Photographing Coins

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Plato, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    I guess I should say "coin" (singular). I'm looking for some inexpensive suggestions for photographing a souvenir coin. Normally I don't object to investing money but I want one picture of one coin and I'll never do this again. Well, actually two pictures, one of each side of the coin.

    I have the (discontinued) Nikon 28-105 macro lens but, other than confirming that the feature works, I've never used it in macro mode.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    what about a reverse 50mm lens stack in front of one of your telephoto lens?
     
  3. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Is there a reason why you didn't consider the 28-105 macro lens that I have?

    My worry is supporting surface material and background area as well as how to prop up the coin if, indeed, it should be propped up. Do I put the coin on rumpled cloth (if so, what kind and what color)?

    Oh, yes, I do have a decent regular-sized tripod and a table-top tripod.
     
  4. Dagwood56

    Dagwood56 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Do you have a flatbed scanner? Thats really all you need and then print the scan as a photo. I've scanned roses and lots of 3D object in the past. Put the coin on the glass and use a piece of card stock on top of it. ;)

    Edit: No reflection problem either. I can't locate the image right now, but I scanned a map, sunglasses and coins as a sort of faux vacation look image once and it turned out perfectly.
     
  5. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. I do have a scanner. I'll give it a shot. It'll be embarrassing if it turns out really well. An $80 scanner instead of a $1000 camera and a $300 lens!
     
  6. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    lol ..I think I mis-understand your question.

    Scanner seems a decent approach as long as you are not looking for "real" fine details. :)
     
  7. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I do want real fine detail. The Apollo-8 spacecraft had an aluminum brick on board. Upon return to earth, the brick was melted down to make souvenir coins for those of us that worked on the mission. That's the coin that I want to photograph.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2009
  8. nokili

    nokili TPF Noob!

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    I know this seems silly but I was just reading up on Macro Photography and at the bottom of this Wikipedia page Macro photography - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    there are some photos of a coin.....they are pretty awesomely detailed. dont know if its enough or what you want
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Coins,and other flat things, as well as some smaller three dimensional objects scan quite well. You might like the effect of cloth draped over the coin, with the lid of the scanner closed almost all the way, but propped up a bit, so as to allow some wrinkles in the draped fabric.

    You could also go about this the totally "ghetto" way, and simply hold a lens in reversed position on the lens mount of the camera body,and shoot with diffused flash.

    I would think that the 28-105 itself could do a relatively good job if used with a small extension tube, like an M-2, which is a very low-cost,non-coupled tube available for as little as $7 to $10 these days, since it's obsolete now.
     
  10. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. I took a quick look and there appears to be some valuable information there. When I get home, I'll go back there and see how extensive it is.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2009
  11. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    Thanks.
     
  12. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    A good scanner can easily match and often beat DSLR when it comes to detail. The problem with using a scanner is the position of the light source. You often don't get the best shadow placement for showing the detail in a coin. If you have a scanner, give it a try. You may fine the results acceptable.

    You fail to say what camera you will be using with the 28-105mm lens. The camera format has a lot to do with what field of view you can achieve. You will likely fine that you can get adequately tight framing if you are using it on a small format (DX in Nikon terms, APS-c in general terms) DSLR. If you are using it on a film body or "full frame" digital (FX in Nikon-speak) the tightest framing may not allow the coin to fill the frame (you also fail to mention the size of the coin).

    The bit "trick" to good coin pix is lighting. I have found that the best start point is to make a cylinder or truncated cone out of white paper to place around the coin and to serve as a lighting tent. I then place a single light, or on occasions two lights, outside of the cylinder. This gives a rather diffuse and only slightly directional light. It also avoids distinct bright reflections from any polished portions of the coin. This doesn't always work well with worn circulated coins that have very little relief. It should work with a mint coin.
     

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