Review of a Mobile Camera to Microscope Adaptor Page 1
Universal Cell Phone Adapter Mount
for Binocular, Monocular, Spotting Scope, Telescope, and Microscope
by Mol Smith
With so many younger people (and many adults, too) now seeing their cell phones as indispensable items, I thought it worth looking at some of the good and not so good gadgets offered as attachments for exploring the small scale world.
From Macro lens to fish eye, and miniature microscopes that attach directly to the smart phone, a range of inexpensive Chinese imports are for sale on Amazon. The first one which I thought might prove more useful than some of them was a Universal Cell Phone Adaptor for a range of optical viewing instruments, including a microscope. I won't say the brand name as I consider this not to be a manufacturer's product review but a generalised first look at the type of device. But this one
(see above and right) cost £15.00 (UK pounds).
Most Microscopists know it's probably best to use an SLR camera and attachment dedicated to that, or a dedicated microscope digital camera for serious work. Stability, vibration, and any micro movement of alignment is magnified tens to hundreds of times when working to capture video or still images. Precision and a rock-steady set-up is a first requisite!
However, it's likely that young people with busy, fast lives, are more likely to use a mobile camera and are probably quite satisfied with a less than perfect shot of something on the stage of a budget microscope, so I carried out the review with such an instrument (an entry-level monocular microscope).
Bare Bones Attachment
The attachment looks fairly well made. Support for your mobile phone is by way of an adjustable clamp which has soft inner pads to protect the edges of the phone. The clamp attached to a bracket via a sliding screw in a slot, allowing the phone holder to move vertically and swivel on itself 360 degrees.
Attachment to the microscope is by means of a thumbscrew clamp which slides over the eyepiece to be gently closed to grip it.The video (left) demonstrates the build.
No instructions were included, in typical 'just try' mode, I clamped the thing onto the microscope and put the phone into the holder... thus (See right). I thought once I had it on the microscope, I would loosen the clamps to align the phone camera with the centre of the eyepiece lens. My phone is an LG G5. It has a brilliant set of cameras, but most smart phones, I believe, will work with this attachment. See video (right). The eyepiece lens 'rattles' a bit in the tube on this microscope,
so I use a slip of paper wrapped 3/4 of a turn around the eyepiece to firm up the fit.
But that didn't work. Too much messing around was needed to try and align the phone both in a perpendicular plane and then to line up the tiny camera lens to the eyepiece centre. It's best to pre-align the eyepiece with the camera on the phone, by putting the phone in the clamp and the eyepiece in the thumbscrew clamp. Once you think you have it centred, pop it in the tube. You'll see me putting that slip of paper on again here. Not quite fully aligned but it will do for now to test
the quality of the images.
So, let's put a specimen slide on the stage: a Water Beetle. You can watch me fiddling around with the light, substage iris aperture and condenser, and the focus controls. The Moiré effect is the result of my SLR filming the camera screen and the rainbow patterning is not visible on the camera screen. I filmed this from the phone camera which you can watch on the next page to see the quality yourself.