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Khyssa

Photographing tiny fossils

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Khyssa    42
Khyssa

I've searched through quite a bit of matrix from a number of different locations now and have plenty to show for my efforts.  The problem I'm having is in trying to photograph my finds.  I ordered a digital microscope/camera thing that hooks up to my laptop online but it's not working all that well.  The thing ended up coming from China, took seemingly forever to get here, and just won't work right.  It doesn't help that it doesn't have a printed manual and the instructions on the disk leave a lot to be desired.

 

Now that I'm back to square one I thought I'd ask here what you all are using to take such great photos of your micros.  Any suggestions as to what I should buy?  Preferably something that costs around a $100 or less although I may be able to go higher.

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JohnBrewer    436
JohnBrewer

You can a scanner, you can really high quality images with a reasonable priced scanner. Image below was done with a £70 scanner. You need to scan at the highest optical resolution NOT interpolated resolution and crop after the preview or the scan will take ages and the file will be size unmanageable. If you don't have Photoshop to clean up the background look at imaging software called GIMP which is free. There's a support forum and they'll walk you through it I'm sure. 

 

If if you wanted to go down the camera route Olof @LordTrilobite uses a great camera which can be bought very cheaply. Check his gallery for examples of his work :) 

 

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snolly50    771
snolly50

LINK

Edit: Sorry this did not provide an active link when I dropped the address line from the desired post. It must be a result of the new site software. Perhaps someone will add an instruction for making a live link to Forum posts.  The post I was trying for may be found in the "Collecting Gear" topic posted on August 11th.

 

You may enjoy this recent Forum post. You can compare some of your finds to a US $20 to get an idea of the scale of the photos in relation to your intended subjects. You can directly compare the output of my $2500 Nikon rig with a $400 Olympus. I think the less expensive camera is superior - for this application. I believe it is due to the on board focus-stacking that device is capable of providing.

 

In addition, I believe JohnBrewer's tip above about scanners is a worthy option.

 

Edited by JohnJ
Link added

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Troodon    2,858
Troodon

I use a digital scope for my ultra high magnifications.  There are a lot in the market.  This one is from AmpScope and under $100.00

 

0usb-microscope-bw-1_4.jpgpost-10935-0-05703400-1444238034.jpgmsg-10935-0-63559900-1469012871.jpg

 

Here is a nice one from Celestron $120

44308_Handheld_Digital_Microscope_Pro_1.jpeg

 

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Missourian    379
Missourian

I've had good luck holding my iPhone camera up to the eyepiece of my binocular microscope:

It takes a bit of practice to get the orientation, focus and lighting just right.

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JohnJ    1,516
JohnJ
1 hour ago, snolly50 said:

LINK

Edit: Sorry this did not provide an active link when I dropped the address line from the desired post. It must be a result of the new site software. Perhaps someone will add an instruction for making a live link to Forum posts.  The post I was trying for may be found in the "Collecting Gear" topic posted on August 11th.

 

You may enjoy this recent Forum post. You can compare some of your finds to a US $20 to get an idea of the scale of the photos in relation to your intended subjects. You can directly compare the output of my $2500 Nikon rig with a $400 Olympus. I think the less expensive camera is superior - for this application. I believe it is due to the on board focus-stacking that device is capable of providing.

 

In addition, I believe JohnBrewer's tip above about scanners is a worthy option.

 

(Copy the link location.  Highlight the text in your post that you want to have the link.  Click the 'chainlink' icon [left of quotation marks] in the text box tool bar.  Paste the copied link into the following URL box.  :) )

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DevonianDigger    102
DevonianDigger

I just use one of these for taking basic pictures to help with IDs. I have a Nikon DSLR with a macro lens that I use for higher quality images, but for $6.95 you can't really beat having one of these in your bag. (Comes with a light built in as well!)

 

Cell Phone Microscope Adapter

 

Here's a a few samples. (Mind you these are taken on a rather inadequate 8MP camera phone.)

 

20160615_214737.jpg20160615_214919.jpg20160819_155554.jpg20160819_155911.jpg

 

 

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Khyssa    42
Khyssa
17 hours ago, Troodon said:

I use a digital scope for my ultra high magnifications.  There are a lot in the market.  This one is from AmpScope and under $100.00

 

0usb-microscope-bw-1_4.jpgpost-10935-0-05703400-1444238034.jpgmsg-10935-0-63559900-1469012871.jpg

 

Here is a nice one from Celestron $120

44308_Handheld_Digital_Microscope_Pro_1.jpeg

 

 

What I had bought looks similar to those but not as nice.  Thank you for the manufacturers names.  

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Khyssa    42
Khyssa

John,  I'll have to do some research into scanners.  We have a nice big Cannon one at work but I doubt they'd like me bringing in a bunch of fossils to try it out!

 

Missourian, I don't own a microscope but I have been using a desk lamp with a magnifying lens in conjunction with my Galaxy 6 phone.  It helps some but the pictures are still coming out slightly blurry.  It's strange but this phone doesn't seem to take as clear of pictures as my Galaxy 3 did.

 

Devoniandigger,  I actually own a cell phone adapter and it worked great with my Galaxy 3 but my newer Galaxy 6 just doesn't work well with it.  It's very frustrating!

 

Thank you for all the information, everyone!  This gives me some new options to investigate.

 

Kara

Edited by Khyssa

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Khyssa    42
Khyssa
On 8/31/2016 at 5:19 PM, snolly50 said:

LINK

Edit: Sorry this did not provide an active link when I dropped the address line from the desired post. It must be a result of the new site software. Perhaps someone will add an instruction for making a live link to Forum posts.  The post I was trying for may be found in the "Collecting Gear" topic posted on August 11th.

 

You may enjoy this recent Forum post. You can compare some of your finds to a US $20 to get an idea of the scale of the photos in relation to your intended subjects. You can directly compare the output of my $2500 Nikon rig with a $400 Olympus. I think the less expensive camera is superior - for this application. I believe it is due to the on board focus-stacking that device is capable of providing.

 

In addition, I believe JohnBrewer's tip above about scanners is a worthy option.

 

 

You're mention of the cameras has got me thinking about the new Canon Rebel that I bought earlier this year.  I need to look at what macro lenses are available for it.  My problem with using the camera mostly has to do with the fact that my hands often shake when taking pictures.  Are there any tricks to holding the camera steady or some kind of stand that can be used?

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ynot    2,047
ynot

You can get a "tripod" to hold the camera steady while taking pictures. It helps with the macro shots also.

 

Tony

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Khyssa    42
Khyssa

Thanks!

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snolly50    771
snolly50
1 hour ago, Khyssa said:

You're mention of the cameras has got me thinking about the new Canon Rebel that I bought earlier this year.  I need to look at what macro lenses are available for it.  My problem with using the camera mostly has to do with the fact that my hands often shake when taking pictures.  Are there any tricks to holding the camera steady or some kind of stand that can be used?

A tripod as ynot suggests is almost a requirement for serious macro photography. In addition a focusing rail may be added to the tripods head to provide even more precision of focus. The contributing factor to the need for exact focus is the paper thin depth of field caused by the close focusing. The slightest movement can make for a blurry outcome. The focus stacking built in to the Olympus I mentioned appears to be a real advantage in this area. 

 

Since you already own a DSLR, that may be the route that will provide the most satisfaction and versatility. I am not familiar with Canon cameras, but they certainly enjoy an excellent reputation. I note your model has a 18mp sensor. This is an advantage as it captures a large amount of data and therefore images can be tightly cropped to enlarge a small segment and you still have decent resolution. The bad news is that a dedicated macro lens by Canon will be costly. Popular wisdom asserts that a macro lens less than 100mm is undesirable. I forget why this is. I don't know what additional lenses you already have, but a 100mm macro would also make a very nice "portrait lens." 

 

I would recommend, if you have an interest, to go take your Rebel to a Canon dealer and try the Canon macro lenses. In this manner you can readily assess if a given lens will meet your needs for magnification. You could bring in the smallest fossil you have an interest in imaging and then see what the lens can produce. In addition you can explore the lens' usefulness for apps beyond macro. It is possible, depending on the fossils you wish to photograph, that a macro lens may not provide adequate magnification. In that case some of the "microscope" options may prove superior. 

 

Good luck and most of all have fun.

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The QCC    62
The QCC

My solution to macro/micro  fossil photos is to use a Zeiss 305edu with a used Canon 1000D as the camera.
It is not the least expensive solution, but certainly one of the most flexible.
The 305edu has three independently controlled LED light sources, a .8 to 4x optical zoom lens, both reflected and transmitted light sources plus a Dark Field stop.

The Canon 1000D comes with free image recording software with live view. When mounted on the 305edu with the 10x eyepiece, magnifications up to 40x are possible.

I glued an inexpensive mechanical stage to the base of the microscope  with a 58mm UV filter as the specimen holder.

This setup permits vertical, side angle and below lighting of the specimen.

Adding inexpensive polarizing filters turns the microscope into a even more  versatile polarizing scope.

 

Zeiss305edu.jpg

 

 

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sdsnl    149
sdsnl
On 9/1/2016 at 4:52 AM, Khyssa said:

I've searched through quite a bit of matrix from a number of different locations now and have plenty to show for my efforts.  The problem I'm having is in trying to photograph my finds.  I ordered a digital microscope/camera thing that hooks up to my laptop online but it's not working all that well.  The thing ended up coming from China, took seemingly forever to get here, and just won't work right.  It doesn't help that it doesn't have a printed manual and the instructions on the disk leave a lot to be desired.

 

Now that I'm back to square one I thought I'd ask here what you all are using to take such great photos of your micros.  Any suggestions as to what I should buy?  Preferably something that costs around a $100 or less although I may be able to go higher.

The Chinese digital microscope is not bad if you get it from a good source, however there are many counterfeit versions that look exactly the same. If your microscope is not recognized, the software may have some weird problem during installation. I had one that I had to uninstall and reinstall about 10 times before it would behave :ank:. If you have multiple microscopes installed on the same computer they may interfere with each other and cause one to not be recognized. The program may also take pictures from your webcam instead of the microscope, in which case you would have to go to devices and choose the microscope. If you have successfully installed the program and the microscope but the resolution is low, the program may have a low resolution default and you have to change it probably each time you open it.

 

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Yvie    89
Yvie

Oasis also have freeware for digital microscopes I found it works really well.I can focus down on forma in flints and also use Picolay (free) for stacking photos as the depth of field is obviously lacking.You need to open the program then plug in the microscope!

Edited by Yvie
Extra info

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Yvie    89
Yvie

Windos updates also messed mine up!

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sdsnl    149
sdsnl
On 1/18/2017 at 7:22 AM, Yvie said:

Oasis also have freeware for digital microscopes I found it works really well.I can focus down on forma in flints and also use Picolay (free) for stacking photos as the depth of field is obviously lacking.You need to open the program then plug in the microscope!

Does Oasis' software work for microscopes of other brands?

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Yvie    89
Yvie

Windows updates also messed mine up!

 

 

Oasis do various programs for microscopes

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sdsnl    149
sdsnl
On 1/18/2017 at 7:22 AM, Yvie said:

Oasis also have freeware for digital microscopes I found it works really well.I can focus down on forma in flints and also use Picolay (free) for stacking photos as the depth of field is obviously lacking.You need to open the program then plug in the microscope!

I just tried oasis.exe and smart_camera.exe and found that they take pictures and videos in low resolution (640x480 and 320x240). Do you know if it is possible to switch to a higher resolution? My microscope is capable of up to 1600x1200, and the software it comes with allows me to change the resolution, but it has a problem with video recording, so I hope to find a better replacement :ank:

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Yvie    89
Yvie
25 minutes ago, sdsnl said:

I just tried oasis.exe and smart_camera.exe and found that they take pictures and videos in low resolution (640x480 and 320x240). Do you know if it is possible to switch to a higher resolution? My microscope is capable of up to 1600x1200, and the software it comes with allows me to change the resolution, but it has a problem with video recording, so I hope to find a better replacement :ank:

Hi my Micro capture pro started to work again after I uninstalled reinstalled and then messed  about with different settings.I think you need to save the pictures outside the active programme and the delete.Camera assignment also changed so I had to find that, but I think that was a Windows update.

 

I now have the following:-

 

                      1.3mp   1280 x 960

                      2mp      1600 x 1200

                      3mp      1536 x 2048

                      5mp      2592 x 1944 which I can get

 

                      I went through some sand attached to the inside of a pile of fossil shells,found a lovely one size of a fullstop.Took photos of one side,then the cat accidentally made me do the fatal PING!

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sdsnl    149
sdsnl
On 2/11/2017 at 0:42 AM, Yvie said:

Hi my Micro capture pro started to work again after I uninstalled reinstalled and then messed  about with different settings.I think you need to save the pictures outside the active programme and the delete.Camera assignment also changed so I had to find that, but I think that was a Windows update.

 

I now have the following:-

 

                      1.3mp   1280 x 960

                      2mp      1600 x 1200

                      3mp      1536 x 2048

                      5mp      2592 x 1944 which I can get

 

                      I went through some sand attached to the inside of a pile of fossil shells,found a lovely one size of a fullstop.Took photos of one side,then the cat accidentally made me do the fatal PING!

Do you mean the Celestron one? I installed it, but it seems it cannot recognise devices which aren't from Celestron. Guess I'll stick with my current one for now and be careful when I take videos!

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Yvie    89
Yvie

I've got a Crenova,Celestron didn't work for me I'll try and find the link for you tomorrow,when I have time.

 

   Just back from a charity fund raising too late now.

 

   Yvie

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