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Looking for Tips on Improving Silver Images

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nwc coin
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 Posted 02/14/2012  10:09 am Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

Hi,

I'm also curious about improving my silver coin pictures.. I've got the same camera setup (D40x, two ott lights, tripod).. For the most part I've been pretty happy with what I'm getting out of my setup, but I'm always looking to improve the images. Any pointers for making these better?











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 Posted 02/14/2012  5:53 pm  Show Profile Check oih82w8's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add oih82w8 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
They look better than mine!
oih82w8 = "Oh I Hate To Wait"

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 Posted 02/15/2012  12:28 am  Show Profile Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Look like the photos are underexposed by .3 to .75 stops, if you are shooting in raw and use photoshop or a raw cmaera file program you should be able to adjust this after the fact, the white balance looks good however.
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
ANA Life Member #3288 in good standing since 1982 • EAC Member #6202 • NBS Member • 2¢ variety collector.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  10:06 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I usually shoot my pictures, and then use Picasa or a similar program to crop. I've tried to stay away from post processing much just because I dont want to make the images look better than they are.

That being said.. What will provide me with the best way to get the approriate exposure? Should I drop my f-stop down one setting? I think that would light the coin better.. but perhaps give me more issues with the entire coin being in focus?

Or do you think I'd have better luck keeping the f-stop where it is, but editing the pictures after the fact? If so, what do you usually use to help it look exposed correctly?

Also - my camera is set to produce .jpg files. Do I need to switch this to .raw? What benefits would this give me?

Thanks!
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 Posted 02/15/2012  10:32 am  Show Profile Check brg5658's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add brg5658 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The best way to get the exposure correct (if you don't want to adjust the exposure post hoc) is to increase the exposure ticker on your camera. Or, better yet, if you are not already shooting in "Aperture Priority" then I would try that.

Your camera manual is here: http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals.../D40X_en.pdf

Set your mode dial to "A" on the top of your camera (page 42 of manual), then choose the f-stop that gives you the appropriate depth of field that you want (f/8 probably works well). Then, the camera should adjust the exposure correctly for that set aperture.

If you find that the pictures in this method are still a bit underexposed or dark, then you may want to check which metering method you are using (page 45 of manual) -- I would recommend center weighted or spot metering, so that the coin part of the image is correctly exposed.

Another option is to play with the exposure compensation setting and set your camera to overexpose the image a bit (+.3 or so). That setting is on page 47 of the manual.

I hope these suggestions help.

--------------------------

A couple other suggestions if you are not already doing them.

1. Because you are on a stable tripod, you should have your ISO set to 100 to avoid chromatic noise (see page 37 of the manual).

2. If you are not already doing so, use the 2-second timer when shooting pictures. This will avoid any residual hand-shake when pushing the shutter button. That option is detailed on page 33 of the manual.

3. Your white balance looks pretty good, but just in case you are using one of the "auto" settings, I would recommend you use the "custom white balance" setting. This requires a sheet of white paper. The instructions are on page 71 of your manual.

Good luck, and post some follow-up pictures when you make these adjustments!

-Brandon
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 Posted 02/15/2012  10:48 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Brandon - Thanks for the detailed suggestions.. I'll play around with all of this tonight and post some follow up shots.

One thing I'm also doing.. Instead of using the two second timer, I use an instant remote controlled timer. When taking lots of pictures, I found this was much easier.

And would a copy stand provide better results than a tripod? I guess it'd ensure my planes were perfectly parallel... And keep the camera from vibrating the tripod when it takes the picture? Just not sure if that's a worthy investment or not.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  11:09 am  Show Profile Check brg5658's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add brg5658 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Is your remote controlled timer connected to the camera via a cord? Is it a remote shutter release with a cord, or is it a wireless device? If it is connected with a wire, I'd still use the 2-second timer if I were you. Nonetheless, I think experimenting with the tripod is good before you buy a copy stand. Perfectly good results can be had with a tripod.

To ensure that your camera is perfectly parallel with the coin, have you tried the mirror method suggested by rmpsrpms? You use a small compact mirror. If you put a mirror on the flat surface where your coin will be imaged. You then center the reflection of the lens in your view finder. If the center of the lens is centered in your view finder then your sensor is parallel with the coin surface. For an example image and a better description look at the picture and read the description in this post (it's about post number 10): http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/...&whichpage=1
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 Posted 02/15/2012  11:13 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's a wireless infrared remote.

Great idea from rmpsrpms on the mirror method.. I've never tried or thought of that, but I will try that tonight as well. That should let me drop my f-stop without blurriness.

By the way.. I'm just using the stock lens that came with the camera.. the 18-55mm. It seems to do a pretty good job.. But from the other post I see you're pretty versed in Nikkor lenses. Do you have any suggestions for a new lens that might improve output? I probably would want to keep it under $300.

Thanks again - the replies have been very helpful so far.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  11:43 am  Show Profile Check brg5658's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add brg5658 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi again NWC,

I will have to check out a wireless shutter release for my camera. I have a wired one, but I'm shooting on a copy stand and with a 2 second timer.

As for the mirror method, and not trying to insult or anything, but make sure you put a sheet of white or black paper over the mirror when you start shooting your coins. Otherwise you will have reflection issues.

As for my set-up, I actually have been shooting with a bellows set-up -- my camera is a Canon 50D and I use a Pentax Autobellows. I have my camera mounted to a bellows (an accordion shaped extension mechanism), and then I mount the lenses to the other end. This system is really flexible, and SuperDave and rmpsrpms have been immeasurably helpful in helping me understand how to optimize that set-up. If you went that route, you'd need to purchase a bellows (~$100 range for a nice one) and then you can shoot with enlarger lenses (nice EL-Nikkor ones in the $30-$50 range). There is some "adapting" necessary to get those lenses to fit whichever bellows you decide to purchase. I'd recommend reading the many threads posted here that mention bellows systems.

Another route may be to purchase an older manual focus macro lens and adapt it to your newer DSLR Nikon setup. There is some very good old glass out there, and there are adapters to modern Nikon bayonet camera bodies. Either of these two options are well under the $300 range, and will give you superb images.

BUT -- I would offer just a word of caution, both of these suggested methods are manual methods, and require more "tinkering" to get professional images. The lenses don't auto-focus, so you would be focusing on the coin using a focus ring (manual lens) or a focusing rail (on the bellows). For using a stock lens your images are really nice...and perfect for posting to the web at 800 x 800 pixels or so. If that is your main purpose, then what you have now is probably fine. When making a decision to "improve" your output and purchasing some new equipment, make sure you really *need* the improvement
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 Posted 02/15/2012  12:44 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This is the one I bought for my camera.. I think it was on a special for around $10 when I got it:

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-ML-L3-W...mb_recs_1_dp

Obviously this is for a Nikon, but I would think Canon would have similar models.

I'll was actually planning on removing the mirror from my setup after I got the planes parallel.. But perhaps the mirror isnt perfectly flat.. so it might make sense to keep it there and add my white surface on top like you said.

The purpose of improving my photos is two-fold. First, I like to have my entire collection photographed for my personal enjoyment. If coins are in the SDB, it's nice to have a beautiful high-res image in front of me to look at. And second, I sell a few coins on eBay, so I want to have them displayed as accurately as possible.. This includes capturing luster, detail, and toning in a way that shows off the coin, and also allows the buyer to see what they are really getting. I guess I need to try all fo the tips above first before trying to throw money at the problem..

I'll pull out these three coins again with the suggestions provided tonight and post my updated images.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  3:30 pm  Show Profile Check brg5658's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add brg5658 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you decide you want to venture into the bellows set-up world, there are some great resources here who are very helpful, and there are lots of threads that offer sound advice. If you do go that route, I'd budget for the following:

Copy stand, ~$100
Bellows, ~$100
Lights, 3 at approximately $10 each
A couple enlarging lenses, ~$30 each

These estimates are a bit high if you're patient, but they are ballpark, and will get you going for below $300.

Two good starting places of threads here are these two:

http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/...IC_ID=102825

http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/...IC_ID=102384
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 Posted 02/15/2012  4:09 pm  Show Profile Check rmpsrpms's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
NWC...your photos look pretty good but they are not as sharp as they could be. This is potentially due to a few factors:

- aperture too small causing diffraction. A smaller fstop might help if this is the case
- camera is vibrating during the shot. This can be caused by a number of things:
- tripod not sturdy enough
- mirror slap
- external vibrations

A "trick" I've learned for improving sharpness is to have very long exposures, >1/5sec and preferably 1-2sec. This is long enough that the initial vibration from the camera is damped in the first few % of the exposure, and then the rest of the exposure is with a stable setup. This will NOT work if the root cause is external vibrations, so you need to fix them first. Note that the "long exposure noise reduction" setting on your camera (if available) may help with the long exposures.

If external vibrations are at fault, then making the exposure as fast as possible is the key.

In either case, a smaller fstop will help diffraction, and if you need a faster exposure the smaller fstop will aid in this.

What lens are you using?

...Ray
Builder of Custom Coin Photography Setups. Email me with your needs.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  4:40 pm  Show Profile Check brg5658's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add brg5658 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ray, he's using the 18-55mm zoom Nikon stock lens...it's buried in the post #8.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  8:10 pm  Show Profile Check rmpsrpms's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ahh, so are these 1:1 crops? NWC, what is your workflow for processing the image from camera to published photo? ...Ray
Builder of Custom Coin Photography Setups. Email me with your needs.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  8:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yeah - I'm not zooming in at all. I basically take the picture, import them to my laptop, go to picasa, crop the photo to show only the coin, and then post it.
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 Posted 02/15/2012  10:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nwc coin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Okay - updated pics. I didnt have the other SLQ in front of me tonight, so I replaced it with a 1917 FH. Still seems like some are coming out blurrier than I would like.. I'm starting to question the tripod..

Any other tips with my new pics are appreciated too :)






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