Sourcing the Microscope Photo-adaptor
Since purchasing my new (used) microscope in early January, it has taken over a month to source all the components to attach my digital SLR to the microscope. The main problem is the microscope's photo-port: it has no tube and the opening is a non-standard 27mm wide, which is just over an inch.
Trial and Error
I Googled "aluminum tube"and came up with a company, Online Metals.com, that sells tubes of various shapes, size, and materials at specific cut lengths. I purchased a 1"OD (outside diameter) and .91" ID (inside diameter).
For the next two weeks, I searched for an adaptor that would fit the tube. Most were between the $50 to $80 range, but I finally found one for $25 from a small online surplus store, called Surplus Shed.
When I tried to fit the tube into this adaptor, the opening was too small, even though the published specs were for a 1" tube. Crap.
My next purchase was a "T" or telescope to camera adaptor suited specifically for my camera, the Sony NEX-5N. I found one for an amazing $5.50 on eBay! It arrived a week later, but it did not fit my camera. I was really bummed. I complained to the seller, and he replied that he would refund me my money if I returned the item. As postage to Hong Kong with tracking is around $25, I retorted that if he didn't refund my money plus shipping, I would report him to eBay. The threat worked. FYI, if an eBay seller makes a mistake with your order and it costs more than the item to return, insist on a full refund without returning the item. And always ask for a full refund (cost of item + original shipping).
Burned once twice shy, I found another adaptor closer to home from Amazon.
I still needed a tube to fit into the photo port but came up with nothing. Just as I was about to give up and spend $500 on a specialized microscope adaptor, my husband found a microscope adaptor on eBay that had a .965" tube with a male T-connector. PERFECT.
Meade T2 Microscope Adaptor from eBay
Here is the all the components fitted together with my camera. Yeah!
The camera installed into the photo-port of the Bausch and Lomb Stereozoom 7
The Meade tube was a bit wobbly inside the photo-port, so my husband wound teflon tape around it to tighten the fit. It's just a stop-gap solution for now.
Here are my first photos using my new setup:
3 carat Spessartite Garnet
2 carat Oregon Sunstone with copper schiller
Close-up of the copper schiller
30 carat Rutile Quartz
Close-up of Rutile Quartz
2 carat Tsavorite Garnet
Close-up of the Tsavorite Garnet
Although the above photos are quite sharp, my attempt at a darker stone was quite poor.
5 carat Sapphire
Finger print inclusions in the Sapphire. Fuzzy from camera-shake
Compared to the other stones, the sapphire is quite dark and the exposure time was very long (2 seconds). I attribute the camera shake to the fans running my computer, the cold light source, and my external hard drive, which are in close proximity to the microscope. I will need to relocate the microscope away from all these devices and to a rock-steady surface.
Stainless steel tube: $30 (complete loss since I can't return. I plan to use it as a ring mandrel)
T-adaptor from Suplus Shed: $25 (will return)
Sony NEX-5N to T-adaptor from Amazon: $10
Meade T-adaptor photo-tube from eBay: $20
Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones Volumes 1, 2, and 3. A definitive book of gem inclusions with truly amazing photos. A must read for any gemologist.
Gemstones of the World, 4th edition. A good gemology primer for under $20.
Chapter 5 "Inclusions", from the book, Ruby and Sapphire, provided by the Author, Richard Hughes.