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bobh

Some of my newest attempts

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Here are some new attempts of mine after buying a little magnifying glass which attaches to the viewfinder of my Nikon D-60 camera. It magnifies the picture seen in the viewfinder to about 2x which makes it MUCH easier to get the focus correct. I was shooting pictures mostly in auto-focus mode before that because I am nearsighted and had better luck with auto-focus. But after a while, I realized that my pictures were seldom coming out as focussed as they should (or could) have been. I found some photography forums discussing the same Nikon/Nikkor combination I have, and it seems that manually focussing is the best way to go.

 

The magnifying glass cost about $180, so I was skeptical as to whether or not the purchase was worth it. But the results kind of speak for themselves, I think. It also has an adjustment for your own dioptry if you are nearsighted, like me. So now I am doing all photos with manual focus. My lens is a Nikkor AF-S/VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED macro lens, and I shoot with the camera mounted on a Manfrotto stand which can be set at a 90 degree angle, i.e. I can point the camera straight down. These pictures were done with axial lighting, i.e. shot through a glass pane at 45 degrees with the light coming from one daylight fluorescent bulb (for the first two pictures) and with an additional light (same kind of bulb) from the side for the last two shots. I like the extra dynamics that the second bulb gives you; while the axial lighting is great for bringing out the detail, the second bulb gives you the cartwheels on the coins that have them. I shot these mostly at f/8, I believe (the EXIF data should be there embedded in the picture files).

 

The first coin is about the diameter of a USA three cent silver coin (abt. 14mm). I propped it up as far as I could to fill up the viewfinder:

 

RUSSIA, "Baroque" 5 kopecks (1757-SPB):

RUSSIA_Baroque_5k_1757-SPB.jpg

 

 

This dime is a rare variety (doubled-die obverse, Fortin 107b). Looking at the obverse legend for awhile, it kind of makes you dizzy: :lol:

 

USA, Seated Liberty dime (1876-CC):

USA_Dime_1876-CC.jpg

 

 

The next three are basically just more eye-candy, although the Walker is still not as focussed as I'd like. I think my next purchase will be a water level so that I can get the camera exactly parallel to the coin. This makes a difference with large coins because one side will be in focus, but the opposite side not unless the camera is shooting dead-on straight.

 

USA: Buffalo nickel (1923-P):

USA_5c_Buffalo_1923_obv.thumb.jpgUSA_5c_Buffalo_1923_rev.thumb.jpg

 

RUSSIA: 50 kopecks, 1900:

RUSSIA_50k_1900-FZ.jpg

 

USA: Walker 50 cents, 1946-D:

USA_Walker_50c_1946-D.jpg

 

After I take the pictures (all in RAW mode), I copy them to my Linux laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1420-N running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS) with F-Spot Photo manager which lets me browse the folder quickly for the best shot -- I usually take several of each side and turn the coin between shots so as to get slightly different angles of lighting. After I find the one I like the best, I open it in the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) which does similar things as Adobe Photoshop, although the user interface is completely different. I rotate and crop the images to a square first, trying to get exactly the same dimensions for both sides of the coin. I will usually crop the highlights to no more than 15-20 on the low end and about 253 on the high end (0-255 scale). For some of these, I also used an unsharp mask enhancement filter with settings of 3 pixels and 0.5 strength which really gives you that last bit of strong focus ... however, it isn't good for every coin and/or picture... you have to experiment a little.

 

I only use these manipulations if I think that the end product is more realistic compared to the actual coin. As such, I wouldn't say that it makes the pictures look any better than the coin looks, only that it helps to do justice to some really stunning coins which might look a little drab or flat otherwise.

 

Here are links to the hi-resolution photos:

 

http://hairgrove-goldberg.com/Gallery/russia-5k-baroque-1757-spb

http://hairgrove-goldberg.com/Gallery/usa-seated-dimes-1876-CC

http://hairgrove-goldberg.com/Gallery/CuNi-buffalo-nickels-1923-P

http://hairgrove-goldberg.com/Gallery/Poltina1900fz

http://hairgrove-goldberg.com/Gallery/usa-silver-half-dollars-walkers-1946D

 

Enjoy! :art:

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Very nice photos. Glad to hear the magnifier is working so well for you. I've been tempted. My close vision is almost totally shot which certainly makes close focusing near impossible for me. Autofocus is ok for a lot of things but doesn't do a good job for closeups. Landscapes I usually use manual focus using a hyperfocus method I learned a long time ago. Still seems to work in most cases.

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These are nice photos. Have you tried to shoot them using a black background - I think too much blue gets reflected onto the coin from the glass plate.

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These are nice photos. Have you tried to shoot them using a black background - I think too much blue gets reflected onto the coin from the glass plate.

 

Thanks! :art:

 

Actually, the Baroque 5 kopeck piece was shot on a piece of black paper. It probably has more to do with the white balance, which I need to adjust better. But for the coins on a blue background, you are probably right. These pictures are a bit "blue-ish".

 

The glass plate itself might also contribute to the problem. It is just the glass taken from a cheap picture frame, about A4 in size. I should probably be using more expensive optical glass, but don't know if the purchase would be worth it. I don't even know what that might cost! :confus:

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Very nice photos. Glad to hear the magnifier is working so well for you. I've been tempted. My close vision is almost totally shot which certainly makes close focusing near impossible for me. Autofocus is ok for a lot of things but doesn't do a good job for closeups. Landscapes I usually use manual focus using a hyperfocus method I learned a long time ago. Still seems to work in most cases.

Thanks, Art! :art:

 

Your hyperfocus method sounds intriguing ... how does that work?

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It probably has more to do with the white balance, which I need to adjust better. But for the coins on a blue background, you are probably right. These pictures are a bit "blue-ish".

 

My experience is that nothing can substitute the properly set white balance. However, for coin photography I do not rely on the preset options for white balance but set it manually instead. It seems that the preset values of color temperature rarely match the actual light source in hands.

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