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Use of Nikon’s entry-level single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras at the microscope

Nikon disables for strategic reasons the automatic functions of the entry-level DSLR cameras when not using the original lens. 


Nikon entry-level camera for microscopy problem analysis

With the lower-priced Nikon D40 / D40x / D50 / D60 / D90 / D100 / D3000 / D3100 / D3200 / D5000 / D5100 / D5200 / D5300  models, only limited exposure is possible without the original lens. The automatic exposure control only works with Nikon digital lenses.
If you wish to use an analogue lens, camera adapter or bellows, the camera housing will not allow you to control the automatic exposure in manual mode. Only with the histogram display, or even more laboriously with exposure bracketing, is it possible to determine the ideal exposure time. The automatic functions such as automatic aperture priority or automatic exposure time calculation are not possible without the original AF lens being in place.

Especially in use with a telescope or microscope, where the microscope adapter is fitted directly to the camera body, this is a considerable disadvantage.

The better Nikon models D200 / D300 / D600 / D610/ D700 / D800 /  D810 / D7000 / D7100 / Df / D3 / D3x / D4 also have a fully automatic exposure control function without the original AF lens. Even without the original lens being fitted or when using the camera at the microscope, the camera body carries out an automatic exposure.

Conclusion: These Nikon camera models are not very well suited for microscopy.It is smarter to use a “better” Nikon model. Please contact us for more details.

Perfect automatic exposure control is very important for microscopy. Other manufacturers, such as Canon or Olympus, even equip their entry-level cameras with fully functioning automatic exposure control for use without camera lenses.

A guide to find the best suitable camera for your application
Which digital camera functions best on a microscope?




Caution! This manual is protected by copyright. Unauthorised reproduction thereof, in whole or in part, is punishable by law. Only use with MICRO TECH LAB’s approval.

New LM Digital Adapter for: Nikon Z9 / Sony Alpha 1 / Sony Alpha 9 II (ILCE-9M2) / Sony Alpha 9 / Nikon D6 / Sony Alpha 7R IV / Canon EOS R5 / Sony Alpha 7S II / Sony Alpha 7R III / Canon EOS R6 / Nikon Z6 / Nikon Z6II / Sony Alpha 7R II / Nikon Z7 / Nikon Z7II / Canon EOS R / Canon EOS Ra (Astro) / Nikon Z5 / Sony Alpha 7C / Canon EOS RP / Sony Alpha 7S / Canon EOS 1D X Mark III / Nikon Z50 / Nikon D850 / Canon EOS 1D X Mark II / Nikon D780 / Sony Alpha 7III / Nikon D5 / Sony Alpha 6600 / Sony Alpha 6400 / Sony Alpha 6100 / Canon EOS 1D X / Nikon D4s / Olympus OM-D E-M5 III / Canon EOS 90D / Canon EOS 5D Mark IV / Nikon D4 / Nikon D750 / Canon EOS 6D Mark II / Fujifilm X-T4 / Fujifilm X-T3 /