The problem of even lighting
Going down this road is probably a mistake... a soul-sucking, time-destroying, horrible mistake. I remember how much time I spent trying to take "good" photos of my coins last time. I don't need to do that again... but I wanted to try...
In 2007-2009, when I did the bulk of my collecting and coin photography I could never really get pictures I was happy with. This is a problem many of us share. Coins are highly reflective surfaces and you can't just point a light at a coin and take a picture. You'll get a big blown-out white spot in the middle. The slabs make this even harder by putting another reflective surface, often scratched, in front of the coin and adding problems with glare. Photographically, this is hell.
I never could figure out how to eliminate glare, light the coin evenly and avoid excessive highlights and blowing out details on the coins. I tried all sorts of things but it just never seemed to work. Part of this was limitations in my available lights, 2 100 Watt desk lamps.
In 2011 I did a complete overhaul of my camera equipment. I won't bore you with the details but my new equipment is a lot better and offers me a lot more control, particularly with lighting. I've also shot about 5000 pictures this year (more than the last 5 years combined) and I've learned a lot in that time. I haven't tried taking a picture of a coin in 2 years, and part of me just really wanted to try it... great way to kill 2 or 3 hours apparently. I wanted to share one of the results.
I've finally taken a picture with almost perfectly even light over the surface of the coin. I'm not sure this is a "good" thing since I've also killed the contrast on the surface of the coin and the luster that we all normally look for in a coin that "pops" and gives us that "WOW" response, but I managed to light the coin evenly without glare, which counts for something, right?
Let me know what you guys think. Here's the pictures from the other year: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinView.aspx?PeopleSetCoinID=863571
I'm not sure if it's an improvement or not. The loss of luster in the image kinda bugs me.
No, I'm not about to re-image my entire-collection. I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment.