Monday, March 10, 2014
Microscope photography: taking close-ups of anatomical features
(Microscope photo of the ventral teeth on the anal claws of a free-living caddisfly larva.)
One of our readers has asked what sort of set-up I use for my diagnostic microscope photos. Since others might like to play at this business as well, here's how I do it. One caveat at the very beginning: there are many, many ways to take microscope photos. I doubt that my way is the best -- but it's good enough for me. (But I'm happy to entertain suggestions on how to improve.)
1. My microscope is an Omano 2300S-V3 Zoom Stereo. My magnification range is 7X -- 45X. The round black plate on the base of the scope can be flipped over to a white side. I often try both sides to see which works the best. My specimens are in a petri dish filled with alcohol.
2. Forget the ring light they send you with the scope. You need "Goose-neck" lights to get decent lighting. I use AmScope LED lights, which are relatively inexpensive, but there are lots of units from which you can choose.
3. To attach your camera to the microscope you need two different things: 1) a "ring adapter," which is camera type specific (e.g. Canon, Nikon), and 2) an eye-piece adapter. Make sure that your eye-piece adapter is the same diameter as your microscope eye-piece.
4. One end of the eye-piece adapter is threaded and screws on to the ring adapter, the other end fits over the eyepiece on your scope.
5. The ring adapter then fits on to your camera body just like a lens. I.e. you line up the red or white dots on the two units, fit together and twist (that's the way it works with my Canon, at least). So, YOU WILL NOT BE USING ANY LENS ON YOUR CAMERA: the microscope objective BECOMES your camera lens.
6. Slip the eyepiece adapter over the eyepiece on the scope and tighten to secure.
7. You're good to go. To focus your shot, use the focus knob on your microscope, and to get the right light, adjust the shutter speed on your camera. I usually work between 1/20th second to 1/4th second -- but sometimes I go slower and sometimes I go faster.