Photomicrography is the method by which images, magnified through a microscope, are collected by a camera. These images often represent subjects ranging in size from less than 1 mm to 1–2 cm. Photomicrographs do not only serve as educational and research references; many are aesthetically pleasing and can be viewed as examples of natural art, and have even been used as a marketing tool for gem materials. A manufacturing company which makes high quality microscope.
All one has to do is attach a camera in the optical path of a microscope to take advantage of the beautiful micro-world of gems. This was previously accomplished using film, often with tremendous results due to the superb color rendition and high resolution that film could offer. The downside to this method is the expense of developing and the delay in seeing the resultant image.
Digital photography also allows for instantly viewing captured images and in making post-processing adjustments that gives the photographer the ability to compensate for sub-par lighting conditions and make post-capture corrections. This article covers the basics of gemological photomicrography, from equipment configurations to lighting conditions and image processing software, which will assist aspiring photomicrographs in merging science and art.
The most practical photomicrography system begins with a trinocular microscope to allow traditional observation and image capture simultaneously. However, a binocular microscope with a live display to a video monitor may also provide sufficient results, even if it is not as easy to use. There are many limiting factors in photomicrography, one of which is the quality of the optics between the subject and the camera.
For the best results, photomicrographs should acquire the best optics possible within their budget. It is usually better to purchase a used high-quality microscope with excellent optics than a new microscope with merely adequate optics. As Internet commerce has evolved, it has become quite easy to purchase a high-quality used microscope for a reasonable price; however, this cost will still be in the range of a few thousand dollars for a good used microscope in working order.