Ultra-zoom Macro for a Few Bucks; DIY High Resolution Microscopy!




Introduction: Ultra-zoom Macro for a Few Bucks; DIY High Resolution Microscopy!

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The goal of this ible is to show you how to make a macro super-zoom lens capable of microscopy for cheap. Using this, you can turn your SLR / mirrorless camera into a super high resolution microscope by building an ultra-zoom macro lens yourself. In the process, I also briefly go over how to make extension tubes for your camera.

Step 1: How It Works

As you can see in the picture, the wider the lens was to start with, the heavier to crop will be. This is because the other end of the lens is meant to be used as a not so wide with a very close focal point. Add bellows to this, and the crop gets even more intense.

Now this is not the kind of crop you get when you take a picture and remove pixels. In this case what you lose is light, not information in your file. This means that if you can increase the amount of light, you can make up for this immense magnification, and get a full quality picture with a heavy crop

Step 2: What You Need

You will need

One or more lens, for microscopy as I am doing in this ible, CCTV lenses are the best option for tinkering around. Heck, you can get a 2.8-12mm lens with manual focus for under 15 bucks! The important part here is to make sure you get one that can be re-focused, and comes with a cap, since that cap will be used to hold the lens in place.

Any wide-ish lens will work for getting some nice regular macro, but I will get into that in another post as the hardware is slightly different.

Step 3: Picking a Lens

Here you can see a 16mm lens, and that little pin on the side is a dead giveaway that it can be focused. Fixed focal length lenses will, of course, have a larger aperture. This will mater since we will be getting so little light in no matter what we do. I also got a 3.6mm lens.

Step 4: Make Your Adaptors

Cut the openings you need in the body and lens caps. If you are not extending, all you need is a single body cap, but what would be the fun with that!

The body cap I used here has some extra bits... LEDs! It didn't work out that well for lighting, using a big spot on the side gave me less issues, so I won't go into that build.

The ones with the bigger holes will go on the bellows, so that I can use larger lenses with the bellows as well as these small CCTV lenses.

Step 5: Extending

I made myself a series of extension tubes with the body caps I had and some pvc pipe. It was some work, but they were dirt cheap (casted some of the caps myself, but that was just as a learning experience). If you can get your hands on some used or cheap bellows, it's certainly easier.

Step 6: Zoom in With the 16mm

To test the reversed lenses, I used the purple ruler (first picture) as a way to measure magnification level. Using no extension, medium extension, and full extension, I go from 1x to 17x magnification.

Step 7: Zoom in With the 3.5mm

With the 3.5mm lens, the magnification will be even greater. In the first picture, no extension was used. With the bellows extended, I reached at least 50x magnification. 50x is a conservative estimate, because at this point I could no longer measure the change well enough.

Step 8: Random Objects

I put in some pictures of random objects. In the order it is

  1. felt tip pen
  2. ball point pen
  3. ink on paper
  4. razor blade edge
  5. knife blade tip
  6. a hair
  7. salt
  8. sucralose
  9. sugar
  10. a sesame seed (probably the coolest)

Now go out and have some fun!

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Mega awesome. Voted.


    Reply 3 years ago

    haha, thanks! :)