Thursday, 24 November 2011

iPhone as a Microscope - Experiment

I had read about using the iPhone camera as a simple microscope so decided to try for myself. First I needed an extra bit if kit. In this case a "Mini 45x Microscope with Illuminator" which is a mere £4.99 from Amazon UK, plus postage. This is a tiny hand held microscope and can be seen as the double barrelled object in the following photo. The barrel with the black cap is the microscope and the other holds three tiny batteries for the two built in LEDs for illumination when needed. As an easily portable simple hand held microscope it works well, especially when you consider the price. How would it work on the iPhone?


It is quite tricky holding the microscope in just the right place - in line with the camera lens of the iPhone.
When I first tried it with the standard phone app all I got was a small circle in the centre of the screen but using the app Camera+ which allows better magnification the view could be made larger.
Not the most brilliant of pictures but the following two shots are of what I assume to be a weevil of some sort (possibly a biscuit beetle) which arrived in a bag of broken dog biscuits. As can be seen from the photo above they are small, about 4mm long so as a cheap microscope the setup does a reasonable job.



The photos are unedited - exactly as taken by the phone.
The idea came from something I saw on the net. In that description the author had cemented the microscope to a clear plastic clip on shell for the iPhone. I was sure the article was on the Instructables site but I can't find it at the moment. There are lots of other ideas on there to achieve similar results.

I was wrong. You can see the original idea on the Crabfu blog HERE where there is a YouTube video.


  1. It does an excellent job. Would BlueTac work? It would be easy to adjust the distance between the eyepiece and the camera lens.

  2. amazing, John. I am anxiously awaiting your improvements to the system! :-)

  3. Interesting John, might take a look at this idea :-)

  4. Adrian. It probably would work but I wouldn't like it near the optics of the camera or microscope lenses. It would take some cleaning off. Fortunately the idea focussing distance is with the microscope hard up against the camera lens.

  5. Wilma. All I need to do really is find a way to hold the microscope stable so I can just concentrate on holding the camera in the right place.

  6. Shirl: I wonder if a jewellers eyepiece would work. I have seen mention of using those small fold away hand lenses. I have some somewhere. If I find them I'll give it a go.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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