Tom Pickering  

They Live Among Us by Tom Pickering

June 2020 - They Live Among Us

June 2020 - Tom Pickering


About the Image(s)

Specs: $30 USB Microscope (internal LED lighting)

Trying out this cheap USB microscope (Original-1) on a wasp my wife killed a short while ago. The head is about 4mm across and this is about a 3-3.5mm slice. Actually 2 images merged together to include the mouthparts.

I had a devil of a time to get this focused, as the gentlest touch moves it a lot and the focus dial is more difficult to move than I would like. Still, I got pretty close, wouldn't you say? Suggestions?

This round’s discussion is now closed!
12 comments posted

Barbara Asacker   Barbara Asacker
Hi Tom,
This image has IMPACT! He looks like he's ready to jump out of the photo to attack. Yes, you certainly got close. Thank goodness he was dead.
Barbara   Posted: 06/03/2020 15:03:45
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Thanks, Barbara. It's not easy to use this "microscope" as the slightest touch moves it a lot, but I thought this turned out fairly well.   Posted: 06/03/2020 15:14:28

Ian Cambourne   Ian Cambourne
(Groups 73 & 76)
What a great image Tom. I have seen great results from a usb microscope that a friend of mine down here (Australia) has produced, but they have all been of flat objects such as leaves etc. This is the first time I have seen one used on an insect. Congratulations. I'm off to ebay now.   Posted: 06/04/2020 04:46:45

Barbara E Miller   Barbara E Miller
(Group 5)
Tom, you did an super job here, and I like the setup pic but can't find the wasp in it-- I am obviously missing something, or isn't it supposed to be shown here?   Posted: 06/06/2020 08:25:34
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Didn't intend to show the full insect, but thought folks would be interested in the microscope used for this capture.   Posted: 06/06/2020 08:55:57

Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
My wife has had several of these microscopes over the years for examination of handwriting, as she is a forensic document examiner. If I recall correctly it's only about 1 or 2 MPx. She's had trouble with the focus mechanism too, and also the lead cracking where it exits the case, but some epoxy glue fixed that. I bought her a Bresser microscope with digital capture as I thought it would be an upgrade, but in fact she's hardly used that as the one like yours works better for her. We've not tried it for "real" photography.

I think your result is great. I'll have to borrow hers! If we were patient enough we could tile several photos to get a higher resolution.   Posted: 06/07/2020 17:40:25

Bill Foy   Bill Foy
Tom, I hope you continue to experiment with the microscope on smaller objects/subjects. I'm fascinated by the eyes and mandible. I think you need to concentrate on a smaller area.   Posted: 06/09/2020 11:56:44
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
I am still experimenting. It is very difficult to use. The focus "ring" is very stiff and I end up losing my subject while trying to focus - very annoying. d:¬{|   Posted: 06/09/2020 12:06:48
Bill Foy   Bill Foy
The first thing that popped into my head reading your response was, "maybe the focus ring needs lubricant". So, I went on a quick Google search and found this. I'm sure there's more where this came from.   Posted: 06/09/2020 12:15:30
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
This would be a useful page for someone using a traditional microscope (I used to have one decades ago). Alas, this is a cheapie USB microscope and if you look closely at the pic of the device (Original 1), the focus ring is not accessible unless I break it apart - not going there. d;¬{D   Posted: 06/09/2020 12:35:59
Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
To be fair, these are inexpensive and the quality control isn't there in the manufacture. My wife has had several and they have varied from stiff in one to too slack in another, the focus drifting and leaving lubricant on her hands. But they are wonderful value and she wouldn't be without one.

The "focussing ring" alters both focus and magnification, and indeed hers are marked as magnification, not distance. So you need to alter both it and the camera to subject distance to get the result you want. So I think it's easiest to set the adjuster in an appropriate place by trial and error to get the mgnification you want, and then focus by moving the camera towards or away from the subject.   Posted: 06/11/2020 17:26:48
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
I have tried that method also with less success so far. Problem is I have a bit of hand-shake which makes this process all the more difficult. Still, it's fun to get so close without getting a 10x microscope objective for my camera setup.   Posted: 06/12/2020 00:03:05