Numismatic and History Discussions > Coin Photography, Conservation and Storage

Recommendations for USB Microscope for Photographing Coins


Virgil H:
It seems there are a number of quite inexpensive mono/microscopes that connect to a computer. I primarily want something like this for photographing whole coins, but I would also use it for more detailed work. The prices of these seem too good to be true. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations on these devices? Such as resolution, quality of photos, usability, etc. Note that I already have a manual binocular scope that works well, but not for photographs.


One "coin" USB scope and one "student" version in my experience, leads me to say:  They are all the same and not useful for photography.   Any smart phone or any real digital camera will be vastly better to capture an image of a coin. Almost any phone or camera purchased in past 5 years will be an order of magnitude better.
   A really useful tip I heard recently is to put a recent cell phone on highest resolution setting, put the phone atop a "pint glass" and use the phone's voice command settings to trigger the photo. 
  The USB cameras might (unconvinced/unconfirmed) be able to show a scratch vs a double-die vs smoothing. 
 But I have found them nearly useless compared to other options properly set.

Virgil H:
Thank you, I kind of expected that. I use not use a "good" smartphone, have never paid more than $45 for a phone and never intend to and I will never use the camera on one. I do have an old digital camera with a macro lens attachment and getting an image in focus and with decent lighting is a huge challenge. The actual camera is what I consider a good one with resolution good enough for fine art prints and I do professional shooting with it. I just suck at the macro part with the screw on attachment. I do not have the budget for an actual macro lens.


Ron C2:
Virgil, skip the usb scope.

Consider looking at an older micro 4/3 camera, like a PEN series, and an inexpensive combo zoom macro lens. You can get a decent serious camera setup this way for under $400 that will last longer than your interest in coin photography. 8f you grow tired of it, you'll be able to sell it in for a good return.

Virgil H:
Hi Ron,
Yeah, I have come to that conclusion. I am now experimenting with my new cell phone that has a much better lens setup than my old one. Plus, I have that macro attachment that works when I get it right, but is finicky. Lighting is a big issue for me, I have seen you talk about ring lights and that may be what I need to get. I am pretty sure that my camera lenses would take a screw on attachment. I have a Canon EOS Rebel that is not high end, but a pretty darn good camera. I am sure I already have what I need and it is a matter of learning it. I know photography and do fine art black and white work, but this coin stuff is killing me. LOL.



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