FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

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rjlittlefield
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FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by rjlittlefield »

One of this site's image galleries is titled "Photography Through the Microscope".

But what does that really mean?

The title, and the equally short but cryptic description "Images made through a microscope", are actually shorthand for something like "images made within the frame of a conventional microscope that limits access to the specimen for purposes of illumination and posing, but in exchange provides specialized illumination and very precise mechanisms for framing and focusing".

There is some tension between the definitions used by this site versus for example Nikon's Small World competition (NSW). Many of the photographs that this site would place in "Technical & Studio Photography", or even in "Nature Photography", would nonetheless be eligible for entry in NSW as being shot "using a light microscope". Nikon does not further define that term in the rules, but as a matter of practice they seem to allow any system whose primary lens was sold as a microscope objective.

The basis for this forum's distinctions lies in photographic technique, not in which lens is used or whether the system is commercial versus home-built.

--Rik

Adalbert
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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by Adalbert »

Hello Rik,
The basis for this forum's distinctions lies in photographic technique, not in which lens is used or whether the system is commercial versus home-built.
Does this mean that the photos taken in transmitted light should rather be placed in the microscope gallery?
Best, ADi

FotoChris
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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by FotoChris »

Adalbert wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 3:24 pm
Hello Rik,
The basis for this forum's distinctions lies in photographic technique, not in which lens is used or whether the system is commercial versus home-built.
Does this mean that the photos taken in transmitted light should rather be placed in the microscope gallery?
Best, ADi
But then again there are incident/reflected light microscopes, whether it's an inspection microscope, stereo microscope,.... or a regular compound microscope with a low magnification long working distance objective,...

In my opinion the only real difference would be whether the eyepiece (ocular) was part of the imaging process - then it would truly be "photography through the complete microscope".

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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by rjlittlefield »

Adalbert wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 3:24 pm
Does this mean that the photos taken in transmitted light should rather be placed in the microscope gallery?
What matters is the overall setup. Typically a macro-style open system would not be using a condenser and would be using specimen positioning techniques that are not available in a traditional microscope, leading to placement in Technical and Studio.

A good example might be my Tiny hamuli of whitefly parasitic wasp . Yes, it's 40X NA 0.80 and transmitted illumination, but if you scroll down to where the setup is shown and discussed, you'll see hints that it would have been pretty difficult to make that image inside the frame of a traditional microscope.

On the other hand, if the subject happens to be a mounted slide and the illumination is typical of what a microscope could easily do, then I'd be fine with having it placed in either gallery.

A large part of the history of this site's distinctions comes from thinking about them from a reader's viewpoint: what sort of images can be made with equipment the reader has? So, if you have a traditional microscope, then Photography Through the Microscope should be a good place to look. Or if you have a camera on a focusing rail, with a lens on some extension tubes, then Technical and Studio is the right place. Nature Photography is essentially extra credit for not disturbing the subject.

--Rik

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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by rjlittlefield »

FotoChris wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 3:44 pm
In my opinion the only real difference would be whether the eyepiece (ocular) was part of the imaging process - then it would truly be "photography through the complete microscope".
Interesting. That's one of the few criteria that we did not consider, back in 2008 or so when the admin group got pretty intense considering options.

But for amusement, consider viewtopic.php?t=835 . That's 100X NA 1.25, using an oil objective and an NA 1.2 condenser, in a conventional microscope except that I removed the eyepiece and used an Olympus 80mm f/4 bellows macro lens as a 2.5X relay lens.

Would you have that go someplace besides "Photography Through the Microscope", because I removed the eyepiece?

--Rik

FotoChris
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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by FotoChris »

rjlittlefield wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 5:08 pm
FotoChris wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 3:44 pm
In my opinion the only real difference would be whether the eyepiece (ocular) was part of the imaging process - then it would truly be "photography through the complete microscope".
Interesting. That's one of the few criteria that we did not consider, back in 2008 or so when the admin group got pretty intense considering options.

But for amusement, consider viewtopic.php?t=835 . That's 100X NA 1.25, using an oil objective and an NA 1.2 condenser, in a conventional microscope except that I removed the eyepiece and used an Olympus 80mm f/4 bellows macro lens as a 2.5X relay lens.

Would you have that go someplace besides "Photography Through the Microscope", because I removed the eyepiece?

--Rik
Oh no, I didn't mean it like that, I only meant to say that there are so many different criteria that it would actually require the introduction of sub-categories - such as "photography through the complete whole microscope" - whereas "photography through the microscope" would definitely be correct for your example..

Maybe (just maybe) it would make more sense to use "Photography using a Macro lens" and "Photography using a Microscope lens"?
Then there's very little debate about where that line is.

Even if it's (for example) a 0.5x or 1x microscope lens or a reversed enlarger lens at 3x, it would be a rather clear distinction... Or maybe use the magnification, for example "up to 4x Magnification" and "beyond 4x Magnficiation", regardless of the type of lens or type of camera / tube used?

It's very difficult to really make a reasonable distinction - perhaps leaving it as it is and leave it up to the poster to decide in which category they would put their photo would be the best solution?

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Re: FAQ: What does "Photography Through the Microscope" really mean?

Post by rjlittlefield »

FotoChris wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2023 6:13 pm
...would be the best solution?
I'm not aware that there's a problem to be solved. A couple of users asked what the criteria were, so I wrote this FAQ to explain them. The purpose of the FAQ is only to clarify existing procedures, not to open debate about changing them. In case of doubt, people can ask and we'll figure it out -- as always.

--Rik

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