Ian Fenn's Blog

06 May 2015

Book Review: Three books on macro photography

Coins | Ian Fenn

Three books on macro photography, a comparative review

I recall years ago being fascinated by the technical discussions of other collectors on how best to photograph their coins. At that time I used a flatbed scanner, I progressed to a point and shot then a DSLR and now I am firmly rooted in the 21st century with a mirror less camera. My coin photography took a huge leap when I attended summer seminar in 2013. In the first week I attended the basic coin photography class. In that seminar I was provided with Mark Goodman's "Numismatic Photography" I recently purchased two more books on macro Photography Enrico Savazzi's "Digital Photography for Science" and Lester Lefkowitz's "the Manual of Close up Photography"

Here are the amazon links to each from cheapest to most expensive:




95% of coin photography is actually close up photography. True macro Photography starts at life-sized imaging. Most of the time we photograph coins at half-life size which makes it close up photography. Lens and camera manufacturers with a trick of marketing have deceived many of us. What they describe as Macro lenses are most often only close up lenses. In fact there are very few true macro lenses on the market Canon with its MPe 65mm is probably the most known , and still manufactured, of these lenses. So that leads me to the cheapest and best book for the price. Lefkowitz's Manual of close up photography. Though it doesn't have the word macro in the title it covers everything you need to know and from time to time refers to coin photography. This book was written when digital cameras didn't exist; even so it covers all the basics and includes an explanation of technical issues that are invaluable. Most importantly in explains technical problems is simple understandable terms something too many current writers seem unwilling to do. It's no longer in publication but it's cheap, dirt cheap. The postage will cost you more.

The next book is one of the few focused on coin photography, its written by a collector for collectors it's a great book, but it's a "monkey-see-monkey-do book". I am not being rude; the book is always at hand when I have a particularly uncooperative coin. The numerous pictures and instructions ensure that 9O % of the problems I encounter are covered by this one reference. For that reason it's a must have IMHO. It helps you get great photos but if you are doing anything out of the ordinary this book doesn't provide the understanding needed to solve the problems you might encounter.

The last book and the most expensive is Savazzi's Digital Photography for science. It's written for Biologists, geologists and others who want to produce macro photograph without having to become Photographers. As far as coins goes this book, though not mentioning coins more than a couple of times, gives you everything you will ever need to know including summaries of the best lenses available to you. The problem is the price. I have all three books if you have the money Savazzis book is brilliant, but if you want to maximize the amount of coin money, Buy the other two. They will give you everything you will ever need to know and they will cost, in total, less than $25.00(including postage) on a very bad day! With a bit of hunting you could get both for less than $10.00.

You should note Savazzi' refers to Lefkowitz often, there is a very good reason for that!!!!! If you are in the market for a book to help with macro photography but only want to buy one, then my recommendation must be for Lefkowitz's work



Level 5



Level 6

Great information! Thanks!


Level 6

Wow!! Thanks for the info!

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