Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Sam Stone, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    I'm sure this has been answered at least 4,643 times, but I can't find it. I'm on a VERY strict fixed income and need a camera for the coins. I've tried every setting known and unknown to man with my cheap cell phone, 7 million 12 star apps, and my pictures still look like cave drawings. Pennies sometimes are orange. Photos of dimes that are so perfect, bright, and shiny to the naked eye they look like they haven't even been made yet are as dull as the chrome on my dad's old 1946 Chrysler. My Alaska bear claw looks like a hang nail, the Delaware horse looks like he's snorting something illegal instead of spitting and it makes my camera look like it's the one that's hallucinating, etc., etc., etc..

    I see highly rated USB digital microscopes on Amazon for $20 and up. Unfortunately, I also have physical/visual limitations but my responsibilities to my family's finances must take precedence. I'm admittedly too bummed from disaster-disappointment, rinse, repeat syndrome to trust my judgment or anyone else but you guys so I'm hoping someone can offer their best suggestions regarding the Amazon products.

    Sorry. When I'm feeling healthy I ramble but I would truly appreciate any input.

    Best wishes to all, and thanks for your time.
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  3. Islander80-83

    Islander80-83 Well-Known Member

  4. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    Awesome! Thanks, my wife and I are going to look it up right away. Thank you for your courtesy!
    Islander80-83 likes this.
  5. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Stay away from the bloody microscopes. Ya wanna see stuff ya don't want to see? Use a microscope. It's like lying on your back in a field when you were a young'un, looking at cumulonimbus clouds. Oh the fantasy of things most imagined.

    Get a point and shoot camera with 'macro' capabilities. Then learn how to use it........
    Chuck_A likes this.
  6. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    Sounds like solid advice. Thank you for reaching out, and I will go back and reread what I've been seeing in the product descriptions. My understanding was as long as I use digital and concentrate more on focus than minute detail they produce high resolution only. See? I confuse myself pretty easily. Thanks again, though. In the end, I'll defer to my wife's more sane judgement which in turn let's all of the rest if us off the hook if SHE makes the wrong choice. Don't think I'm making excuses, either. I still need a place to sleep at night so she really does get involved in even the smallest of purchases.
  7. jafo50

    jafo50 Active Member

    @Sam Stone

    I've dabbled with all types of setups from a plain old cell phone camera to a DSLR with a macro lens. The one thing that makes a significant difference in the photos is the lighting. The use of multiple light sources will greatly enhance your photos. I use at least two and sometimes three lights when I photograph a coin. Just moving one light an inch or two in one direction or other can make a big difference.

    I also have high end USB microscope and I'm rather disappointed with the up close photos I get. So if you're going to try a USB microscope I wouldn't invest a lot of money in one. The Islander referenced produced pretty good photos for the money.

    Good luck
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  8. Islander80-83

    Islander80-83 Well-Known Member

  9. Greg Bayes

    Greg Bayes Where's the loo?

    I have an eFlex and obviously don't know how to use it. I can't figure out how to keep the 4 led lights from reflecting off the surface coin which obliterates the view of most of the coin I am perusing!
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  10. Islander80-83

    Islander80-83 Well-Known Member

    Yep, you're correct. This is an issue for a low budget operation. Focus and lighting at the same time can be a challenge. I have my eFlex setup rigged/fabricated with a couple of lamps to compensate for the glare/reflection off the coins.

    I'm not spending thousands or even a hundred dollars on a camera/photographing system. I'll use that money for my coins.

    Hope this helps.
    Sam Stone likes this.
  11. Woodman60

    Woodman60 Mercury Dimes Franklin Halves

    Found a macro lens and clipped to my cell phone cost me $5.00 at the Five Below Store, works perfectly
    green18 and Sam Stone like this.
  12. Spark1951

    Spark1951 Accomplishment, not Activity Supporter

    @Sam Stone @Greg Bayes If you go with a USB microscope, you want one with more than 2MP capability, or you will get pixelation issues at high magnification. Celestron makes a good one with 5MP.

    I found a dual gooseneck lamp from Amscope that has solved the lighting of full images (the whole coin ). It eliminates the “ring-light” issue.

    2 take aways: Research carefully before buying to make sure you get the right tool for what you are trying to do and, even with the best equipment, glare can cause reflections to mimic doubling and other experience will be your teacher.

    I use both of these daily to see die markers and potential doubling...used interchangeably with my Harris loupe...Spark
    Sam Stone, Chuck_A and Woodman60 like this.
  13. Chuck_A

    Chuck_A Well-Known Member

    @Sam Stone
    Try to use LED bulbs with a CRI of 94 or higher, at least 90+ to get the best results from lighting. CRI is the "Color Rendering Index" and should be marked on the bulb itself and not the entire fixture. l saw a pair of LED type adjustable desk lamps for less than $20 on Amazon. Compact fluorescent and fluorescent light is very harsh in the lighting spectrum IMO. A macro lens too is helpful. I'm experimenting with a 12 MP camera and different lighting, the jury's still out. As the others have said it takes a little experimenting to get the best results. Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  14. Dafydd

    Dafydd Supporter! Supporter

    I found a Nikon Coolpix with 14 mp and Macro is working for me and as they are a couple of years old you can find them for $30 on EBay. I have a Nikon SLR DS 5000 that I use on antique guns but can’t master it on coins yet despite perseverance. I use a sheet of glass and a clamp with some LED lights and the whole rig was under $60.00.
    Sam Stone likes this.
  15. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    Somehow I failed to mention that at one time, I actually had a USB microscope we got for other stuph and had a lot of trouble getting it to focus right. I have tried a bunch of lighting setups and I may get one good photo out of 5 or 20, but I had to restart the entire process when I changed from pennies to nickels, dimes, quarters, my neighbor in her bikini, etc. What I do like about the USB scopes is the lighting is point and shoot once you get it positioned right the first time. I wish I could just tell myself to be more patient and it would happen, but I always want to be honest and that's a lifelong losing battle.

    Thank you for your thoughts, I'll see if I can find a lighting method that works better.
  16. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    Do I need to add you to my prayer list?
  17. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    Thank you for validating my financial situation! Before I got sick I would likely have just ran out and grabbed the best I could find and if it didn't work right I'd go get the next best thing. Besides the massive ego adjustment I've experienced in the last few years I had no choice whatsoever to learn how to be fiscally responsible, and I got there by being 100% respectful of my family before I spend anything on myself.

    Thank you again for your input.
    Islander80-83 likes this.
  18. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    There's a 5 (Five?) Below less than five minutes from here!!
  19. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    The good people here are helping immensely with that research. Financially, I can really only afford putting coins under a glass and trying to use that to magnify the pictures enough with my $1.95 cell fone. I also have the blessing of poor eyesight. Can you think of a good loupe or magnifying glass a poor guy can pick up? Thanks for your help.
  20. Woodman60

    Woodman60 Mercury Dimes Franklin Halves

    Here is my photo box I made from a display board I got from Dollar Tree, cut it to the size I wanted put a LED light ring in a hole I cut in the top. It defused the light very well and I get no glare of reflection. Taped together with duct tape.
    Cost: display board $1.00
    LED light ring from amazon $8.50
    Duct tape I already had
    $9.50 total cost

    Hope this helps picture taking of coins easier for some


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
    JeffC and Sam Stone like this.
  21. Sam Stone

    Sam Stone Old, fat, bald, gray, ugly, lazy, and married

    I was getting close to trying something elaborate with the lighting. I program and sequence our Christmas lights to music and broadcast it over a short range FM transmitter. I have almost 100,000 RGB lights, called pixels (bought by the insurance company when my old stuph got destroyed or I wouldn't have any), all LED, and programmable to literally millions of configurations. They're also diffused, which should help with glare. I know it sounds like overkill, but these things start out very bright but I have total control over every one completely independent from the others. I can change one's color, adjust the percentage of a pixel's brightness, and whether or not each one should be mono-directional or spray up to 180 degrees. If I did this I would probably build a ring and place lights at various angles and distances from the coins. Then I could find the best setting for different coins and from that point forward it would be preset. Since these "smart" LEDs hit the market, they've plummeted in price and soared in quality. This is what I have been relying on for the last several years to keep my mind from deteriorating like my body. BTW, cost for each LED is around a quarter and you can power them with any 5 or 12V supply. The software to control them is far easier than anyone would expect, open source platform, incredibly well maintained and scrutinized before any new feature is released, and all free! If I build a small setup that works, I would be more than happy to share the details or even build more for anyone else who might want to try. I would not charge more than materials as my way of thanking everyone that's been trying so hard to help me with collecting.

    I talk too much, but thanks again for your thoughts.
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