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All Posts Tagged With: "coin photography"

The Three L’s of Coin Photography

By Pinnacle Rarities

The digital age has ushered in a new coin cabinet for collectors. Digital photography allows collectors to display their treasures without leaving their valuables exposed. Registry programs and advances in the digital technology, coupled with the proliferation of the rare coin websites and social networking platforms, has made digital coin representations an integral part of a collector’s portfolio. The overall demand for quality photos has been facilitated by digital camera manufacturers who produce a number of cameras capable of capturing the nuances of rare coins. With practice, consistent high quality images can be taken by any collector, even with a limited equipment budget. If you plan on photographing your coins yourself, here’s a quick primer. Consider these three “L’s” before you get started – the lens, the lighting, and the luster.

The Lens

The first “L” stands for the lens, but it includes other camera equipment too. It isn’t necessary to spend thousands to capture images of you coins. However, don’t fool yourself. In photography, the more you spend, the more you get. The “more” may just be more bells and whistles. But most likely, the “more” will be in the optics. The cheaper lenses do not produce as sharp an image especially along the peripheries. It will perform poorly in tougher lighting situations. The general rule here is the more light that gets through the lens, the better the depth of focus. Better light will result in crisper images up close. The better the lens the more light it lets through.

In this same vein the body of the lower priced camera will not have the options and “gadgets” that the more pricey models may include. The expensive models will produce better resolution and have a wider range of file types and sizes to choose from. You will get better results with cameras that have interchangeable lenses. You should outfit these cameras with a good quality macro lens (macro zooms are adequate, I suggest splurging on a dedicated macro lens). If you’re using an “all in one” point and shoot camera, you’ll still be able to get great images. However, a macro setting is a must. The macro setting is usually a flower icon. You may want to consult your owner’s manual.

If you are planning to image coins sealed in third party holders (or slabs), consider this plastic an additional “lens”. Before you photograph your coins, be sure that you’ve cleaned the holder to the best of your ability. Fingerprints and sticker glue will fog the holder. Many holders develop scratches on the surfaces from handling and contact with other holders. These will show-up in high quality images. Some of this can be removed or at least masked using a variety of plastic cleaners and polish. The heavier scuffs may need a light polishing with the aid of a small power craft tool fitted with a polishing wheel. (We use a Dremel MiniMite). Practice this before ruining a holder on a prized possession.

You’ll need to stabilize the lens and camera. Trying to achieve anything of quality with a handheld camera is futile. A simple inexpensive tripod at the corner or a low table works as well as a professional photo stand. Remember position you camera where you’ll be able to manipulate your lights, while keeping the camera stationary. This set-up is our second “L”.

PCGS Brings TrueView Coin Imaging Service to Baltimore Show

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) will give collectors and dealers a special opportunity to have their PCGS-graded coins digitally imaged with the PCGS TrueView photo service on-site during the first two days of the Whitman Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center, November 12 – 15, 2009.

“The PCGS TrueView service offers quality images that quality coins deserve. TrueView images are among the finest in the numismatic hobby,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

“The onsite coin imaging is offered in conjunction with any PCGS show service except for crossovers. Attendees at the Baltimore show also have the option of submitting PCGS-graded coins for imaging only.”

Phil Arnold, PCGS Numismatic Photographer, will be onsite at the Baltimore show on Thursday, November 12, and the morning of Friday, November 13. The TrueView service in Baltimore will be available on a limited first-come, first-served basis. The price is $50 per coin.

For additional information, check with PCGS Customer Service representatives at booths 1308, 1309 and 1310 at the Baltimore Expo.

Images will be available for viewing on by Friday, November 20. They can be accessed by entering the coin’s certification number under Cert Verification on the Home page of the PCGS web site.

PCGS will also offer a one-day walkthrough grading turnaround for $100 on any coin with a maximum value of $100,000. Two additional show grading specials for on-site authentication and grading in Baltimore will be available to all PCGS Authorized Dealers and members of the PCGS Collectors Club:

  • $65 for U.S. and world coins valued up to $3,000 each with a minimum submission of five coins; and
  • $45 for any U.S. gold coins valued up to $3,000 each with a minimum submission of ten coins

For additional information about the Whitman Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention, visit online at

ANA Offers “Fundamentals of Digital Photography” Seminar in New Hampshire, October 24–25

At this two-day seminar, you can learn the basics of numismatic photography, under the instruction of a distinguished museum curator.

digital_photographyThe American Numismatic Association’s Florence Schook School of Numismatics is coming to New Hampshire Oct. 24–25. “Fundamentals of Digital Photography” is offered in conjunction with the New Hampshire Coin and Currency Expo in Manchester.

This two-day seminar is instructed by Douglas Mudd, curator of the ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum. Learn the basics of numismatic photography, from shooting the image to preparing it for the Web, presentations or publication, using Adobe Photoshop. Students should be prepared to bring their own “macro-capable” cameras and several coins they would like to photograph. Although not required, students are also encouraged to bring their own laptops and software.

“Fundamentals of Digital Photography” will be held each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuition is $294 for members of the ANA and the New England Numismatic Association (NENA), and $394 for non-members. ANA Basic Membership ( is $28; NENA Membership ( is $12.50.

To register, call 719-482-9850 or register online at (select “School of Numismatics” from the “Numismatic Events” dropdown menu). Register early — the seminar is limited to 10 students.

The New Hampshire Coin and Currency Expo will be held Oct. 23–25 at the Radisson Hotel Manchester, 700 Elm Street, Manchester, N.H. For more details on the expo, visit