Microscope for Coin attribution and photos

for microscope coin attribution, a 16mp microscope camera is used.

Microscope for coin attribution allows us to take some amazing photos.

Microscope for coin attribution – I have done this for the last several decades or so. I was getting tired of the eye strain and bright light combo of a loupe. Do not get me wrong, in a pinch, I can use a loupe – a rather expensive $110.00 version – that is so I don’t lay it around anywhere and simply lose it.

The Microscope for coin attribution setup that works for me

Since coin show gatherings are allowed once again, I have set up the microscope and limited equipment at shows since our table display setup has changed. Coin collectors and clients who have seen the system I use have ramped up the questions about the setup.

So here goes a post to point collectors to let people know what type of system I have and that this system works for me. This setup may NOT work for you. Everyone has their own thoughts, plans and want a specific result from the purchase. If you purchase any equipment, do so at your own risk. Planning, research a good budget, a reasonable means to help pay off the investment should all be considered.

American Scope microscopes www.amscope.com

A microscope coin attribution setup. A trinocular stereo microscope
A microscope for coin attribution setup. A trinocular stereo microscope

Microscope for coin attribution types

I made my three microscope purchases all from Amscope. To me they seem to have prices that I could afford, and have a wide variety of selections that may fit for a large audience. The AmericanScope website is https://amscope.com/

Your choices are plenty, so it is important for you to do your research and find a solution that works for you and potentially others that may assist using this tool.

When I made MY choice, I knew I wanted a stereo microscope for coin attribution . Here is a pretty simple explanation of a stereo microscope: A stereo microscope is a type of optical microscope that allows the user to see a three-dimensional view of a specimen. Otherwise known as a stereo zoom microscope, the stereo microscope differs from the compound light microscope by having separate objective lenses and eyepieces.

With this microscope for coin attribution, I wanted the ability to take photographs. Plus, I wanted to be able to seeand adjust the coin slightly by eye, getting the coin in almost the right position and then finalizing the spot while looking at a screen of some type.

So I researched a little more. I found one that is a stereo TRI-nocular type. The trinocular microscopes have three ports that “things” can look at the coin under magnification. The only downfall to this setup is several of them allow you to only use two of the three ports at one time. The type of microscope hinged on what type of setup(s) I wanted and what diversity would I need in order for this to work without needing to purchase items later.

Proper orientation helps too

Additionally, a big deal to me was, I wanted to have the coin oriented with me rather than 180 degrees out. So I knew I wanted to buy something that was forward facing and I would not have to stumble when I moved a coin into position. I would not have to think in reverse in order to set a coin for a photograph.

Now, it boiled down to what type of microscope for coin attribution I wanted and how much extra effort did I want to do in order to take photographs, or potentially have the ability to move and/or change the set up? I finally decided that for the photography side, it depended on the type of camera I wanted and where that camera would be mounted.

Binocular possibilities

What I would have to do is remove one of the eyepieces from the microscope and insert a shim or a bushing/spacer into the microscope opening, IF I had a BI-nocular microscope. Binocular microscopes have the standard two eyepiece configuration.

Now, how does one take quality photos with this setup? It’s a question that has to be answered.

Trinocular possibilities

If I had a TRI-nocular microscope it may be able to sit in place and potentially not require me to remove eyepieces and pull equipment in and out. The microscope lens and attached camera slide into that eyepiece and should rest pretty easily. It is a heavy setup, the one I have weighs close to 17 pounds. But the type of stereo microscope for coin attribution that I have is heavy enough that it will not tip over. But this setup limits my ability in some ways. With use of a Binocular microscope, it may be a bit clumsy to try and peek down the eyepiece that is still installed and see the coin in question.

When using a Trinocular microscope, some times you need to pull out a silver colored rod in order to enable the trinocular port. in my case, by pulling the rod out, it enables the trinocular port, but it disables the left eyepiece. A small price to pay in my opinion.

Microscope camera types

Several years ago when I went to Amscope, I searched for microscope cameras and two different versions had popped up. Will this method work with a Microscope for coin attribution ?

I do not know if Amscope sells the first type anymore, but it’s a microscope camera lens that fits onto a standard digital camera. I bought one that fits my Canon Rebel T3i. You use this camera as a primary lens.

For microscope coin attribution, a lens for a DSLR camera
A shim and a lens for a DSLR camera for a Microscope for coin attribution
Microscope coin attribution with a DSLR camera in the far eyepiece.
A Microscope for coin attribution with a DSLR camera in the far eyepiece.

The second type of microscope camera is one that has everything in one setup. It can be inserted into an eyepiece slot or it can be placed in a trinocular port as well. There are many different type of these microscope cameras. These microscope cameras also have a set megapixel rating as well. I wanted something affordable, but I did not want to sacrifice the photos.

The digital camera below has a cord that plugs into a USB port of a PC or laptop. The camera typically comes with software that is easy install. It may take some time to get your software configured, but once it is close, fine tuning it per coin should be easy.

for microscope coin attribution, a 16mp microscope camera is used.
A 16mp microscope digital camera used with a microscope for coin attribution
Microscope coin attribution with a 16mp digital camera in the trinocular port
A Microscope for coin attribution with a 16mp digital camera in the trinocular port

The Microscope for coin attribution was on hold until I decided on what type of camera I wanted to use.

I then asked myself, do I want to have a setup that is stable and hardly moved or one that I can break down and set back up? I decided that I wanted flexibility. I wanted to have the ability to do different setups and change these setups should one specific condition may not work. Diversity is nice to have.

I decided to go with an Amscope Stereo Trinocular microscope so I could change the setup as needed. Let us concentrate on the setup I use the most. I decided to get a microscope for coin attribution that offered 10x, 20x 30x, 40x and 80x power.

The 80x power is used when I add the 2x barrow lens, which screws into the base of the microscope lens. The barrow lens in another additional lens which gives additional magnification to the overall picture. I bought a microscope which came with a 2x Barrow lens with each of the large microscopes I purchased.

I have purchased two microscope digital cameras so far and both work great. I have a 14 megapixel and a 16 megapixel version. I wanted a higher degree of clarity since the photos I will be taking needs to show the variety as clear as possible. I thought about getting 10 MP but I simply told myself that its better to pay a little more and get better photos and not have to wait and upgrade again later.

The choices are all up to you. Please do so wisely and at your own risk. My setup is no longer available, it appears.

A similar setup is available on Amscope here:


20X-30X-40X-60X Trinocular Stereo Microscope with Top & Bottom Lights – AmScope

Microscope Camera:

16MP USB3.0 Real-Time Live Video Microscope Digital Camera – AmScope

Coin attribution miscoscope from Amscope.
A Microscope for coin attribution – my setup

WARNING ! When using a barrow lens, the threads are real fine. It takes patience and a steady hand to get the barrow lens added to the microscope properly. If it is lined up properly it should screw on effortlessly and there should be at least 4 complete turns before it comes to a stop. Take care when adding the barrow lens to keep the threads from cross threading.

I waited for the holidays to purchase most of my equipment. I did find a 14 megapixel digital camera on clearance. That one became part of the setup that is used at shows. I eventually bought a 16mp digital camera setup for use at the house. It is simple to make a trip to the storage vault, pick up a box of tubed Lincoln cents and photograph what I can and take those boxes back later.

Magnification types

Lastly know the difference in magnification through an eyepiece if they offer eyepieces with 10X magnification, when you spin the magnification dial on the lens you should see say 20X and 40X magnification. The 10X eyepiece with the x4 power setting on the lens would get you 40, and adding a barrow lens will give you additional magnification, depending on the barrow lens multiplier.

Then know the magnification through trinocular port where there is no eyepiece magnification. Call the company you are going to do business with and have a list of questions to ask them. Everyone has their own tastes and specific wants when it comes to purchases, so please make sure you are buying what you need or can grow into. Make sure it makes sense, will be used enough to potentially help you earn a return on the investment.

Proper lighting can be a PAIN with a Microscope for coin attribution

I use LED lightbulbs that are daylight color. I have to use a sheer white cloth over the top of the lights I use in order to get the right effect. Some people say you should only use one light and it will provide a proper image. I have been using two lights to balance out the photos for well over 30+ years. I like the setup a lot better and the photos come out amazing.

The photos in this post were done with two lights: Amazing Repunched mint mark – Educational Series 2021 (minterrors.org)

The lighting levels will change on various magnification settings as well as what ever resolution photo size you select.

The software that comes with the 14 and 16 MP digital camera I bought allows me to manipulate the lighting making it a bit easier to manage lighting. Some times it takes a lot of patience and ingenuity to get a perfect shot.

Which microscope for coin attribution ? The decision is up to you

Should you decide to purchase a Microscope for coin attribution , have fun with it. It has helped me devise a plan to identify error coins and varieties a lot quicker and with less eye strain. It also allows me to take up close and personal photographs of an area on the coin. I can then use my cell phone camera to take the fill obverse and reverse photos of the coin to complete the photos needed for a good attribution.

Please see some of my posts on the https://minterrors.org website in order to see the type of photographs that are available when using a microscope with a digital microscope camera, like this one: Amazing Repunched mint mark – Educational Series 2021 (minterrors.org)

Questions about this website or about coins in general ?
Questions about this website or about coins in general ?