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Help Me Optimize My Axial Coin Photography Setup

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Author Replies: 24 / Views: 869Next Topic
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Pillar of the Community
United States
8527 Posts
 Posted 12/01/2021  1:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add numismatic student to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The purpose is to provide a better photographic rendering of coins. Adjusting the lighting source is one variable to toggle, I suppose among many. I don't think the light source's field of illumination is an issue given how large the light source is in my compact setup. Do you have any suggestions for a better setup and why is axial not the best choice? Thanks for your kind help.
IN NECESSARIIS UNITAS - IN DUBIIS LIBERTAS - IN OMNIBUS CARITAS
Help me optimize my photo setup: http://goccf.com/t/411871
Valued Member
United States
65 Posts
 Posted 12/01/2021  2:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coinphotofan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"The purpose is to provide a better photographic rendering of coins. "

Axial lighting is one of the many ways of lighting in coin photography. For some coins (coins with colorful toning, for example) and for certain purposes (show details of the coin), it probably is a "better" way. For those who wish to show a bright field on the coin, this is an easy way to achieve that purpose. But it is not always better, especially when it is used alone, all by itself. Axial lighting is an even, broad light source. As such, the photos would come out "flat", missing shadows which help create a 3-D effect. It cannot bring out the luster band(s) which is vital for business strikes like the Morgan dollar. Circulated coins would appear "lifeless" and bland under this light setup, as your Seated Liberty shows.

There is not general "better" lighting that fits all the coins and all the purposes. Lighting setup needs to match the coin and the purpose. More often than not, different methods of lighting are used in combination, such as axial lighting with direct lighting, as in the second photo in previous my post.

"Adjusting the lighting source is one variable to toggle, I suppose among many. I don't think the light source's field of illumination is an issue given how large the light source is in my compact setup. "

Here is a post that shows several setups of the axial light source: http://goccf.com/t/197120&SearchTerms=axial. For the one that uses a single Ikea LED light, a white screen is place in front to expand the size of the light source. I personally use an LED panel, which can adjust both the intensity and color temperature. Before, I used three diffused Ikea LED lights which took a lot of space. The unevenness of lighting on your Morgan may have two causes. One is that the axial lighting source is too narrow. The other is that the angle of the glass is not quite 45 degrees. I actually often take advantage of the different angles of the glass to achieve some special effect. In the photo below, I left a small dark area on the coin by adjusting the angle, just to create some contrast. All white sometimes can be boring.



I use two 5X7 picture frames connected by a friction hinge. It allows me to adjust the angle freely:


New Member
United States
34 Posts
 Posted 12/08/2021  02:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjkzz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
pardon my jumping in, I am a newbie, but when people say luster, what does it mean exactly in coin photography? shininess? here is one I just did about an hour ago. Is it lustrous enough?


Valued Member
United States
65 Posts
 Posted 12/10/2021  8:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coinphotofan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
but when people say luster, what does it mean exactly in coin photography?


Here is an excellent description of coin luster and how it is created: https://blog.goldeneaglecoin.com/coin-mint-luster/ This is an illustration of the point made in the article, i.e., flow lines on the surface of a business strike coin:



Their reflections of light create luster.

In coin photography, luster is shown as a bright band or bands on the coin. In the linked article above, the slabbed Morgan dollar has two wide luster bands:



The photo below shows three luster bands:



Mark Goodman gives following illustrations of luster bands:



To create luster bands on the coin during the photo session, narrow, low angle light sources are needed. On your photo no such luster bands are visible.
Edited by coinphotofan
12/11/2021 02:10 am
New Member
United States
34 Posts
 Posted 12/10/2021  8:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjkzz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Oh, wow, thanks coinphotofan! Now I think I get it, I will try to find a new coin and see if I can show it in an image!
New Member
United States
34 Posts
 Posted 12/10/2021  9:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjkzz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think I got it (what luster is)

New Member
United States
34 Posts
 Posted 12/10/2021  9:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjkzz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
sorry, do not mean to hijack this thread, but for those who are interested, these radial patterns are causing luster (at 5x around left eye)

New Member
United States
34 Posts
 Posted 12/11/2021  05:16 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mjkzz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Sorry, I thought I posted my co-axial lighting setup, but I did not and only asked questions. So, FWIW, here it is. Basically, it is a piece of glass at 45 degree angle, a 50W LED panel light with diffuser shining into the glass. But key part here is to block all other lights by using a tube around the coin so only lights coming straight down contributes to exposure.


Pillar of the Community
United States
3413 Posts
 Posted Yesterday   10:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
One thing not shown in @mjkzz's post is the anti-reflective/dark backdrop required behind the 45-deg glass (on left side of the photo above). This is needed in order to keep light that passes through the glass from re-reflecting up to the lens.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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