjusting the jewelry for the shot. To me this is the biggest reason I made my own photo light tent.
The other reason I don’t use my cloud dome anymore is because I want to photograph my jewelry at an angle not directly above the piece. To do this I would have to buy the attachment for angle shots or use foam blocks with a nesting place cut out for the cloud dome to sit in to get a steady shot. I experimented with this but was not happy with the results.
It’s easier to set up your jewelry just right and then adjust the camera angle and distance on a tripod rather then adjust the jewelry to the cloud domes fixed camera location.
The bracket that holds the camera is also annoying. My camera lens doesn’t line up perfectly with the hole so when my lens is telescoping out it hits on the metal bracket. And when I want to take the memory card out of my camera I have to unscrew it from the bracket. It would be nice if the memory card door was on the side of my camera instead of on the bottom. These are all things you need to think about before investing in the cloud dome system.
They recommend that you use the Ott-Lite task lamp to light your jewelry in the cloud dome but I found that it didn’t give enough light. My photos were quite dark and I spent a lot of time trying to brighten the photo in Adobe Photoshop Elements. So I used my four lamp set up but the lighting was still sort of grey. I think 90% of photography is proper lighting. If you get the lighting right everything else falls right into place.
My conclusion on the cloud dome is: it works but there are
cheaper ways to photograph jewelry. You can make your own photo light
tent from PVC and a white curtain. Or you can buy a nylon cube that
collapses for easy storage.