Shooting Through A Microscope

Hello everybody,

I’m going on a TV series that involves shots through microscopes.
Is anybody experienced with that?
What can rental houses usually offer to equip you for that task?
We don´t want to get to much involved in special medical or scientific equipment.
We shoot on 16mm and I guess they expect us to do these shots like a regular insert.
Thank you for any help on that

Kai Lachmann
1. AC
Berlin, Germany


Take off the camera lens and the microscope eyepiece and put the two together. Focus with microscope.  

John Adderley Lighting Cameraman UK +44 20 8542 4847 Mob +44 7973 730 042


Hi Kai   basically, when you shoot with a microscope, the microscope becomes the lens of the camera. Therefore, as you get rid of the Microscope eyepiece and the camera lens you must get an adaptor to fit the camera onto the microscope. I have actually done it with a 16mm ACL by just resting the camera on top of the microscope but that's a bit dicey. I also did the same thing with a Digibeta too on a very robust microscope.  

If you are unfamiliar with the microscope you should get an expert to set the slide, condenser and light as it varies from subject to subject. I have several Leitz microscopes including a polarising microscope which makes rock sections look amazing.  

If you were in London I could be more use to you and lend you some gear. What format are you using?   I sometimes use my Leica adaptor which has optics built in so that you can view through its special viewfinder as well as the camera's reflex viewfinder. It was actually built for the rangefinder M Leica so you can see what you are shooting. It also has a light meter that attaches to a special port. You'd need a Leica M Mount to whatever camera mount you have.  

As I said in my previous post, contact me if you need some help but you should find a local hire house that has an adaptor locally. I'm jadozuk on Skype if you use that. there are a few other wrinkles which may arise from your specialist requirements, we can discuss.  

Doing it on video is dead easy now because most of the modern microscopes have video taps... but 'men' do it straight onto film.  

John Adderley DOP UK


That is extremely good advice.   

There are a number of state of the art microscopes fitted with video cameras, and a number of video cameras expressly designed for use with microscopes.  That's the easy part.   

Learning how to get what you want so it can be seen the way you want to see it is another matter entirely.   I don't know of any standard camera company that rents these rigs. However, due to the very high ticket price on modern microscopes, some scientific supply houses do rent them, but it is usually for long term -- full semester -- rentals.  

And I'm not sure about camera equipped models.  I'm sure they're on line.  

Brian Heller IA 600 DP   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  

Hi Kai,   I believe Clairmont has a Microscope 'Lens' attachment:  

Best, -Graham Futerfas    

--- Graham Futerfas Director of Photography Los Angeles, CA ---  


If all you need is something "for effect" (rather than sophisticated  microscopy) Google "video microscope" -- you'll find plenty of  devices at lots of different price points that might fill your needs.  

Dan Drasin Producer/DP Marin County, CA  


  If you're shooting on 16mm, call up Edmund Optics and purchase a C-mount adaptor.  The eyepiece comes off the scope, the adaptor goes on, then you stick your reflex camera in back and focus through the finder.  Edmund used to have a standard copystand-like gadget to hold a Bolex in place but these days now that most folks are using lightweight video cameras, you may have to make your own up with some manner of stand.   There are no optics involved, so no loss of sharpness compared with what you'd see in the finder. --scott  

Scott Dorsey Kludge Audio Williamsburg, VA

.   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  

thanks everyone for response! I found this link:   you can buy adaptors for all the available dslr´s on the market. then you can put your stillscam directly on to the microscope. sounds easy& good.  

Kai Lachmann 1.AC Berlin, Germany   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++    

And if you're shooting video and can't afford an Iconix, small  surveillance cameras are almost always C-mount, and can be small and  light enough not to need separate support gear.    

Dan Drasin Producer/DP Marin County, CA


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