Consumer Versus Dedicated Digital Cameras in Photomicrography

Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 153)


A number of consumer digital cameras (compact, bridge, single lens reflex [SLR], and system ones) are of sufficiently high quality to qualify as suitable for photomicrography and represent an affordable alternative to dedicated, high-end cameras typically equipped with very sensitive sensors. When the image sensor resolution is at least 6 or 8 megapixel digital images offer rendering of details that is comparable to conventional micrographs taken on a standard 36 × 24 mm film. In most situations, micrographs taken by high-end (SLR) or other cameras feature no obvious differences in quality, so that even compact or bridge cameras may be used in most cases. Otherwise, for example, in low-light conditions or when very large print formats are required, SLR camera may be needed owing to its low noise, superb resolution and high ISO speed range. Dedicated moderate-cost cameras equipped with CMOS sensors represent an optimal solution for high-resolution video clips and in situation when life-view images have to be presented on high-resolution screens. On the other hand, color images are better rendered by high-end system cameras and ordinary (consumer) cameras. Layout of photosensitive cells in the retina across taxonomical groups is presented as an analogy of image sensor designs.

Key words

Photomicrography Compact camera Bridge camera Mirror-reflex camera System camera Sensor Resolution 



Automatic exposure bracketing


Advanced photographic system


Charge-coupled device


Complementary metal oxide semiconductor


Dynamic range increase


Digital single-lens reflex (mirror reflex) camera


Canon camera series (electro-optical system)


Frames per second


Canon EOS to Leica-R (lens adapter)


Exposure value


High dynamic range rendering


Line pairs per millimeter


Micro Four Thirds




Numerical aperture


N­type metal-oxide-semiconductor


Single-lens reflex (mirror reflex) camera



The authors are grateful to prof. Jan Valenta (Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, Prague) for helpful comments. RP acknowledges support via Ministry of Education projects: Chiral Microscopy (LTC17012) and ChemBioDrug.(1)


  1. 1.
    Overney NL, Overney GT (2011) The history of photomicrography. Normand and Gregor Overney, California. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lawson D (1972) Photomicrography. Academic Press, London and New York. ISBN: 0124397507Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Inoué S, Spring K (1997) Video microscopy: the fundamentals. Plenum Press (Springer), New York. ISBN: 9780306455315Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Evennett P (2000) The new photomicrography. Proc Roy Microsc Soc 35:253–256. Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bockaert V (2003) Sensor and pixel sizes. In: 123 of Digital Imaging (chapter 1).
  6. 6.
    Altmann R (2003) The sensor. In: Digital photography and image processing (in German). Midas, Zürich, pp 20–24. ISBN: 3907020642Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kinch RJ (online) Making digital camera microscope adapters.
  8. 8.
    Needham GHN (1958) The practical use of the microscope. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Piper J (2014) Preparing monochromatic images for publication: theoretical considerations and practical implications. Microscopy Today 22(1):18–24. Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nachtigall W (2015) High-velocity movements (...). Part 1: High speed registrations of fruit explosions in Impatiens (in German). Mikroskopie 2(2):73–78.
  11. 11.
    Piper J (2008) Use of software to enhance depth of field and improve focus in photomicrography. Microsc Anal 113(May):15–19. Scholar
  12. 12.
    Piper J (2010) Software-based stacking techniques to enhance depth of field and dynamic range in digital photomicrography. In: Hewitson TD, Darby IA (eds) Histology protocols, Methods in molecular biology, vol 611. Springer (Humana Press), New York, pp 193–210. Scholar
  13. 13.
    Piper J (2009) Image processing for the optimization of dynamic range in photomicrography. Microsc Anal 117(Jan):5–9. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Foster B, Sedgewick J (2014) Color integrity: is what you see what you saw? Microsc Today 22(1):12–16. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zwier JM, Van Rooij GJ, Hofstraat JW, Brakenhoff GJ (2004) Image calibration in fluorescence microscopy. J Microsc (Oxford) 216(1):15–24. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hayden JE (2000) Digital manipulation in scientific images: some ethical considerations. J Biocommun 27(1):11–19.
  17. 17.
    Cromey DW (2010) Avoiding twisted pixels: ethical guidelines for the appropriate use and manipulation of scientific digital images. Sci Eng Ethics 16(4):639–667. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sabesan R, Schmidt BP, Tuten WS, Roorda A (2016) The elementary representation of spatial and color vision in the human retina. Sci Adv 2:e1600797. Scholar
  19. 19.
    Horie T, Orii H, Nakagawa M (2005) Structure of ocellus photoreceptors in the ascidian Ciona intestinalis larva as revealed by an anti-arrestin antibody. Develop Neurobiol 65(3):241–250. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hardie RC, Juusola M (2015) Phototransduction in Drosophila. Curr Opin Neurobiol 34:37–45. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Larson DE, Liberman Z, Caga RL (2008) Cellular behavior in the developing Drosophila pupal retina. Mechan Develop 125(3–4):223–232. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Francke M, Kreysing M, Mack A, Engelmann J, Karl A, Makarov F, Guck J, Kolle M, Wolburg H, Pusch R, von der Emde G, Schuster S, Wagner H-J, Reichenbach A (2014) Grouped retinae and tapetal cups in some Teleostian fish: Occurrence, structure, and function. Progr Retin Eye Res 38:43–69. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Alvarez-Delphin K, Morris AC, Snelson CD, Gamse JT, Gupta T, Marlow FL, Mullins MC, Burgess HA, Granato M, Facool JM (2009) Tbx2b is required for ultraviolet photoreceptor cell specification during zebrafish retinal development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(6):2023–2028. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Martin PR, Grunert U, Chan TL (2000) Spatial order in short-wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors: a comparative study of the primate retina. J Opt Soc Am A 17(3):557–567. Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ernst Leitz GmbH (1968) Microsix­L exposure meter. Factory print 540­21b (German) or 54­22 (English), Wetzlar (Germany).
  26. 26.
    Ernst Leitz GmbH (1966): Microflash device. Factory print 540­27 (German) or 54­25 (English), Wetzlar (Germany).
  27. 27.
    Walker D (2007) A tour around the Zeiss Photomicroscope III. Micscape, issue 145.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Applied Microscopy ResearchBullayGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PhysiologyCzech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of Biochemistry and Organic ChemistryCzech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations