Helpful Tips for Imaging Coins with a Digital Microscope

Imaging coins can be a little tricky to master as the reflective nature of coins can turn capturing a simple picture into a challenging task.

Coin 06


Here are a few tips for getting a nice crisp image with a Dino-Lite digital microscope.

  • ALWAYS turn off the built-in ring lights on the scope for slab shots.  This is usually needed for any WHOLE non-slabbed coin shot as well. The ring lights can be used when viewing or inspecting coins under magnification.

  • A white background is typically recommended (some people prefer gray or even black; black will help hide shadows created by side lighting).
  • If you are viewing a “cameo proof” coin then remember that the mirrored surface area is just that…a mirror. To avoid getting a direct reflection of the actual scope or scope light bulbs, etc. (they will appear as these little green spots in the image)… simply tilt the scope until these spots or other reflected “artifacts” are out of the image (FOV) or “hidden” behind a non-mirrored area.

  • The slightly tilted (without any noticeable distortion) scope trick is good for preventing those pesky overhead lights from interfering as well (a dome will help with this too). Simply tilt the scope away from any overheads and preferably towards a dark area.


    Related: Looking for the right Dino-Lite to view/inspect/image/catalog Coins? 

  • Oblique or angled “applied” external lighting used for your imaging (OTT lamp or other regular desktop lamps) helps a great deal. It will also help eliminate any scratches on the surface of the plastic slab AND it will help you attain a nice black “field” appearance on your proof coins. (PS: using purely diffused light will make the cameo look milky, which most people like but some do not. However, it will make things easier overall). Note: many of the professional shots in catalogs, etc. are taken using diffused light which is why so many of the proof coins have this “milky” field.

  • The saturation feature in the software tools is good for all colored/toned coins (you can set it and still use for silver coins too). You can do miracles with this on toned coins without having to tilt the coin for effect AND it is not cheating (RGB white balance will actually ADD or SUBTRACT colors… a common trick to make gold more yellow, etc….saturation does not actually do this in the same way. Contrast can help with toned coins too. Of course, you do not want to overdo it with these “real-time” tools/settings.

  • If you happen to have any “articulating” type lamps (like the ones used at the coin shows), then you can easily and cheaply convert these to VERY effective external light sources AND you can set the desired position without having to have a lamplight in your hand and moving it around and holding it while you get that perfect shot. You would need to get rid of that incandescent bulb and go to any hardware department to buy a “compact fluorescent” OR an LED bulb in the “daylight white” realm.

  • Follow these simple guidelines and with a bit of practice, inspecting and imaging coins will be a breeze.

Have some questions?  Contact us with any questions about Dino-Lite microscopes!

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