by William Ells
Coniferae, Walnut Tree Lane, Loose, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 9RG, UK.

It is a fairly simple matter to take photographs through a microscope, particularly if you have a microscope with a fixed limb focussing, by raising and lowering the stage. My first efforts were with a home made vertical tube on which to fix the camera attachment plus the SL reflex camera with its lens removed. A piece of brass tube from an old garden spray, a block of wood to which was fixed a dovetail made of aluminium to fit the microscope comprised the vertical tube. A much neater job can be done if you have a lathe. (See the set up on a Vickers microscope fig. 1).

If you have a microscope with fixed stage and focussing by raising and lowering the tube the weight of the camera may push the tube down, in this case you will have to support the camera on a separate stand, or you could try using the microscope in a horizontal position with the camera supported on something of suitable height. (See fig.2).

A much better arrangement than either of the foregoing is a microscope fitted with a separate camera tube, this has the advantage that the camera can remain in place while viewing through the bino. or monocular, (see fig.3).

If your objective lenses are parfocal you may be able to switch from viewing to camera without adjustment, I have to make minor adjustments viewing through the camera, here the problems arise because the normal camera screen is unsuitable for focussing highly magnified objects, you really need a plain screen with cross wires. If using a cheap second-hand camera as I do, a little luck is needed to get the best results.

If you are well endowed (financially), or have had a grant for the purpose from a scientific society, you can purchase a microscope with a built in camera system, ideally with flash included and a good photograph is guaranteed every time.

Editor's note:
Three photomicrographs taken by Bill Ells of desmids, an attractive green algae are shown below.

Fig. 4 Euastrum oblongum

Fig. 5 Cosmarium botrytis. The semi-cells have come apart, it can be seen that the end view is elliptical. The face view is that normally seen. A reminder that desmids are three dimensional objects, only a few desmids could be described as flat.

Fig. 6 Bambusina brebissonii


Editor's note
The Micscape Editor thanks William Ells for contributing this article. Note that Bill Ells has written a number of articles on desmids which are an attractive and fascinating algae, including an
Introduction to the Desmids. All these articles can be found in our Articles Library in the Pond-life section.


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