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I think I found my best setup for iphonography  
 

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Pillar of the Community
United States
2463 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  12:46 am Show Profile   Check Darth Morgan's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add Darth Morgan to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In another thread I started on backgrounds, CCF member bobby131313 posted a link where I could buy an 18% gray card. I spent $9.00 on it, and it pretty much is just a piece of gray cardboard. The only difference is that I KNOW it is 18% gray- very important. I did some online research about using gray cards in photography and how they help produce accurate colors in various lighting conditions.

Anyway, I started experimenting, and I am very pleased with the results. Here is my now adjusted and much more simplified setup for photographing coins:





Before this current setup, I took a shot of the 1978 Ike dollar below:



Here is the same coin photographed under the new lighting conditions WITH an 18% gray background:




Now here is the 1902-O Morgan I shot- the same one in my setup pictures:



Photobucket likes to resize these large obverse/reverse combined images, so here is a larger, more detailed image of the Morgan obverse:



Both the color and luster of these coins are accurately represented in these photographs. This is how they appear to the naked eye, and this is what I have been after. I don't think I could ask for much better from my iphone camera. I'm still experimenting. There is a little hot spot that still shows up near the top of the coin. So maybe I can figure out how to eliminate that properly.
My Eisenhower dollar Complete Variety Set, Circulation Strikes and Proof (PCGS Registry) - https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/do...edset/119137
Edited by Darth Morgan
10/10/2013 12:56 am
Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
1616 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  06:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What make and model of iphone are you using. please ?

Have you got a special camera app ?
Life Fellow, Royal Numismatic Society

My wants list: http://goccf.com/t/283145
Pillar of the Community
United States
7502 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  08:57 am  Show Profile   Check oih82w8's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add oih82w8 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Those are pretty good images for a "phone".
oih82w8 = "Oh I Hate To Wait"
"I tell her coins keep me off the streets and out of the bars." Moe145
"WOO-SAA...WOo-SAa...Woo-Saa" (calm down)
"An individual who vacillates when there is need of action will find themself beyond the hope of future success."

My Virtual 7070 https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/ty...album/142105
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2061 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  10:37 am  Show Profile   Check Wade's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Wade to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
a little tip on iPhone for taking pics... the volume knobs will activate the shutter, so you can use your earbuds volume control, or blue tooth head set volume controls as a remote shutter button.
takes away ALL the camera shake.
Edited by Wade
10/10/2013 10:40 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2463 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  10:57 am  Show Profile   Check Darth Morgan's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Darth Morgan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What make and model of iphone are you using. please ?

Have you got a special camera app ?


I am using an iPhone 4S, and, no, I don't use any special camera app. I think the bright *white* light from the Sanoto light box combined with the 18% gray card background is the key. Also, in my original setup, the coins were placed outside the light box because of the front door/panel. Well, after taking this panel off (which wasn't hard to do, thank goodness) I was able to place the coin inside while at the same time being able to place the cloud dome/iPhone contraption well within the lightbox to take the photos. The front panel prevented this before.

The bright light was producing a hot spot near the tops of the coins. So I just grabbed a white index card and placed it in front of the middle of the lamp where the coins were centered. It diffused the light just enough to minimize the hot spot. I'm still experimenting with this. Hopefully, I will figure something out to eliminate it altogether.

It's funny that I bought the cloud dome for light diffusion photography. Now, I'm just using it as my phone stand. But the good thing about it is that it is 5 inches tall- the perfect focal distance for the iPhone camera. I think the range is 4-6 inches. The one I have is the Nimbus version, which is made especially for smart phone photography.

Here is the cost breakdown:

Nimbus Cloud Dome: $80
Sanoto Lightbox: $55
18% Gray card: $9

Oh, and the only editing I did to these photos was crop them and then I used the sharpen tool ONCE. Sometimes, there is a slight softness to the photos, and I sharpen one time to eliminate this. It just brings out the detail that is muddled. Sometimes, though, the pictures are crystal clear the first time- no need to edit except for cropping. I am very happy with these results. Just imagine if I had a professional camera!
My Eisenhower dollar Complete Variety Set, Circulation Strikes and Proof (PCGS Registry) - https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/do...edset/119137
Pillar of the Community
United States
7502 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  11:08 am  Show Profile   Check oih82w8's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add oih82w8 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I am looking into those Sanoto Light Boxes. What size of light box do you have? There are so many sizes.
oih82w8 = "Oh I Hate To Wait"
"I tell her coins keep me off the streets and out of the bars." Moe145
"WOO-SAA...WOo-SAa...Woo-Saa" (calm down)
"An individual who vacillates when there is need of action will find themself beyond the hope of future success."

My Virtual 7070 https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/ty...album/142105
Edited by oih82w8
10/10/2013 11:34 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2463 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  12:11 pm  Show Profile   Check Darth Morgan's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Darth Morgan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I am looking into those Sanoto Light Boxes. What size of light box do you have? There are so many sizes.


I bought the 9 x 12 inch box. This size works perfectly for my setup. A larger size may be more appropriate if you're using a professional camera.
My Eisenhower dollar Complete Variety Set, Circulation Strikes and Proof (PCGS Registry) - https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/do...edset/119137
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23519 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  3:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Just imagine if I had a professional camera!


You don't need a professional camera.

Seriously, the larger image of that Morgan is as gradable as anything you'll see posted at this forum. There is - so far as I've seen - no other smartphone camera which can touch an iPhone's quality.
Pillar of the Community
United States
895 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  4:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tpg22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I guess I need to take back my macro L lens and get an iPhone.
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Canada
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 Posted 10/10/2013  4:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Canadian-Banknotes to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a Canon Point and Shoot camera (Powershot A1000IS) and I prefer to use my 4s. The image quality is great.

Also, it is much easier to get pictures off the phone, compared to a memory card in an actual camera.

I just email the pictures to myself from my phone

This is one of my favorite pictures I have taken with the phone.


Want to Buy: PCGS Graded 1878-S Morgan dollar (PO-01)
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 Posted 10/10/2013  5:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I guess I need to take back my macro L lens and get an iPhone.


Eeeeeasy....
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
14430 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  5:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The light box is is a main reason for these excellent pictures.
Well demonstrated why a light box is perhaps an excellent tool for coin photography despite whichever camera you use, be it an iPhone or a digital camera

It is obvious that a modern iPhone has easily enough pixels for coin photography.
New Member
Japan
39 Posts
 Posted 10/10/2013  6:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjjudd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This is a great setup for a smartphone! Do you mind if I ask where you purchased the items you listed above? I'd love to set something like this up.
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 Posted 10/10/2013  6:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Well demonstrated why a light box is perhaps an excellent tool for coin photography despite whichever camera you use, be it an iPhone or a digital camera


Yes; from his images, it makes an excellent stand for his camera. Which is about the only thing I'd recommend a light box for.
Pillar of the Community
United States
2463 Posts
 Posted 10/11/2013  12:12 am  Show Profile   Check Darth Morgan's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Darth Morgan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Also, it is much easier to get pictures off the phone, compared to a memory card in an actual camera.

I just email the pictures to myself from my phone


That's exactly what I do. Works like a charm. I appreciate all the comments, especially from the master - SsuperDdave.


Quote:
Do you mind if I ask where you purchased the items you listed above? I'd love to set something like this up.


I bought all 3 items on eBay. Just do a quick search and you'll find them readily available.

While I'm at it, I might as well show the larger view of the Morgan reverse. Also, one advantage of the lightbox is that it allows you to take great photos no matter the time of the day. These pictures were taken well after midnight. I'm not confined to taking photos during daylight hours.



My Eisenhower dollar Complete Variety Set, Circulation Strikes and Proof (PCGS Registry) - https://www.PCGS.com/SetRegistry/do...edset/119137
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 Posted 10/11/2013  06:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For the record, I try not to shoot any images during the daylight, to avoid light pollution. Then again, although there are generalities regarding what's "good" for lighting, cameras don't generalize so easily so exceptions exist. I'm guessing that's a tube fluorescent in your setup, Darth, and it seems to work quite nicely in your application. The "hotspot" towards the top is inevitable with such a light source. I can't really say that it distracts me too much from giving the coin a fair evaluation.

No, you're not quite duplicating the results of someone who has spent a $few hundred on a rig and hours of careful learning/setup, but all the same you're getting gradable results. The iPhone has a pretty efficient Auto White Balance function - especially with the 18% card, which is the "standard" for setting white balance and Apple has obviously integrated this knowledge - so your colors are spot-on.

Honestly, you could probably get effective results playing with direct lighting, but I find myself in the "why bother" camp given what you're already doing. Just run with this and post with confidence.

There *is* room for improvement, but you're going to have to spend some money to get there. Post here if you ever feel like doing so.
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