Ancient Coin Photos
Canon Digital Rebel (300D)

My 2004 coin rig uses a Canon Digital Rebel (300D) camera mounted on the same enlarger frame shown on my earlier coin photo pages. Attachment is made using an old Leitz ball and socket tripod head and the Canon tripod ring adapter. The camera uses interchangeable lenses and has been successful with a number of different lenses from my old cameras, this illustration shows it with a Canon 70-200 mm f/4L zoom lens mounted on a set of three Kenko brand extension tubes. This allows filling the frame with a coin 18mm in diameter while maintaining the subject distance shown in the image. This allows sufficient room for placement of lights without interference from the lens hood. The shutter is released without vibrations by the Canon RC-1 remote shown just in from of the coin stand (same dowel and felt design used on previous pages). Positioning of the components is critical and a level is used to check parallel alignment.

Lights are the same compact fluorescents shown previously but here they are both on the same side of the lens producing a more directional light that produces a more accurate rendition of surface detail than the split sided system shown before. This is generally more pleasing with coins of average or low relief while the earlier, more nearly axial, method seems better with high relief coins that suffer from uneven illumination with the lights as positioned here. Each coin requires minor adjustment of lights and angles for best results. While the lights can be moved, this system allows the lens and camera to rotate in the mount. It is usually easier to rotate the coin until it looks best and then move the camera around to match the orientation of the coin. Below are four more coins shot with this lens and lighting arrangement. Most have some unfortunate highlights at the edge of high relief areas but, for these coins, this seem preferable to the flatly lit fields of axial lighting. The hard part to my way of thinking is the decision on which type lighting will best enhance which coins. Directional light seems to benefit coins with colored patina or textured surfaces. Brightly cleaned, smooth surfaced or polished coins seem to do better with flatter light with less direction and, therefore, smaller shadows. All images are much reduced for this page. A cropped section of Probus can be viewed at full size by clicking on his coin.

More examples (below) show the use of my old Yashica 100mm macro lens. It was adapted to the Digital Rebel using a Russian M42 to Canon adapter on a home made CY to M42 adapter (two old extension tubes and Gorilla Glue - I kid you not). Obviously this rig only works for macro but it works. These last four use the less directional lighting shown on my Minolta page. Exposure was made using f/11 and Av mode to select the proper speed. The lighting is two screw base fluorescent bulbs using the custom white balance feature. As always, two images were combined to show both sides of the coin. The examples shown here run a wide range of ancient coin subjects. One is bright silver, two medium tone and one toned almost black. Again, one offers a full size cropped section.

Compare, particularly, the shadows around the lettering on coins of the two groups. Directional light (upper group) places a highlight above and a shadow below each letter. Pseudo-axial or less directional light (lower group) produces small shadows at the base of each side of each letter. Highlights tend to fall on the highpoints of the letters. Which looks most natural to the viewer depends on the type lighting used to view coins. There is no 'correct' light that renders a coin accurately. Poor quality lighting is no more accurate or necessary for a coin than it is for our portrait photos. After all, how many of us have enlargements made of the photos on our drivers licenses. The Canon lens is easier to use since it allows automatic diaphragm. The image quality of the Canon may be a bit better but the difference is not seen until a very large print is made. The purchase of this lens has improved my bird and general photography more than it has my coins. I am happy with the coin photo results with the 300D. These required much less post processing adjustment than my earlier efforts:

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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