Just saw many amazing micro(macro?) pictures like this 9x magnification of nylon stockings on the Nikon Small World website. I wonder what equipment do I need (from scratch) in order to take those pictures or videos? Use the one I linked as an example. I am hoping a camera setup rather than using microscope if possible. May list the price range so that I can see if I can afford it to become my new hobby. Thank you.

  • 1
    That seems a bit beyond normal macro magnification - might need a microscope for that... Does Nikon have something similar to Canon's MP-E 1-5X macro? That image is probably beyond 5X, even, though....
    – twalberg
    Oct 19, 2020 at 13:03
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    @twalberg according to the image description, it is 9x magnification.
    – Jonas
    Oct 19, 2020 at 15:58
  • @twalberg Not unless Nikon has released one very recently.
    – Michael C
    Oct 20, 2020 at 20:51
  • @Jonas Many of the other photos there are much higher magnifications, others are less.
    – Michael C
    Oct 20, 2020 at 20:52

3 Answers 3


Details are described in the Nikon Microscopy University site.

Essentially, you need a microscope that includes a special lightsource designed for polarized light observations, a polarizer, special lenses with interference patterns, rotating stage to get the correct angle, and a digital camera system and extension tube.

It might not surprise you that Nikon is a significant vendor and manufacturer of microscopy solutions.

I doubt this is in many photographer's 'hobby budget'. Prices of these are not published, but used equipment on eBay are priced at $18,000+ USD.

  • 1
    OMG thanks. I am not going to take any pictures using microscope, definitely for labs or researchers. But still, very amazing! Oct 19, 2020 at 14:19
  • Sorry for a followup. So when the magnification is less than 10x like my linked example, can there still be a camera setup instead of microscope? Oct 21, 2020 at 0:02
  • 10x is 10 times actual size. Macro often tries to get to 1x or actual size, or rarely as much as 4x, but lighting and focal distance is very difficult with a camera
    – cmason
    Oct 21, 2020 at 11:08

If it is just as a hobby, you could try some workarounds. Try to play with a home made setup, 9x does not seem extreme:

if you want to use one, educational microscopes, the ones that meant for children or schools, can be kind of inexpensive.

You will need to attach to it the camera somehow, maybe with the adition of some spacer rings to be able to focus at shorter distances.

Polarized light is only an option, but if you want it, you can try with a polarized source, like the screen of your phone (probably not very powerful), or filtering any light with some polarized glass. You can use a photography filter or even sunglasses or any other polarized thing (like the inside of the old floppy disk, but will probably be too dark).

I have tried comparable setups in different applications, and even if the results are not comparable to using the real things, they were good enough to get relevant scientific data


There is an accessory called a bellows that goes between the camera body and lens and enables higher magnifications than macro lenses/extension tubes/diopter-add ons. Specific magnifications figures are determined by the focal length of the lens and the extension length used on the bellows.

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