Tips for taking videos of Protozoa. Microscope Safari - Journey to the Unseen World

Microscope Safari
Tips for Taking Videos Through the Microscope

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Taking professional videos or stills of microscopic life is beyond the scope this website, but taking amateur videos is an important tool for identification and study. Going back over videos will reveal details overlooked through the eyepiece in real time. Videos can be slowed, sped up or viewed frame at a time to reveal detail as it comes into focus.

The Camera

Cameras intended for videos through the microscope are getting cheaper and smaller. But the really cheap ones may not have the pixel strength, transfer power or software for sufficient videos.

A range of 5 - 16 Mega Pixel, USB-3 cameras are available for around $150+. More expensive cameras offer better, if not more extensive and complicated software. Software for better cameras allow longer videos to be taken and include real-time video adjustment tools such as contrast, color enhancement, gamma, exposure, brightness, measurement tools etc.

Camera software manuals usually come as PDF files. There are cases where the manuals don't align exactly with the software.


A laptop computer can sit right next to the microscope making it easy to view what the camera sees in real time. While taking a video or still shot, it's a good idea to make sure the camera is in focus on the computer screen apart from the eyepiece focus as they may differ slightly.

Check the specifications of your computer against the specifications of the camera. Nobody needs to buy a powerful camera only to discover the computer will not allow full functionality or run the software. An incorrect USB cord will not allow the camera to transfer data.

Camera Magnification Power

While looking through the microscope we see a magnification derived by multiplying the eyepiece magnification power times the objective power, e.g., 10X eyepiece times a 40X objective = 400X magnification.

The camera only sees through the objective lens. When referring to the magnification of a video, use only the objective magnification.

Computer and USB Speed

The faster the USB cord and computer are, the less choppy the videos will be at higher magnifications. Use the recommended computer specifications for the camera.

Choppy Video Problem

At higher powers, videos can be choppy and movement can be blurry. This can be caused by the video camera program being set to "Auto Exposure." Un-check the "Auto Exposure" and adjust the exposure and gain manually.


Never ever let dust get into the camera. Don't keep removing the camera from its port and cap it quickly if removal is necessary.


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Copyright 2017 Steve Cunningham, Baltimore, MD