Hi to all fellow collectors. I was really unhappy with my original coin photo setup as my results were increasingly subpar. My OG setup was sparse but workable. I used an LG G3 phone which took awesome pictures using the setup below, but when I switched to a Samsung S21 the results were disappointing. I prop the phone over a box looking down on the coin on a black surface. There is an incandescent lamp that is covered with a coffee filter, lights the coin at an angle and that is how I took pictures for many years.
Since the results pretty much sucked, I looked for another way. There was a professional photographer on youtube named Bill Lawson, I watched his video and followed his instructions.
It took me a few tries, but I think I got some good results. Bill was also extremely helpful, guiding me through troubleshooting his setup on his channel comments.
My new setup is as pictured below.
and using his setup, I got the results below:
I would appreciate any and all thoughts to improve my setup and results photographing my babies. Thanks!
13 year old Canon EOS Rebel XS DSLR Camera Canon 18mm-55mm Macro Lens Meike TTL SpeedFlash from Amazon Generic Canon-compatible TTL SpeedFlash cord Cheap tripod from Amazon Boxes and soup cans wrapped in black paper to prop up coin base Boxes to prop up TTL SpeedFlash Sheet of black paper as backdrop Sheet of white printer paper as diffuser
Camera Settings: Auto Focus Auto White-Balance Manual Mode Shutter speed 160th Aperture F/11 ISO 100 Image Quality: M (2816x1880)
The free Canon EOS Utility allows me to connect my camera to my computer and my huge 50 inch monitor so I don't have to look through the viewfinder or press the shutter to snap the pic using remote shooting from my computer.
I also use the free open-source image editing software called GIMP.
The focus is not as sharp as it could be. With that lens, there probably needs to be at least 10 inches from the coin to the sensor. You might try backing up a couple inches and refocusing, even if it means cropping your final image.
Thanks, Zurie. I got this about 10" to the sensor but don't know if it is better. Pretty close to the earlier one I think. This one came out significantly overexposed and had to adjust the light level post-photo. Thoughts?
A couple other thoughts. Try turning off autofocus and manually focus using the LCD screen on Live View, after zooming in on the coin. Then when you take a shot, use a 5 sec shutter delay to eliminate any motion from pushing down the shutter button. You should be able to get much sharper photos with that lens. Also, you might want to replace that mauve background with a black sheet, because the color is reflecting onto the coin (see the bottoms of Liberty's chin and neck).
And maybe try going to 11 inches from sensor to coin, to make sure you're past the minimum focus distance.
Looking good. Consider that the sensor of a 13 year old Rebel XS is rather limited in pixel count--10mp? That will contribute to generating lower resolution images, which in-turn, could degrade the sharpness of the subject (if focus isn't an issue). Reducing the image size to meet the file limits imposed by the forum doesn't help.
Thanks Z. I will try to get a darker black background sheet. I've been adjusting distance and this seems to be the best I can get. I don't press the shutter on the camera, I use the remote utility and press the trigger with the mouse on my computer. ill fiddle more later. The first RAW images seem sharpest so far. Appreciate all the help!
I'm not sure why the photos are a bit fuzzy. Could be focus issue, a vibration issue, or aperture setting. Your raw image is much better than the rest but raw vs jpg won't make that much difference. You did something else different when you shot those and you should figure out what it was and reproduce it.
For lighting, I'd recommend masking-off the bottom part of the diffuser paper, and shining the flash on the upper part. I'd suggest masking-off the bottom 75% of the paper with a piece of cardboard. This will force light to only come from higher angles.
Oh, and it looks like you have purple paper behind the coin?
edited to add: you can see the reflection of the lights off the purple paper, giving the coin a purple caste especially on the lower highlights. If you want a piece of something there to block stray light, I suggest a piece of Doodlebug Beetle Black, or any similar black velvet material, or even just a piece of black construction paper. If you are trying to reflect light off that piece of paper to act as a fill light, I recommend not doing that, or if you absolutely must, then mask it off (with Beetle Black or construction paper, etc) like I suggested above up to about 75% of the distance to the lens, then use a piece of aluminum foil, or bright white paper, above that.