How to Mount my D3100 to Microphot SA Microscope?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by bob_bioman, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. I have a 25 year old Nikon Microphot SA microscope and a new Nikon D3100 camera. It was the very best of its day and better than almost anything now.
    The microscope has two openings for photographic equipment as well as a binocular viewer.
    The front photo opening (EG1) has some sort of bayonet mount that does not fit my Nikon camera.
    The back opening (EG2) has a chimney mount which means it is just a wide tube with a thumb screw at the top that a smaller tube can fit in and be held in place by the thumb screw.
    The front opening would be best because it actually has bayonet mount for some sort of photo equipment but neither Nikon nor anyone else knows what adapter would fit. Nikon referred me to and they don't know either. My camera (without lens of course) can sit on EG1 and takes beautiful pics but only a matter of time before it gets knocked off since it doesn't attach - just the metal of the front of the camera sitting on the stainless steel mount.
    If I cannot use the preferred front mount what would I use with a T-Mount to slide into the chimney mount in EG2?
    Front (EG1) bayonet mount of unknown type
  2. I have answers for you, but you may not like them...
    The openings are called "ports".
    The front port is a "CCTV port". It is only for direct projection on video cameras, like the Nikon DXM. I believe you can get C and E mount adapters for it, for non-Nikon cameras. It's got too short a projection distance to attach a 35mm camera or DSLR, focus is only about 25mm from the port. And the direct path is only a 20mm circle. You could have an adapter made for a micro four thirds camera. You don't get "beautiful pictures", because you're not in the plane of focus, and you have to focus the scope outside the parfocal (ports and eyepieces all in focus at the same time) range. And you get too much vibration from the camera's mirror and shutter mechanism. The CCTV port is only built to be used by cameras that don't have shutters or mirrors and don't vibrate.
    The back port is the "photo port". It's a standard Nikon "Y mount". The focal point for that port is actually inside the chimney. Take a peek down the chimney, I'll wait. Back? Good. Do you see that hole at the bottom of the port. That accepts a "projection eyepiece", such as a 2x, 2.5x, 4x, or 10x Nikon CF-PL. The CF-PL eyepiece is probably the wrong series for your scope, it's what my Nikon Optiphot needs. More on that in a minute. For a DX camera, you can get by with a 2.5x, but the 2x is really better. Avoid the 4x (for medium format) and 10x (for 4x5). They won't focus on a 35mm adapter properly. And they have too much "empty" magnification.
    Once you install the projection eyepiece, there's a piece that goes between that port and the camera, called a photography adapter or "leaf shutter" unit. It has a tube that slides into the chimney, a box with a leaf shutter and a focusing eyepiece, controls (or a control box, connected with a cable), and a mount on top for the camera. The current unit is the FX-III, with a U-III or H-III camera unit. Those are expensive, and don't show up on the used market often.
    I use an old Nikon UFX-II. The main box has a leaf shutter, a powered viewing prism, and a focusing eyepiece. I don't use the focusing eyepiece, I focus with liveview. The controls are on an external unit, punch in the ISO, and it picks a shutter speed. Sometimes, I have to compensate, its built in exposure meter is a bit iffy. I normally use the camera on bulb
    1. trip the camera shutter with a cable release.
    2. wait a couple of seconds for the vibration to die down.
    3. trip the UFX shutter from the control panel.
    4. after the UFX shutter closes, release the camera shutter.
    If you buy a UFX, HFX, or AFX, make sure you get both the control unit and the leaf shutter unit, and that they match. There's a lot of separated UFX, AFX, and HFX systems out there. I paid $60 for my UFX-II on the bay of E, the number one source in the whole world for Nikon microscope gear. The 2.5x projection eyepiece cost about $150. The 4x that I don't use much cost $60. Don't even bother with a 4x on a DX camera, only get a 2.5x or 2x. The used 2x goes for at least twice as much as a 2.5x.

    OK, a bit about projection eyepiece. Nikon has at least 4 different series of these, and they're all incompatible. They have 3 kinds of scopes.
    • 160mm. That's older biological scopes, like yours, and metalurgical scopes. I don't know what the projection eyepiece, objectives, or eyepieces are called for the 160mm instruments. Sorry.
    • 210mm. That's older scientific and industrial scopes, like my Optiphot. Mine is set up with Nikon 210mm "color free" objectives and eyepieces, so it needs CF objectives and eyepieces, and CF-PL projection eyepieces in the tube. There's another 210mm series of objectives and eyepieces, I can't remember the code for those.
    • infinity optics. Those are CFI objectives and eyepieces, and CFI-PL projection eyepieces.
    I mention this only to emphasize that these things come in lots of flavors, and they don't mix and match. When I bought my scope, someone had stuck CFI eyepieces on a scope with CF objectives, and it looked like crap. Now it's CF all the way through, and it does well. So, find out what goes in your scope, and get the right projection eyepiece, or it's going to not work well.
    So, if you thought you got "good pictures" from the CCTV port, wait till you get the photo port working. Night and day...
    Have fun, yell if you have questions, and check out the "microscope" Yahoo group or
  3. Correction. The front port is a standard ENG mount, a bayonet mount used for video cameras. I believe you can get a C mount adapter for it, for non-Nikon cameras. As I mentioned earlier, it's got too short a projection distance to attach a 35mm camera or DSLR, focus is only about 25mm from the port. And the direct path is only a 20mm circle. So, I don't think anyone bothers to make an ENG to Nikon F adapter.
  4. I have already taken pictures through the ENG port by simply resting the D3100 on top of it.
    It isn't essential that it is parfocal because I use live view and focus the microscope for the camera - I actually close the shutter to the binocular eyepiece when taking the picture. All I have to do is go to manual mode and set shutter speed by trial and error. I find 1/10 second is good but I can use a faster speed and then brighten the image afterwards too.
    I use the timer so when in live view with a delay I don't think vibration is a huge problem - at least not for the quality I need. Don't forget if I can get one good photo for every 10 bad ones it's fine - no film to pay for! Only 2 things to do - focus and set shutter speed.
    I find that the circle fills most of the picture and I usually crop it anyway so that isn't a big deal for me. keep in mind I don't need professional quality photographs.
    I'm familiar with the original film focusing system (external box) or at least I was when I used one briefly twenty years ago.
    Bottom line is I'm trying to get decent photos on a budget. Martin microscopes suggested I get a T mount adapter with a second tube adapter to use on the back photo mount (they called it a chimney mount) but it cost almost $500 and didn't include the projection eyepiece. It's just a T-mount mounted on to a tube that fits in the photo port chimney.
    Maybe I'll watch for an old video camera that is ENG mount compatible and take some analog videos. That might be affordable.
    Keeping in mind I have to go totally cheap (lets say under $200) any other ideas about how to adapt my Nikon camera to work with either mount?
    I purchased a new Swift M10LB-S digital microscope with grant money but I don't expect Nikon quality from this inexpensive system - we'll see.
    You've explained the situation much more clearly than the two customer service techs I've been in touch with at Nikon. I appreciate your thorough explanation.
  5. Bottom line is I'm trying to get decent photos on a budget. Martin microscopes suggested I get a T mount adapter with a second tube adapter to use on the back photo mount (they called it a chimney mount) but it cost almost $500 and didn't include the projection eyepiece. It's just a T-mount mounted on to a tube that fits in the photo port chimney.​
    I made one of those, for about $40. I tool a Kalt microscope adapter, one that was built to clamp onto an eyepiece tube of a scope that didn't have a photo port. It was a two piece unit that goes from a 29mm eyepiece tube to a weird M39 threaded bayonet (it's hard to describe, the bayonet has 3 pie-shaped M39 threaded sections and can thread into an M39 mount) and then to the T-mount. The reason it was in 2 parts was so you could release the middle to put a projection eyepiece in after you clamped on the scope. I noticed that the outer diameter of the tube was pretty close to the inner diameter of the chimney, except for the three anti-rotation slots, cut those into the tube with a Fordom (big, industrial Dremel) and viola. It's too short, and needs an extension tube, so it's normally scope, kalt, t-mount, extension tube, camera. And it's not parfocal, but it was how I initially shot with the Optiphot, and it was fun.
    It might be simpler to find an old UFX like mine (doesn't even have to be a UFX-II) without control box or focusing eyepiece, and gut it, leaving nothing but a tube that fits the chimney and an F mount. That's the right distance to be parfocal, and if I paid $60 for a working UFX-II with control box, I'm betting a UFX without box could be had even cheaper.
    Keeping in mind I have to go totally cheap (lets say under $200) any other ideas about how to adapt my Nikon camera to work with either mount?​
    Under $200, believe it or not, I do. If you're not worried too much about camera vibration, Charlie Krebs has an article about how he did this, that was pretty cool.
    He noticed that a macro bellows would fit around the chimney, and that it was pretty hard for light to leak through that combination, so he put a projection eyepiece in the tube, made a little stand that held the camera and bellows up behind the microscope with the bellows surrounding the tube, and tweaked it into being parfocal with the bellows' focusing control. Because the scope and camera are technically not touching, camera vibration isn't as much of a problem.
    Be forewarned, he did that with an Olympus scope, the tube on the Nikon appears to be slightly larger diameter, and I've never tried this technique on mine.
    While you're there, check out the rest of Charlie's site. The man is good.
    Or, be on the lookout for the same stuff I got. My setup cost less than $200, the used UFX-II was $60, the used 2.5x Nikon projection eyepiece was $120.
  6. Wow, ingenius stuff! I'm afraid my skills and tools would be limited to screwing in an adapter however.
    I actually thought of my own pathetic imitation of the bellows system. My idea was to simply support the camera on a tripod above ENG1 (it's simply lower) supporting it very close to the ENG1 without touching it then simply wrapping aluminum foil around it. My main concern is that it would just be a matter of time before I knocked over the camera. I tend to get tunnel vision when concentrating resulting in clumsiness so I've learned I must make my lab setups idiot proof.
    I'm amazed you got the entire functional UFX system for so little money. (I'm amazed there are even functional set ups still in existance!) That was certainly the best way to go. As I said I used one briefly a very long time ago but of course I didn't have to assemble it - just use it. I still have the prints and they are still in very good condition. I also have slides that I still use.
    I'm actually disappointed that there isn't an ENG to F adapter nor even an ENG to C to F combo. Even if I could find a functional UFXII system finding and installing the correct projection lens then the UFX system sound daunting. It's one thing when it is brand new with all kinds of documentation and support as well as colleagues already familiar with the system. It's quite another essentially assembling antique technology with meager resources and limited understanding.
    Do you have a picture of your setup? Explaining how you put the whole thing together would make a great Youtube video IMO. At this point it's just curiosity. I know when I'm out of my depth. (which is the shallow end of the wading pool)
  7. I thought of a crazy idea...but maybe it will work???
    I have the plastic cap that fits over the ENG mount. I also have the plastic cap that fits over the D3100 body. What if I cut a hole in the center of each cap and glued the two caps tightly together back to back around the rims of each.
    Now if I twist the cap onto D3100 then put it over the ENG mount and twist that attached (glued on) ENG cap onto the ENG mount. Now I've got the camera mounted to the microscope and the light can pass through the holes I've cut in each cap.
    Any reason that won't work? Any tips on how to cut a perfect hole in the center of each plastic cap?
  8. Hi friends, I know this thread is about a decade old, but I'm running into a similar problem. I am trying to connect a high-speed video camera to the front CCTV port on my Nikon Microphot-fxa. I have the correct adapter, and the camera mounts perfectly, but I can't seem to get my videos into clear focus, despite the image in the eyepiece being in focus. I suspect this means the sensor in the camera is past the focal distance of that port, but I can't prove this.

    Joseph, where did you find the info of the focal point being 25mm from the port? I dug through every manual we have and did some thorough online searching, but couldn't find any documentation on this. The sensor on my camera is much farther than 25 mm from the port - more like 45-75mm depending on how you measure. Any pointer to some documentation that shows the correct focal length, or a compatible type of camera, would be very appreciated.

  9. I've used one of these old Pentacon adapters with good success. It simply fits over the eyepiece tube of a microscope.

    I got the best results by using only the objective lens of the microscope to project directly onto the camera sensor. The substage light-source aperture has a substantial effect on the image as well.

    There also appear to be lots of C mount-to-microscope adapters for sale on *Bay. Their price is quite staggering for a simple tube!
  10. The keyword is "B4-mount". The flange focal distance is 48mm.

    B4-mount - Wikipedia

    I own Nikon Microphot FX and an B4-EF mount adapter to mount my Canon EOS DSLR. And It works.
    Eyepiece observation and image on the camera sensor are parfocal even if its small image circle was another story.

    I had struggled similar situation few years ago. So I decided to register for this community to share my knowledge.

    I hope this will help.

    oceansmicro likes this.
  11. Hi mi-crophot: Thank you this is really helpful. My FX arrives tomorrow. Mine is an FXA, will that make a difference?

    I'm using a Canon 5D Mark IV, full frame. I just mount it right on this adapter? I wasn't clear from your post, does it fill the frame or gives a small image circle?

    Thanks again!
  12. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Last seen April 4, 2020
  13. I'm glad my comment helps somebody who needed.

    1.FX and FXA both have the same B4-mount. I have FXA also.
    2.Putting a camera on B4-EF mount adapter directly will configure Direct Projection system. This will project small image circle that is not enough to fill full frame sensor. Direct Projection configuration will suit for 1" sensor like Nikon 1 series.
    For full frame sensor will be needed another configuration.

Share This Page