I've been an on-again, off-again amature photographer for some time. Recently, I've developed skills needed to photograph coins. You can find some of my work at RNA Presidential Medals, RNA Non-Presidential Medals, and Empire State Numismatic Association Convention Badges .
Photographing small items, like coins, is called macro photography. Photographing really small items, like the letters on a coin, is called micro photography. I've been largely self-taught as there is little information on the internet or in print for photographing coins. There's plenty of books to help with photographing insects and other natural items. One of the few published sources is Numismatic Photogarphy by Mark Goodman. I highly recomend this valuable book that has helped me a lot.
There's little agreement on exactly who to distingquich micro photography from macro photography from just plain-old photography. I tend to define these terms based on the equipment I use, and the subject I'm photographing. Others try to be more specific based on magnifications or other technical details.
|This is plain-old photography.|
This is about what I see when I hold a coin at a comfortable viewing distance.
The subject in plain-old photography is something you can normally see using your bare eyes at a normal distance. Of course, normal for you might not be normal for me, and your eyes might be better (or worse) than mine. Hold a small item at arm's length. The level of detail you see here is the level of detail you can capture using plain-old photography.
Some say that plain-old photography is recognized by the image projected onto the film or sensor is smaller than the actual item.
You obtain these results using the same general purpose camera equipment that you would use to record your vacation. Just about any camera with whatever lens came with it will work.
|This is macro photography.|
This is about what I see when I hold a coin as close as possible to my eyes. Or at least what I used to see. My eyes arn't what they used to be.
The subject in macro photography is something you can see using your bare eyes held as close as you can see in the best light possible, assuming you have excellent vision.
Some say that macro photography is recognized by the image projected onto the film or sensor is the same size as the actual item.
To obtain these results you will normally use a lens designed specifically for macro work. These lenses look like any other lens but are optimized for this level of magnification. The equipment used to create this image is described on my Macro Photography page.
|This is micro photography.|
This is about what I see when I view a coin under a microscope. This image is of the pin on the lapel of Mr. Gillette on the medal above.
The subject in micro photography is details that you could never see with your bare eyes, no matter how close you hold the item, how good the light is, and how good your eyes are.
Some say that micro photography is recognized by the image projected onto the film or sensor is larger than the actual item.
To obtain these results you will normally use special lenses and other equipment. You might use an adapter to attach your camera to a microscope. Another common piece of equipment is a bellows. This is similar to the microscope tube, but allows the photographer to move the lens closer or farther from the camera to adjust the amount of magnification. The lens will usually look like a microsope lens, but might have an iris to allow adjustment of the f-stop. The equipment used to create this image is described on my Micro Photography page.