Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eyes and not-eyes: macros

I'm still experimenting with that new microscope. Such fun!

Optex 200x Digital Magnifier

This is the 'scope. There's more info in the London Drugs flyer. I found that it is very unsteady, tending to tip over from its own weight. The focus knob is in the middle of the barrel; when I remove my hand once the focus is right, the whole thing shakes and the focus is lost. I made a wood base for it and attached it firmly. That helps a lot, but the clamp on the barrel doesn't stay put, so I'll have to figure something out to fix that.

If the object is positioned right, and small enough, I can get up to 200x magnification. For larger objects, the distance has to be increased, and so far, I've only managed to focus up to 40 or 60x.

The lighting system works fine, except that at 40x or so, if the target is reflective, I get flare-outs around the edge.

Otherwise, I'm still trying to get the right settings for exposure and colour balance, etc. I'll get there, eventually.

These are a couple of today's test subjects:

A few days ago, on a fallen leaf, I found a tiny green leafhopper.

It was barely 4 mm. long (about 3/8 inch), including that extra length of wings. It was alive, but barely. Under the hand microscope (40x), the eyes were a beautiful, shimmery pale blue. I left it in a bottle to warm up, but it died soon after.

With the new microscope (200x), I looked at the eyes again. The pale blue light is gone. The eyes are deep blue-green now.

And I've put it back in its bottle. I'll try it again, later; maybe I can get a better shot.

The hopper lies still, at least. I put the little maggot from last week on the slide. It's still very much alive and busy; what a job it was to get a head shot!

The black lines are internal mouth parts. They are in continual movement, even when the maggot is otherwise still.

And here's a silly grin:

"Hi, there!"

No, I did not highlight these with blue marker. They are not eyes; this is the tail end of the maggot, and the circles are the spiracles, breathing holes.

More tomorrow.


  1. That is so very interesting! This is on my birthday list!!!!

    I ADORE the smile!!!

    Thanks for the feedback, too. I was wondering about various issues. Do you bring your critter indoors to do this?

  2. Very cool - go to have one, birthday or not!

  3. Very cool - I'm now trying to figure out whether to save up for a telephoto lens or one of these. These are awesome photographs(?) micrographs (?). Nice!

  4. This will be fun with the kids. I need to find one here in the great state of Seattle.

  5. Jenn, I bring the critters inside; sometimes I find them here, too. If the weather permits, I may return them to where I found them when I'm done. With "pests", like carpet beetles and house flies, I keep them in containers inside; I don't need sweater munchers wandering around.

    Dave, they're cheap; get both.

  6. The micros are great. The bottom critter looks as if it just wandered in off Sesame Street.


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