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Which of these lights would you recommend?

I have a month-long Christmas break coming up, so I decided it was finally time for me to piece together a nice photography setup. I've already figured out how I'm going to make a copy stand, now I'm researching what lighting I should use. I've looked through dozens of older threads here and on other forums, and I narrowed it down to one of these three:

  • Quans 5W Lamp
  • Jansjo Lights (diffused with ping pong balls)
  • PAR30 Halogen Bulbs

I didn't want to create yet another coin photography lighting thread, but I'd really like some answers specific to what I'm looking for. I'm mainly going to be photographing toned Lincoln cents. Of the three that I listed, which one would you recommend?

I'd really appreciate it if you shared your experiences when photographing with these lights (if you use one of them in your setup). Thanks!

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    crazyhounddogcrazyhounddog Posts: 13,817 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 1:13PM

    Not exactly sure why you have narrowed it down to just these 3. I have been imaging coins for a couple of decades and these are without question the best lights I’ve ever used and I’ve gone through a LOT of lights to find these that work excellent.

    The proof is in the pudding.


    The bitterness of "Poor Quality" is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    @crazyhounddog

    I haven’t necessary limited myself to those three, they were simply the ones that (based on all the old threads that I read) I thought would be most suitable for me. I probably should have mentioned that, I’m more than welcome to other suggestions.

    Nice job with that Buffalo! How many of those bulbs would you recommend for one setup? And do you diffuse the light or anything else I should know?

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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,771 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I believe that the Jansjo Lights are no longer being produced and could be very difficult to locate.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 1:59PM

    The only issue for me has always been detail work.

    Does the lens block the light?

    My old setup reminds me of the Quans 5W Lamp

    Had no real issues.

    The limitations were more to do with the stand and the convenience to raising and lowering.

    Graduated to a high end kaiser stand with Sony 90mm Macro.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    @yspsales

    My plan is to use gooseneck lamps that I can fix to the sides of the copy stand, so the lens won’t be getting in the way of the lighting.

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 2:04PM

    @CentSearcher said:
    @yspsales

    My plan is to use gooseneck lamps that I can fix to the sides of the copy stand, so the lens won’t be getting in the way of the lighting.

    Yeah... anything that simplifies the process of placing the light is a winner in my book.

    The lights on the above stand were winners.

    Light is Light.

    Coins, rings, etc... are tough subjects.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

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    crazyhounddogcrazyhounddog Posts: 13,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CentSearcher said:
    @crazyhounddog

    I haven’t necessary limited myself to those three, they were simply the ones that (based on all the old threads that I read) I thought would be most suitable for me. I probably should have mentioned that, I’m more than welcome to other suggestions.

    Nice job with that Buffalo! How many of those bulbs would you recommend for one setup? And do you diffuse the light or anything else I should know?

    I generally use two lights with most coins but at times I use 3. Great light coverage and daylight to boot. I DONOT defuse my lighting. I shoot completely in manual mode. This way I have total control over what happens with my camera box. A macro lens is a must if you’re using a SLR camera.
    Good luck

    The bitterness of "Poor Quality" is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My above set up worked well for baseball cards and slabs.

    The Kaiser stand, LED continuous lighting is my next attempt. Probably will incorporate the lights from the other stand as well.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

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    The_Dinosaur_ManThe_Dinosaur_Man Posts: 839 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Daylight balanced lightbulbs will be your best bet. Build yourself a mount for a clear acetate sheet and you do some axial lighting to better capture all of the toned surfaces.

    Custom album maker and numismatic photographer, see my portfolio here: (http://www.donahuenumismatics.com/).

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In the Lisot video archives there is an entire seminar class describing a TPG’s process. Axial lighting as well as other topics.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

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    lkeigwinlkeigwin Posts: 16,887 ✭✭✭✭✭

    PCGS has never used axial lighting, according to Phil Arnold. I have played around with it but never found it useful for coins.

    I prefer Par30 flood bulbs, halogen, same as Mark Goodman, PCGS and others. That said, I have no doubt that great results can be had by lots of different lighting types given enough time and practice.
    Lance.

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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    @yspsales
    Interesting, do you have a link to the video? I saw that the ANA has a 2 hour lecture on YouTube on the topic that I was going to watch.

    I’ve tried axial lighting a lot recently. I have found it to work great with toned proofs, but seeing that all the top notch photographers don’t use it, I’m going to try the other recommended techniques.

    @lkeigwin
    I really like the photos on your website, I might try the Halogens to start off with. They can be found at most hardware stores, right?

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    yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,599 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 3:48PM

    PAR30 Flood (Halogen non-LED version, and not the Spot version).
    My Home Depot only has the LED version now, but the Halogen version can be found on ebay.
    They are hot, so you need a lamp with a good off switch, so they are on only briefly.

    Jansjo can be bought on ebay. I have tried them, but they are not as bright as the PAR30.
    For awhile I tried using multiple lights for a shot, but I like a single light better,
    as I like to shoot die cracks, so I put the light on one side and I want the shadow on the other side.
    For Lincoln cents, you might well want 2-3 lights from above, possibly with some diffusion.

    You will need to adjust the white balance on your camera to handle these lights, and it is not too hard to do.

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    rmpsrpmsrmpsrpms Posts: 1,818 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Are you going to shoot mostly raw, or mostly slabbed, or a combo? For toned coins, axial lighting brings out the colors best. Think about how you hold a coin when viewing in-hand, and then do your best to reproduce that lighting in your photo setup, and you'll find that axial is it. However, axial is not so easy to do so many photogs use different forms of "pseudo" axial. Most of these methods involve tilting the coin into the light, and with long working distances this is a simple matter since you don't need to tilt very much, so you don't cause problems with depth of field. There are other ways to do pseudo axial that don't involve tilting, such as the lens-mounted diffusers that I champion.

    PM me for coin photography equipment, or visit my website:

    http://macrocoins.com
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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 4:56PM

    https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/548910

    This is one, but not the video I was referencing.

    Below is the one I was referencing

    https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/549124

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

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    spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,476 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CentSearcher said:
    I have a month-long Christmas break coming up, so I decided it was finally time for me to piece together a nice photography setup. I've already figured out how I'm going to make a copy stand, now I'm researching what lighting I should use. I've looked through dozens of older threads here and on other forums, and I narrowed it down to one of these three:

    • Quans 5W Lamp
    • Jansjo Lights (diffused with ping pong balls)
    • PAR30 Halogen Bulbs

    I didn't want to create yet another coin photography lighting thread, but I'd really like some answers specific to what I'm looking for. I'm mainly going to be photographing toned Lincoln cents. Of the three that I listed, which one would you recommend?

    I'd really appreciate it if you shared your experiences when photographing with these lights (if you use one of them in your setup). Thanks!

    Out of that group, the Par30's, I have used them for a decade and they work fine. I am slowly transitioning to high quality LED bulbs (cost $30 apiece) that can match what the Par30's do for lighting.

    Best, SH


    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    @robec said:
    I love the Jansjo lights. The problem is finding them. I love that the are small and easy to fit in tight areas. As far as not being bright, it depends on what the temp color of the bulb. Not LED lights are the same. The Jansjo are 3000°k, while daylight (brighter) are around 5000°k. As long as you set your white balance to the right light the results should be equal. A diffuser is needed on the Jansjo to spread out the light more evenly……I use a ping pong ball.


    I've found Jansjo lights on eBay and Amazon already, so now I'm deciding whether I favor them over the other options. I love the results you got from those photos, but I'm hearing a lot of people suggest the halogens.

  • Options
    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    @rmpsrpms said:
    Are you going to shoot mostly raw, or mostly slabbed, or a combo? For toned coins, axial lighting brings out the colors best. Think about how you hold a coin when viewing in-hand, and then do your best to reproduce that lighting in your photo setup, and you'll find that axial is it. However, axial is not so easy to do so many photogs use different forms of "pseudo" axial. Most of these methods involve tilting the coin into the light, and with long working distances this is a simple matter since you don't need to tilt very much, so you don't cause problems with depth of field. There are other ways to do pseudo axial that don't involve tilting, such as the lens-mounted diffusers that I champion.

    Mostly raw, but I'd like to also be able to take nice slab shots on occasion. I decided to stray away from axial lighting to try out the other options, but I might go back to it. I saw the new thread in coincommunity with the 3d printed axial lighting setup, and I thought it was pretty neat. I have a relative with a 3d printer, so if he shares the files I might give it another try. Before I had used a simple picture frame glass and my desktop lamp (which isn't very good for coins), and it did a pretty good job.

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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 8:01PM

    For those of you who recommended PAR30 Halogens, would these work?
    Amazon link

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    yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,599 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 8:20PM

    It looks like the face of the PAR38 is 4.75" diameter, while the PAR30 is a 3.75" diameter.
    So the PAR38 might not fit into a standard desk lamp.
    I think the wattage is higher, too, so they will heat things up faster if at the same distance.

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    CentSearcherCentSearcher Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    Oops, not sure how I missed that. This should be the right one:
    Amazon link

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