Practice Tip: Taking photos and videos of embryos through a stereoscope

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Published on: September 13, 2016

From time to time, the need arises to take either still photomicrographs or video pictures of embryos through a stereoscope.  This could be for quality control purposes, consulting with other practitioners or research. In the case of a practitioner just learning to evaluate embryos, a photomicrograph sent digitally to a mentor can provide a valuable second opinion for the client.   Many practitioners don’t have access to microscopes with built in camera mounts, but smartphone technology has improved to the point that high quality photographs can be made through a microscope with a smartphone.  Holding the phone camera steady over the ocular lens long enough to snap a picture, however, can be a challenge even for those with a steady hand.

There have been several devices developed to mount a smartphone camera to an ocular lens.  These devices are commercially available but they may not fit all scopes or smartphones.  We have tried one such device unsuccessfully in our practice.  Variability in ocular lens shape and size of the smartphone and camera placement make a truly universal device nearly impossible.

We have decided that all that is necessary to take a quality photomicrograph is a spacer to hold the camera an appropriate distance from the ocular lens yet not obstruct the image being viewed.  We took a piece of 1 inch PVC pipe and cut a length of about 1.75 cm (5/8 inch) and used it as a bushing.  It spaces the smartphone camera the same distance every time yet doesn’t obstruct the view of the microscope image.  It can be fabricated for pennies and customized for any phone or microscope.

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