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 Picturing micros, Discussion of digital mocroscopes & more

Posted on LTS forum:

3/27/13 Olivier Caro asked on Conch-L:

"Which kind of material could be uselful to take good pics of mini-micros (ca.0,5-1mm)?

Flatbed scanners do their best but an Alvania seems to be the smallest genus they are able to correctly render. USB microscopes are a kind of joke, and I know nothing about rings and lenses for macrophotography.
Can you help?"

Carole Marshall:

"Hi Olivier, Why do you say microscope cameras are a joke? I use one and I have taken photos of shells that are 1 mm, and they are pretty good. If you need to learn what I feel is a good one, let me know. I have two of them and tried out another two."


"OK ! My spanish friend got two different models, and was not satisfied at all. I suppose yours are of better quality! Any info will be "the very welcome" as ancestors used to say."

Chris Vos:

"I use the Dinolite Pro USB Microscope, and found that it delivers pretty good research photographs. Magnifications go up to x230 which will bring the protoconch of an Alvania nice and big on your screen. The newest versions have a better depth-sharpness apparently, but I can't complain about my wee Dinolite for studying Turritellidae protoconchs.
Of course ... photography is all about positioning the sample and (playing
with) light, and when the tiny shells are plain white, some creativity is indeed required to get it right. I'm sure there are better (and more
expensive) machines out there somewhere but with the available budget I'm happy with it.
If you want I can send some examples."


" I like the Dino-Lite also. It was more expensive than my Leuchtturm which does a really good job. Which is why I got the Leuchtturm. If cost is no object, the Dino-lite is really good. If you want one that does a very good job, the Leuchtturm is also very good, but a little less expensive."

Fabio Moretzsohn:

"There seems to be a wide range of quality and prices in the USB digital microscope market. I do not have experience with any such devices, but I would be interested in learning more. At work I use a couple of great, research-grade Olympus microscopes (dissecting, SZX 16, and a big compound scope) and Olympus DP-70 (12 megapixel, which was the top of the line when the institute bought 8 years ago). However, the equipment is bulky (i.e, not portable), very expensive (including lenses, lights, etc, about $40,000 back in 2005), not always available. Therefore, I would be interested in buying a small system for personal use that could be used to travel (e.g. while visiting museums or in the field).

Perhaps Marlo or someone with a website could arrange a page for this thread, and maybe a table with comparison of the basic specs (maker, model, minimum and maximum magnification, resolution, image quality and price), along with sample photos for comparison. It would be useful to others who may also be looking for a similar system to study micromollusks or seeing details in larger shells."


Per Fabio's suggestion, here is a page where all can comment and post photos or links.

Coincidentally to this subject, Phil Liff-Grieff has begun photographing Florida micros from Key Largo and Tarpon Springs using a digital scope. Not sure what instrument he's using (I'll post when I ascertain), but here are some of his very good results.

Phil Liff-Grieff:

I am using the Dino-Lite Basic (AM2011)- a microscope that can be picked up for $99. It had relatively poor resolution (0.3M / Resolution 640×480) and only 4 built in LED lights but it has proven to be sufficient for basic images of shells from 2 mm up and details such as protoconchs. For examples of the images I have taken with this microscope check here:

some Florida micros-
some Mexican micros-
some micro fossil mollusks from Hawaii-

Certainly not good enough for publication or research but ample for the needs of a collector.

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