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Numismatic Photography Thread, "Final" Numismatic Photography Setup in Miscellaneous Numismatic Information; I'm finally happy with my numismatic photography setup, at least "happy enough" to stop modifying it for a while. My ...
  1. #1
    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    "Final" Numismatic Photography Setup

    I'm finally happy with my numismatic photography setup, at least "happy enough" to stop modifying it for a while. My latest work developing "Smile Directors" (light source shapers) for the Jansjo LEDs has paid off and they are giving me a method to equalize the differences between raw and slabbed coins; maximize angle from horizontal to bring out color; provide diffusion to minimize hotspots; yet still provide a small enough illumination spot to set-off a luster response.

    A major factor in making this setup "final" is the ability to "calibrate" the lighting using a now permanently-installed stage mirror. Before, it was all guesswork as to how the lights were shining on the coin. With the mirror, I can accurately position them at the same incident angle for every photo, so if I bump the lights, shift over to high magnification imaging, set up to test a new lens, etc I can quickly get right back where I was.

    Here is my calibration photo of the lighting setup. Note that I stopped-down to f22 for this to show a better definition of the size and shape of the illumination slots in the Directors.



    As you can see, I'm not shifting very far from the traditional 10-2 arrangement that seems to work so well. Only real difference is that the size and shape of the sources are tightly-controlled with the Directors and positioning is made repeatable with the calibration method. By the way, try doing this with halogens and you'll start a fire!

    First photo I took is of my old favorite 57D toner.



    This coin has been through a lot since I first photographed it. It's been my primary coin for comparing lighting techniques, lenses, vibration reduction methods, tilting, etc. Every setup I've built has been verified with this coin. But 99% of the photos taken of this coin have been the obverse. Well...tada! Here is the reverse in all its glory:



    For those of you not familiar with my setups, I have them documented pretty well on CC forum in this thread:

    Coin Photo Setup - Coin Community Forum

    Here's an older photo of the setup I'm using now, but before I added the mirror:



    Here's a recent photo showing the reversible stage plate on top of the calibration mirror:



    Finally, here's a photo of a "Smile Director" over the face of a Jansjo LED light:



    Now for my sinister plan...I am going to take photos of the rest of the toned Lincolns from this same roll and publish them in this thread. I will do this over a bit of time, taking down the setup between photos in order to ensure the calibration method works well and gives repeatable illumination.

    By the way, I settled on a height of 100mm from coin surface to the faces of the Directors. This gives what I think is best shadow detail on the coin.

    And of course there are other setup details...

    Camera: Nikon D7000
    Shooting modes: RAW; Aperture Priority
    ISO: 100
    Shutter Speed: 1/13sec (+/-)
    Copy Stand: Modified Chinese StereoZoom Microscope stand (would not recommend...B&L A-Stand are better)
    Bellows: Nikon PB4 (no tilt or shift used) with BR15 M39 adapter (overkill but nice precision instrument)
    Lens: 75ARD1 (Rodenstock 75mm f4 Apo Rodagon D M1:1)
    Aperture: f5.6
    PostProcessing: Nikon ViewNX2; Sharpening "1" after downsizing for web publishing

  2. #2
    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    Here is coin #2...Ray




  3. #3
    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    Alright you've nailed down a good setup for these cents, how does it work with other coins?

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    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    So I showed raw, toned copper in previous shots. How about the opposite extreme...lustrous slabbed nickel? Here's a PCGS MS65 Buffalo Nickel. I obviously had to move the lights a bit due to the larger coin and lower magnification, but the principle is exactly the same.




  5. #5
    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    This one is transfixing my gaze...here's #3:




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    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    And here is #4:




  7. #7
    Member rmpsrpms's Avatar
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    OK, here is #5 and the last one I'll post for a while. I love the reverse on this one...Ray




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    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    Looks great. Do you ever edit them to have them side by side?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've converted from my Nikon D7000 to a Canon T2i. I seem to get natural color more easily with the Canon, and it also produces a tiny bit sharper image due to the EFSC shutter causing less vibration. Here's another coin in the series (actually, this is #10) taken with the Canon, which is now a dedicated bellows camera.



  10. #10
    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    These images look great! How do you like the Canon overall over the Nikon?

 

 
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