Post a picture: Coin photography and lighting setup

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Irish2Ice, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Irish2Ice

    Irish2Ice Member

    Ok, so I've purchased a new camera and photo lights. I've read many forums here that discuss camera settings, but it seems everyone refers back to their lighting setup as the key to successful coin photos. SO, now is your chance to "shine". Post your photography setup and discuss the finer points.
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  3. pumpkinpie

    pumpkinpie what is this I don*t even

  4. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    My photography set up is very simple. A copy stand, two gooseneck lamps with fluorescent bulbs placed at 10 & 2 o'clock, and a Canon Powershot SD 880 IS 10 megapixel camera. Below is a photo of my setup using only one light with a paper towel and rubber band to achieve diffused lighting. Post processing is completed using Adobe Photoshop.

  5. mas4492

    mas4492 Junior Member

    Nikon D200,Sigma 90mm macro, Kaiser copy stand, 2 X 30W Ott lights.
  6. Gavriil

    Gavriil New Member

    Cheesy walmart Samsung $100 camera, cheesy Sam's Club put it together yourself desk (14 years old), cheesy walmart made in china gooseneck lamp W/100 watt bulb,
    cheesy discount printer paper that that is to thick to go through printer without jamming up, $5 walmart mouse pad guess that's enough cheese. :yes:

    Cheesy lamp.jpg desk.jpg
  7. Irish2Ice

    Irish2Ice Member

    Great setup, thank for posting. Is there any particular reason you like fluorescent versus incandescent?
  8. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    Incandescent lights leave a yellowish cast on the photo.
  9. brg5658

    brg5658 Well-Known Member

    While that's true, it can be overcome with proper white balance adjustments in camera. All lighting sources cast certain colors in the photo...CFLs usually are heavy in the blue/green spectrum...which again, can be overcome by proper white balance adjustments. I have seen very good coin images with a range of lighting sources including halogens, incandescent, LED, CFL, Ott, etc.
  10. brg5658

    brg5658 Well-Known Member

    I shoot with a Canon T2i and a Canon 50D DSLR. I image coins with a bellows system (accordion-like extension for lenses) mounted on a copy stand, using a flat-field APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm duplicating lens as my primary. This set-up gives me flexibility to fill the complete viewfinder with the coin for coins ranging in size from around 40mm diameter down through 11mm diameter (or smaller). My normal lighting for direct light images are three LED lamps with very small point sources, thus they don't get in my way.

    Here are two example images using this set-up; the first is a raw medal, the 2nd is a slabbed coin.


    When I want to bring out colors in certain images, I use an axial lighting setup. What this means is illustrated in the picture below. In short, your camera/lens shoot images through a diagonal piece of glass. The light source reflects off of the glass at a 45 degree angle straight down onto the coin/slab, it then reflects directly back up and through the lens to be captured at a 90 degree angle (perpendicular to) by your digital camera sensor. Just for completeness, I wanted to post a graphic of what my "axial" lighting set-up looks like. For axial imaging I use two diffused Ott compact fluorescent bulbs. For axial image post-processing, especially for slabbed coins, you will need to do a levels/gamma adjustment.

    Pictorial of my axial lighting set-up:

    Direct lighting image:

    Axial lighting image:
  11. robec

    robec Junior Member

    My setup is pretty close to what Brandon uses. I use a Canon EOS 7D. I have an extra bellows for the copystand, but usually when I use the copy stand I will use either a 100mm or 180mm macro lens.

    If the coin is smaller than a silver dollar I use the bellows with an APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm duplicating lens attached to a microscope stand.

    These are the macro lenses along with the APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm duplicating lens. That little jewel can run circles around those 2 larger lenses.


    Here is the microscope stand with the camera and bellows attached. The lights are LED's and are cool as a cucumber. Color temperature on these are 3000ºK. I also use (not in conjunction with) a couple of CFL bulbs with a daylight color temperature of 5500ºK. These are also fairly cool to the touch, but not as cool as the LED lights.

    One ultra cool thing about the microscope stand is the amount of desktop real estate you save. I love my copy stand, but if you look at the third photo you can see how much more space it uses.


    Here is a shot of everything along with the copy stand with an empty bellows attached.


    I've never had much luck with axial lighting. I just try and figure out different ways to pick up color. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.
  12. brg5658

    brg5658 Well-Known Member

    Bob, great setup!! I also use those Jansjo (IKEA) LED lamps as my main light source. Do you know Ray Parkhurst? He has done a ton of work on different diffusers for these little Jansjo guys over on the Coincommunity forums. I learned a ton from him there; improved my coin images by probably 1000% after reading his threads and taking his advice.

    I agree with you -- that little APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm lens is my favorite. The flatness of field and the sharpness of it blows most macro lenses out of the water. I purchased my first for around $250, and when I saw another recently come up on eBay for ~$300 I snagged it as a back-up. They don't come up for sale too often. Another great thing about the microscope stand is how fine of focusing you can get! Nice! Just in case anyone is interested, I'm posting the specs for the APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm lens here.

    My LED lamps register as between 3000ºK and 3100ºK, so right on par with Bob's report!

    Bob, just curious, what type of bellows do you have mounted to your microscope stand and your copy stand? I shoot with a Pentax auto-bellows with M42 mounts. It is a dovetails, single-rail bellows with a built in focusing rail. Yours on the microscope stand appears to maybe be a Vivitar 2-rails bellows? I can't tell...

    Below is a shot of my set-up...
  13. robec

    robec Junior Member

    Yes, Ray set my microscope stand for me. The bellows is a Vivitar. Once I got the system set up, I was ready to sell the macros and the copystand. But I find I still have use for both.

    I love the microscope stand for fine tuning. I cannot believe how helpful it is. After I focus through the viewfinder I can't get over how out of focus it still is when I look at it through Live View on the computer. Just a little twist of the knob and there it is.

    I had a devil of a time finding the APO-Rodagon f/4 75mm lens. I paid over $300 for mine......still cheaper than a 100mm and up macro lens. From what Ray says they haven't made them in 20 years.

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