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Coin Photography-SLR Camera
Basic Equipment


Basic Equipment | Film | Camera basics | Macro (full coin) photos | Micro photographs | Slides | Adding magnification | Other tips

Basic Equipment for Coin Photography:

35mm single lens reflex camera This type of camera is vital. A single lens reflex camera essentially allows the photographer to view the actual shot through the lens of the camera, which is very important for coin photography. Many modern cameras have a secondary lens through which the photographer views the subject. An SLR camera, which has a manual mode of operation, is required. Quite often, to get a good shot, you will need to override the camera's automatic mode.


A selection of camera lenses does not have to be vast. I basically use only a 90mm macro lens for my macro shots. Other lenses can be used in combination with extension tubes and close-up lenses, but a good macro lens will produce the best results.


This is a vital tool necessary for micro photos. Some photographers use a bellows extension to enlarge very small details. I feel this can be very time consuming. Additionally, I use my stereoscope for normal examination. It takes only five seconds to attach my camera to the scope for photography. In this way, I get multiple use out of a piece of equipment. I also feel that a stereoscope provides better clarity for photos than a bellows.

Extension tubes and close-up lenses

These accessories are often necessary to get the most out of
each photograph. Extension tubes mount between the lens (or scope) and the camera body, increasing the distance from the object to the film, thereby increasing the magnification. Extension tubes are usually sold in a set of three: 14mm, 21mm, and 28mm. These in any combination allow for very tight control over magnification.

Close-up lenses are a cheaper version of providing more magnification. Most lenses have a minimum focal length (minimum distance from object to film). These lenses allow for closer focusing of objects, thereby "cheating" the minimum distance. However, at times, these can be useful to the most experienced photographer.

Copy stands

A copy stand is a device upon which the camera is mounted, usually pointing downward, so that a small object can be focused, and the camera held perfectly still. This is very
important for macro (full-coin) photos.

Other equipment

Another piece of necessary equipment is a cable shutter release. This is a cord-like object that attaches to the camera, which allows the operator to release the shutter
without touching the camera. This is important to reduce vibration during the photograph. An 80A filter is necessary for lighting correction for color work (discussed later). Other minor pieces will be discussed in more detail later in this article.