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Macro Photography Set Up Almost Complete

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Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 10/27/2014  11:33 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I started setting up a proper coin photographing area 18 months ago. I am almost finished. Today an eBay gamble arrived and I was pleased the gamble paid off. I had been watching a german sellers item for a month....it was a Meopta Universal copy stand lighting set. I am sure it dated back to the cold war days. But it looked like what I needed to get all the annoying janscos and other lights out of the way. I am sure you have all experienced it you are changing the set up for a shot and one light or the other is making an annoying clutter. All up with postage the lighting set cost me €80 ( I guess around US$100.00) I cleared away all the other lamps and mounted the set up on my copy stand( A converted MInolta III enlarging stand)

I did run into some problems. two clamps were missing but in the end they weren't' necessary. I think the seller , A camera dealer, forgot to include them. However there was an extra clamp with an attached support stand it ended up being better than I expected: Heres a slightly blown out shot of the new lights in place ( I replaced the old incandescent bulbs with LEDS)



NOw that extra clamp and support solved an on going problem. How to get the 160 led light I use for axial lighting mounted properly. YOu can see the result in the next shot:




I was fortunate to have a spare ball head and clamp to get that axial lighting mount the way it is. The great thing is far less clutter with much more working space

Edited by austrokiwi
10/27/2014 1:07 pm
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United States
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 Posted 10/27/2014  12:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
...eBay gamble arrived...


It appears that you've now got a set-up primarily assembled from a one-stop-shop, womb-to-tomb source.

Looks good,
mdpmedia

PS: just one question:

How do you plan on handling diffusion for those glaring-type reflective surfaces?
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 10/27/2014  1:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
How do you plan on handling diffusion for those glaring-type reflective surfaces?


I think the key words are "almost set up" Currently I use a white lamp shade with the light bulb mount cut out of it. ( a very cheap IKEA Purchase)
Valued Member
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 Posted 10/27/2014  1:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CherreePicker to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Looks Great.
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 Posted 10/27/2014  5:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I had a good think about the question on diffusion so I spent the evening trying out the new lighting set up. In many respects I was relearning all over again. First thing I discovered: My minolta MD 100mm F4 really is a horrible coin photography lens. On the A7r it just sucks!

I switched to my only modern macro lens a sigma 105mm EX. I tried the new lighting rig and then the improved axial lighting set up. mdpmedia was right I am going to have to sort out an adequate means of diffusing the light. On the other hand my axial lighting rig is now performing brilliantly. I always prefered axial lighting. but now the new mount just makes the whole set up much more accurate. I even found the ball head allowed me to adjust how the light ended up falling on the coin. You can see the differences in the photos. In each picture the left side was under direct lighting, the right axial.



This second coin is 2ozs of gold:



Bedrock of the Community
10045 Posts
 Posted 10/27/2014  10:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DVCollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow--what a difference between shots! Great color and definition with the axial technique.
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 Posted 10/28/2014  12:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Holy Moly, two ounces in that beautiful coin? Quite a treasure.

Axial definitely brightens the whole coin surface, and nicely outlines the devices with shadow, but it also results in zero luster. It all depends on what you're going for in the photo.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 10/28/2014  03:17 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It all depends on what you're going for in the photo.


Thats so true.... For illustrating a variety I prefer Axial lighting. For showing off I would prefer direct lighting. JUst A note on axial lighting: ( I have written this opinion before) Although many people say you can just use any old piece of glass, unless your using an optically correct 50/50 beam splitter, you are unlikely to ever be satisfied with the results. Edmonds Optical is the only company I know that sells them( but I am confident there are other manufacturers). A beam splitter with an anti reflective coating will create a US$135 + postage hole in your pocket. There are many things you can go cheap on, but the beam splitter should not be one of them.

I was thinking about those direct lighting shots above....USing the modern lens I didn't have any indication of what EV compensation I should use. As in nearly all my shots; I was using a back light. I may play some more later today without the back light to see if direct lighting without diffusion does any better.

One further note that may be of interest. I have to add an adapter to my camera to operate the Sigma 105mm macro lens....that adapter turns my mirrorless into a DSLR( a fixed translucent mirror is a key part of the adapter)
Edited by austrokiwi
10/28/2014 03:21 am
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 Posted 10/28/2014  04:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Canadian-Banknotes to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Wow--what a difference between shots! Great color and definition with the axial technique.

Great Results!
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 Posted 10/28/2014  2:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DVCollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
...unless your using an optically correct 50/50 beam splitter, you are unlikely to ever be satisfied with the results
That sounds like a very critical piece of this setup, as it would be easy to compromise quality optics of your lens.
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 Posted 10/28/2014  3:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I had another play just using direct lighting. After a few tries I gave up with the toned MTT. the current set up just turns out variations on that left hand picture(above). A better diffuser for that coin is a must! ( for those interested I am sure its been artificially toned).

With the Gold abschlag ( much better term than off-metal-strike) for the left hand picture I moved the lights as far away from the coin as possible: an obvious fail!! The right hand shot resulted from me placing the white IKEA lamp shade over the coin. I then lowered all the lights and directed them onto the lampshade. the quality of the picture is almost like axial lighting. I have ordered four diffusers to fit over the lamps.....they are more than likely figuratively on a slow boat from China. Once they are in hand I will go for the glossy shots.




You will notice I forgot to use one important tool.....a rocket blower is a cheap essential tool for coin photography!
Edited by austrokiwi
10/28/2014 3:14 pm
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 Posted 10/28/2014  10:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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118 Posts
 Posted 11/24/2014  01:28 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Connicoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have had absolutely no luck with photography in the coin department. So I have ordered a microscope that has a USB plug in for computer. So can I assume that I can take a photo with scope and download it on computer to use for posting? Is this the same as scanning a coin?
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 Posted 11/24/2014  02:18 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Though I haven't used axial lighting since I learned the technique back at an ANA summer seminar course in the 1980's, your shots sure show why it's a preferred lighting method by many top museums and auction houses. Nice job on your set up.
"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.

See my want page: http://goccf.com/t/140440
Pillar of the Community
United States
2890 Posts
 Posted 11/24/2014  03:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Is this(photo w/ a scope) the same as scanning a coin?


Conni,

You should find this CCF thread applicable to assist in differentiating between the two techniques:

http://goccf.com/t/186355

Good luck and consider posting your side-by-side shots for comparative studies and comments...

mdpmedia
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 Posted 01/09/2015  03:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I revisited this old thread of mine and I have to laugh and confess. Last October I thought I had completed the set up. Its almost four months later and I have modified the set up again. I suspect I will never be satisfied so I am sure the set up will never be complete. the current modifications came about because I had some problems that just wouldn't go away or just annoyed me:

  • I was getting much softer shots than I expected

  • The camera position was annoying me. The camera always seemed to be mounted the wrong way

  • With the stackshot focusing rail plus a bellows the camera ended up almost above the very front edge of the copy stand base



Problem 1: softer( blurred close in detail) shots than expected. My camera, Full Frame 36 megapixels with no low-bypass filter, should take very high resolution shots but at times I was often getting shots worse than my 24 MP APSC camera.

Solution 1: for a long while I thought the problem might be the camera and therefore unfixable. My camera doesn't have an electronic front curtain shutter and the net has abounded with stories regarding shutter shake and my particular camera. I did a lot of research; the so called shutter shake was only known to occur in certain circumstances. Those circumstances weren't applicable to my usage. The dreaded shutter shake only occurs when a very large(long lens) is attached to the camera and is used tripod mounted( with the tripod mount on the lens body). The usual cure is an L plate( added extra weight to the camera) attached to the camera. The known problem didn't seem to relate to what I was experiencing but it gave me a clue, I realised the weakest link in my set up was the ball head I was using as a mount. It was a good ball head but it just added to much flexibility to the system. When I added the stackshot focusing rail and Bellows there was just too much room for vibration. My solution, to this, wasn't cheap wasn't cheap I purchased a novoflex clamp, this one to be specific:

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products...pods/clamps/

It wasn't cheap US$105.00 but it was big solid and strong. Before I attached it to the copy stand I got the dremel out and with a cutting disk reduced the length of the mounting point so as to ensure the clamp was sitting as close to the vertical riser as possible: the logic being less leverage less vibration. It also help to get the camera away from the front edge of the base board (Problem 3). Getting rid of the ball head and changing to that clamp saw an immediate improvement in sharpness.

Problems 2 & 3 took a great deal of thinking. Two pieces of information ended up leading me to my current solution. The first: The research on the shuttershake had introduced me to the fact that something called an "L plate existed". An L plate is an accessory that speeds up mounting of a camera to a tripod. As long as your tripod( and the L plate) is an Arca compatible item. You fix the L plate to the camera and you can mount the camera very easily in Landscape or portrait orientation. The second piece of information was the fact my bellows had a camera mount that could be rotated 90 degrees. It was so frustrating as I kept on thinking it be great if that mount could be rotated 180 degrees. I took the bellows camera mount apart at least twice looking to see if I could modify it non destructively, I couldn't. A s it was an expensive bellows I was not prepared to make irreversible modifications.

The solution: I am not sure how long it took me. Lets just say it took longer than I care to admit..... Mount the bellows on an L plate then the 90 degree mount rotation is perfect( ie: mount the bellows to the copy stand sideways) But what about the times when I didn't use the bellows... thankfully the solution came much faster. Mount the camera to a second L plate: in this case the solution is 2 L plates = one U mount. I actually looked for U mounts but they either don't exist or have a name much more logical than what I have used("U mount").

What about the camera sitting too close to the front edge of the copy stand board? With the two L plates that problem disappeared completely The camera is positioned much closer( above) to the center of the board albeit right of centre. Here are the pictures to show the new set up. I had to use my "new"( 1975 vintage) fish eye lens for one shot( well 2 actually):

The first shot shows the work space and the stackshot focusing rail mounted on the first L plate. ( the following shots will add more context to what you are seeing)



Fisheye birds eye view:




Normal shots:

This one shows how the stackshot focusing rail is now mounted ( this does keep the set up well away from the front edge of the base board). You can see I have an Arca standard clamp mounted to the stackshot






From above again:



Note the levels built into the clamps. I use them for setting up but I recheck with the red two way level seen in the above shot( it is sitting on some coins and a washer).

Heres the set up with my bellows mounted. My bellows now has an arca standard quick release plate that remains permanently attached ( speeds up mounting the bellows) ( Note I have an L plate permanently attached to my main camera) I do think this mounting can be made better..One for my future improvements!



Final shot when I use this particular lens( Sigma 105mm EX macro) I have to use a special adapter. I mount the second L plate to the tripod mount of that adapter





These ,modifications have been in place for only a couple of weeks but the improvement in steadiness and ergonomics has been phenomenal. I am not finished. I have a Stack shot Arca mount on the way this will bring the camera much closer to the centre of the base board. I also have a Wembley Arca Clamp( three mounting screws instead of one) on the way to mount to attach to the new stackshot Arca mount. I hope this gives some of you ideas on how to improve you mounting systems.
Edited by austrokiwi
01/09/2015 07:42 am
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