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How well suited are the Nikon SMZ745 and SMZ745T stereomicroscopes for photomicroscopy?

We were very impressed by the photomicroscopy possibilities offered by the Nikon SMZ1500, and so we wanted to take a closer look at its little brothers, the Nikon SMZ745 and SMZ745T. In terms of price, the two options differ greatly, and for this reason we were curious to see whether or not this would also have an impact on the photographic results.

 Nikon SMZ745 stereomicroscope for photography use

The Nikon SMZ745 is a well-made, very light (6.7 kg) stereomicroscope which, as an option, is also available with a C-mount phototube (SMZ745T). It features a long working distance (at a magnification of 7.5x the distance is a little over 100 mm) so there is sufficient room for illumination. The optical quality is very good; even at maximum zoom, only slight chromatic aberrations are visible (colour fringing).

It would be nice if, like the SMZ1500, the microscope had an aperture control (aperture diaphragm) for each optical path so that the depth of field could be increased. When special lighting configurations are used (such as strong LED lighting, a flash or side lighting, etc.) this function offers greater flexibility.

We attached different cameras to the microscope in order to assess the optical quality. The SMZ745T comes with a C-mount port (exterior thread 25.4 mm) with an integrated reduction lens (factor 0.55x).

 Nikon SMZ745T c-mount port with reduction lens

This is ideal for using C-mount cameras with 2/3" or 1/2" sensors.

Nikon SMZ745T and USB camera ideal

The optical quality is good at low zoom levels and then decreases continuously. The SMZ745 does not stand up in direct comparison with its big brother, the SMZ1500. The differences are too great, including in terms of price.  

For working with cameras (including DSLRs and system cameras) with large sensors (>1"), this camera port (factor 0.55x) is not very well suited. The built-in lens reduces the size of the image field by 45%, which is a very good fit for cameras with small sensors (C-mount cameras with up to 0.5"; 8x6 mm), but with larger sensors the results leave much to be desired. We tested a variety of LM DSLR adapters (with magnification lenses) on this camera port, but unfortunately never achieved the image quality we were aiming for. The image was always only sharp in the centre, while towards the edges it became increasingly blurred. That's why we designed our new LM adapter solution, which eliminates the limitations of the built-in c-mount reduction optics and makes it possible to use large-sensor cameras (such as DSLRs with full-frame sensors or mirrorless system cameras) for taking pictures through a microscope and still achieve excellent image quality. More information about this adapter solution here!

LM adapter solution for non-removable integrated reduction optics in microscope

A good alternative is to use the eyepiece tube. We used a Canon EOS 60D. Adapting the camera to the eyepiece tube was very simple. First, we removed the microscope eyepiece and fitted the TUST30S tube adapter in its place. Then we attached the DSLRCT LM digital adapter to the assembly. 

Canon EOS 60D on the eyepiecetube of Nikon SMZ745 eyepiece camera adapter solution

The image quality was excellent, with both the centre of the image and the edges being sharp. This method makes it possible to use any choice of camera (full-frame or APS-C sensor).

demo image Nikon SMZ745T and Canon EOS 650D photo tube

Conclusion:

The Nikon SMZ745 and SMZ745T are very good entry-level stereomicroscopes with long working distance and large zoom range. Due to the non-removable C-mount port with a 0.55x lens, the microscope offers only limited suitability for photographic documentation, as the choice of cameras is very restricted. Our new LM special adapter solution is able to eliminate this limitation. However, the more expensive models in the SMZ range (such as the 800/1000/1500) are significantly more flexible in this respect and offer better performance, especially at greater magnifications (>40).

 
15.01.2013 Update:31.05.2019

Photography

Fitting the microscope to digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), system or C-mount cameras is easy with our LM digital SLR adapters, which feature a plan achromatic optical system. Our products make it possible to capture top-quality microscope images. To help you select the adapter that is right for your camera, we have set up an online configurator on our website. You can also email us – ideally with attached photographs of your microscope.

Modern DSLR and system cameras offer the latest technology and are generally very well suited for microscopy applications. Most of them can be controlled remotely via PC/Mac. Because of their high sales volumes, they offer an excellent price/performance ratio compared to special-purpose microscope cameras.

Features of top DSLR and system cameras:
- Large, powerful full-frame sensors (36 x 24 mm)
- Sensor resolution of 50 megapixels
- High light sensitivity (ISO 100,000+)
- Extensive dynamic range (up to 14 aperture stops/f-stops)
- Short exposure times (1/8000 second):
- Full/Ultra HD (4k) video function
- Live video capture on external monitors in ultra HD quality

In most cases, these cameras are significantly more powerful than microscope cameras with smaller sensors (1/2" or 2/3"). On our website you will find our current camera recommendations and a camera ranking which is specifically tailored to microscopy applications.
 




New LM Digital Adapter for: Sony Alpha 9 II (ILCE-9M2) / Sony Alpha 9 / Nikon D6 / Sony Alpha 7R IV / Sony Alpha 7S II / Sony Alpha 7R III / Nikon Z6 / Sony Alpha 7R II / Nikon Z7 / Canon EOS R with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / Canon EOS Ra (Astro) with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / Canon EOS RP with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / 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 /