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How-to's Lens Reviews

Using Microscope Objectives for Macro Photography

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg)

Keywords: macro, lenses, adapters, how, to, microscopes

There are several different ways to do macro photography.  Macro lenses are the obvious way, but there are also extension tubes, close-up filters, and reversing rings.  Yet another way to do macro photography, and do it really close-up, is to use microscope objectives.  In this article, we will discuss using microscope objectives with Nikon DSLRs for extreme macro photography.

In addition to cameras, Nikon also makes other types of imaging products as well, including many different kinds of microscopes. You can take a look at the different types of microscopes they sell at this part of their website: Microscope objectives are the parts of the microscope that sit right above the object you wish to view.  In quality microscopes, they are detachable, and you can buy them new or used. There are many different kinds, for many different purposes.  They run in price from under $50 USD, to thousands. My small collection is pictured below. 

Figure 1. Microscope objectives. The black ones on the left are infinity-corrected, denoted by the infinity mark on them. The chromed ones on the right are finite objectives. The 20x on the left and the 3x on the right are not by Nikon. The rest are Nikon. The lens cap is there to keep them from rolling around while the photo was being taken.


The chrome Nikon Objectives come from 1960s to 1970s era Nikon S type microscopes, pictured in figure 2. 

Figure 2. The Nikon S microscope. Note the chromed objectives. You can read more about this microscope at These  microscopes were of extremely high quality, and many are still in use today, decades later. You can find objectives from them online for sale.


The black tinted Nikon microscope objective is designated as “BE Plan.”  That coding means and that it is planar, or flat-field, focus and it comes from the model E100 microscope, shown below.


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Ian Dodd (KundabungKid) on March 8, 2020

Hi Jon, I was wondering if you could give me some advice regarding the use of a a Objective. Possibly a WD 10X Infinit optic and adapter. I have been doing Macro for many years and trying to step up to the higher magnifications with objective on Nikon lenses. If I can get some info from you on what type of Objective you recommend and where to purchase, I would really appreciate your assistance. I am also lookoing at a Stackshot Macro Rail to improve my micro detail. I am a amatuer Mycologist and provide free images and details including Microscopic spore inmages to several Mycology sites. I use a high quality Scope with an oil 100x objective. What I would like to do is include my Macro images using a say 70-200 mm nikon lens and an 10X Objective with a n adapter to my workflow. Any information on this approach has been very difficult to source. Thanking You Ian Dodd aka kundabungkid ( Please feel free to view the sites esp Mushroom Observer as in link above.

John Hernlund (Tokyo_John) on March 27, 2017

Amazing article, excellent work! Thanks a ton for this effort.

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg) on March 24, 2017

Ribbon awarded for his multiple contributions to the Articles section

You're welcome! I hope people try to do this, it's really very easy. I made a big production out of it, but you can get by with a very simple setup and do some fun things.

Wayne Lorimer (wjlorimer) on March 24, 2017

Awarded for his contributions to the Resources

Excellent article with some cool images. Thanks Jon

David Summers (dm1dave) on March 23, 2017

Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art a

That is pretty cool. Thanks you for sharing, Jon!