Jump to content
British Coin Forum - Predecimal.com

50 Years of RotographicCoinpublications.com A Rotographic Imprint. Price guide reference book publishers since 1959. Lots of books on coins, banknotes and medals. Please visit and like Coin Publications on Facebook for offers and updates.

Coin Publications on Facebook

   Rotographic    

The current range of books. Click the image above to see them on Amazon (printed and Kindle format). More info on coinpublications.com

predecimal.comPredecimal.com. One of the most popular websites on British pre-decimal coins, with hundreds of coins for sale, advice for beginners and interesting information.

Sign in to follow this  
brg5658

Photographing Coins

Recommended Posts

Lighting is immensely important - I'd say the most important ingredient for taking good coin images.  The type of light bulb (LED, incandescent, fluorescent) you use is less important, but understanding how to use that light source is key.  For example, being able to set a custom white balance in your camera for your particular lights is key to getting realistic colors.  The size of the light source (small bulb vs. large bulb) or the apparent size of the light source (e.g., a small light source diffused acts like a larger light source) is also important for fully lighting the coin's surface.  The angle of the lights changes the appearance of the coin's surfaces a lot -- and your lights should always be placed above your mounted camera lens, if not even higher.  With regard to lighting (in particularly angle), I wrote up a little article on the NGC forums some 3+ years ago, and I think it may be helpful.  Keep your lights at a high angle to the surface on which the coin is placed, and diffuse them enough or use large enough light point surfaces to avoid hot spots on the coin.  See my little schematic below of what my photography rig looks like.

Lighting_Schematic_zps8afa4412.jpg

Second to lighting, I would say that mounting your camera on a solid copy stand or tripod is very important.  Images taken with a hand held camera will be a bit "shaky" or lacking in detail.  I have seen hand-held images of coins that get the message across, but the ability to zoom in and see details or inspect surfaces is very limited.  Not only is mounting your camera on a sturdy surface important, but it is also important that your camera is aligned to the flat surface of the coin properly.  By that I mean, the camera's detector (a small rectangular flat surface at the back of the lens where the image is focused) needs to be perfectly parallel with the coin's surface (i.e., in parallel planes).  This is important for focusing reasons.  The easiest way to make sure your camera is mounted parallel with the surface on which the coin is placed is to use a little mirror.  Place the mirror where you would place the coin, and adjust your camera in the x, y, and z planes as needed until the center of your lens' reflection is perfectly centered in the camera's viewfinder.  See the little schematic I created below.

Centering_the_viewfinder_zpsedabc3fb.jpg

Lastly, practice, practice, and practice some more.  I have now taken somewhere around 20,000 images of coins over the past 7 years.  I have only been happy with my images for the past 4.5 years.  It takes a while to get up to "happy" quality -- and I'm still improving my images and tweaking things today.  I try to take at least some coin photos 2-3 days of every week.  It just keeps me in the "zone".

I hope some of these hints help a little.

Best, Brandon

Edited by brg5658
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought this would be good as a sticky (it has been split from another thread). Enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great advice, thanks Brandon.

Jerry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great article. I have started to use a natural light bulb with much improved results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent post and article. I think getting a decent coin photo is something which only comes with experience.

The light factor and getting a tripod are all important.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi folks need a little assistance in the photography world if we were to compare it to an IQ rating mine's about 5 :)  Question is I think half my problem is if I am thinking on the right lines my 35 mm x optical zoom Praktica camera isn't man enough for close up work even on the copy-stand it still has blur and that is with a timer and super macro setting. I am starting to understand little by little about shutter speeds and F settings. So if I by a macro lens 70-210 mm will that be a better set up and if so how do i fix it to the front of the camera do I need a conversion ring? I want to use the camera so as to show coins in the true state and not from a x200 microscope that really is meant for variety identification. The tinies mark looks like a bolder has been dropped but in reality under a graders loupe you would be lucky to see it. I mean it is probably 99% pilot error but I have tried over the last 2 years with all settings and I cannot replicate the nice clear pictures you see online and even zoomed in the quality never changes. Zoom in on mine and you go wonky eyed :) . any help would be most appreciated thanks

Rich

camera.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your camera will have a minimum distance it needs between itself and the subject, normally this is indicated on the camera body above the lens, although I'm not familiar with your model.

Also if that's your lens, you might want to clean the finger prints off it ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, Unwilling Numismatist said:

Your camera will have a minimum distance it needs between itself and the subject, normally this is indicated on the camera body above the lens, although I'm not familiar with your model.

Also if that's your lens, you might want to clean the finger prints off it ;)

That'll be the ole lady moving it to dust the dust that isn't there again lol. How do I attach a larger lens? I see people talking F22 numbers mine only has F3.0 or F7.7 Which at the moment is on F7.7 and 0.3" . What about the picture size If I set it @ min setting the pictures are tiny. I normally set it on 3m it all looks fine until cropping then the detail just isn't what I want. See this what I get. and for coin pics it aint good enough. Pulling my hair out lol

DSCI0148-horz.jpg

Edited by zookeeperz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really not familiar with your camera so it's hard to say. 35mm might be a bit short though - when I can be bothered, I use at least 55mm and normally a longer lens up to 250mm so that I have plenty of room and the light is sufficient far back so that it doesn't overexpose the shot.

If your camera has a mirror lock-up option, you could try that as it will also help to reduce camera shake, even when using a timer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Unwilling Numismatist said:

Really not familiar with your camera so it's hard to say. 35mm might be a bit short though - when I can be bothered, I use at least 55mm and normally a longer lens up to 250mm so that I have plenty of room and the light is sufficient far back so that it doesn't overexpose the shot.

If your camera has a mirror lock-up option, you could try that as it will also help to reduce camera shake, even when using a timer.

Yes I am probably suffering due to not enough light . That picture was in my room with the lights off and one small clip on spotlight  on my pc desk shining down on my knees lol . So it probably struggled for detail. Normally light isn't so much a problem its the pics with more than one coin and all the reflections and shooting through plastic pages. I just hate to list coins I know are 10x better than the pics show. But sometimes the coins behave and still still for a few seconds :)

 

shillsnbronze.JPG

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been advised that if you have natural light, use it. Today being sunny I shot some Bunc pound coins and they look completely shagged. Suggestions please.

Nikon coolpix on macro.

 

2chn81g.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Natural light and plastic capsules doesn't do the modern coinage any favours, but then modern coinage isn't that pretty to start with.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a feeling that the caps wouldn't help but I've got about 50 of these to shoot and I was being lazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would pop them out the caps and try again. If your worried about smudges or finger prints get a glasses cleaning type lint clothe and use that to handle them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're mine and, sadly I have to pop around 50 of the buggers out of their capsules and set up the lighting correctly just to record them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28 October 2017 at 9:39 PM, zookeeperz said:

That'll be the ole lady moving it to dust the dust that isn't there again lol. How do I attach a larger lens? I see people talking F22 numbers mine only has F3.0 or F7.7 Which at the moment is on F7.7 and 0.3" . What about the picture size If I set it @ min setting the pictures are tiny. I normally set it on 3m it all looks fine until cropping then the detail just isn't what I want. See this what I get. and for coin pics it aint good enough. Pulling my hair out lol

DSCI0148-horz.jpg

That's really not too bad at all. It would perhaps benefit from a bit of time spent in Photoshop or similar, to make adjustments to Levels, Definition, Sharpness, but apart from the slight lack of contrast it's really not bad.

As for a macro lens, what you've mentioned is a zoom lens. A purpose-made macro lens would be a fixed focal length, e.g. 85mm, or 100mm perhaps, and would go onto your camera after you detach the existing lens. You would need good lighting, as you want to avoid flash, or alternatively use daylight. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Peckris said:

That's really not too bad at all. It would perhaps benefit from a bit of time spent in Photoshop or similar, to make adjustments to Levels, Definition, Sharpness, but apart from the slight lack of contrast it's really not bad.

As for a macro lens, what you've mentioned is a zoom lens. A purpose-made macro lens would be a fixed focal length, e.g. 85mm, or 100mm perhaps, and would go onto your camera after you detach the existing lens. You would need good lighting, as you want to avoid flash, or alternatively use daylight. 

Well if i use auto focus I cannot see anything it is just one big blur. And if i zoom in manually then press the flower icon with the S for super macro. the zoom is overridden and then the Macro focus will sharpen everything up but I guess being a 35mm that is all i have as a working distance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, zookeeperz said:

Well if i use auto focus I cannot see anything it is just one big blur. And if i zoom in manually then press the flower icon with the S for super macro. the zoom is overridden and then the Macro focus will sharpen everything up but I guess being a 35mm that is all i have as a working distance?

Ah, you're talking about 'Macro mode' on an ordinary lens (most cameras will have this, which let you get closer to your subject than the normal minimum focus distance). I was actually talking about a specialised macro lens which takes pictures at 1:1 (in other words the size of the object on the negative / sensor) is the same size as in real life, allowing super-enlargements. Your Praktica, being an SLR, will allow interchangeable lenses, but macro lenses aren't cheap!

The other alternative is to raise your camera on a stand (a tripod wouldn't work) that allows it to point down, then use lighting from two different angles to bring out the relief on the design. The greater distance allows for a) being outside minimum focus distance and b) not casting shadows from the equipment onto the coin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I tried the copy stand which I bought for the camera but I don't like the finish. it isn't as crisp as I would like it to be with that haze around the lettering and it makes the legends look somewhat square like and the luster disappears making the coin look new but really dull and no life in the coin. My question was where do you attach an addon lens as the lens on there I assume doesn't come off? is it a case of just sticking it over the original lens?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, zookeeperz said:

Yes I tried the copy stand which I bought for the camera but I don't like the finish. it isn't as crisp as I would like it to be with that haze around the lettering and it makes the legends look somewhat square like and the luster disappears making the coin look new but really dull and no life in the coin. My question was where do you attach an addon lens as the lens on there I assume doesn't come off? is it a case of just sticking it over the original lens?

:o I didn't even know Praktica were still around in the digital era! It seems I was wrong to assume yours was one of their venerable SLRs. In which case, stick with Macro Mode, or perhaps invest in a screw-in add-on closeup lens. Raynox won't cost you an arm and a leg, but do get the one that's the right size for your filter thread size.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Peckris said:

:o I didn't even know Praktica were still around in the digital era! It seems I was wrong to assume yours was one of their venerable SLRs. In which case, stick with Macro Mode, or perhaps invest in a screw-in add-on closeup lens. Raynox won't cost you an arm and a leg, but do get the one that's the right size for your filter thread size.

Thanks it has been bugging me for ages :)

This is my camera

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Praktica-LM20-Z35S-Camera-Black-20MP/dp/B00GM46VQ0

Edited by zookeeperz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 20 November 2017 at 3:32 PM, zookeeperz said:

Thanks it has been bugging me for ages :)

This is my camera

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Praktica-LM20-Z35S-Camera-Black-20MP/dp/B00GM46VQ0

Ah yes - a bridge camera in DSLR style. You should be able to find the right size Raynox close-up lens for the filter thread on that, but you might find that a good stand, proper lighting, and the macro mode, will serve you just as well, and save you money.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I need to photograph a coin, the lighting needs to be exactly as Brandon said.

( he's put it all rather better and clearer than I could!)

However, if you have to photograph a coin, but only have a small cheap camera, like I use,

try holding a magnifying glass in front of the lens and see if that works......it can make a big difference-

you can get the camera back to a distance it can focus at..

 

Blake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did an article on my blog back along that might be of interest to you. You can find it here. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×