Simplified Coin Photography - Part Four

If you missed them, part one of this discussion is here., part two is here. and part three is here.

Part four of our discussion will address my preferences for light bulbs.

Part two of the discussion introduced the question of light color balance and suggested that daylight supplied from the sun was an acceptable light source. This page will take further the question of artificial light. Standard incandescent and small high intensity lamps can be used for photography but both provide a warm color balance that many digital cameras have trouble balancing correctly. They also produce a lot of heat making working in close quarters somewhere between uncomfortable and dangerous. I have tried and found acceptable some (but not all) of the new LED bulbs on the market and have found variations in bulbs marked the same from low price sources. I suspect this will be a direction for the future but I am not ready for it quite yet.

Daylight versions of the twist type compact fluorescent bulbs vary greatly in terms of how well they replicate the full color spectrum. The best are rather good but my experience is that they do not last as long as advertised with frequent handling. I also suspect that they will be removed from the market eventually due to their mercury content. They remain. for the moment, my bulb of choice. My image shows two twist bulbs on gooseneck supports that allow adjusting to get desired results. The image also shows a ring fluorescent desklamp (bought at Staples) surrounding the lens. Either used by itself or combined with the twist bulbs, this light can give good results with high relief or high gloss coins. Due to its relative brightness compared to the twist bulbs, I have covered it with a single layer of white typing paper as a diffuser. Most of my photos use fewer than all three of the lights shown. Best results are achieved through trial and error and moving the lights around until a pleasing result is seen through the finder. Certainly all coins could be photographed with the same light placements but every coin is a little different and benefits from individual treatment for best results. My rig is used inside a closet simply to keep it out of the way and easily accessable. The image was made shooting straight up from the "coin's eye view".

Please visit my pBase Gallery:

My pBase Coin Gallery with many new photos and some discussion

Other photo postings:

The following pages were posted to my coin site in years past. Some of them have become a bit dated but there is some value left here and there. All are invited to visit them and any other pages on my coin site.

Coin Photography 2008 update
Coin Photography with a Microscope
Photographing a Nero Dupondius
Coin Photography with the Canon 300D
Coin Photography with the Minolta D7i
Coin Photography with the Minolta D7i (earlier page)
Coin Photography with the Nikon 990
Coin Photography (pre-digital page)

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If you prefer to see the (less simple) rig I use currently, click here.

(c) 2013 Doug Smith