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What is microphotography about?

micro photography nerve cells

One of the photography styles that amazes me is the microphotography, where you can appreciate details that you never thought that could exist. With this style, you explore worlds of tiny dimensions, forms of unknown appearance, and at the same time, full of beauty, which impacts the human eye.

This photographic technique is performed through a microscope or some device with similar functions. Images of objects that cannot be seen with the naked eye are obtained. Using the optical system of compound microscopes, you will be able to see very small objects in full resolution.

What is microphotography about?

Microphotography uses a 20:1 ratio or more. Generally, this technique is associated with the study of natural sciences, for those who want to describe and study small universes immersed in botany and biology, among others.

In the past, this style was known and used by a few people due to the cost of these devices. Besides, you had to work with SLR cameras and multiple adapters to do microphotography.

With the technological advances over the years, the cost of microscopes has been reduced. Now everyone curious about this style of photography and can adjust the expenses a bit can create a good picture. With a compact digital camera and a simple microscope, you can start capturing the wonders that are not visible at simple looks.


micro photography human cortical neurons


In 1975, the renowned camera brand of photographs, Nikon, launched the world’s micro-photography competition to reward the best photos of this style. This contest has become over the years in one of the most important competitions highlighting originality, content, and technique with a visual and artistic impact.

In this post, we will show you the most relevant aspects of this fascinating photography style:

Microphotography principles

Essentially, a professional or semi-professional camera and an optical microscope are used for microphotography. These devices are connected through an adapter that you can get at specialist photography stores.

To get quality microphotography, it is required the use of auxiliary techniques, due to the small dimensions of the objects to be captured in the image. Powerful light bulbs are required by size.

The most common thing in microphotography is that the images are two-dimensional because the light is transmitted; that way, you can achieve photos with greater depth of field.

You have to know that in this case, the image quality is subject to the size of the sensor, the number of captured photons, and the quality of the optics. These optics have filters that reduce the distortion, which is generated when the light passes through the lens crystals.

The light you use in this style should not be hard; you can use screens that balance the light that reaches the object you want to capture.

The images obtained employing a conventional microscope can be captured with a digital camera and processed through programs used for this purpose.

You have, as a result, the increase of details in the image. By using these computer techniques and programs, you can make changes, which can improve the quality of the picture, and you will be able to see what others not.

Once the image is obtained, you can apply filters, vary the contrast, background, brightness, and color saturation. Changing these variables will help you present a better aspect of the final picture.

Nowadays, image processing is one of the essential tools in microphotography. With the technological advancement, these processing tools will also evolve, and this will make the microphotography techniques more and more perfect.


micro photography cells


Microphotography techniques

In microphotography, there are a lot of techniques that allow us to capture that image, which is not on the range of the human eye. Next, we will show you some of those techniques:

Two-photon excitation microscopy

This technique allows you to capture tissue images at a depth of 1 millimeter. Excitation only occurs at a focal point of the objective lens.

Bright-field microscopy

For this practice, the light passes or is reflected in the object. In this way, you can see the details that naturally have color.

Darkfield microscopy

Through a dark background, the object is highlighted. It is a technique widely used to capture images of cells.

Lighting plays a very important role in this technique. It is necessary to prevent the light from reflecting in the background; this can be achieved with a reduced aperture so that the lens only captures the light of the object.


In this technique, two lenses are used to find a three-dimensional view of the object.

These processes are used in the world of science, but they can also be used to capture photographs that impress the world. To obtain an excellent quality micro photography, you must consider the structure of the object, color, composition, and content.

In photography, the object that you visualize through the microscope is an object of beauty, which is open to different fields of appreciation and compression. Science and art are combined under this device.

Low-cost microphotography

If you are an amateur or you are starting in this world, you can explore the microphotography without having to invest a large quantity of money. For this, you can use a compact digital camera with a good optical zoom, and this will give you more advantages. Do not forget to combine the camera with an adapter and a simple microscope.

Once you have all the devices and the object that has catches your curiosity, apply the following steps to have an impressive and low-cost microphotography:

  • Put the sample under the microscope lens. The lowest magnification objective is placed; this is usually 40x, focus, and adjusts the lighting. Some microscopes have mirror styles that allow it to be reflected.
  • Fix the camera correctly on the adapter. These elements have several threads for this purpose. The objective of the camera should be as close as possible to the eyepiece of the microscope.

To perform this operation, it is convenient to turn on the camera, place it on the adapter, and move until the correct position. Try the zoom before leaving the camera fixed, as you can vary the length and touch on the eyepiece.

  • Focus on the microscope control and look through the digital camera screen.
  • Turn off the flash and adjust the cable release to avoid vibration. If you don’t have a trigger, you can use the trigger delay.
  • Take the picture and see what result you got.
  • To adjust the image quality, if you wish, you can use editing programs, so vary the saturation level here, among other aspects.
  • With this first micro photography, you can try different approaches to vary the lighting. So you will improve your technique and find the image that delights the pupil.


micro photography brain cells


The most transcendental microphotography contest in the world

Without any doubt, the Nikon Small World has managed to take the art of photography to another level. This famous Japanese company since 1975 has known how to amaze everyone with a microphotography contest, where the images presented must be taken only with the light of a microscope.

This very special contest is the main forum for displaying unusual images, and at the same time, full of beauty. This beauty belongs to worlds of very small dimensions that can only be seen under the lens of a microscope.

Anyone interested in microphotography can participate. You just need to upload the image to the Nikon website and sign up.

The main goal of this contest is to reward the effort and beauty that can be obtained through the lens of an optical microscope. This is the best window of photographs related to the world of science, nature, and biology.

The contest guidelines seek not just highlight the images referring to the world of science. An excellent quality of microphotography can start from a good structure, composition, and color.

The competition is worldwide; it is not strictly for professionals in the area, which means that anyone can participate. On several occasions, the winners of this contest have been fans and not as we might think, like recognized scientists.

There are two modalities for this contest; you can participate in a photograph or a video, always respecting that both must be done through a microscope. In both modalities, the originality, content, technique, visual and artistic impact which is showed is rewarded.

One of the rules of the contest is that the maximum size of the digital file must be 100 MB.

So if you are a big fan of this tiny world, you can also participate in this contest, who knows, maybe you get the reward for doing something that you love.


With microscopy, you can zoom and observe in detail the smallest organisms and components that are found in the world. It gives us an appreciation of the smallest things in this life, which perhaps are unnoticed at first glance, but that doesn’t detract the beauty.

The development of electronic miniaturization techniques has made micro photography available to everyone. Nowadays, even the simplest photographic device allows you to obtain images of quality and sharpness with the help and adaptation to a microscope.

Advances in microphotography have allowed us to have more precise visions in the world of biology, physics, chemistry, medicine, among other fields of science. Doctors with this style of photography have managed to identify alterations in the molecules or organs that have an impact on a certain pathology.

It can be said that thanks to microphotography, the world of science has made great progress and, in turn, has created a link with the art of photography.


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Author: condruzmf

In love with photography!

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