Digiscope Adapters as Camera Mounts in Photomicrography

by Michael Reese Much RMS EMS

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Digiscoping is a photographic technique popularized by bird watchers to mount compact digital cameras on telescopes, such as spotting scopes, to enable high magnification telephotography. The digiscope adapter mounts to the eyepiece of the scope and has X-Y-Z axes so that the camera can be aligned with the exit pupil of the eyepiece.

Digiscope adapters can be used in microscopy as universal camera adapters for compact (Point & Shoot) digital cameras by mounting the camera on the adapter and then clamping the adapter to a microscope eyepiece.

A digiscope adapter has a clamp to secure the adapter to a scope. The platform that holds the camera has two offsets used to align the camera forwards and backwards relative to the eyepiece. It is easiest to position the camera on the forward/backward axis prior to clamping the adapter to the eyepiece. The camera platform itself has left and right and up and down positioning screws to center the lens relative to the exit pupil of the eyepiece. Before mounting the adapter to the eyepiece, the eyepiece should be locked into position with electrical tape to keep the eyepiece from rotating in its mount.

Shown above is an Olympus Stylus 810 compact digital camera mounted on a binocular microscope. The mount is secure enough that the shutter can be tripped without causing any camera movement. It is secure enough that sequences for focus stacking can be shot using the shutter button.

Depending on the size of the exit pupil of the eyepiece relative to the camera’s front lens element, the image may a circular one or a cropped circular image.

Since the camera has a zoom lens, it can be zoomed in to fill the frame. This has two advantages. First, the image can be cropped in-camera for a full-frame image directly out of camera. Secondly, lower-quality eyepieces may have some curvature of field or lack of sharpness at the periphery of the image, so zooming can be used to take advantage of the “sweet spot” of the eyepiece.

A digiscoping adapter can be useful tool in any microscopist’s microscope lab as a universal camera/video adapter. They are available in a wide range of prices. The one I used in this article costs $40.00 USD.

Tissue section of rabbit testis shot at 100X with an Olympus Stylus 810 digital camera at approximately 2X optical zoom mounted with a digiscope adapter

Comments to Michael Reese Much are welcomed.


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Published in the February 2011 edition of Micscape Magazine.

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