Cell phone still and video photomicrography

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Tom Jones
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Cell phone still and video photomicrography

Post by Tom Jones »

The April, 2016 issue of Micscape contains an article I wrote on cell phone still and video photomicrography that some of you might find interesting.

It contains procedures and tips to help you get the most out of your cell phone camera when used with a microscope. It is an extension of a talk and demonstration I gave on the subject in January to the Microscopical Society of Southern California. I know several folks here have posted nice stills and video shot using a cell phone, but a fairly comprehensive set of instructions didn't seem readily available. These techniques are particularly relevant in teaching and outreach environments where microscopes are available but microscope camera setups are not. They are also very useful for those of us with vintage or student microscopes, but without a dedicated microscope camera. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Here's the link: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html


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Post by rjlittlefield »

Tom, thanks for the article. It's very well written and contains a wealth of practical information. The references are a great review of related work.

The only thing I noticed missing (or simply overlooked in a too-quick scan!) was any words about why the cell phone camera works so well. The fact that it does may be surprising to many people, but there's a simple explanation: the phone's camera is so small that it can be placed exactly where the human eye would be, while having a similar field of view and aperture size. As a result, any[*] optics that work well for a human eye will also work well with the cell phone. It's a marvelous bit of synergy!

For future readers, here is a direct link that will rot slower than the main index page:
http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/art ... omicro.pdf


[*] OK, "any" is a little bit too strong. The human eye does have a larger pupil than most phones, especially when dark adapted, and there do exist laser projection systems that probably require the larger pupil to work properly. There are also a few cameras whose lenses play badly with the microscope's optics, so that the camera sees concentric rings that the human does not. Still, "any" is a pretty good approximation.[/size]

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Post by zzffnn »

Here is a $60 cell phone camera adapter that I used to use:
http://www.amazon.com/Orion-SteadyPix-U ... B00I9RHNNI

It works with small miroless camera as well, such as my Olympus E-PM2 with Sigma 30mm/F2.8 lens. It is slightly heavy, but good quality otherwise. Ceaper versions of that adapter are available too.

I moved on to use glued step-down adapters instead, but the above adapter is more universal and can work with telescopes too. Putting on a cell phone is not difficult (or maybe even easy), once you know how to align the optics properly (some phone cameras have too wide a focal length and cropping is needed).

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Post by carlos.uruguay »


Tom Jones
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Post by Tom Jones »

Thanks Rik! I'm glad you found it helpful. I confess it didn't occur to me exactly why it works so well, but that makes perfect sense. Once you've optimized for the eye, you've optimized (within reason) for the camera as well. And now that the cameras are as good at stills and video as they are, I suspect the technique will gain wider acceptance, particularly in education.

In the outreach demonstrations I've done, I've shown hundreds and hundreds of kids and teachers how to shoot with their cell phones. There are a lot of souvenir photomicrographs on cell phones to share and remind them of their experience!


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Post by Sumguy01 »

Hi Tom
Thanks for sharing your article here.

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