Leitz Monocular ~1899 - 1907


I have long been interested in microscopy and over the years have collected a varied selection of instruments.

Some of the photomicrographs shown on these pages were taken through a Watson "Bactil" binocular/monocular (convertible) microscope of  about 1954 (the same age as myself!), fitted with a quadruple nosepiece. This, together with a Zeiss Greenough stereo microscope was the first of my microscope acquisitions.

As you can see from the list below, it was certainly not the last. Click on the links for a page on each instrument:

Watson Bactil

Zeiss Greenough Stereo

Wild M8

Zeiss Standard GFL

Zeiss Standard

Zeiss Standards modified for Leitz DIC
with details of the conversion

Leitz vintage monocular

Leitz Diavert


Olympus FH

Open University McArthur Microscope

Experimental DIY Macroscope - links to postings on Photomacrography.net forum

Prior Monocular

Natural History Museum Microscope











Links to pages with useful (hopefully!) information


I started out using an old Kodak Instamatic 33 adapted to fit the microscope. With this, it is  necessary to produce the image at infinity, (I used to project the image onto the ceiling!) before attaching the camera, as the camera lens is still in place and there is no through the lens viewfinder on the camera and no focus adjustment. Essentially, it is used as a film holder with a shutter. Exposure is by judgment and a little luck! Most of the pictures on this site, however, have been taken with a digital camera, which is a far easier option.

How I attach my camera to my various microscopes

How I use flash for photomicrography

Here is a presentation from 2009 on my approach to photomicrography (opens via Google Documents viewer)

Home Made Phase Contrast

Phase contrast objectives can be expensive, so wouldn't it be nice to make one's own. Of course you could try etching your own phase plates, but hydrofluoric acid is not nice stuff. An alternative is to use a phase plate of plain glass with a sooted pattern on the plate. This has been used commercially as "Anoptral Phase Contrast", but can easily be approached as a DIY project. Here is an article describing the technique, with links to transcripts of original references from 1953:

DIY Phase Contrast

No Suitable Phase Contrast Condenser?

Setting up phase contrast without a phase condenser


Not to be confused with Photomicrography, this is the art of making very small photographs, usually on a microscope slide. This was a popular novelty in the 19th Century.

Here is my collection of microphotographs

Immobilising Specimens

Try a drop of lidocaine throat spray -better than benzocaine because benzocaine is not very water soluble, and crystallises, meaning specimens then have to be washed.

Aquarium Slides

The original idea comes from Freshwater Microscopy by Garnett, 1953. The spacer can be made from polystyrene sheet and glued to the slide. Polystyrene sheet for modelling purposes comes in a range of thicknesses such as 5, 10, 20, 40 thousandths of an inch, hence different depth aquaria can easily be constructed. The sheet can easily be cut to suit the sizes of coverglass available. The coverglass may be held on by capillary action of water alone, or by a smear of vaseline (white soft paraffin) on the top of the spacer. The water will not escape, being held in place by surface tension.