This page deals with digital still cameras that are not SLR or digital Camcorders. CCTV cameras are dealt with on other pages and are very straight forward. Taking photographs with a microscope and a digital still camera or camcorder is not quite as straight forward as with a standard 35mm SLR camera. Digital SLR cameras are used in exactly the same way as film SLR cameras for photomicrography.
Most compact digital still cameras have fixed lens systems which cannot be removed. Normally when taking standard photographs with a microscope, the lens system of the SLR is removed and only the camera back is used, this is because the microscope becomes the lens system of the camera. The majority of compact digital cameras and camcorders have lens systems that cannot be removed.
Brunel Microscopes has developed its own universal non SLR digital camera adapter - the UNILINK
The Unilink will fit most cameras. Those that do not have a screw thread on the lens system will need an additional accessory - the LINKARM
The fact that the lens system cannot be removed makes it more difficult to attach the camera itself physically to the microscope. However some digital cameras - such as the Nikon Coolpix (990, 995, 4500) or the Olympus 4040, and most camcorders have a screw thread in the lens housing which can be used to directly attach an adapter via a coupling ring. Others such as the OlympusSP350 have a screw thread used for adapters at the base of the telescopic lens. In general cameras that have a screw or bayonet thread related to the lens can be satisfactorily attached to the Unilink via step rings or adapters.
Almost all of the current models have telescopic lenses, and those with screw threads at the base require an adapter tube that allows space for the zoom before being attached to the Unilink. Unfortunately models change very rapidly and it is difficult to keep up with model design change, particularly as cameras are getting smaller and smaller. Those cameras/camcorders without an integral screw thread can be attached using a device which uses the camera tripod bush to allow it to simply “look” down the eyepiece - the Linkarm.
If you intend to buy a digital camera just for photomicrography, then either telephone for advice (+44(0)1249 462655)or have a look on our current recommendations page.
If you already have a digital camera and you are not sure if it would be suitable, look on our microscopy imaging website, were most of the main models are listed. If your particular model is not featured then please telephone for advice. Alternatively browse our website dedicated to microscopy imaging - URL below.
The diameter of the camera lens can be a major factor in defining its suitability for digital photomicrography. Some older cameras for example Fuji models have lens diameters of 55mm and above. These are really just two wide and even though they can be physically attached to the Unilink, the results are poor with much vignetting. Similarly some of the very small cameras with unusual shaped small lenses can give poor results. A good test is to place the lens of your camera against one of the eyepieces of the microscope to see the quality of image produced. It will be necessary to use the camera zoom controls in order to completely fill the field of view.