Yet another photography post: an experiment with axial photography

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roerbakmix, Nov 12, 2019.


Which do you prefer: above (old dirty 'nd quick) or below (axial)?

  1. above

    4 vote(s)
  2. below

    5 vote(s)
  1. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    We've seen a few photography posts recently, and after @AnYangMan showed me his photography technique privately, I felt an urge to look into axial photography as well.

    Without delving to deep into axial photography (there are some excellen youtube videos and tutorials out there), the technique is quite simple:

    So I took a few photo's. Above is the 'old' technique, below the new:
    Dutch 'kopje' of Jan I (1284-1299)

    Denarius of Macrinus (detail of throne below)

    Penny of Heinrich II (973 or 978 - 1024)

    I'm rather pleased with the increased contrast and 'true' colours. There are some issues with lighting and glare which need to be adressed.

    So which do you prefer: the 'above' or the 'below'?
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    This confirms what I found when I tried axial ten years ago. Some coins do well with axial; others do not. In this case, I like the axial on the medievals but prefer the old Macrinus. To get true axial, you need to insure that no light falls directly from the bulbs on the coin. Small differences in the glass angle also make a difference. I stopped playing with it when I started using a ringlight either alone or as fill not because it was better but because it was easier to control and seemed to help the same coins that axial did.
  4. Stevearino

    Stevearino Supporter! Supporter

  5. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    I agree with Doug. It looks like a technique that will work well for some coins and not so well with others.
    Paul M. and Evan Saltis like this.
  6. AnYangMan

    AnYangMan Well-Known Member

    Since @Roerbakmix mentioned my setup, I might as well show some of my pictures taken with my rig! I became fed up with not being able to share my coins due to the horrible pictures I was taking, so my project this summer-break was finding a decent photography setup. While they are far from perfect (as almost all coin-photos tend to be), I do think they are at least somewhat decent and I am no longer ashamed of sharing my pictures ;). There has been no-post processing whatsoever on these image besides pasting them side by side and cutting away the excess black.







    While I agree with the comments above that there are certainly coins that work better with this method (which is most likely gonna be medievals, since their ‘flat’ nature allows for lower aperture), to dismiss it entirely as an inferior method does not do it justice. I would argue that it is quite a versatile method that, with some minor adjustments, works quite well on all sorts of different coins! It just requires a fair bit of tweaking.

    Ps. You sure that penning is from Jan? ;)
  7. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    @Roerbakmix I agree with Doug. The medievals look great but I think I prefer the above photo of Macrinus.

    @AnYangMan those all look great!
  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I agree all are fine but I can never accept the requirement of 'no postprocessing' when a small brightness adjustment could upgrade an image. Other than the photographer, we have no idea if, for example, the Fostulus coin is dark and the biga of goats bright or is it the photo in one case or the other. I did not intend to suggest that axial should be dismissed as 'inferior' but merely that there are coins that respond to the method better and others that are less appropriate. One thing that drove me away from axial is the need for greater lens to subject distance than my 100mm macro lens provides for smaller coins. You have to have room for that angled glass and my space is often around 6" which seemed a bit tight. I agree that the method seems good for many medievals and Chinese cash (low relief coins) but these are a small percentage of what I shoot. We all must adapt what we do to what we shoot.
    Jwt708 and Numisnewbiest like this.
  9. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

    I never got around to doing axial photography, sadly my eyesight for the forseeable future won't allow it. It was always my impression (may be wrong) that it was more suited to picking up the irridescance on coins.
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