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Kaleun96
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18 minutes ago, dougsmit said:

I remain curious how a lens can damage a sensor especially on a DSLR that covers the sensor with a shutter curtain when not actually taking a picture. 

I think what happened is that I accidentally had the exposure on automatic, and the camera thought (no electronics) the lens was stopped down, so gave me a really long exposure (few seconds), during which time the sensor would have been exposed. Not sure if the sensor might be expected to be damaged in this situation, but all I can say is that it was.

I like your ring light diffuser there! Being a fan of diffused sunlight (large light source) I've always thought any lighting setup that comes close to similar characteristics would be a good option to have, and it seems this might be close (as do other axial lighting setups). The large LED panels (+ diffuser) also seem they might come close.

 

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1 hour ago, dougsmit said:

I do find it interesting that I have some 3D printed edge enhancing cones almost identical to some shown here but I lost access to a 3D printer when the local library closed their Makerspace due to Covid.

Speaking of which, if anyone would like them I'm happy to share the .stl files for all the 3D printed parts I posted earlier.

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27 minutes ago, Kaleun96 said:

Speaking of which, if anyone would like them I'm happy to share the .stl files for all the 3D printed parts I posted earlier.

That is great.  Have you considered posting them on one of the online repositories for such things that have thousands of totally useless files for everyone except the few people who find them wonderful?

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So I apologize if what I'm about to say ruffles a few feathers, but I prefer to not beat around the bush and state where I'm coming from.

Some time ago, a guy in the Netherlands built his own contraption to photograph insects in flight. It was a technological marvel and he received a lot of press. Now, granted, I haven't looked at his work in some time, but the one thing I noticed was that the photos were crap. Sure, it was impressive to catch small critters in flight, but the photos lacked the composition and artistry that make a great shot. It's simply not possible to replace photographic talent with technology - no matter how marvelous it is. Since that time, of course, other photographers have taken his learnings and successfully created incredible images.

So, to be blunt, while the setups I see here are impressive in their ingenuity, I'm just not seeing this in the resulting images. Please take this as constructive criticism and not an attack. Personally, I prefer more depth and "pizzazz" in coin photos. For myself, I don't feel I'm there yet - though the photos I take of my coins today are "passable". However, most of the coins posted here just don't have depth and character. They're kind of what I would expect from an auction listing - make a factually correct representation of a coin.

I've been through this myself where I've over-complicated a setup because I liked having a complicated setup. For example, I used multiple rails + the camera on a stepper motor along with flashes hanging everywhere in order to photograph flowers, until another photographer showed me how to take an identical photo handheld. Of course, at times some complexity is necessary. For example I have a water drop setup with a computer that triggers a droplet, then calculates at what point the water column will rise so I can hit it with another drop. If you want to get a shot of two (or more) water drops colliding nearly 100% of the time, you're going to need a fairly sophisticated setup. Coins, though, are much simpler subjects.

For my photos, where I'd eventually like to go is rereading Light: Science & Magic to better understand how reflectivity works and come up with a solution that offers more "sparkles". My suspicion is when I fully understand the principles in play, a simple solution to improve my photos will present itself.

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For a combination of flexibility, simplicity and results, the best I've see so far are the results of this professional photographer:

https://hipshotphotography.com/

You can see some of his results on this gallery page.

https://hipshotphotography.com/image-gallery

The photographer had previously shared his setup, which at the time was this:

image.thumb.jpeg.51ffb3d65014c5ee2c6a0cdcbeafba12.jpeg

 

There's a diffused light source coming in from the side, partly direct, and partly axial via the glass whose angle can be changed, as can the orientation of the coin via the Lazy Susan. I seem to recall reading that the distance of the light source from the diffusion screen was an another variable used. I don't remember if he's using the flash at same time or not.

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2 hours ago, kirispupis said:

So I apologize if what I'm about to say ruffles a few feathers, but I prefer to not beat around the bush and state where I'm coming from.

Some time ago, a guy in the Netherlands built his own contraption to photograph insects in flight. It was a technological marvel and he received a lot of press. Now, granted, I haven't looked at his work in some time, but the one thing I noticed was that the photos were crap. Sure, it was impressive to catch small critters in flight, but the photos lacked the composition and artistry that make a great shot. It's simply not possible to replace photographic talent with technology - no matter how marvelous it is. Since that time, of course, other photographers have taken his learnings and successfully created incredible images.

So, to be blunt, while the setups I see here are impressive in their ingenuity, I'm just not seeing this in the resulting images. Please take this as constructive criticism and not an attack. Personally, I prefer more depth and "pizzazz" in coin photos. For myself, I don't feel I'm there yet - though the photos I take of my coins today are "passable". However, most of the coins posted here just don't have depth and character. They're kind of what I would expect from an auction listing - make a factually correct representation of a coin.

I've been through this myself where I've over-complicated a setup because I liked having a complicated setup. For example, I used multiple rails + the camera on a stepper motor along with flashes hanging everywhere in order to photograph flowers, until another photographer showed me how to take an identical photo handheld. Of course, at times some complexity is necessary. For example I have a water drop setup with a computer that triggers a droplet, then calculates at what point the water column will rise so I can hit it with another drop. If you want to get a shot of two (or more) water drops colliding nearly 100% of the time, you're going to need a fairly sophisticated setup. Coins, though, are much simpler subjects.

Personally I try to adhere more to what Doug said earlier and let people shoot coins how they like and offer constructive feedback when asked that doesn't subtly push them to conform to my own personal tastes. I don't really understand why you see the need to specifically call out other people over their style of photos, especially when that type of feedback hasn't been asked for (i.e. non-constructive feedback about your personal tastes -- we can't do anything with what you have said).

Although you say you're being blunt, you don't mention anyone by name but I suspect I'm being included somewhere given no one else except Doug and I have shared particularly "complicated" setups. So i'll assume you're including me there but if not, it would help if you are perhaps more blunt in the future.

I have a feeling you have an axe to grind against "complicated" setups due to your anecdote and figure yourself as some auteur for dismissing the fancy bells and whistles and making do with your own two hands. That's all well and good, I have nothing against it personally, but you're also not any more likely to get better photos than if you strap it on to a linear rail and attach a motor to it. Holding a camera in your own hands isn't providing any magic touch to your photos, as you say we're only shooting simple coins that don't move. Everything you can achieve with a camera in your hands can be replicated with mechanical means - and to finer degrees. The story you mention about learning you didn't need multiple rails + a stepper motor etc also makes little sense to me. Either you go into that kind of project knowing it's saving you time but that you can replicate the results by hand if you wanted to, or you go into it knowing this is the only way to do it (which is the case for me). If you didn't know that upfront, I don't know what to tell you, but it's not the fault of complicated setups but a lack of understanding.

My three main interests are perhaps loosely defined as ancient coins, photography, and various "maker" hobbies (electronics, coding, 3D printing, etc). Luckily, there's a way for them to all combine together and the result is my macro photography rig. I've been there and done that when it comes to shooting coins by hand but I want to push the boundaries in particular areas that you might not value but that I do value. Mainly, that's producing high resolution and detailed photos of coins that anyone online can browse without needing to download 50mb files or work with difficult interfaces. I like to think I've achieved that and I often hear that that particular part of my website is people's favourite because it offers them something not many other coin websites offer - a way to view and appreciate a coin that most people cannot do themselves, even with a loupe.

Because high resolution is my goal, it is necessary that I use focus stacking. I don't know about you but I got pretty sick and tired of manually stepping a camera through sub-millimetre increments and taking a shot each time. I've shot many coins that way and it is enough of an inconvenience that it is worth automating if you do it often enough. Combine that with having an opportunity to learn new things about advanced stepper motor drivers, writing Arduino libraries for user interfaces, and designing and printing PCBs, it is a win-win for me to invest that time in a project, even if i'll spend more time working on the project than it will save me in photographing coins. But an automated focus stacking rig is not overkill for this purpose as you'll know, designing one yourself (rather than buying one) is perhaps a little but I like the challenge.

But going back to my goal of high resolution images, this also determines how I want my photos to look. I don't want to distort the perspectives too heavily by tilting the coin more than 2-3 degrees. I don't want to add a reflection to the bottom of my images because that's taking up space and increasing the file size, forcing me to upload photos of the coin in a lower quality than I could otherwise without the reflection. I don't want too much "pizzazz" as that may obscure details on the surface or make the coin look too unnatural. My goal is always to photograph the coin in a way that reflects how it appears as its best when held in-hand.

I may not particularly care for the style of your photos but these are your photos for your purpose. I don't know what your purpose is or what your photographic preferences are and I'm not going to assume they are the same as mine. We all have different means and goals, there's no one true way to photograph a coin. I could turn around and criticise the resolution of your images, the lack of detail, or the lighting style, and say that for all your talk of your handheld ability that "I'm just not seeing this in the resulting images". But I wouldn't say that because I don't assume that the criteria in which I photograph my coins is the same as yours.

Perhaps you'll say you weren't addressing me at all and if that is the case then my comments above apply generally as to why "hand-held vs complicated setups" is a school boy's kind of argument to have and why not everyone wants to photograph something the way you might want to.

Quote

For my photos, where I'd eventually like to go is rereading Light: Science & Magic to better understand how reflectivity works and come up with a solution that offers more "sparkles". My suspicion is when I fully understand the principles in play, a simple solution to improve my photos will present itself.

I've heard good things about that book, though there is a lot of scientific literature online if you're looking for more "sparkles". In particular I'd recommend reading literature on imaging for industrial applications as they're often dealing with controlling light in very specific ways for specific goals. I'd also recommend buying some Lee polarising filter to give you that extra control over the reflectivity of your light in your scene.

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3 hours ago, dougsmit said:

That is great.  Have you considered posting them on one of the online repositories for such things that have thousands of totally useless files for everyone except the few people who find them wonderful?

I've uploaded a few designs to Thingiverse but often only the ones that I feel are "finished". I think some of the ones I've shared here can probably go up though, at most they'll only need minor tweaks going forward. There are some that I don't think would ever be useful for someone else as they require specific gear, like this guide rail and carriage to move my coin along the Y axis, but I am often surprised when I see people download or "make" one of my designs that I thought would never be found. 

1 hour ago, Heliodromus said:

For a combination of flexibility, simplicity and results, the best I've see so far are the results of this professional photographer:

https://hipshotphotography.com/

You can see some of his results on this gallery page.

https://hipshotphotography.com/image-gallery

The photographer had previously shared his setup, which at the time was this:

There's a diffused light source coming in from the side, partly direct, and partly axial via the glass whose angle can be changed, as can the orientation of the coin via the Lazy Susan. I seem to recall reading that the distance of the light source from the diffusion screen was an another variable used. I don't remember if he's using the flash at same time or not.

Totally agree, Denis produces some of the best commercial photographs of coins I've ever come across. He's made me revisit proper axial lighting setups (like the one in the image you attached) multiple times, though I could never get it to work well enough for me due to the optical degradation it introduces for the level of detail I like to work at.

 

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@Kaleun96I must admit my mistake in that I hadn't read that you're doing high-res images, in which of course a stand is necessary. I had only looked at the photos in the thread. Those you display on your site are extremely nice and the zooming effect is great.

My comments were more specifically addressed to those who just want photos of their coins. For these efforts a stand is overkill.

Note also that Cognisys makes a stepper rail that's very nice.

FWIW, my primary passion is photography with ancient coins in third or four place (behind writing and with foreign languages). I understand that my blunt approach to photography has offended at times. However, if you find something in my images lacking (except resolution - where we have different goals), then please go ahead. I wouldn't provide sharp criticism if I couldn't take it myself.

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Just adding on a separate note, that after looking through your site, my previous comments really weren't fair. The shots from Denis are also inspiring.

Perhaps my comments were so because this has been one of those days where everything goes wrong. I should learn to hold my tongue on such days in the future.

Since I'm in the process of redoing my albums, I'll be moving every coin in my collection. I have some ideas for a new setup and will use the opportunity to reshoot all of my coins. I'll post the first results in this forum for critique when I have them. In the meantime, I'll do everyone here a service by shutting my trap.

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17 hours ago, Kaleun96 said:

I think playing around with lighting, diffusing, tilting the coin, etc will help you find what works well and what doesn't work well - or even what works well for a particular need (e.g. showing off the relief). If you keep experimenting then you'll hone in on your "style" that illustrates the coin how you want it to look. I think everyone has a style, and it likely changes over time, so playing around with different variables before you start photographing the bulk of your collection is a good way to start IMO.

Thanks so much @Kaleun96 for your help!  That's what I'll do.  I found that attaching the camera directly to my computer so I have a full size preview helps with all that experimentation - another thing I like about my new setup.

I need to figure out a cheap grade 2 tilt method.  Right now my kindergarten method doesn't cut it... a bit of kleenex wedged under the coin! 😄

As far as a diffuser for my ring light goes, @dougsmit, this is brilliant!!  I can imagine using different thicknesses/sizes to achieve different effects.  Time to cut up some foam...

9 hours ago, dougsmit said:

foamdiffuser.thumb.jpg.70d81687bfb2ceb958e4e7947224c764.jpg

Doug is of course the person who inspired pretty much all of the non-photographer collectors who were well ensconced at CoinTalk and who take photography seriously.  He taught us 95% of what we know, I'd say.  So I'd just like this opportunity to express my thanks: you rock, @dougsmit!!  @Kaleun96, I think your approach fits well with where we're coming from.  But it's also great to get fresh new ideas from people like Denis (amazing photos!) and @kirispupis (also amazing photos!)  Always worth trying something new, and you never know, maybe it'll work for you.  I'm probably sticking with the Doug method though, with new Kaleun enhancements... new tricks are hard for me now!  Even if they are fun. ☺️

(Also let me say that I like how some disagreements came to resolution here.  Nobody flew off the handle.  Good place, this, with good people!)

 

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9 hours ago, kirispupis said:

@Kaleun96I must admit my mistake in that I hadn't read that you're doing high-res images, in which of course a stand is necessary. I had only looked at the photos in the thread. Those you display on your site are extremely nice and the zooming effect is great.

My comments were more specifically addressed to those who just want photos of their coins. For these efforts a stand is overkill.

Note also that Cognisys makes a stepper rail that's very nice.

FWIW, my primary passion is photography with ancient coins in third or four place (behind writing and with foreign languages). I understand that my blunt approach to photography has offended at times. However, if you find something in my images lacking (except resolution - where we have different goals), then please go ahead. I wouldn't provide sharp criticism if I couldn't take it myself.

9 hours ago, kirispupis said:

Just adding on a separate note, that after looking through your site, my previous comments really weren't fair. The shots from Denis are also inspiring.

Perhaps my comments were so because this has been one of those days where everything goes wrong. I should learn to hold my tongue on such days in the future.

Since I'm in the process of redoing my albums, I'll be moving every coin in my collection. I have some ideas for a new setup and will use the opportunity to reshoot all of my coins. I'll post the first results in this forum for critique when I have them. In the meantime, I'll do everyone here a service by shutting my trap.

No problem, glad we're on the same page again and we don't have to derail the thread any further!

It will be great to see what you try next and how that affects your photos compared to your current approach. Whether someone is just using an iPhone or some complicated DSLR/Mirrorless setup, I'm always interested to see both the resulting photos and the setup used as there's often something to be learned even when you spend as much time taking photos of coins as we do.

On the topic of "goals" when it comes to determining photo style, I do sometimes feel hamstrung by my aim for high resolution photos and sometimes take alternative photos that wouldn't work as well for that purpose (e.g. similar to Roma's alternative photos for higher end coins). But it's not something I do frequently at this stage and I'm not sure how I might present those on my website in addition to the high resolution "standard" photos. The tilt lens I mentioned earlier would be something that would let me explore that more I feel, as it may mean I don't need to focus stack those kinds of photos where the coin is photographed at a fairly decent angle.

But for now, the two things i'm exploring more are: using transparent backgrounds for all my photos so I can switch out the background when desired (and maybe make an interface that lets people do this on my website), and eventually 3D models of some of my coins. I already have the 360 Photo tool on my site so the next logical step is full-on 3D models in high resolution but for that I need to modify my controller to add a second stepper motor for rotating the coin.

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For anyone who may not have seen it, Coin Community has a lot of coin photography discussion, including this classic thread on making these DIY enlarger-lens based franken-lenses as an alternative to expensive off-the-shelf macro lenses.

For you young kids who may not know, photographic enlargers are what were used in the good old pre-digital photography days to make prints from the negative you got when the photo store had developed the film in your camera. The enlarger, rather like a movie projector, shined a light through the negative then through the enlarger lens which enlarged the image and projected it onto a piece of photographic paper. As an expensive piece of commercial equipment, enlargers could afford to use very high quality lenses, designed to be distortion free at the edges so that they projected a high quality flat image. Since enlargers are mostly no longer used, these high quality lenses can be bought cheaply and made into high quality macro lenses.

https://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=158182

The lighting setup recommended there is functionally similar to Doug's diffused ring light setup (but not using a ring light), with the recommended diffuser being a piece of "Canson Opalite" translucent drawing paper, with a hole cut for your camera lens to poke through. Presumably being thinner the Opalite will let more light through, but Doug's setup has the advantage of rigidity.

 

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Sorry this subject took a turn toward the nasty.  It did point out that my old rig was unnecessarily complicated so I destroyed it and will try something simpler.  I have trouble getting good and even focus using a solid stand so I won't be going to the handheld camp.  If images taken that way are what you want, take them.  This is from this morning and is reduced to 803 KB which is allowed here.  The full file is over 800 MB.  It would be fine if I wanted a large print but the fact remains that this coin and the lighting used are neither one worth making a wall hanging of any size.  The second is an unreduced section of the whole.  I used my gray edge reflector but am considering trying the white one that would lighten the edge more (too much more?).   The 100mm Yashinon lens was purchased new 45 years ago.  It was a cheap macro then.  Then, as now, I did not afford Zeiss. 

ra5590dd2332.jpg

 I see what I thought was allowable here was not so my crop image was downsized by the software.  The pair as also downsized from what I thought was allowable.  Just wat is the allowable image here? 

Edited by dougsmit
Images downsized by software ruined the point of posting.
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dougsmit said:

I used my gray edge reflector but am considering trying the white one that would lighten the edge more (too much more?).   The 100mm Yashinon lens was purchased new 45 years ago.  It was a cheap macro then.  Then, as now, I did not afford Zeiss. 

I should buy some grey filament and see how it does compared to the white. I think the white does, or can, lighten the edge too much but my current thinking (as of the last week or two) is to prioritise getting good edge-background separation and then add shadows to the edge either in the edit or, for transparent PNGs, I can add it with CSS on my website without affecting the underlying image itself (e.g. if downloaded from my site it would be without the shadowed/darkened edge).

Been awhile since I've heard of the Yashinon, I never did try one of those. When I took a break from coins a couple of years ago, my focus was mainly on buying and testing all sorts of lenses (enlarger, industrial, etc) to try and find hidden gems. I did find a few but when Laowa came out with its 100mm f2.8 2x macro, it basically rendered them useless since it would be very difficult to beat Laowa's optical performance, not to mention its convenience. The again, the Laowa can be 10x the price of a decent enlarger lens that gets 99% of the job done.

In case anyone else is thinking about enlarger lenses, this is a great database of some popular ones that can help you keep track of which ones to look out for: http://www.photocornucopia.com/1061.html 

Edited by Kaleun96
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I have been strongly considering the Laowa in EF mount because that one has electrical connections while the RF one does not.  Some of Laowa's choices seem odd to me.  Note the massive and electrically wired 100 EF sells for only $50 more than he fully manual 85mm f/5.6.  

I made the image below for those who understand the question.  The Obverse was taken with the gray reflector.  The reverse was with the white one.  On this coin, perhaps truth in between the two but on darker coins I usually prefer the gray since the white looks overdone.  It is a waste to try to post sharp images herewith the software reducing them to 1/4 the size Facebook uses (and we thought that was bad?). ra5590dd2332.thumb.jpg.812d22a9c41bf1c756d696f4c8f37d35.jpg

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As an experiment, this was linked to the same file on PBase.  Is there a difference? You have to open image in a new tab to see it larger but still reduced to a fraction of the original. 

ra5590dd2332.jpg

 

Edited by dougsmit
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2 hours ago, dougsmit said:

It is a waste to try to post sharp images herewith the software reducing them to 1/4 the size Facebook uses (and we thought that was bad?). 

I think this is probably the biggest apparent limitation I've found with this site so far.  Kinda weird given that the max total size for attachments on one post is huge.  Maybe there's a setting somewhere that allows you to individually override the automatic image compression?

Or what happens if you link an image instead of attaching it?  Does that solve the problem?  In which case we'll want to be doing that with our higher-res stuff when needed.  (Usually not needed, but sometimes...)

@Restitutor, @dougsmit, @TIF

Let me try linking a random large image:

spacer.png

That should be 5,951 × 3,960 pixels.

[[edit: Duh, somehow I missed that Doug already tried this experiment.]]

Edited by Severus Alexander
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4 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

I think this is probably the biggest apparent limitation I've found with this site so far.  Kinda weird given that the max total size for attachments on one post is huge.  Maybe there's a setting somewhere that allows you to individually override the automatic image compression?

Or what happens if you link an image instead of attaching it?  Does that solve the problem?  In which case we'll want to be doing that with our higher-res stuff when needed.  (Usually not needed, but sometimes...)

@Restitutor, @dougsmit, @TIF

Let me try linking a random large image:

spacer.png

That should be 5,951 × 3,960 pixels.

Well at least that gives us access to the larger image. (In a pretty appealing way, too.) Still, it would be nice to be able to upload such things here on occasion too.

Edited by Severus Alexander
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13 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

[[edit: Duh, somehow I missed that Doug already tried this experiment.]]

I believe what we have shown here is that we will have to link images if what we are talking about is image quality and that it is meaningless to compliment someone on photos posted in the normal way.  I'm wondering if it makes a difference if you use cut and paste or link to an offsite URL.  This darkly toned denarius example shows I missed focus a bit on the obverse but that would never show in a normal upload.  It also shows that there was dust on the coin that needed to be touched out.   I'm wondering if it will enlarge to full 4256x2837 but won't know that until it is posted. 

EDIT:It did but to see it at that size you need to open it in a new tab (right click on windows) and then click again to enlarge.  Now that I have a better understanding of the way it works, I can go back to posting fuzzy photos that show the coin well enough to sell on eBay but not to print for a wall hanging. 

dd2794.jpg

Edited by dougsmit
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