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Ian Fenn's Blog

23 Dec 2015

Photographing slabbed coins

Exonumia | Ian Fenn

Longstrider in a recent post commented about photographing Encapsulated coins( at least thats what I assume he was asking). Personally I find photographing coins in plastic prisons extremely hard to do. About 6 weeks ago I found a solution that matches my techniques. It may not suit other people so it would be great to have suggestions from others. I use lenses at the largest possible aperture, this is different to the way many others photograph coins. The technique works for me because I have a large megapixel camera. With some of my lenses I find that if I use an F stop number higher than 8 the images I take suffer from diffraction blurring. With the F stops I use I am working with very shallow depths of field some times only a slice of a few microns is in focus. I understand that one sucessful technique of photographing slabbed coins is to tilt the slab slightly. I would imagine that would work very well with a deep depth of field ( using an F stop of 12 or smaller). With my technique tilting the slab would see most of the coin out of focus. My serendipitous solution arose because I was trying to make a portable light source. I have used ring lights in the past but I have found them limiting as the light source is just too close to vertical. I fitted the lens mount section from an un-serviceable ring light to a polypropylene board of 9.5 inches by 8 inches. I then attached a cold white LED lighting strip to the board. This produced a very successful lighting system that was very portable and was mains powered. By chance I tried it on an encapsulated coin( the last photo) and I was stunned by the result. I still have to finish the light panel off. So far one very useful modification was to fit a lens hood to the homemade panel light. I think the pictures are self explanatory. The third picture looks a little blurry the reason for that is the leds' are on in that picture. The coin photo shows the result that can be obtained. Cost was about US$50.00.

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22 Nov 2015

Coin Photography: Improvements to my macro photography rig

Exonumia | Ian Fenn

I have made any post for a while about my secondary hobby; photographing coins. For about three years I have been slowly building and adapting a copy stand for photographing coins. In earlier blogs I have covered some of the design points. last month I made some improvements, but as always they are compromises. First off how my copy stand is assembled. I have a Kaiser copy stand column that is counterbalanced by spring steel tape( inside the column) the column is mounted on a 2 ft square of granite ( weighs over 60 pounds) which is covered( see first picture) with black out material from Edmund's optical; you can see the uncovered stone near the column base. The granite slap sits on four sorbothane pads, the pads in combination with the weight of the slab act as Vibration isolators. This is important as my rig is on the second story of our house.

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25 Oct 2015

Commemorative medal: New Zealand

Exonumia | Ian Fenn

As a follow on from my last blog, this week sees part of my collection now residing in a new Safety deposit box. As annoying as the whole episode has been it has held a valuable lesson. In arranging the new safety deposit box I realized that I hadn't screened what was being held in the bank for a good many years. The result being that some major rarities had been stored at home and more easily replaced coins were in the bank. So in preparing to return coins to bank storage I conducted a long overdue review. On Thursday I took the scary step of transporting the coins that needed more secure storage to the new deposit box. I now understand why some dealers in the US carry! I was somewhat nervous transporting coins that were the cream of 15 years of collecting. I was so pleased when I could walk out of the bank with an empty case. The lesson, Regularly check what is stored where and adjust the storage according to replaceability of the items. Of course a day after my second delivery trip to the bank I discover I forgot one item. That item is worth sharing; An 1865 Commemorative medal from New Zealand. I have two examples the copper example is locked away in a vault in New Zealand and this one( a silver example) is here in Austria. In The standard reference on NZ commemorative medals ( covering 1865 to 1940) this medal is cataloged as number 1. The reference is Leon Morels " Medallic commemoratives" of New Zealand. Why post here? Well I know some NZ tokens and coins are popular in the USA especially those with Maori motives. Of all NZ tokens and medals I think this Morel No 1 is the most exotic and has a wide appeal. The medal came in 3 versions, a single gold example that now sits on public display in The Dunedin Museum, The silver with a population of less than 10 and then the copper with maximum mintage of 25. The silver example here is the first that has come up for sale in the last 15 years, I have not seen another example for sale. I have seen a copper example for sale in the USA a few years back. Even if you focus just on US coins, when you see an example of this medal I suspect you would find it tempting.

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