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Light Bulbs for Coin Photos

What is the best light bulb to use for taking coin pictures? My guess was GE Reveal bulbs... are there any others that are good to use? Also, I know the Reveal bulbs come in different shapes... has anyone tested them, to see if it makes a difference which type you use? Like I know there's the regular bulb, then there's also the candle bulbs, and a floodlight type bulb. Thank you.


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    airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,910 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I use white light--Reveal gave me too much red (then again, I probably would have been fine if I had tinkered with the white balance).

    Normally, I use flood lights--they diffuse more light to put toned coins in a full glare, helping to get the color to show up. A greater slab reflection comes with regular bulbs.

    JK Coin Photography - eBay Consignments | High Quality Photos | LOW Prices | 20% of Consignment Proceeds Go to Pancreatic Cancer Research
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    JrGMan2004JrGMan2004 Posts: 7,557
    Guess I'll have to play around... thx Jeremy
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    astroratastrorat Posts: 9,221 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That answer depends on what medium you are using. That's another was of saying it depends on whether you are using digital or traditional film. If you are using film, you need to match the temperature of the lights to the temperature of the film (ask you local REAL photography store, they are smart folks). Once you do, you may still need to play around a bit with exposure, apeture, film speed, etc.

    If you are using digital, you can always use Photoshop (or equivalent) to adjust the color balance. To begin, you may wish to see if your camera can pre-adjust the white balance given a typical light source (natural, incandescent, etc.). Your camera's manual should give you the best directions. Also, walk your camera to that local photography store and ask for help. PLEASE be sure to repay their kindness by patronizing their store for supplies or a new camera.

    I use a Nikon Coolpix 950 and have been really happy with the results. A traditional photo will be higher resolution, but in my experience will require MUCH more time and skill.

    Best of luck!


    Numismatist Ordinaire
    See http://www.doubledimes.com for a free online reference for US twenty-cent pieces
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    I use the "real stuff"!!! Sunlight......Ken
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    nwcsnwcs Posts: 13,387 ✭✭✭
    It doesn't matter what kind of light source you use (for the most part) so long as you set the white balance of the camera to match it. An incandescent light source, though, is much better than a fluorescent one.
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    I didn't like reveal lighting for coins very well. It gave my coins a purple hue that wasn't there. I like either the soft light of the sun near dusk or dawn or soft halogens to get a truer representation of color in a coin. Every coin is different though, so some coins photograph in different light situations better. Normally, I'll take 40 or more shots of the obverse and 40 or more shots of the reverse with the lighting varied to get one true representation of a coin. I will usually try and get the best possible shot that requires the least amount of photoshop.
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    GluggoGluggo Posts: 3,566 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Looking for any up to date light bulbs to try taking pictures of my coins. Any more tips?

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    RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One that emits light similar in respect to daylight - 5500-degrees Kelvin.

    Correctly color balancing your camera using a Kodak Gray Card , the type of reflector and size of source in relation to the coin are more important, though.

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    BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I used reveals for a short while and found that regular halogens worked much better.

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    bolivarshagnastybolivarshagnasty Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I purchased several pairs of bulbs while experimenting and happened on a bulb that is a 60 watt enclosed fluorescent at 5000 kelvin. Used a pair in two desk lamps that give me accurate color on toned coins. As others have said, the camera will need to be setup for the bulb used.

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow...more reasons to just copy and paste ... or have my wife take a picture... ;) Cheers, RickO

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    RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ricko said:
    Wow...more reasons to just copy and paste ... or have my wife take a picture... ;) Cheers, RickO

    A picture of you copying and pasting...? Now, that is "reveal-ing." :)

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    oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,902 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 11, 2017 12:46PM

    I have read that a 5000K Light Bulb works very well.


    With my limited exposure to photography, I have used sunlight on have gotten the best results.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_aka...Dr. Defecto - Curator of RMO's

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    derrybderryb Posts: 36,209 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 11, 2017 1:02PM

    Give Me Liberty or Give Me Debt

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    RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I use electronic flash....faster than any coin can change value!

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    messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,704 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Two daylight-balanced LED bulbs in gooseneck desk lamps. I calibrate the white balance of my photos to a WhiBal card and calibrate my monitor using a Spyder5 calibration tool.

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    BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,458 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I thought George was back for a moment. Just a Thread Resurrection :|

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    lkeigwinlkeigwin Posts: 16,887 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 11, 2017 6:17PM

    Halogen. I've tried them all and this works best for my set-up.

    edited to add: Mark Goodman did some excellent testing on different lighting. Check it out here:

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    keyman64keyman64 Posts: 15,456 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve used normal incandescent, then reveal, then 4 Jansjos and now just use two floods since I primarily deal with toners these days. I really like the Jansjos for many things but when it comes to toned proofs, floods are the only way to go for me. Always use a custom white balance!

    "If it's not fun, it's not worth it." - KeyMan64
    Looking for Top Pop Mercury Dime Varieties & High Grade Mercury Dime Toners. :smile:
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    BGBG Posts: 1,762 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I prefer OTT lights.


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    silverpopsilverpop Posts: 6,599 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I use a 8W LED light or a daylight LED just depends on the coin i'm taking a photo of

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    lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,829 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have these on the way. From the reviews it looked like many buyers were using these for macro photography. Not sure how these will perform with my camera setup, but I figured I'd have to start somewhere...

    EMART Full Spectrum Light Bulb, 2 x 45W 5500K CFL Daylight for Photography Photo Video Studio Lighting

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