vansin.net  2010   Conny Forsberg  FGA

 

 

A site dedicated to the art of catching images

of small objects inside minerals and gemstones

Photomicrography

 

 

When choosing a microscope intended for shooting images of mineralogical and gemological objects such as crystals, gemstones and their inclusions one has to think "light". To be able to get nice images, enough light has to get through to the CCD (or film if shooting analogue) to keep the exposure times within reasonable limits. The only way to accomplish this is to use as good and clear optics as possible.

 

When I started this rewarding and exciting task again, after 10 years of rest, I went the cheap way and bought me one of the abundant chinese stereo microscopes with two magnification grades of 20x and 40x. Together with my fixed lens camera (Canon S3 IS) and a home made adapter fitting over the ocular tube I started shooting. I got some really nice shots and was pretty satisfied with the equipment.

 

After publishing some of the images at a couple of websites where I got a lot of unexpected positive feedback I also learned that there are ways of getting the images clearer, more in focus and even more live like regarding colours. People at Gemology Online Forum who like myself really seemed to like photomicrography, and also showed some awesome images of a quality I didn't think was possible, was much more familiar with microscope qualities and optics than myself and willingly shared their knowledge. A new world opened up and I soon learned that it is better to buy a used quality microscope than a new low budget model. What brand one buys (if sticking to the major brands) is of less importance as long as it has good optics and is well built. Unfortunately building quality seems to getting worse even in many new "quality brands" today. This leads to the conclusion that sometimes a good used scope is better than a new one regardless of brand. At Gemology Online Forum there are many threads discussing this. A good place to learn the basics about microscopes is http://www.absoluteclarity.com/index.htm 

 

Used microscopes are not especially hard to come by at online auction sites. Many times prices are great. Always ask the seller questions about what shape it is in and what the shipping charges to your country will be, before bidding! Also take into account that in some cases also import taxes and customs duties are to be payed. A built in photoport is not necessary but gives you the freedom to accomplish parfocality (item in focus both through oculars and camera simultaneously). Zoom function is also nice to have as you can place the object in the right "size" in the image much easier.

 

 

To be honest I was not really convinced the difference in optics could be THAT big between a new chinese microscope and a used scope from a quality manufacturer until seeing it with my own eyes. After I got hold of a Wild M400 and had it set up I was really astonished. The sharpness of the images was almost unreal. Light transmission is so much better than before that exposure times has decreased to less than half. An image which earlier needed 8 seconds for exposure can with my present setup be shot at 2.5 to 3 seconds.

 

 

 

 

My setup

Description and images

of my present setup(s).

 

Light Sources

Coming soon...
Description and thoughts

on different types of lights.

 

Cameras

Coming soon...
Description and thoughts

on different types of cameras.

 

Links to sources of importance

Coming soon...
Links to many nice places dedicated to microscopy and photography.