Test your exposures. Simply run a couple of "test" rolls keeping track of each and every shot, what adjustments you made, and the readings associated with that shot. This process will help to reduce frustration in the future.
Dead batteries can cause problems at the worst and least expected time. Keep your batteries fresh, and keep an extra set available at all times. Your batteries will die just when you need them the most. Batteries are cheap!
When taking your photographs, look before you snap. It's often helpful to be able to see die markers or some significant feature on the surface of the coin. These may come in handy in the future, either in identifying the coin or the die.
Organize your prints, slides, and negatives so that they can be retrieved easily. I file my prints in the following manner. Micro shots of die varieties are filed in separate envelopes by denomination, date, and variety. Macro shots are filed by denomination, type, and date sequence. Photos of errors are filed by error type, and by denomination within that error type. I have about 20,000 prints on file and can put my hands on most specific prints within a minute.
Slides are also filed by topic, and most are housed in carousels ready to show. The carousels are not really expensive, and whenever I create a new slide presentation, I will buy a new carousel. Negatives are also filed. Each time I have a roll of prints processed, I will assign a number to that roll. This six-digit number will be as follows: 920809. This simply means that the roll was taken in August of 1992, and it was the ninth roll I processed that month. In this way, I can always determine when the photograph was taken.
The prints from that roll are numbered as soon as I receive them. The number is placed on the back and includes the roll number and the exact frame negative number. In this way, whenever I pull a print for use in a publication, or if I need to have a copy or copies made, I can put my hands on the exact negative in a matter of seconds. Even photos that I shot twelve years ago! You'd be surprised how much time and irritation this procedure will save in the future.
Buying film can get expensive, but you can save money here as well. In the back of almost any photographic magazine, there are several ads of companies which sell film, supplies, and equipment at prices far less than your local camera store. For instance, XP-2 is usually about $4.75 per roll in most camera shops. But I will buy 100 or 200 rolls at a time from one of these companies for $2.95 per roll. Quite a savings!
However, if you don't use much film, I highly recommend that you buy from your local camera store. Try to develop a relationship with the owner. If you do so, he/she will be much more likely to help you when you need advice.
I hope these tips will assist you with your coin photography. If you should encounter a tip I might
include in the future, please let me know. My goal is to be as helpful as possible -- both now and in the future.
If you try some photos and are not satisfied with the results, feel free to send them to me, and I will offer my suggestions. I may be able to tell you something simple that you can do to make the photo better. If you do, please include some return postage. I'll always be happy to assist you in every way possible.
J. T. Stanton is President of Stanton Books and Supplies. Mr. Stanton may be contacted at
Stanton Books and Supplies, P.O. Box 15487, Savannah, GA 31416 or by email at