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    I’ve noticed that photos in the images range from low quality scans to almost HD quality pictures. I’ve recently taken a photography class and I understand the three basic elements now. Now I’d like to expand my lenses and take some high quality photos of my collection. Do any of you have recommendations on Macro lenses? I have a Sony Alpha A33 frame and 18-55mm lens. I’m looking to get nice close-ups of the medals to really get the relief to pop out. Any suggestions?


    Hi Redleg

    There are numerous options, which in part depend on budget also.

    Canon tends to be better for this kind of work, because they have (good/free) tethering software which is good for critical focusing via computer – far superior than hand held approach. A copy stand is also essential for sharp images. A super camera is not required, as typical medal use doesn’t need maximum megapixels (used ebay cameras are good buys).

    For normal medals, I normally use a Canon DLSR with 60mm Macro USM lens. (many macro photographers recommend the 100mm version, but I found that is not very suitable for medal photography as it requires a very long distance from the camera).

    For larger items like medals with sashes, cases, certificates – I use a 24mm USM IS lens. I found old non-IS lens to be poor performers for digital photography – typical zooming will be unclear on older “soft” lens and thus dissapointing.

    For very small items such as hallmarks, I would go with the microscope objective and bellows approach (below).  The famous Canon 65mm macro I didn’t find as good.  Stacking is likely required.

    The coin community forum has a lot on this subject: They tend to go for budget setups suitable for coins (similar to medals – flat-ish small objects), based on enlarger lens (or microscope objective) on bellows with copy stand (typically cheap obsolete gear – the introductory setup is less than $300).  This will typically get much sharper than a macro lens, however stacking may be required for medals with depth.  Their discussions tend towards smaller items.  I did some forays into this, and although there is a learning curve, the sharpness is better.

    Learning the lighting aspects is more important than special gear.




    Don’t forget I and previous Database Managers are working with what we are sent/can find, so if you can take a higher quality picture of something we already have an image of, I’d welcome it for inclusion.

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