Taking digital photos through a microscope is the best way to preserve the images that you observed through microscope lens. The digital photos can be used for documentation, publication or just for fun of sharing the fantastic view you have. It can be challenging because of the low light conditions. However, taking pictures through microscope have never been easier with the advances in digital technology.
Taking pictures with snapshot cameras:
Most consumer cameras are snapshot cameras. The quality of the cameras in this category is improving and the prices of these cameras are continued to drop. These cameras also come with many pre-configured settings suitable for different conditions. Taking photos with snapshot cameras is relatively fool proof. Although convenient, none of the preset configuration is optimized for microphotography. You typically need to adjust the camera zoom, white balance, exposure compensation to optimize the photo quality.
To take the pictures using snapshot camera, you need to get the camera as close to the eyepiece as possible then take picture directly through the eyepiece. The main challenge of this method is the difficulty of locating ideal placement of the camera and to hold it still. You can easily fix the problem by attaching a commercially available universal camera adapter to the tripod socket then attach the adapter to the microscope eyepiece.
Taking pictures with DSLR cameras:
DSLR cameras are mostly used by professional and hobbyists to capture professional photographs. The picture quality is superior to most snapshot cameras. They usually allow you to use interchangeable lens. The ability to configure the manual setting also is also superior to snapshot cameras. You may set the extended exposure time or high sensitivity to optimize the photo shooting at low light condition.
To take the pictures with the DSLR through a microscope, remove the lens and attach the camera to the microscope camera adapter which essentially is a camera adapter with build-in eyepiece. Some DSLR models offer the remote control and previewed on computer screen which is much larger than the small view finder of the camera.
These cameras are specifically designed for microscopes. They typically cost more for less resolution, but they have the advantage of directly controlled by computers. Images and videos can be captured to the computer hard drive without having to transfer the images from the flash disk. The qualities of these cameras varied greatly. The resolutions of these cameras range from 1K (1024 x 768 pixel) to 8K (7680 x 4320 pixels). There are two types of chips inside microscope cameras – the CCD (charged coupled device) chip and the CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) chip. A CCD chip generally produces higher quality images in low-light conditions and is better for publication quality images. Cameras with CCD chips generally cost more than those with CMOS chips. Unlike the DSLR or snap shot cameras which have many buttons. These cameras typically controlled by computers using USB connection.
To take photos with microscope cameras, you need to install the camera driver and image capture software. These cameras can be attached to a microscope adapter like the DSLR and drop into the eyepiece socket for photo taking. The configurations of cameras are usually controlled by computer.
Build-in Digital Camera:
Some microscopes come with a build-in camera. These cameras are in fact a microscope cameras attached to a third port of a trinocular microscope. The photo quality of these cameras is usually better than others – not in terms of mega pixel, but with better resolution, field of view and integration.
Taking photos with microscope build-in digital camera is painless. You can either taking the photos with the camera shooter button or with image capturing software. No adapter is needed. However, they usually cost more than other options.