Three methods to take micrographs

By Wan Yu, China

Three years ago, when I used my new microscope for the first time, I did not want to take micrographs at all because I thought to draw the organisms is enough for my studies and maybe it was very difficult to do.
But my ideas have changed since I contacted my friends, they sent me many photos of different organisms. I found that photomicrography wasn't too difficult and a complement to my drawings. So I began to try to take micrographs.
After a year's work with many successes and defeats. Now I can take micrographs with three methods.


Method 1: SLR lens in place.

This is the most difficult and worst method of the three. Please look at the optical pathway and the photo created is shown in the other image below:


You can see that the field of the photo is small and in the photo there is an unsightly black ring. This method is very difficult to do. You must use a single lens reflex camera and focus your subjects under examination on the frosted glass screen of the camera very carefully. It is not a good way to take micrographs.

Method 2: SLR lens and microscope eyepiece removed.

This is a better way to take micrographs. You can see both the optical pathway and the effect created below:



This method can give the images a higher definition. But there are some disadvantages: The magnification is low and the field is still small all the same. It is not a good way to take micrographs either, but the method can enable you take photos of small plants or flowers with low magnification.

Method 3: SLR lens only removed.

This is the best way to take micrographs with all kinds of optical microscopes. It can give photos of high magnification (up to the highest magnification of your microscope), the images are very clear and fills the frame of the film. It is widely used by most microscopists all over the world. You can see both the optical pathway and the effect created below:


About the camera, you had better use a single lens reflex or a digital camera because they are easy to focus your subjects. Remove the lens from the camera and fit in an extension tube. You can buy the extension tube from most camera shops or make one with cardboard.

Notice: Although taking micrographs is very interesting, there is something you must remember. The vibrations of the camera which often happen when you press the shutter is bad for taking clear photos. So you must support your camera and microscope hard enough and use a shutter release. You must focus your objects very carefully because little warp can badly destroy the quality of the image. Make sure the image is clear enough before you press the shutter. You had better use a glass screen instead of the frosted glass screen of the viewer of your camera because the frosted glass screen is too coarse to focus your objects.

The third method is very nice to use for all microscopists, whether a professional microscopist or an amateur.

I hope this message will be helpful for you.

Many thanks to all my friends for their help.

All comments to the author Wan Yu are welcomed.

Editor's notes: Many thanks to Wan Yu for sharing this article. Wan has started his own web site to promote microscopy as a hobby in China.(The connectivity to the Chinese host of this site is rather variable).

One way of minimising the vibrations Wan remarks on, is to use an old enlarger stand as a firm independent support for the camera. See Ted Clarke's article in the August 2001 Micscape.

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Published in the August 2001 edition of Micscape Magazine.

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