Advice for microscope for microphotography

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LucaPCP
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Joined: Wed May 08, 2019 5:17 pm

Advice for microscope for microphotography

#1 Post by LucaPCP » Wed May 08, 2019 6:02 pm

Hello, everybody!
I am new to the forum, and in need for some advice.
I currently have an Omano 10-30x, which gives me very good views of insects and flowers (my main use) at 10x, and so-so at 30x (low contrast; likely uncoated lenses).

I have been into macro (not micro) photography for a while, and I'd like to move from 1x (my limit in macro) to the 10x to 30x range, with the goal not of viewing (that the Omano gives me), but of producing good quality images.

Currently, I am using an Omax camera mounted on my Omano, which has a 3-way head. This gives results such as the ones below (head of Orgyia Antiqua with egg of Tachidid fly). I am curious of the relative benefits of moving to:

- An Olympus microscope (I can spend in the range of $2k) again with a 3-way head and Omax 5 or 18MP camera sensor on it.

- A Dino-Lite digital scope, of the professional "Edge" 5MP series; they are about $1k.

Again, my question concerns photo quality only; for viewing, my Omano is more or less sufficient. Is it worth upgrading from my Omano for photography? And if so, to an Olympus, or to a Dino-Lite?
My gut feeling is that an instrument where the digital sensor is designed together with the optical path, as in a Dino-Lite, can be a more cost effective way to get to good quality, than via an Olympus, plus adapter, plus camera. Am I correct?

Example of what I am getting now.

At 10x:
Image

At 30x:
Image

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75RR
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#2 Post by 75RR » Wed May 08, 2019 6:35 pm

Hi LucaPCP, welcome.

Don't know if you are familiar with the photomacrography forum: http://www.photomacrography.net/

It would be a good idea to post your question there as well.
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

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wporter
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#3 Post by wporter » Wed May 08, 2019 9:50 pm

Those are nice images!

If I were you, my next step would not be an upgrade of scope or camera, but rather a move to focus-stacking. That would significantly enhance the appeal of your images, which seem to be fine in terms of resolution, focus, etc. (which, if deficient, would have been the reason for an equipment upgrade).

Scarodactyl
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#4 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu May 09, 2019 3:09 am

I think wporter is spot on. You're getting nice photos and you'll see a really big improvement from stacking, more than from buying a better microscope. The equipment side of things is fun and can be addictive, and for higher-resolution and higher-magnification work you'll need something with more horsepower, but at least at web resolution it looks like you have what you need for now.

And 75rr's suggestion to spend some time on photomacrography is also very good, particularly if you want to go deeper into this rabbit hole.

As a general note stereo scopes are not ideal for photography. You can take good pictures on them but they have resolution limits that are the cost of their zooming optics, long working distance and 3D view. If you just want something for photography and don't need those other features there are better options.

One way or another, I would personally not go with a dino-lite. I have seen plenty of happy customers out there, but with this sort of product you're locking yourself in to the built-in camera. Cameras go obsolete but quality optics don't, so it's best to be able to upgrade your camera separately. Plus if you buy a good used scope it will maintain its resale value as long as it is in good shape.

If you do want to buy a stereo or similar, your 1-2k can go a very long way if you buy used. An Olympus SZH, Wild M8 (or Wild M420, not technically a stereo but better for photography), Nikon SMZ-10 or one of many other older research-grade scopes can give you very good results. These were originally sold for exceptionally high prices, and as long as they're still in good shape the optics won't be much less advanced than an equivalent new scope, and in most cases build quality will actually be higher.

On the camera side, mounting an older DSLR gives you really a really great quality-to-value ratio, and the right ones will give you a lot of the live view and computer-control tools that a dedicated microscope camera has. I use a Canon T6, which gives nice 18mp shots, and can easily control it from my computer with live view. One of them goes for around 200 dollars used from what I've seen. I don't know how much the 18mp from Omano costs, so hard to know if this is a savings, though I suspect the quality of photos would be higher.

LucaPCP
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#5 Post by LucaPCP » Fri May 10, 2019 7:18 am

wporter wrote:Those are nice images!

If I were you, my next step would not be an upgrade of scope or camera, but rather a move to focus-stacking. That would significantly enhance the appeal of your images, which seem to be fine in terms of resolution, focus, etc. (which, if deficient, would have been the reason for an equipment upgrade).
Thank you. Yes, you are right. I have Olympus cameras, which can do focus bracketing at very fine levels. I am going to start that way, and learn how to merge image stacks. From there I will learn also how to do stacks with the stereo microscope.

The problem for some images is that things move! I had to wait until the caterpillar above was sleepy for taking the photos. Even then, though, the caterpillar was breathing; slightly but continually using its body like an accordion in order to breath in and out air via the micro-tracheas in the body.
The movement was slight enough that photos came out sharp (the ones above were taken with 50ms exposure, or 1/20s), but I wouldn't have been able to do stacking with a live caterpillar.

jfiresto
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#6 Post by jfiresto » Fri May 10, 2019 1:40 pm

LucaPCP wrote:… The problem for some images is that things move!... I wouldn't have been able to do stacking with a live caterpillar.
My brother first refrigerates his bugs. It keeps them still while he photographs them and seems to do them no harm.
-John

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Radazz
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#7 Post by Radazz » Fri May 10, 2019 3:28 pm

Welcome to the forum! I’ve found most of the stereo microscopes in my collection move the center of focus when taking photos for stacking.
Picoley will let you align the images while stacking.

I’m sure there are better stacking options out there, but this one does all I’ve needed so far.
Radazz
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70 HMC
Olympus BX40 Phase Contrast
Olympus SZ40 Stereoscope

LucaPCP
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Re: Advice for microscope for microphotography

#8 Post by LucaPCP » Sun May 19, 2019 2:22 am

Thank you, I am learning with Helicon and (so far) macro photography and so far I like the results a lot!

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