The smartphone with a microscope camera - arriving at last

Clean 60x magnification photos with a dedicated lens. A further push to take iNaturalist to the next, frictionless, level (along with increased 5G coverage and affordable unlimited data plans). A human, a phone, iNaturalist.

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I could buy 4x lame ish microscopes with that price…

By the time this gets to be affordable and available globally there will be phones taking pics in quantum level or something. It is so sad to be poor.

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I have a pocket sized rechargeable wifi-enabled microscope that talks with my smartphone, or any other wifi enabled device, that has a stated 100-1000x magnification ( I’m skeptical of the upper end of that) that I bought for about $20.

As cool as having the microscope built into the phone is as a gadget, I think any of the less expensive universal options (I also have two clip on microscopes with magnifications of 10-50x and 100-250x, the latter using a AA battery to provide both white light and UV light, neither very expensive, and both of which that can be looked through with your eye as well) is a better and more practical way to go.

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Unbelievably cool!

Can you say what phone it actually is? I couldn’t find it in the beginning of the video nor in the description - and I really don’t want to suffer listening to the entirety of it …

Oppo Find X3 Pro (~$1500). just looking at the specs, the microscope capability seems to me more gimmick than anything else. it’s 60x, but it’s 3MP. so that’s not much better than some of the USB microscopes that you can get for $10, albeit in a much slimmer design. you’ll probably get equal or better results if you add a macro (or microscope) lens to your phone and add proper lighting.

if you’re a DIYer, there are lots of videos that show you how to make a microscope stand for your phone using the lens from a cheap laser pointer. nowadays with online shopping, you could probably get the lenses by themselves without having to destroy a laser pointer. then you could just attach to your phone or create a full stand.

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Yes, a gimmick for an expensive phone. The overall trend for smartphones has been to incorporate the functions of what used to be stand-alone devices. I don’t know if there will be an incentive for phone makers to improve on this technology and for it to become a standard feature but that would be an additional step in the direction of a single device doing always more things well (without accessories).

Man, I need to thank you. I didn’t know laser pointer lenses were that good. As soon as I read your post earlier in the day, I decided to try building a makeshift microscope phone myself (since I had a decent, yet broken, laser pointer in my drawer for years).

Here’s the result:

Lens + cardbox with a carved slit for the flash + 2 hair rubber band things from my mom

I had lots of fun taking pics with it. Still need to figure out the stability and get used to light adjustments, but I’m getting some nice pics from this, here’s a plant-bug I found which will prob be a iNat first

Thank you for the tip!

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I built one of those with a laser lens from a friend’s- so no cost for that and I had parts round from other projects. The stand gives stability. I also added an extra hole for a stabilized regular shot with a movable block to give a different distance. I have not used it yet for iNat and I was waiting for that before I posted on the life hacks thread but here is what mine looks like.


And a close up of a Canadian dime
$10 Smartphone to Digital Microscope Conversion - Instructables link

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I think the fact that this is a gimmick any company is even considering is awesome. seems like more of a proof of concept showing a neat technological advancement to me than a suggestion from OP to get this phone. that said, lots of very nice suggestions in this thread.

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So, this rechargeable microscope, where did you buy it?

I’m working in Vietnam, so I bought it online on one of the Amazon-like services here.

You can get it, or ones like it all over the place though. The model I got is made by Svbony:

But there are a lot of options out there, like these on Amazon:

The main problem with all of these is that you can’t view anything unless you connect it with your phone/tablet/computer.

For ones you can use without connecting to another device Carson makes some good portable microscopes and some of them come with clips to attach a smartphone to them.

I bought one too, also online… and there seemed to be an awful lot of similar generic looking ones, and the prices varied tremendously for what looked to be the same basic product… so it pays to shop around.

Mine was a cheaper one, and it does the job :) Also came with a stand and base for “stage work”, but can be detached and used endoscope style, although it’s too big to put into small holes… I use it on my panasonic toughpad so could in theory use it in the field, although my toughpad mostly lives attached to my large external monitor on my desk, so rarely gets field use these days (i’ll blame covid)

an example of what it can do, this one I added a diffuser for the led lights cos they too often give that “halo of 8 lights” effect. Spider survived the ordeal with all legs and trichobothria intact!
https://inaturalist.nz/observations/31839989

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Yeah, I suspect that most of them have the same electronics inside, made by the same people, and that it’s only the shell that’s different.

The stands tend to be a bit on the flimsy side, or maybe wobbly is a bit of a better term, but they work decently well.

I also have a wired one that I’ve used sometimes to show things to groups of students that some to our conservation project.

Unfortunately, they’re not TWAIN compatible, so they work more like a webcam, which means that some of the nice open source microscope software that offers a really high degree of control doesn’t work with them. Same problem with the digital eyepiece I’ve installed on our dissecting microscopes.

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oh dang, I completely missed the wifi bit… mines a cabled one… wifi would be a definite advantage, and I agree, the stand on mine is probably one of the more stable, but is still not great. Does allow me to lean a finger on the top for micro focus adjustment :)

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I’m wondering, where is the end of this trend? A lot of stand-alone devices are still better and cheaper than the high-tech “integration” to an expensive phone. And what about scopes? There are a lot of perfect pocket microscopes(Levenhuk, Carson’s like this one) which got magnification up to 250x and come with the adapter clip that lets you easily take and share photos of the specimens or samples that you are viewing. For $20 only and we don’t need to purchase smth else