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Two Photo Lighting Setups - Which do you Like Better?

FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,845 ✭✭✭✭✭

I recently realized my two photo lights having a slightly different color was a pretty annoying burden to me, as it was screwing up my white balance on photos. The small LED bulb they have isn't very versatile and they don't put out as much light as I'd like. I'm in the process of upgrading my setup, and wanted some opinions. The new lights are diffused, meaning that they aren't as harsh as my previous lights and give the photos a bit more of a "flat" look. The photos can be enlarged by right clicking the image and selecting "open in new tab".

I've taken an array of photos with the old and new lamps, with as many different coin types as I can mange. Let me know which ones you like better! I tried to take them in as similar a setting as was possible. In all reality, both sets of photos are accurate to the coin.

For those of you wondering - sometimes I moved the lights from obverse to reverse shot, which results in slightly different brightness levels which can be seen on some of the photos. I was focused on the coin looking like it did in hand rather than getting a perfect even brightness.

1910 5c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

1942 1c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

1958 50c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

1967 50c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

1939 50c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

1939 10c:
Diffused:

Not diffused:

Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

Two Photo Lighting Setups - Which do you Like Better?

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Comments

  • TomBTomB Posts: 20,725 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Non-Diffused Light

    In general, I believe the non-diffused images you have shared show luster better on the MS coins and are at least as good as the diffused light images for the proof coinage.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
  • pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,588 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Tough call, but I THINK the diffused light works a little better for the Proof shots, but not as good for the Unc's


    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
  • Dave99BDave99B Posts: 8,352 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Diffused Light

    Great pics, regardless of the version!

    Dave

    Always looking for original, better date VF20-VF35 Barber quarters and halves, and a quality beer.
  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,424 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Non-Diffused Light

    I think the diffused may look better if they were a bit brighter thou.

    Successful BST with ad4400, Kccoin, lablover, pointfivezero, koynekwest, jwitten, coin22lover, HalfDimeDude, erwindoc, jyzskowsi, COINS MAKE CENTS, AlanSki, BryceM

  • DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,522 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Non-Diffused Light

    I like the diffused shots to show off cameo contrast on some of them. The wheat cent and the walker both look better to me diffused, while some of the other coins images seem a little too dim in the diffused version, and non diffused shows much more luster.

  • dsessomdsessom Posts: 2,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Diffused Light

    All of your photos are fantastic! I think I slightly prefer the look of the diffused lighting on the examples shown. I need to work on coin photography. Your photos are the level of perfection I hope to achieve at some point. Great job!

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,845 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was pretty sure this would be the consensus - it will change by coin which light to use :smile:. Thanks all for the opinions!

    I think having the option to do both will be best, so I'll be getting brighter and evenly colored non-diffused light to suit that purpose (my old non-diffused lamps had fixed LEDs that can't be swapped, but the new lamps have true lightbulbs that I can swap out - much nicer and brighter).

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

  • What kind of camera do you use?
    What is the brand of light setup you use?
    Bulb wattage?

  • WaterSportWaterSport Posts: 6,705 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Diffused Light

    I am a diffused light Guy. It will capture more subtle tones, and less light bounce on irregularities, etc.

    WS

    Proud recipient of the coveted PCGS Forum "You Suck" Award Thursday July 19, 2007 11:33 PM and December 30th, 2011 at 8:50 PM.
  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,845 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Watchtower said:
    What kind of camera do you use?
    What is the brand of light setup you use?
    Bulb wattage?

    The camera is a Canon Rebel XTi on a tripod. The non-diffused lights are two desk lamps I bought at target years ago with fixed LED bulbs. They're a bit of a pain.

    The new diffused lights are two standard 60 watt desk lamps with two 3000k 1600 lumen bright white bulbs. LED wattage doesn't directly compare to an incandescent bulb, so lumens are the easiest way to compare.

    I will also be getting two non-diffused LED bulbs for the new lamp so I can switch out the bulbs from diffused to non-diffused as needed.

    Hope this helps!

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

  • A couple of more questions.
    What is the difference between diffused and non-diffused bulbs.
    To clarify what difference does it make when imaging?
    I'd like to get this right for myself.
    LED bulbs are the way to go?
    Nice clean white?
    I have no issue buying new lights and a few bulbs.
    Your images are outstanding and I would like to achieve the same results.
    I'm also now thinking of purchasing a camera.
    Any recommendations that won't break the bank?
    Thank you

  • kirkminkkirkmink Posts: 172 ✭✭✭✭
    Diffused Light

    I like the diffused pics better. I think you can play a little with the adjustments to account for any missed details. As for the non-diffused, the exposure seems too high, but this should be able to be accounted for as well.

    "Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?"- Calvin and Hobbes

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,845 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Watchtower said:
    A couple of more questions.
    What is the difference between diffused and non-diffused bulbs.
    To clarify what difference does it make when imaging?
    I'd like to get this right for myself.
    LED bulbs are the way to go?
    Nice clean white?
    I have no issue buying new lights and a few bulbs.
    Your images are outstanding and I would like to achieve the same results.
    I'm also now thinking of purchasing a camera.
    Any recommendations that won't break the bank?
    Thank you

    A diffused bulb has a frosted look to it so the light is evenly spread out when it leaves the bulb. This results in the images being a bit more "flat" as a bit of the texture appears smoother. It's hard to describe, but you can see what I'm saying if you look closely at the above images.

    I always set my white balance before taking images, so the color isn't a huge issue, but I prefer more white than yellow.

    I've always used LEDs, but I can't speak to if Halogens or Incandescent is better. I've never tried them. Some photographers swear Halogens are the best.

    As for a camera, there are a ton of threads on the forum you should check out. My family is big into landscape photography, so I use some of the older equipment my parents have and a Canon 100mm macro lens for my shots. The threads will give you a bunch of good options and help you decide what's best for you and within your budget.

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Non-Diffused Light

    I voted "Non-Diffused Light" because that technique tends to enhance an image, but in general I think a coin photograph which reflects the coin's actual appearance is best. If that is obtained by you using diffused light, so-be-it.

    BTW, in the old days the use of diffused light was dubbed "the lamp-shade effect" for obvious reasons. Practitioners today who have carried on are jwcameo and R&ICoins and MadMarty was one of the early "perfectors" of the lamp-shade.

  • The_Dinosaur_ManThe_Dinosaur_Man Posts: 836 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted other. Each coin is unique in regards to which format captures it best.

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

  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Other (Please Comment)

    I voted other, as I like them both and it may matter differently on different coin materials, as to light and dark. In other words, I like the diffused better on #1(darker), 2-3-4 not much difference, #5(walker) head better detail, #6 the diffused seems to look more detailed and lighter to me.
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
  • @FlyingAl
    I am doing some research right now. They don't seem to be very expensive.
    I hope your not bothered by my questions. I'm going to pull the trigger on one today I think.
    I understand you have a canon rebel xti, could you expand a little more?
    Do you recommend 400D, DSLR or etc?
    I don't know what anyone of the variables are with those cameras but if I could duplicate your images I would be very happy.
    If your unsure no problem. I will need to jump into some research. I'd prefer to keep it simple and as basic as I can.
    Thank you

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Other (Please Comment)

    I voted other too. Diffused light makes it easier to make proofs look black and white, but too much diffusion exaggerates the contrast unrealistically. I remember having to use the old “lampshade trick” with extreme diffusion to get proof coins to look black and white and couldn’t do better because the lights weren’t on goosenecks. But it made them look like they were cameo when they really weren’t that much “cameo” in hand. Yours are no way as diffused as that so they look fine, but you can usually get proofs to look black and white without exaggerating the cameo by angling the lights just right to not have reflections, if that is what you are trying to do. Too much diffusion always mutes luster on regular coins too.

    Mr_Spud

  • keyman64keyman64 Posts: 15,452 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Other (Please Comment)

    For proofs, I shoot with Flood Lights, not-diffused. It is better for me 100% of the time.

    For business strikes I use LEDs and do not diffuse them. If I am having an issue with a slightly bright area (over exposure) then I move the LED a little to adjust.

    So my answer is other...but technically non-diffused because I address the issue that presents itself with non-diffused light sometimes, It is my belief that PCGS uses floods for their photography and they do not diffuse the lights. They blast the coins with light and that is why it is frequently a challenge for them to show luster on toned business strike coins. With LEDs you can easily do both luster and color but floods you cannot.

    Here are my photos of this coin through a holder and then it is followed by PCGS' photo. My photos show the luster much better and are more accurate. I used LEDs for this business strike. For Proofs, the easiest way to go in my opinion is with floods since the coins tend to be darker and need more powerful lights. Granted, LEDs can work but just not the LEDs I have.


    "If it's not fun, it's not worth it." - KeyMan64
    Looking for Top Pop Mercury Dime Varieties & High Grade Mercury Dime Toners. :smile:
  • bsshog40bsshog40 Posts: 3,773 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 18, 2023 11:54AM

    I have found that it depends on the type of coin you are looking at and what you are trying to bring out in the pics. @robec told me about diffusion back a few years ago. I bought me one of those knitting rings and some diffusion paper and made one. Good for some coins but not good for all. Useful to have.

  • WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 8,952 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Diffused Light

    Generally, I prefer Diffused Lighting but there are always exceptions....

    “I may not believe in myself but I believe in what I’m doing” ~Jimmy Page~

    My Full Walker Registry Set (1916-1947)

    https://www.ngccoin.com/registry/competitive-sets/16292/

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,679 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Other (Please Comment)

    The more contrast a coin has, the more diffusion your light should have. Proofs usually look best with more diffuse lighting, while the 58-D Franklin looks best with less diffuse lighting.

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