Photography Tips: Photographing Coins

Most folks might try using a tent or umbrellas of some sort to photograph a coin but what about a beam splitter? A beam splitter is a piece of glass that can have 60 percent reflectivity on one side and 40 percent on the other. This is angled in between the coin and the camera lens roughly at a four five degrees. A light is placed parallel to the studio camera’s film plane shinning against the glass and reflecting onto the coin. You can actually watch the coin lighting using tungsten lights as you change the angle tilt of the glass. Find the lighting suits you best and click.


Don’t have a beam splitter, neither do I; try using simple piece of glass. This will give more contrast on a small shinny object than anything I have used, takes up no extra space in the studio and very easy to learn.

Diagram layout:


Tutorial submitted by David W Sussman
Panama City, Florida –

See also: MicroStock Photography | Photography Tips

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Comment by Tixx
2007-07-13 11:52:23

Very useful trick, thanks!

Comment by Stephen Blair
2009-07-12 21:07:10

I have this reflective setup, and it works great on single, unencased coins.

If I try to photograph a slabbed coin or a prof set in a plastic case, I get the reflection of the light source that bounces off the plastic encasing.

Do you know a way to get around this? Single proof coins come out beautifully and I would like to get the same results with plastic encased coins.

Stephen Blair


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