What features does my microscope need for photography?

There are several possibilities to take pictures through the microscope. A camera is either attached in front of the eyepiece (afocal photography), or inserted into the microscope tube instead of an eyepiece (eyepiece cameras). Eyepiece cameras come with installed lenses. If you want to do much photography, then a trinocular head, with a phototube is highly recommended, but unfortunately, also quite expensive.

Features of the microscope suitable for photography include:

  • A bright lamp: The brighter the lamp, the shorter the exposure times which are possible. This allows you to capture fast moving microorganisms. A minimum of 20 – 30 Watts (halogen lamp) is recommended.
  • A trinocular head is recommended, unless you want to use the camera instead of an eyepiece. With a trinocular head, you are able to work visually and take pictures at the same time. There might be a small difference in focus, however.
  • Köhler illumination is highly recommended. It increases image contrast by reducing stray light inside the microscope.
  • A camera adapter: If you have a dedicated eyepiece microscope camera, then the adapter and associated optics is already included. You simple use the camera instead of an eyepiece. If you want to to take pictures with an SLR camera, then you need a specific adapter solution, which is often manufacturer dependent. Due to the weight of the SLR and adapter, it is not possible to mount these on an eyepiece tube (you need to mount it on the photo tube of the trinocular head).
  • Stability: The microscope must be sufficiently stable to support the weight of the camera. This is especially the case when the camera is mounted instead of the eyepiece. There is the danger of the microscope tipping over due to the weight.

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