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Share your Coin Photography Tips & Tricks!


Kaleun96
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Very nice.  I have to go do the lawn, ugh, but a quick preliminary on the people test shots I took today seem improved, although I haven't delved deeply into the raw versions (pro mode).  Perhaps the focus ring what was wrong there.  I was also taking it in better light. 

On coins, I DID try the focus ring (circle on the screen) and it would usually end up with the part of the coin not in that circle being blurry.

I shall make a shopping list and order the necessary stuff.  I needed to take a break from attempts.  They were just making me frustrated, although I was kind of happy with the earlier tries. 

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I tried many, many setups and spent hours improving the systems (photobox, stands,  lighting of all kinds and so on). In the end, i found that the best light is the natural light at the end of the day...

So now my setup is : standing in front of a window on the west side of my home, a few hours before the sunset (depending on the season) with the coin in hand and the camera around my neck, I move slightly the coin and I shoot until I get a picture I like. It's most of the time a question of luck 🙂

eg the only difference between these two photos is a tiny shift of the coin's inclination in hand :

MMA2bis-removebg.png.ab7c56ec40a22857f41ee44deef3a16e.png

MMAbis-removebg.png.b80ab21a728946307e283117ba550970.png

And the final result :

MagnesieBigbisFinal.jpg.835755e87e17933feb7366d68e4b849e.jpg

 

 

Edited by Brennos
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When shopping for a ring light, be careful to find one that has a large enough hole in the middle that your lens will fit inside but not so large that it does not illuminate the coin.  Some sellers tell you the dimensions of the unit but not all mention the hole in the middle.  Many macro lenses are a bit on the fat side and several ring options were intended for use with dissecting/stereo microscopes that are less wide.  My favorite has been with me for ten years and has three threaded pins that  hold it in place.  It will accept my old Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro but not the new 'L' versions.  Rings made for 'selfies' are often 5-6" wide which is too big for best results.

 

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I will send the Photobox back again. I have now tried everything - I cannot achieve any improvements. Moreover, it is too static for me and limits my possibilities.

I didn't photograph from above through the hole today - I put the coin up this time - so I could photograph frontally from the front. So the light hit the upper edge of the coin slightly at an angle from above. Cruel. No matter how I set everything up. Terrible pictures. I don't even want to show them here.

But because of the box - I have so few possibilities to experiment - everything is closed on the left, right, behind and on top. So I will buy a free-standing ring lamp and place the coin freely on a work table and then work with the light and darkening or reflecting. But if the coin is free on the work table - I have many more possibilities to try out. 

I think a box is good for objects like rings, product photography etc... but not so good for coins. Because you are bound to a fixed setup and can't vary much. But it's ok - it was clear that you have to try it out for a while until you find your setup.

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23 minutes ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

Per a coin riser, I just had an idea; a Connect 4 game piece or two.

What the riser is made of is less important than it's diameter. Must be smaller than the coin. I use various thicknesses and diameters of cork, bottle caps. Sometimes you even need a high riser such as an empty lip balm tube to allow enough light to bounce off the coin.

 

20220920_082512 (2).jpg

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11 minutes ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

What's the black object?

And another problem, the recommended LED light stands are USB powered, aughh!

I guess that means I'll have to get a USB power strip...

Just a plastic spacer, 1cm high and 1.2 cm diameter.

Some of the lighting can only be operated when connected by USB. others only use USB for charging the internal battery

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4 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

the recommended LED light stands are USB powered, aughh!

I guess that means I'll have to get a USB power strip...

Most of us have usb power bricks left over from other devices so many sellers save themselves the cost of including one with the device.  

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I suppose the Amazon Basics powerstrip with 2 USB ports will do.

Depending on how good these lights are, maybe I can use the disused dining room table as a photo station.  There's two outlets there.

I won't get my hopes up. If better lighting leads to clearer pictures, then fine and dandy. If not, I'll just wait until some more foolproof macro option comes along.

I'll also try to find an inverted tripod for Dslr.

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On 9/18/2022 at 1:39 PM, dougsmit said:

There is also a problem set caused if the two lights used do not have the same color temperature.

Speaking of which, I had this same problem recently as my Godox AD100 flash that I use as a fill light has a notorious green-tint to it that makes life difficult when you combine it with another light source (in my case, Godox TT350 flashes).

In case anyone is interested, what I ended up doing is buying a Lee LED correction pack that comes with several filters to adjust the colour of LEDs in three ways: cooler, warmer, or less green. I guess LEDs tend to be too green rather than too purple, hence the lack of a "minus purple" filter. I found the 804 filter worked best and it brought the AD100 much closer to the TT350 in temperature. I cut out a disk from the 804 filter and put it inside the diffusion glass of the flash so from the outside you can't even tell I've done anything to it.

The pack is expensive but I couldn't find the 804 or 803 available in the EU as a single sheet, where it should only cost a few euro. It seems only stage/production companies stocked it and would only sell to other companies. In the UK I found a few stores that sell to individuals but after factoring in import VAT and shipping, it made more sense to buy this big pack which I can then use to correct other LEDs.

And on the topic of Lee filters/gels, I can recommend buying their diffusion gels as they're super cheap and way better than messing about with baking paper or tracing paper. Not only are they very resilient to tearing/wear but they're also going to be better colour-corrected than baking/tracing paper. I've bought their 216 and 250 white diffusion gels and can recommend those.

Edited by Kaleun96
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Oh man! Now I'm having trouble with manual focus. I'm a blind fish with 7 diopters and can't always see exactly on the LCD display whether I've really focused exactly. When I read out the SD card on the PC, 1/3 of the pictures are out of focus. 

Now I thought I just use the Olympus app "Capture" - but the Olympus PEN-PL8 can not tethering with the app! Not via USB and not via WiFi. So the app Capture is not compatible with my PEN. Otherwise I could see the pictures live on the Mac before I take the picture. And so adjust the focus live on the Mac - instead of on the small LCD.

Now I have to look for a third party app that works with WiFi - or I buy a new body - the Olympus OMD MK-Mark IV .... 

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2 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

Oh man! Now I'm having trouble with manual focus. I'm a blind fish with 7 diopters and can't always see exactly on the LCD display whether I've really focused exactly. When I read out the SD card on the PC, 1/3 of the pictures are out of focus. 

Now I thought I just use the Olympus app "Capture" - but the Olympus PEN-PL8 can not tethering with the app! Not via USB and not via WiFi. So the app Capture is not compatible with my PEN. Otherwise I could see the pictures live on the Mac before I take the picture. And so adjust the focus live on the Mac - instead of on the small LCD.

Now I have to look for a third party app that works with WiFi - or I buy a new body - the Olympus OMD MK-Mark IV .... 

I don't wear glasses myself and have struggled with this! It can definitely be hard to tell just by looking at the camera screen. 

I have three things to help:

1. I bought a 7" camera monitor to plug into my camera.

2. I use the "focus peaking" setting on my camera which highlights in red the parts of the image that is in-focus in the live view.

3. I use "focus assist" which is a setting on Sony cameras that lets you zoom in digitally on the live view so you can check you have the focus right. 

Not all cameras have #2 and #3 but worth checking just in case. I searched the manual for your camera and it seems it may have focus peaking but perhaps only in manual focus mode. I use MF myself but can understand if others prefer auto focus. Perhaps the "Magnify" option mentioned in the manual is equivalent to Sony's "focus assist" too. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot_20220922-001229_Adobe Acrobat.jpg

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It is best to use a camera which can be controlled by digiCamControl or any similar program

It is so much easier to adjust everything from the laptop than trying to fumble with clumsy fingers at the tiny switches of the camera. Furthermore you leave the camera alone, which will keep its position.

As to the camera lens. A macro-lens is not necessary (German speaking guys may check Wilfried Danners´s home page) for normal photos.

All important is lightning and post production

That is my set-up, I experiment with the left light, at the moment only indirect lightning

I need a setup for bulk- and easy photographing. It works

Regards
Klaus

IMG_0068.JPG.7393718cf7a8e4099cf11422833404e5.JPG

 

Edited by Dwarf
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13_1.jpg?maxwidth=1600&maxheight=1600
 

This is a picture from CNG Numismatic - one piece of their next auctions. I want make similar pictures - and need your edit Tipps with photoshop. 
 

i use a grey background and shot a picture from obverse, then reverse and combine the two pictures to one. But I see - logical - a cut in the middle. Because the structure is not 100% the same. 
 

How it works in PS to look like one picture? Thanks!

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7 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

13_1.jpg?maxwidth=1600&maxheight=1600
 

This is a picture from CNG Numismatic - one piece of their next auctions. I want make similar pictures - and need your edit Tipps with photoshop. 
 

i use a grey background and shot a picture from obverse, then reverse and combine the two pictures to one. But I see - logical - a cut in the middle. Because the structure is not 100% the same. 
 

How it works in PS to look like one picture? Thanks!

I use a free software https://www.remove.bg/

You can place your images anyhere without join lines showing. These are with no background colour

 

 

7nBC93GgYqt6f9ZbQpz52AHdFwR8KL-removebg-preview.png

20220810_173600__2_-removebg-preview-down.png

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Thank you! But I think we're talking at cross purposes. I can crop backgrounds with Photoshop. But I don't want to do this work.

I take a picture of the front on a structured grey background. Then the back. Now I want to merge both images. But because the structure of the background is uneven - I have a visible edge in the middle between the two pictures. Surely there is a way to do this.

I don't want to make one picture - remove the background. Take a second picture. Remove background. Then both cropped images on a new background. That's way too much effort for 50-100 coins.

🙂 

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This is not my shop - look like this here: https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/washington_numismatic_gallery/169/product/rhode_island_1936_50c_commemorative__ms65__pretty/1737867/Default.aspx

You see in the middle the line between this 2 merged pictures. I want also merge easy 2 pictures - but „kill“ the line between this 2 in 1 pictures…

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I use Paint to merge and size the photos and then use Remove.bg to get rid of everything but the coin and change the background to my preferred color. Much easier than trying to do it in PS. Remove.bg does a great job with the edges of the coin. Not free, but not very expensive.

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1 hour ago, Prieure de Sion said:

Thank you! But I think we're talking at cross purposes. I can crop backgrounds with Photoshop. But I don't want to do this work.

I take a picture of the front on a structured grey background. Then the back. Now I want to merge both images. But because the structure of the background is uneven - I have a visible edge in the middle between the two pictures. Surely there is a way to do this.

A: if your distance from the backgrouns is big enough your background is out of focus, and the structure invisible. This makes the things much easier.

B. Then I am working with masks. (visible as  red overlay in Photopaint) The procedure is a little different for every software:

There is a "magic wand" which seperates the coin from the background. If the difference between coin and background is big enough this works fine. Sometimes there are ,little problems like here on the obverse at 11 o'clock (picture 1). But this is quickly correctet with a mask brush. (picture 2)

After this I copy the masked area (The coin) and paste it in a picture, this can be a pure white backgrouns, a black one, or a real picture. Everything is possible. Alternatively you can also fill the background with a color.

With the semi automatic "magic wand" this is done very quickly.

 

1247398174_mask1.png.0020a416a0250b1c2df49a449b4d1962.png

mask2.png.daed55f1172e7cf6b4572e580f60cf54.png

1758410203_mask3.jpg.6813f19550301dc685126ac3b7ccad0d.jpg

 

 

Edited by shanxi
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@Prieure de Sion Paint3D is, I believe, a default program for Windows operating systems, and it has a feature called "Magic Select" which is pretty good (although not always perfect) at removing a coin from a background. You can then copy/cut the coin image and paste it wherever you want.

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I guess it all comes down to peoples preference and their interpretation of time and effort. I have mine all fully cropped on file on my PC. Merging them together or adding them to a ackground is then an easy, quick task. My Grandson like to see something visual aside from the coin. When I acquire one I put it on a background and send him the file, like this

 

PresentationAntonnus2.jpg

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3 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

This is not my shop - look like this here: https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/washington_numismatic_gallery/169/product/rhode_island_1936_50c_commemorative__ms65__pretty/1737867/Default.aspx

You see in the middle the line between this 2 merged pictures. I want also merge easy 2 pictures - but „kill“ the line between this 2 in 1 pictures…

It's possible but difficult if there's any shadows or light gradient on the background. It's easiest when using a black felt background and a ring light since you don't have any coin shadow or light gradient from off-axis light, and the black felt absorbs most ambient light and should be pretty dark / nearly black if the photo is correctly exposed.

For example, this is an unedited photo of a coin on a black felt background with a ring light providing the primary illumination. You could easily combine it with the reverse photo without any blending of the "seams".image.png.f95d5d20f1d784291be0fd02389db4f0.png

 

It's much harder to do with a white background (very hard to make a white background appear as solid white), as well as a grey background, for the same reasons. If you have perfectly consistent lighting and the background is not too textured, you can probably do it though. The downside is you can't reposition the lights for the reverse side compared to the obverse and IMO that's a big drawback since I often reposition lights for each side, particularly when the obverse is a high-relief portrait and the reverse might be more concave with less relief.

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