Coin Macro Photography

A Simple Setup for Macro Photographing Coins without Proper Equipment

Coin Macro Photography usually refers to taking Close-up pictures of coins, i.e. the close-up photography: the resulting coin images would be at a larger than normal size.

The main goal is to create an image that clearly shows all lettering, the date, and details of the coin design. Especially it is important when the images are submitted for the coin grading or selling the coin collection.

I came up with this simple and fast method out of necessity of taking good quality macro-photographs of coins when I did not have any proper equipment at hand and time to get it. All I had was my digital camera Pentax Optio 33 WR.

Even though my simple method does not require a special setup, such as certain light sources, a photo tripod, and a special photo platform, it requires the outdoor dispersed light. Such light condition exists when the sky is overcast or during pre-dusk hours. The light cannot be a direct sunlight as it produces strong shadows. The best place to make a photo setup would be on the balcony, deck, or verandah.

Coin Close-Up Photography SetupThe main goal of coin macro-photography is to show all the details, visible and sharp, of a coin. That is why any camera movement is out of question. A camera support is a MUST! It enables you to shoot both sides of the coin at exactly the same size and angle so they can be combined into one image and look right together.

How to achieve a stable camera position without a tripod or a copy stand? Simply, you can use a rectangular piece of thick clear glass that is free of scratches. I usually use a glass shelf of a medicine cabinet. I never forget to wipe all fingerprints off the glass with the window cleaner before using it in my setup. Then I place my camera face-down on the glass and hold it tight when I take pictures.

In order to achieve a perfect horizontal level of the glass, I place it on two "pillars" of an equal height, they could be books, small boxes, or any other objects. It is also very important to set everything up on a smooth and leveled surface. For example, a small coffee table could be used for a base platform. Just make sure the table surface is leveled parallel with the glass.

Next, you need a small platform under the glass where a coin would be placed. The books of different thickness can be useful for adjusting a necessary distance between a coin and camera's objective.

Finally, I place a coin on a piece of white paper or a piece of felt of any desirable color for the background, and make sure that the background's texture does not distort the focus.

In case when an automatic camera is used, I make sure the camera does not focus on the background. My setup is ready!

Simple Coin Macro Photography Setup

Coin Macro Photography Set-Up

As you can see this setup is quite primitive, nevertheless, it allows me to take excellent pictures without using professional equipment when I'm "on the road". For example, the following macro photo shows two coins, Early Russian silver hammered 1 Kopek Coin, ca. 1547, and a modern Russian 10 kopecks coin which is only 17mm (5/8") in diameter. Also all images of the Wire Money - Early Russian Coins photo gallery, My Other Coin Photo Galleries and coin images in My Treasure Hunting Stories were created by this simple photographing method.

Macro Photo of Small Coins Taken with My Setup

Coin Macro Photography - Coins Close-Up Images

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