DIY Axial Lighting Setup for Coin Photography

Started Jun 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Jim Salvas
Jim Salvas Veteran Member • Posts: 5,671
DIY Axial Lighting Setup for Coin Photography
3

Here is an oldie but goodie.

This is my setup for photographing coins using axial lighting. This technique allows the light to appear as if it is coming straight out of the camera lens.

I made a foamcore box, lined it with black velvet to block stray light, and mounted a thin piece of glass in it at a 45-degree angle. The camera is mounted on a copy stand, aimed down into the open top of the box.

The light from the snooted flash on the left strikes the glass, bouncing the light down to the coin, which rests on the bottom. The effect is as if the light were coming directly from the axis of the camera lens. Note that the box side on the left extends almost up to the level of the flash, to cut down further on extraneous light.

With this lighting, any surface perpendicular to the lens reflects the light brightly. Any surface angled away from this axis shows up as increasingly darker. There are no actual shadows, only brighter and darker areas, depending on how much light is reflected back to the camera.

This photo shows the high level of detail you can get with this setup...

If you make one of these, you can check the angle of the light by substituting a small, flat mirror for the coin. The light should then be bright and clearly visible in the viewfinder of the camera.

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Jim Salvas
"You miss 100% of the shots you never take." - Wayne Gretsky

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