Section Overview:

The use of photography to capture images in a microscope dates back to the invention of the photographic process. Early photomicrographs were remarkable for their quality, but the techniques were laborious and burdened with long exposures and a difficult process for developing emulsion plates. The primary medium for photomicrography was film until the past decade when improvements in electronic camera and computer technology made digital imaging cheaper and easier to use than conventional photography. This section will address photomicrography both on film and with electronic analog and digital imaging systems.

The quality of a photomicrograph, either digital or recorded on film, is dependent upon the quality of the microscopy. Film is a stern judge of how good the microscopy has been prior to capturing the image. It is essential that the microscope be configured using Köhler illumination, and that the field and condenser diaphragms are adjusted correctly and the condenser height is optimized. When properly adjusted, the microscope will yield images that have even illumination over the entire field of view and display the best compromise of contrast and resolution.

Almost all microscopists will, at some point, have the need or desire to record the images seen through the microscope. The main mechanism, for many years, of producing such photomicrographs was through the use of film, although in recent years most scientists have begun to capture images by means of electronic cameras. The main purpose of this tutorial is to enable the microscopist to record the observed images on film or digital media, and to do so with accuracy of image reproduction and with fidelity of color when color film is being used. The further aim is to empower the photomicrographer to secure excellent pictures without having to struggle through the already existing, far more complex reference literature. Use the links below to navigate to various topics in our discussions of photomicrography.

Review Articles

Contributing Authors

Mortimer Abramowitz - Olympus America, Inc., Two Corporate Center Drive., Melville, New York, 11747.

Kenneth R. Spring - Scientific Consultant, Lusby, Maryland, 20657.

Brian O. Flynn, John C. Long, Kirill I. Tchourioukanov, and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.