Photomicroscopy pointers from the pros

While we believe digital slide scanners offer supreme image quality and efficient workflow, you don’t need a slide scanner to take and share great images of your microscopic world. Whether you are seeking a second opinion or sharing your snapshots simply for the love of microscopy, breathtaking histology images are possible. Here’s how:

Hook up your hardware

There are various methods of using a camera with your microscope and prices range from budget-friendly DIY (think sticky tape and bungee cords) to a few thousand dollars for proper equipment like adapters and dedicated digital microscope cameras. Almost any combination of light microscope and compact digital camera with optical zoom (including camera phones) can be used without the need for specialized equipment. Check out this hardware how-to paper by Maude et al: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843439/


Smartphone users will love this photomicroscopy paper written by Dr. Jerad Gardner (@JMGardnerMD) and Dr. Annie Morrison (@AnnieMorrisonMD).


Snap your slide

Dr. Leon Metlay, (@leon_metlay) pediatric and autopsy pathologist at University of Rochester, has this advice when it’s time to snap your pic. “Get the lighting right. Learn to Kohler illuminate the microscope. Put the interesting object in the center and orient structures so they parallel the long axis of the frame.” Northwestern University neuropathologist Dr. Craig Horbinski (@CraigHorbinski) says, “In each photo, try to include a small area of empty, debris-free space. That area becomes very useful when editing.”

For more techniques, check out Dr. Gardner’s and Dr. Morrison’s paper on microscopic image photography.


Work your magic (i.e., photo editing)

Dr. Saleh Najjar, (@Saleh_Najjar1) cytopathology fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center, edits his images on his phone. “A simple tweaking of sharpness and definition works like magic,” he explains. Dr. Gloria Sura, (@Gloria_SuraMD) cytopathologist at Houston Methodist, says, “I find that increasing the exposure, brightness, and sharpness are the most useful in my experience.” Familiar with Photoshop? Dr. Horbinski uses the Curves function for white balancing.


Share your shots

Take, tweak, then tweet your work of art! Here are a few of our PathArt favorites:


Amyloid deposits in a pituitary prolactinoma, highlighted by Congo Red under polarized light by Dr. Craig Horbinski

Conventional Pap smear with squamous cells demonstrating radiation therapy induced atypia by Dr. Gloria Sura

Corpus Amylaceous by Dr. Ziad El-Zaatari (@ziad_zaatari)


Are you a how-to guru when it comes to photomicroscopy? Share your tips - we’d love to keep this feature going. Just DM us on Twitter @instapathbio or email Kristin at kmitchener@instapathbio.com.


Instapath was founded in 2017 by the same engineers and scientists who developed the original prototypes. Our vision is to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis instead of waiting days or weeks for the results. Instapath builds microscopy platforms to improve patient care in the form of faster turnaround times and prevention of high risk and costly repeat biopsy procedures. Further, our goal is to provide users with a seamless, modernized digital pathology workflow with tools to complete all pathology evaluations needed to provide the most precise and efficient diagnoses for patients. To learn more about us, visit www.instapathbio.com or email info@instapathbio.com.