Camera recommendation: Which camera is best suited for use with a microscope?
Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) and digital single-lens mirrorless cameras (DSLMs or system cameras) with interchangeable lens mounts deliver excellent image quality at an economical price.
The MICRO TECH LAB team spends a lot of time testing digital cameras to assess their suitability for use in microscopy. To give our customers and readers the benefit of our experience, we publish test reports outlining the results of our tests on our website free of charge. In our camera ranking, we evaluate the cameras we have reviewed. For custom advice on which camera would be best for your needs, please contact us.
We offer adapter solutions for connecting all commercially available DSLRs, system cameras (DSLMs) and C-mount cameras to microscopes.
For challenging imaging tasks (fluorescence microscopy, low-light imaging, slow motion or time lapse shooting, etc.) and excellent image quality, we recommend current DSLR or system cameras with a full-frame sensor. These powerful cameras are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
In the price range up to EUR 1,000, Canon currently has the most to offer. Canon cameras are excellently suited for microscopy, and the software for remote control from a PC, Mac or smartphone is included when the camera is purchased.
For basic tasks, entry-level cameras with a large APS-C sensor (such as the Canon EOS 2000D / 4000D) produce great results for under EUR 300 and have a better sensor quality than most C-mount cameras.
We do not recommend any compact cameras at this time, because they generally cannot be used satisfactorily for microscopy.
The following aspects are particularly important for use on a microscope:
- Quality of the image sensor: optimal combination of sensor resolution, dynamic range and light sensitivit
- Live View mode with magnifying function
- Possibility to use auto exposure (A) mode (without the original objective)
- Articulated camera screen
- Digital video output interface (HDMI) for high-quality Live View feed (Full HD, Ultra HD (4K))
- In-camera HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging)
- High-speed video mode to record fast-moving processes (slow motion)
- Ability to control the camera remotely from the PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone via Live View
Breakdown of camera models and price categories:
1) Budget-priced older DSLRs below EUR 300 on the used-camera market
Older DSLR cameras, which can be bought at bargain prices on the used-camera market, are often quite well suited for use with a microscope. You just need to make sure that the camera has a good sensor, Live View mode with magnifying function and can be controlled remotely from the computer.
2) Affordable cameras with a price of up to EUR 400
3) Mid-range price segment up to EUR 1,000
Nikon: D7200, Z50
Sony: Alpha 6500, Alpha 6400
4) Upper-range price segment between EUR 1,000 and 2,000
Canon: EOS RP
5) Top-shelf cameras with a full-frame sensor; these are aimed at professional users and come with a price tag of EUR 2,000 and up.
6) Special section films 4K / 6K videos:
Special cameras are used especially for long-term recordings in 4K or even 6K resolution. For customs reasons, many DSLR and system cameras have an artificial limitation of the recording time of 30 minutes. The following cameras are also excellent on a microscope:
The following mirrorless system cameras have an 8K video function and have become extremely interesting alternatives for professional film cameras:
Canon: EOS R5
Sony: Alpha 1