What's everyones take on coin "micro-scope cameras

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Guy Ferguson, May 22, 2020.

  1. Guy Ferguson

    Guy Ferguson Member

    My hands have betrayed me in my later years and want a way to inspect coins that doesn't involve a steady hand. I've been looking at these digital scopes and wondered if anyone has tried them and if any are that are good and affordable and worth my buying one.
    kaparthy likes this.
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  3. Bambam8778

    Bambam8778 Well-Known Member

    I bought one right off the bat. Cheap $15 one from amazon. It didn't do me much good learning to distinguish what was real and what was not, if you are crh'ing. What I will tell you is that they are worth the money if you know what to look for or are willing to learn. They have saved my eyes a number of times and for the price, it's well worth it in my book. I would say buy the cheap one as long as you fiddle around with it to get it to your liking, I think it will be worth your time and money.
    CREATIVECRHUNTER and kaparthy like this.
  4. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    Great tool to have. I would buy one of the better ones. Nice to have for a quick look at a coin. Some of these won't take an image of the whole coin. I would stay away from them.
    For me, it's not my hands, it's my eyes.
    In my opinion it's best to go with a DSLR with a great macro lens and a copy stand.
    kaparthy and Inspector43 like this.
  5. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    I got a MUSTCAM and it is able to take picture of an entire silver dollar with my taller stand. I installed it on a stand that I already had from a cheaper scope that failed after about a year. The stand that comes with it is a little short for that. Taking a picture of the entire coin was a big deal with buying this.
  6. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Before you go to a microscope and camera as a single instrument, what kind of lenses are you using now? We have had these discussions here often. You should Search and read them to gain some context before you buy. (Just to say, I am a technical writer and I spent a year at Zeiss. I have an array of lenses and two microscopes.)

    See "Magnifiers" recently:
    See "Recommendations, please" a while back

    (Love your avatar. Hate cute kittens. Shared that one.) I do not know what "crh'ing" is. My advice is not to buy the cheap one--especially if you do not know what you need and moreover you cannot know in advance if you can "fiddle around with it." And I would not go to Amazon for technical equipment that I knoiw nothing about. I would go to a reputable seller. Google "microscope" and go to an optics company. Their advertising alone will tell you much and they will have "white papers" (technical sales literature) online.
    Start with Fisher Scientific. They sell several makes and models across a range from students (kids) to professional

    Most of them will not take a whole coin. I use mine just for 11-mm (quarter inch) diameter ancients. Like a US 3-cent or US gold dollar. For that, I recommend a lens or loupe.

    DSLR= Digital Single Lense Reflex. What you see in the finder is what you shoot. The camera flips from the finder to the "film" (image surface). Old cameras had a finder and an image surface, like Kodak or Polaroid 1960. These days, it's not like that. DLSR is the default.

    I agree that if you want to use a camera for imaging, then you want a macro lens. Also, your recommendation for a copy stand is on-target because Guy F said that his hands (not his eyes) are the problem. But the "copy stand" can be anything, even just a cloth or thick paper on a table where you can work.

    That was two warnings. The stand that came with the Mustcam was too short to image a silver dollar. The stand you use came with a cheap model that failed.

    Thanks for the advice.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
    CREATIVECRHUNTER likes this.
  7. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I have had very bad experiences with these cameras and have wasted over $500 on them. The trouble is every time Microsoft updates their software, the camera will not work. You can go back to the manufacturer to get a software fix, but at best it’s temporary. My advice is don’t buy them, but I am sure there are people out there who think they are wonderful. The two I have are junk.

    I use a regular camera with the picture size cranked up to the max. I have been able to crop the small sections I have wanted have gotten good results.
    kaparthy likes this.
  8. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    Here are photos of my set up and the results of a photo of a Morgan. You may be able to see the difference in the height of the stands. The background is the Morgan on my computer screen.
    IMG_5924.JPG 200523083209577.jpg
  9. Bambam8778

    Bambam8778 Well-Known Member

    That’s a really great job!!
  10. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    $39.99 on Amazon. I would like to add that this is 10X to 300X. You don't want much more than that for coins.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  11. halfcent1793

    halfcent1793 Well-Known Member

    I have one. It's OK for a new toy. I never use it any more.
    Inspector43 likes this.
  12. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    I have recently started to work on my accumulation of ancient coins and sometimes I need help figuring out what a coin is. It helps me to post pictures and get expert advice.
  13. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    @kaparthy's advice is good, and well-informed as always. :)

    However, there is a big difference between speculating $40 or so on a broken-English-labeled plastic webcam that will let you see more detail on coins you're searching, and spending:

    $100 or so on a copy stand
    $500 or so on a DSLR
    $500 or so on a good macro lens
    $100 or so on lighting arrangements

    ...that will let you produce publication-quality images, but will actually slow you down if you just want to check for small hits or familiar varieties.

    A lab-quality stereomicroscope would let you be quick and see very well, but those start at many hundreds of dollars, I think.

    I don't claim to have The Right Opinion on this, but here's where I find myself these days:

    First check is with my incredibly nearsighted eyes, probably equivalent to a 3x loupe. This is quickest and easiest.

    Next resort is a 10x loupe, which is strenuous to use for long stretches.

    Next step is sometimes to take a macro shot with my phone, then zoom in on it. It's not good enough to publish, but it can show more detail.

    If that's not good enough, it's time to get the DSLR set up on the copy stand, get a light or two pointed at it, get the macro lens onto it, get the coin oriented under it, take some photos, pop the memory card, put it into my laptop, open the images, crop them, find a place to save them... this all ends up taking many minutes of overhead, and as a result I do it very infrequently.

    I do have several lab-grade stereomicroscopes I bought at surplus. They're out in the garage. They're too big and bulky to stay on my desk. I haven't used one in years. (I feel bad about the waste. :()

    Bottom line: if I weren't so nearsighted (built-in loupe), I'd consider a cheap USB microscope as a first-line tool. I'd view it as a consumable, though, expecting to need a new one every couple of years. And I wouldn't rely on it for (say) eBay sale images. For that, it's worth bothering to build a better setup.
    kaparthy and Bob Evancho like this.
  14. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    With my $40 scope above I find the results to be good enough for publication or eBay sales. In this example I didn't take time for lighting and focus. I just wanted to show that you can easily pull it up, view it and then photo the coin. All this in a mater of a minute or so. I find this to be the typical need for coin collecting.
    CREATIVECRHUNTER and -jeffB like this.
  15. CaptHenway

    CaptHenway Survivor

    I bought one of the more expensive DinoLite USB camera to study die varieties and it is very disappointing. The ring of lights makes it very difficult to photograph any depth of field variations. You cannot get the shadows you want.
    jafo50 likes this.
  16. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    It doesn't let you control the brightness of the LEDs (or turn them off completely)?
  17. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    You have to cut paper doughnuts of correct fit with open lens path and paper covered led circle light path. Use various thickness or number of layers taped in place. Tracing or wax paper or "toke" rolling paper or Kleenex.

  18. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    By all means, neither do I, even though I often write in short, declarative sentences. I think that the entire thread here is interesting and informative because it underscores the fact that your choice of anything depends on what you want it for. A thousand years ago, the fall of 1957 when the 1958 model year was on the car dealership lots, my cousin bought a 57 Chevy, and then put it up on blocks. My other uncle (not his dad) thought the kid was nuts: why would you buy a car and not drive it? So, as they say, your mileage may vary...

    It makes a difference whether you want the lenses to snap photos for eBay sales or investigate die cracks.

    I also note that some people have problems with equipment that other people love. One thing about consumer product design is that they can have the best designers and a hundred user focus group sessions. If you are not in the loop, then it may not have been designed, built, tested, approved, and marketed for you.

    diopters - 1.jpeg
    I bought these 4x dipoters just for looking at coins. Hmmm... no wonder they hurt: the one nose cushion is missing. Didn't see that before...
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  19. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    The $40 scope I use has a variable light. But, it is true about your single purpose. If you want a clear shot of an entire coin you must stay in the 20X to 30X range. You can go higher for minute details. Some scopes say 200X to 1000X. Not good for coins. I can get some very clear details for VAM designations or die cracks or whatever. It takes practice I guess. Some errors are below. I think I duplicated. Sorry for using too much space.
    1996 P Wash Die Breaks Rev 1.jpg 1889-CC VAM-5A DieBreaks Rev Close.jpg 2011 ASE DDO Full.jpg 1996 P Wash Die Breaks Rev 1.jpg 1889-CC VAM-5A DieBreaks Rev Close.jpg 2011 ASE DDO Full.jpg 2011 ASE DDO Ray.jpg
    Guy Ferguson likes this.
  20. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    Just to experiment I took two photos of a 1922-D reverse and the camera can pick up two die cracks and a ghost (indirect transfer). Good photos from a $40 set up 200523192335045.jpg 200523192223394.jpg if I may say so.
    -jeffB and CREATIVECRHUNTER like this.
  21. So, having read the above information, I fall into the category of coin searchers who need the microscope for detection and verification of errors and other unique qualities.

    I too, had an inexpensive set-up that worked great until Window 10 rendered
    it useless.

    Would someone please recommend the perfect replacement that takes a picture of entire coin, while also having the ability to zoom in and capture DDO, RPM's, and other noteworthy details?

    I still have my original stand, which may come in handy for the next set-up.

    Thank you so much!
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