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Coin photography ... new forum?


Coin Photography  

36 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you think we should have a new forum here on CoinPeople dedicated to coin photography?

    • Yes
      32
    • No
      4


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I was wondering if it is possible to buy the Ott lights here in Switzerland ... anybody have details?

Some people swear by the GE "Reveal" bulbs ... can't get them over here, unfortunately.

Of course, white balance is very important; if you do it correctly (manually), then a wide variety of lighting is possible.

this is where I bought mine:

LINK

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I find that lighting is the most important element. Below a picture of my setup, there's not $100 in the whole rig exclusive of the camera and tripod. The light bulbs themselves are 100 watt equivalent compact fluorescents (about $6.00 from Home Depot). The important part is that they are "daylight" CF bulbs or 5500K color temperature. Diffused light is the ticket. I posted this shot on another board and a member used the technique to take some very fine shots using a Canon point and shoot camera. I use a Sony A700 DSLR with a good Minolta macro lens. I also like to play around with backgrounds.

 

Below that is my take on a Mexican Onza.

 

Now if I can just get my head back to normal size after reading bobh's comment---

 

tricks-2.jpg

 

Onza.gif

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I don't think it needs it's own dedicated forum. It's cool if people want to post their tips to a particular running thread or possibly a new thread, but I would think a forum like that might get a little bit of traffic for awhile but then just get stale. The pictures themselves will end up all over your forums. Just my 2-cents...I guess it doesn't matter to me either way.

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What I think would be more benificial would be a section of Links to other web sites where such things are explained more explicitly. For example if you look at the jmscoin.com web site you would see many links to other places where information is available. That is a coin dealer web site but he does reference other places of interest. The problem with to many coin photography web sites is the overall lack of information by experts that really know what they are saying. Not to be critical of some people that would try to answer a problem, but way to many people just say what they think is correct with no experience or ability to know if what they are saying is true. With some web sites such as Table Top Photography there are experts that at least appear to really know what they are discussing. Other web sites, such as coppercoins.com has a photo forum and it is based on the owner of that web site taking virtually hundreds of thousands of photos himself.

This is why a Link section to such things as coin photography or cleaning or anything of repeditive mentioning would be a better method of distributing knowledge.

Or people could just ask me and I'll make up something. :ninja:

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I'm going to venture out and say that more people would participate in a coin photog forum than some of the other current forums such as error coin, etc.

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Thought I would share one of my first (successful) efforts at using my new Nikon D60 SLR camera and Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR macro lens. I find them to be somewhat demanding, and although as you can see that one CAN take perfectly good pictures with this combination, it isn't merely "point and shoot".

 

France/Poland - commemorative 1-1/2 Euro silver coin for Frédéric (AKA Fryderyk) Chopin:

France_Poland_Chopin_1.5_Euro_Commem_obv.JPG

France_Poland_Chopin_1.5_Euro_Commem_rev.JPG

 

One of the three lamps I use for lighting unfortunately isn't a daylight bulb, but just a normal halogen incandescent spot. I will definitely change this as soon as I have had time to get one. Also, I haven't yet figured out how TomD managed to have the top of his portable studio (I have one just like it, probably made in China) only halfway on without resorting to scissors and tape... I am still having focussing problems because I can't always get the camera completely vertical over the coin, and if I tilt the platform with the coin to match the inclination of the camera and lens, I can't seem to always get every part of the coin in focus. It's that sensitive to the angle, and although the solution would be simple enough, in practice it isn't!

 

As you can see, even with these images, Chopin's signature is slightly out of focus, whereas his hair is very well focussed.

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Lovely pic, bobh.

Thanks! :ninja:

So are we going to have a new forum? If so, when?

I don't know ... I'm not an admin here, so I thought I would just see what people think of the idea first. We can use this thread as a kind of testing ground for possible interest.

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Some more regular strikes:

 

1942-D Walker 50 cents:

Walker_1942-D_obv_web.jpg

Walker_1942-D_rev_web.jpg

 

1887 Seated Liberty, 10 cents (one of my favorites, not just because it is in such good condition, but also because it shows multiple die clashes):

Seated_Dime_1887_obv_web.jpg

Seated_Dime_1887_rev_web.jpg

 

I seem to have solved the focus problem. What remains is getting the color a little better (... now I must go out and buy some more daylight bulbs and clip-on lamps!)

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I seem to have solved the focus problem. What remains is getting the color a little better (... now I must go out and buy some more daylight bulbs and clip-on lamps!)

Now to be completely critical of you - I'd say the last image and maybe even both coins are not well focused. Is it just me?

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Now to be completely critical of you - I'd say the last image and maybe even both coins are not well focused. Is it just me?

No, it's definitely not you. I would like to think that I am on the right track, although I'm not there just yet.

 

The first (Walker) is in a slab. I think that might have something to do with it. But how to work around it?

 

The second coin is very small, and I tried to get in as close as I could. But maybe that is a mistake, and I should back off a bit? I know that I used to have troubles of this sort with my Nikon Coolpix camera, but it was almost impossible to take halfway decent pictures of anything smaller than a quarter, anyway.

 

I would certainly welcome any tips or suggestions anyone might have! :ninja:

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I don't buy slabs, so I have no experience photographing them, but maybe I can provide some advice.

 

Lighting: Use two lights, one on each side of the slab at a lower, rather than higher angle. Experiment by moving the lights. You want to reduce the glare of the slab while still lighting the coin. If you can manual focus your camera, you will likely need to focus through the slab. If the slab reflects the auto focus light, the lens will focus on the slab surface rather than the coin surface.

 

Color: For better color, you need to move your primary light to almost directly overhead. You can't be entirely overhead since the camera will be in the way. But starting from that point, you can begin to move the light to a lower angle until you see the effect you want to create. You are looking for a balance between color, detail, and contrast. Knowing the color temperature of your lamps and setting the correct white point certainly helps. If you get close, you can make minor adjustments in Photoshop.

 

Focus: Goodman recommends shooting with a mid range f stop. I tend to go with a higher f stop, but avoid the maximum setting. Following Goodman, you have a lower depth of field, but a faster shutter speed (minimizing vibration effects that reduce the apparant focus). A higher depth of field will help minimize the sharpness from one end of the coin to the other when slightly tilted. Do you use an automatic release of are you tripping the shutter by hand? If pressing the the shutter button by hand, you are introducing some movement that will reduce the apparent sharpness. Get an remote release button or connect the camera to your computer and have the computer trip the shutter release, Make sure the camera is firmly attached to the copy stand. If your setup is on a flimsy table, that can introduce vibration as well.

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I don't buy slabs, so I have no experience photographing them, but maybe I can provide some advice.

 

Lighting: Use two lights, one on each side of the slab at a lower, rather than higher angle. Experiment by moving the lights. You want to reduce the glare of the slab while still lighting the coin. If you can manual focus your camera, you will likely need to focus through the slab. If the slab reflects the auto focus light, the lens will focus on the slab surface rather than the coin surface.

 

Color: For better color, you need to move your primary light to almost directly overhead. You can't be entirely overhead since the camera will be in the way. But starting from that point, you can begin to move the light to a lower angle until you see the effect you want to create. You are looking for a balance between color, detail, and contrast. Knowing the color temperature of your lamps and setting the correct white point certainly helps. If you get close, you can make minor adjustments in Photoshop.

 

Focus: Goodman recommends shooting with a mid range f stop. I tend to go with a higher f stop, but avoid the maximum setting. Following Goodman, you have a lower depth of field, but a faster shutter speed (minimizing vibration effects that reduce the apparant focus). A higher depth of field will help minimize the sharpness from one end of the coin to the other when slightly tilted. Do you use an automatic release of are you tripping the shutter by hand? If pressing the the shutter button by hand, you are introducing some movement that will reduce the apparent sharpness. Get an remote release button or connect the camera to your computer and have the computer trip the shutter release, Make sure the camera is firmly attached to the copy stand. If your setup is on a flimsy table, that can introduce vibration as well.

Thanks, Bill ... these are all very good points.

 

I do set the white balance manually with a Kodak white/gray card and repeat this every time I change any of the lighting (it's so easy to do). With the Nikon D60 camera, I find that there is a big difference in how the color looks with RAW vs. JPEG image formats. I'm getting better color with JPEG, but sharper images with RAW (NEF format). I can usually adjust the color of the raw images afterwards in the GIMP (somewhat like Photoshop, but on Linux). Could be that the proprietary software Nikon provides does a better job of rendering the raw image format on Windows or Mac...

 

Today I bought two more daylight bulbs and some little lamps, so I now have four light sources to play with. I will try changing the angles as you suggest; I imagine that will make a big difference in bringing out details of the coin devices. And I will try using a wider aperture and higher shutter speed. Right now I think it is set on f/4.5 and shutter speed is somewhere between 1/20 and 1/60 sec. (BTW, don't you mean "lower f-stop"? The higher the number, the smaller the aperture and therefore a slower shutter speed is needed in order to let in the same amount of light). I always use the 10 second timed release when taking pictures, and the camera is on a tripod, so I don't think that there is any extra movement going on there.

 

Thanks again! :ninja:

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Ah, terminology. I shoot at f/22 or so, a higher f stop but smaller aperture as you note. If I were you, I would change from the 4.5 to 7 or higher (i.e. smaller aperture). The 10 second delay should handle the vibration factor. The only thing better is to lock up the mirror, but I don't bother with that and don't think it makes a difference for my needs. I always shoot RAW and save to jpeg when I have a finished image that I want to post or print. As you note, color will render differently on different monitors, etc. So hard to judge exactly just by looking at the screen.

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You're on track. The images, especially the first coin show good lighting technique but all look to have a slightly off focus or perhaps shutter blur. I use a timed release to allow any movement from my hand to go away. I've used two cameras in making my shots, only manual focus will work on one but the other does perfectly with auto focus. Have you tried both?

 

Depth of field on a macro lens is razor thin so I tend to use high f stops, my typical shot will be around f13 to f16 at less that 1/10th second. Though my camera does well at ISO settings of 2000 and above, I'll usually shoot at 100. I hardly ever need to play with white balance since I've been using 5500K (daylight) lights. The camera picks it up just fine.

 

Try some darker backgrounds.

 

I use a Sony (Minolta) A700 DSLR with a Minolta 100mm f2.8 macro lens.

 

I've a friend who is a professional photographer who confided a closely held trade secret, they take so many shots that chance would dictate that at least a couple are good. That's worked for me.

 

2001-Kookaburracopy.jpg

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I've a friend who is a professional photographer who confided a closely held trade secret, they take so many shots that chance would dictate that at least a couple are good. That's worked for me.

 

I know people who take this approach. And I know people who take a single shot with a digital SLR. I truly can't tell the difference. Modern cameras and image processing software have made photography much simpler.

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I know people who take this approach. And I know people who take a single shot with a digital SLR. I truly can't tell the difference. Modern cameras and image processing software have made photography much simpler.

I too used to do some professional photo work on weddings. I have several friends and one has a photo studio. We all agree that now more than ever just take photo after photo after photo. With some of the SD and/or compact flash cards having 4 or 8 gigs of memory, many cameras could take virtually thousands of photos. One of my cameras, a Fuji, holds an XD and a compact flash card. shooting at even 6 or 12 megapixels, I can take hundreds and hundreds of photos and if I use a few spare cards I could shoot thousands. Downloaded to the computer, viewed at full screen, deleting any not liked I still could have many hundreds. Then naturally they can be touched up with the numerous photo programs.

As to another forum for photos, like I said previously, there are so many out there now, one more would only get a few comments and then fade into a once in a while item.

Sort of like the massive amount of stores opened up selling and/or renting VHS tapes not long ago. Now mostly gone. I'm still in favor of LINKS to the many other photo sites.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
I think it is worth its own forum. In addition to cameras, techniques are well worth discussion.

 

CC

(Trying to keep this thread alive...)

Here are some coins I recently acquired (forum thread is here) which I shot using my new Nikon D60 with Nikkor 105 macro lens. I'm better at focussing now, although it is still elusive at times. Lighting through a soft box has proven to be unsatisfactory as I cannot position the camera over the top of it (using a standard tripod made by Sony for video camera work), and also the camera is always telling me that "lighting is poor ... suggest using a flash" when I do.

 

What I have done is bought 4 lamps with daylight fluorescent bulbs. The pictures in the links use two lamps positioned vertically over the coin (clip-on spots which are fastened to the horizontal arm of a microphone stand) and two desk lamps, one on each side of the coin. Sometimes I get better results with only one of the side lamps. I take lots of different shots rotating the coin by degrees as I go in order to find the angle of lighting which is most esthetically pleasing. Of course, I have to rotate the images in the computer again before cropping them, but this is easy to do.

 

Color balance is a little bit of a problem ... but I think it is because of the software I am using which is running on Linux, and not because the camera is not balancing the colors correctly. I shoot in RAW mode and Nikon has a proprietary encoding of the white balance information within the file. The software which comes with the camera only runs on Mac or Windows, so Linux programmers have to reverse engineer the algorithms. Anyway, I can usually adjust the colors in the photo editing software (GIMP) after the fact.

 

(To the Admins: We now have 28 "yes" vs. 3 "no" ... can we promote this thread to its own forum now? :ninja: )

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(Trying to keep this thread alive...)

Here are some coins I recently acquired (forum thread is here) which I shot using my new Nikon D60 with Nikkor 105 macro lens. I'm better at focussing now, although it is still elusive at times. Lighting through a soft box has proven to be unsatisfactory as I cannot position the camera over the top of it (using a standard tripod made by Sony for video camera work), and also the camera is always telling me that "lighting is poor ... suggest using a flash" when I do.

 

What I have done is bought 4 lamps with daylight fluorescent bulbs. The pictures in the links use two lamps positioned vertically over the coin (clip-on spots which are fastened to the horizontal arm of a microphone stand) and two desk lamps, one on each side of the coin. Sometimes I get better results with only one of the side lamps. I take lots of different shots rotating the coin by degrees as I go in order to find the angle of lighting which is most esthetically pleasing. Of course, I have to rotate the images in the computer again before cropping them, but this is easy to do.

 

Color balance is a little bit of a problem ... but I think it is because of the software I am using which is running on Linux, and not because the camera is not balancing the colors correctly. I shoot in RAW mode and Nikon has a proprietary encoding of the white balance information within the file. The software which comes with the camera only runs on Mac or Windows, so Linux programmers have to reverse engineer the algorithms. Anyway, I can usually adjust the colors in the photo editing software (GIMP) after the fact.

 

(To the Admins: We now have 28 "yes" vs. 3 "no" ... can we promote this thread to its own forum now? :ninja: )

 

When I use a lightbox, I'll usually put the coin and whatever I'm using as a backdrop on some flat surface, like a piece of 1 x 8, and tilt it to suit. In addition to shooting more face on, you can play with the angle to get the light you want. You can't get these shots shooting the camera on automatic. My typical setting will be at least f13 and up with a shutter speed of around 1/6th second, sometimes even slower. I use delayed shutter or remote activation because at that shutter speed just pushing the release will blur the shot.

 

And this may be important, the lens wears a polarizing filter.

 

canadiandoubledollar.jpg

 

2dragons3.jpg

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Excellent balance between the two radically different metals. I've not pulled that one off myself as yet without combining two images.

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