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Extreme Macro Coin Photography

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Valued Member
United States
70 Posts
 Posted 01/11/2021  10:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add JeffMTampa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's hard to answer the question. The view on the screen seems to look in focus, but my mind might be tricking me. when I touch the fine focus knob the image wiggles. Even small vibrations cause the image on the screen to move.

Would those tiny movements matter when the image is shot at 1/60th sec?


I also have a Canon 50D on a Kaiser copy stand with a 150 lens mounted on it for full coin photo shooting. It also has the XYZ linear stage trimming platform. I tried attaching the 10X objective to that lens; here's one of the shots:





The focus was on the field of the coin, but it really doesn't look very sharp either (to me). Maybe it's better?

Question 1: Is my setup correct, or am I missing something to allow sharp focus?

Question 2: Could a tiny vibration of the copy stand cause a blurred image when shot at 1/69th of a second?

Question 3: Are my cheap lens and objective the problem, or should they be sufficient for the job?
Valued Member
Korea, Republic Of
462 Posts
 Posted 01/11/2021  10:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Lembafc to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
These pictures are awesome!
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 Posted 01/11/2021  11:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you're seeing a lot of movement in the 100% Live View screen, it's going to be hard to get a sharp image with continuous lighting. I'm not a flash guy but I think you need to be at 1/500 or faster to "freeze" the movement. Once you stop touching the system, how long til it totally stops moving?

I know for the Rebel series, EFSC is automatically engaged along with Live View. But for the 60D, you may need to invoke the EFSC setting in the camera menu. It's not likely to be available in EOS Utility. It may be called "Quiet mode" or similar. If EFSC is not set then that could explain the blurriness issue.

The 150mm lens looks like it is vignetting the objective. Is the aperture wide open?
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Valued Member
United States
70 Posts
 Posted 01/11/2021  1:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add JeffMTampa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ray- Thanks for your prompt response.

It sounds like you believe camera movement is the issue, not the lens or objective. I'll look for the setting on the camera. I'll also find a way to better stabilize the copy stand.

The aperture was not wide open on the shot with the 150mm. I'll try that as well.

It sounds like my equipment is likely not the issue; that's good. I'll try the recommendations and report back!
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 Posted 01/11/2021  11:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, most likely movement of the shutter. At least that's what I'm hoping, since that is easily solved with your camera settings.
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 Posted 01/18/2021  5:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Any update?
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Valued Member
United States
109 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2021  3:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PPorro to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What and interesting thread. I'll have to collect more data, but something I know from experience is, adding an objective to the front of a lens has the same effect as adding a tele converter. Not visually but logically. "How to you make a great lens, into an average lens?" Add some kind of optical converter.

Stacking is interesting. Bellows or extension tubes. They don't add a lens to the lens, that wasn't designed to be there.

Best methods, which I haven't enjoyed, but from someone who knows better than me, is move the camera not the subject.

However... a coin is light and small, I'd think moving the coin, would make for less problems with alignment.

The problem with moving the coin is that the lighting changes. If you move the camera, the lighting on the coin remains identical for each shot.

For the posts that mention microns, that's right. The steps can be that small if you want to cover each step properly, before you do the stacking.

So far my efforts to photograph grains of sugar, for example, have been less than stunning. I tend to be flying from one project to another, so the stepper and macro got moved aside for the overhead. Then I did some coins with the copy stand and there's a rotating table for doing time-lapse.

Affinity Pro editing software which is full photo editing software, includes a focus stacking feature. 90 days free trial, which is very nice of them. To buy the package is $24.99 which might be a better option that an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription? I use Adobe Elements stand alone.

Point is, focus stacking that so far looks suitable, for free trial https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/ if anyone here who is more involved and serious would like to test and experiment. I like free...
Edited by PPorro
04/02/2021 3:44 pm
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 Posted 04/02/2021  5:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
An add-on lens (sometimes called a "diopter") can cause a lot more degradation to the image than a teleconverter (TC). Reason is that the diopter is between the coin and the lens, so it directly affects the formation of the optical image. The TC simply magnifies the image created by the lens, basically just zooming-in to the high quality image.

Regarding moving the coin vs the camera vs the lens vs the lights...I started out by moving the coin while keeping lens + camera + lights fixed. That system worked fine, but having the coin platform moving around seemed inconvenient. When I built my second and third systems, I kept the coin and lighting fixed, moving the camera + lens. I've recently been doing stack and stitch work, and that has required a more complex arrangement. If you're interested I can give a description of how I am doing things now.

Regarding the step size, it depends on the depth of field, which in turn depend on the aperture setting and the magnification. I rarely stack full coins, though I did recently shoot a Nickel at f4.5 and it required stacking to get fully in focus and sharp. Certainly at higher magnifications stacking is required as depth of field becomes shallower than the topography of the coin surface. Again, if you're interested, I could go into more depth on this topic (pun intended).

Regarding the focus stacking software, there are many platforms out there which can do it, though I don't know of any that are truly free. You can get free trials of most all of them, but eventually you need to pay. The one I chose long ago was Helicon Focus, and I have never regretted that choice.
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Valued Member
United States
197 Posts
 Posted 04/02/2021  7:58 pm  Show Profile   Check daltonista's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add daltonista to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

By no means can I claim any expertise in this field, but I did some experimenting with coin photography maybe 10-12 years ago combining the "Super High Quality" and "Super Macro" settings on my dinky little Olympus 4-mp non-SLR digital camera. Certainly not "extreme," but it taught me a few things.

What I learned was that the only way I could avoid the problem of "shutter motion" and get a sharp, clear shot of anything was to use the timer function. The 10-second delay always proved long enough to calm everything down.

Of course, for starters, I had the camera well-fastened to a proper copy stand...but the timer was the key.

My little ship here was captured that way from the whitecaps next to the Eddystone Light on my 25mm Devonshire shilling (Dalton 1,1811-12). To illustrate scale, I'll post the whole token below the ship.



"I ain't good-looking, but I'm willing to try."
--- Dave "Snaker" Ray: 'It's All Right,' 1963
Valued Member
United States
75 Posts
 Posted 04/12/2021  10:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Gluggo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here is one I did a simpke focus stack and then put it through Helicon Focus and it turned out not to bad. I was just practicing only about 5 shots combined but it ended up being 37 Megabytes and had to bring it down less than 300 Killabites. Its actually smaller but I do not think it will matter. Crazy here it is.

Ohhh wait I see a small mistake on the top I guess back to the drawing board. Tomorrow



Edited by Gluggo
04/12/2021 10:08 pm
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 Posted 04/12/2021  10:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Looks cool!
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
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Valued Member
United States
75 Posts
 Posted 04/17/2021  6:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Gluggo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here is another one I did. Its a Silver art piece about 3/8" to 1/2" thick at 4.5 Ounce of Silver so lots of Depth. A Moos and Wolfe piece. Just about 10 shots taken but I had to rotate about 1/2 of them 180 degrees. Not sure why that is happening since all the shots are in sequence just using the Cognisys rail to move the camera along. Strange but looks like it work. Just playing around figured I should figure out some of this stuff I bought!

Then I had to take it from a TIFF to JPG but it made it much smaller. Not that it matters cause I still have to take it to 300KB from 2 MB.

But you can see from the line steps seems all in focus. This Helicon really is smooth and super easy to use if I can do it anybody can.


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 Posted 04/17/2021  8:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nicely done G! And you've got some cool stuff, very eclectic and photogenic.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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 Posted 04/17/2021  8:57 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ijn1944 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Gluggo -- Great image!
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 Posted 04/18/2021  03:02 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Gluggo - looking good! To stop the rotating be sure your auto rotate is off in the camera settings. That may be switching you up as it moves a bit for the shots and rotating in camera. I always leave mine off.
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