Microscopic images

Last weekend I found my old microscope, that I was given as a child. Even by the standards of a school science lab, it’s pretty poor – but as I child it made me feel like I was a real scientist.

Today I decided to see if I could take pictures with it using my camera. I set up the microscope without its eyepiece, and added a macro extension lens to my Fuji S9600. It took quite a while to get it set up properly – the hardest part was aligning the microscope with the camera on its tripod, but I eventually managed to stack up some DVDs.

Then was the fiddly issue of focussing it. I had to focus the microscope in the usual way, by turning the knob. Unfortunately, that made the whole barrel of the microscope move up and down – changing the distance away from the camera lens. After setting up the microscope, it was a case of moving the camera back and forth by tiny amounts, and lastly changing the focus on the camera. Of course, changing the focus on the camera moves the lens and not the body, and just touching the camera moved it around. It took ages to get it right.

I backlit the subjects of my photos using a halogen desk lamp and a small mirror that’s built into the microscope. Apologies for the quality of this image – it was taken on a phone.

Then it was just a case of running round the flat like a 6-year-old, looking for things to put on a slide. First I had a look at a daffodil petal. The microscope has three objective lenses, 150x, 300x and 600x respectively. Of course the camera’s macro lens also adds an additional 1.5x or so. I started with 150x…

…and then increased to 600x…

Bored of my botanical subject, I plucked a hair from my beard. Here it is at 300x…

…and at 600x…

And finally, here’s the end of the hair that was once attached in my follicle. This one only looks more zoomed in than the previous ones because I cropped it quite closely on the computer.

The bluish area in the picture seems to be the camera’s way of telling me it didn’t appreciate having a bright light shone right up its barrel, so I decided to call it a day before I broke something. I might revisit this idea with my 35mm SLR (which has better quality optics, and no CCD to accidentally ruin).

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