Your best coin photograph..

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Clavdivs, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    I am an absolutely terrible photographer.. what I do - I do not think even qualifies as "photography". Crazy thing is that I spend A LOT of time creating terrible images.
    I believe I could ask my 17 year old daughter to "take a few pics" with her iPhone and they would be way better than the results of my struggles.

    But this one- I love it.. Not a great coin.. but somehow it worked. Perhaps its not a great pic to the experts but it certainly shows the coin as in hand.
    I can't repeat it (damn it!)... I tried

    Please post your best pics.. and any tips are certainly appreciated!!

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  3. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    This is my best effort, to date, but I am still on a learning curve that extends beyond the horizon.

    It helps that the subject is a beautiful coin to begin with.

    Spain, Segovia mint, 50 reales, assayer R, Philip IV, 1635

    D-Camera Spain, Philip IV, 50 Reales, Segovia, Assayer R, Superior 1997, 8-30-20.jpg

    Runner up is another world coin, the bird of paradise 5 marks, German New Guinea, 1894

    D-Camera Germany, New Guinea, 1894, 5 marks, 'Bird of Paradise', 27.8 g, 9-7-20.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  4. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    I find that the photos improved with experience, as would be expected. It's a journey of discovery that I find very rewarding.

    I'm still experimenting with lighting and backgrounds.

    D-Camera  Livia, dupondius, reshoot, 10-16-20.jpg
  5. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    @robinjojo That 50 Reales is a beautiful coin. How fortunate you
    are to be able to hold it. Maybe one day for me.....
    Edessa likes this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    I feel your pain. On my best day I shoot some pix that may be adequate, but fall short from even that most of the time. I would definitely not say the pictures below are my best, but the pics below (copied and pasted from another thread) illustrate what little progress I am gradually making.

    The second set of photos were shot with my new iPhone. I must say that while I miss my old Android phone in most other respects, and am not a giant fan of the iPhone, it does have a much better camera.

    I did once have a professional quality photo setup with a Canon DSLR, but it was too much for me. I found the software and features bewildering. Simple is better for me. And a smartphone is more portable.

    I have no pretensions of being a great coin photographer. Right now I’d settle for “adequate”.

    Here are two sets of cellphone pix of the same coin, shot in the same place under similar conditions (i.e., natural light, outdoors, on an cloudy day).

    The “crusty” toning on this coin makes it a slightly challenging subject.

    I do think the new pix are clearly better than the old, though how much of that is attributable to the phone and how much to the fact that the light might have just been a tad better for the new photos is debatable.

    Old phone (a base model Samsung, ca. 2017)


    New phone (brand new iPhone XR)

  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I only use the camera on my Android phone and it does okay for the purposes of showing my coins here at CT. I don't run a high-end auction house. The hardest coins to photograph are the ones with reflective surfaces, such as lustrous silver coins and bronze coins with glossy patinas, such as this husband/wife pair:

    Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.15 g, 18.1 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, December, AD 160- March, AD 161.
    Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XXIIII, laureate head, right.
    Rev: PIETATI AVG COS IIII, Faustina II (as Pietas) standing left, holding a child on each arm; at each side of her, a child standing looking towards her and raising hand.
    Refs: RIC 313c; BMCRE 1013-14; Cohen 631; Strack 384; RCV 4098.

    Faustina Senior, AD 138-141.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.57 g, 32.0 mm.
    Rome, AD 145-147.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AVGVSTA S C, Vesta veiled, standing left, holding palladium and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 1124; BMCRE 1519-20; Cohen 110 = 122 corr.; Strack 1294; RCV 4617.
    Notes: Cohen 122 (Wiczay): "Concordia? standing l., holding statue and wand," (La Concorde? debout à gauche, tenant une statuette et une baguette) is almost certainly a badly described specimen of this type.
    singig, DonnaML, Theodosius and 12 others like this.
  8. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Having started by scanning coins many, many years ago and sticking with it over time, I have discovered that my best photos are of the coins in the best condition. Photographing bronze coins in rough shape, or partially-silvered antoniniani is extremely challenging.

    Hard to believe that the same person took both these photos:
    Maximinus II

    singig, DonnaML, Theodosius and 10 others like this.
  9. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    For me it's been a long process through the last 20 years

    I use a camera, a homemade stand, direct daylight on a cloudy/rainy/snowy day and Gimp2 as a software. Here are three of different metals I'm quite happy with




    singig, Clavdivs, DonnaML and 12 others like this.
  10. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Look to your left.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  11. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member's in the eye of the beholder..and i be holdin' my camera in one hand and a magnifying glass in de utter...:D....most all my pics are my best that i post, with my dollar glass & $30 camera.. it may take me several shots to satisfy meself, but i'm a critic...:) Faustina l dupondius 002.JPG Faustina l dupondius 003.JPG
    singig, DonnaML, Theodosius and 10 others like this.
  12. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . . Supporter

    Took these photos with my Samsung phone in a hotel room at the desk using the small incandescent desk lamp. The bulb produced a quite yellow light. I would guess color temperature to be about 2500K.

    Room was otherwise fairly dark. No post processing on these. Digital zoom on the phone and distance adjustment got the close ups.






    To give you an idea of the size of this piece.

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  13. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    I like this one. It's also an easy coin to photograph:

    Römische Republik – RRC 285:1, Denar, Sergius Silus, Reiter mit Kopf.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: M. Sergius Silus, AR denarius, 116–115 BC, Rome mint. Obv: EX·S·C ROMA; helmeted head of Roma, r., denominational mark X. Rev: Q M·SERGI SILVS; one-armed horseman (Marcus Sergius Silus) l., holding sword and severed head in l. hand. 17mm, 2.84g. RRC RRC 286/1.
    singig, Clavdivs, DonnaML and 12 others like this.
  14. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    This Domitian is my favorite photograph, partially because of how hard it was to capture. It's a subtle difference overall but here's my progression of attempts.

    Each time, I thought I was happy with it but then revisited and reshot it a few days later.

    The challenge is balancing contrast, color, luster, and shadows. The coin is quite lustrous but if you shine light on the surfaces to show the luster, the color is washed out. Or, the coin ends up too contrasted like in this image:


    The reverse had too many highlights and the obverse is still too much in shadow so I tried adjusting angles slightly which is definitely better but still not ideal:

    And then finally, I managed to get the portrait lighting just right, balancing lighting Domitian's face with the detail around the coin. It was a hard-fought battle (I spent several hours getting this right) but worth it in the end in my eyes:

  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    If I had a Boscoreale aureus like that, I would photograph it every day and make a 365-day desk calendar with all of the different versions of the photos... :greedy::greedy::greedy::p

    Oh- and T-shirts, coasters, coffee mugs, etc...
  16. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    My favorite pic I've ever taken is the top one. The way the reflections worked is just stunning.

    When I take pictures, I'm usually trying to show the coin as honestly as possible. The bottom set of pics shows off an ancient I used to own. Getting the lighting right to show the contrast and relief on the coin is the trick.

    JPW639 reverse.jpg JPW639 obverse.jpg

    JPAN8 obverse.JPG JPAN8 reverse.JPG
    Sulla80, singig, Chris B and 11 others like this.
  17. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Of the thousands of coin pics I've done over the years very very few I'd say are so good that I thought I couldn't do it better in some way.

    This ugly Leo I comes to mind as a good candidate (photographed back in 2012 with a Nikon D700 + 60mm Nikkor lens)

    I think it's easy to fall into the trap of judging how good your photo when it's an especially nice coin - because you're dazzled by the coin and not the technical aspects of the photo itself.

    In my opinion it's better to practice on throwaway coins to keep your focus on improving technique. See what you can do with an ordinary penny, for example.


    singig, Chris B, Clavdivs and 12 others like this.
  18. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    In my experience, really nice coins tend to photograph really nicely. Coins with problems don't. Difficult to pick a favorite, but this Genio follis reverse of Galerius was magnificent on the first shoot. Galerius Reverse crop.jpg
    In contrast, no amount of tweaking could improve the worn die of the obverse. This was the best shot of about 20 attempts using different techniques.
    singig, Clavdivs, Edessa and 10 others like this.
  19. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Man, I remember you posting the image of that Swedish coin. The reflections give it a really trippy 3-D "floating in space" effect. I can see why you like the photo so much. It's really cool, as if the design was sitting atop a piece of glass.
    DonnaML likes this.
  20. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    I like the photos above and the coins depicted.

    It's hard to pick just one and many of these have been seen here before, sorry!

    Augustus denarius (Caius on horseback on reverse, but not so nice). It's lying on a piece of anti-static foam, for no reason other than its blackness:

    Another Augustus denarius, this time the obverse is corroded and not nice:

    A pretty Ceres on a RR denarius (Memmia 10):

    I like the Bianchi papal medal above - here's another one with a great 3D effect as it's a thick coin and the church recedes into the medal:

    A modern photo' of the scame scene, more or less - from


    Anyway, those are some of my favourite coin pics.

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  21. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Great show and tell. Thanks everyone.
    TonkawaBill and lordmarcovan like this.
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