My Macro Photography Rig

I'd like to get into Macro Photography.  Specifically, 10X to 20X magnification (but up to 100X) of abstract subjects, printed large on fine art paper or canvas.  The notion is then to try to sell these prints (to pay for the equipment used to make them - a vicious circle). 
  1. Sample images
  2. System
Note, you can click on any image to enlarge it.
 Sample Images

Butterfly Wings
Armenia, 12 Apr 2019
Here is a closeup of the wing of a Sunset Moth.  Note, this is just a quick-and-dirty image.  I don't think I have found the best tube lens yet (I'm still testing my options).  And I need to work on lighting.
I could see making prints of mosaics of say, these scales from half a dozen or a dozen different subjects.  Printed large in a grid on canvas.  Or eyes (human, mammal, insect) arranged in a grid - printed large, sort of looking back at the viewer.  A study in evolution.

Armenia, 6 Apr 2019
Crystals can be grown on a microscope slide and then photographed using polarizing filters.  Lately, I have noticed a flurry of these postings on this Facebook group and this website
Some of my favorites are by Robert Berdan (here & here) and Loes Modderman (here).
I may need to get a used polarizing microscope to achieve higher magnifications - 100X or more.
A sampling from Robert Berdan, Loes Modderman and others:
Citric Acid
Niacinamide (Vit B3)
Ascorbic acid,water
Tartaric acid
Resorcinol, alcohol
Ureum, water
Urea, water
Magnesium sulphate
Hydroquinone+an addition
Tartaric acid and Saccharine
Urea, Paracetamol
Aspirin and Paracetamol under polarized and oblique lighting
Tartaric acid, Dextrin
Na tetraboraat and Glycine
Paracetamol, betamethason
Paracetamol, betamethason
Aqueous resorcinol
Betamethason, paracetamol
Urea + an acid
Paracetamol + addition, alcohol
Urea + addition, water
Betamethason/paracetamol A
Copper Sulfate
Epsom salt
Epsom salt
Epsom salt
Copper sulphate, in gel
Ammonium di hydrogenfosphate
Tartaric acid
Salicillic acid and Propylhydroxybenzoate from alcohol solution
Urea and citric acid
Urea + citric acid, water solution
Na thiosulfate, water solution
Tartaric acid after some time
Propylhydroxybenzoate and paracetamol
Thiocarbamide and three others, water solution
Malic acid and softener
Boric acid, mainly
Paracetamol, Alcohol solution
Resorcinol M
Hydroquinone and 2 other components
Resorcinol A
Malic Acid and Ibuprofen
Penylephrini hydr
Efedzine / Hydroquinone
Tartaric acid and menthol
Hydroquinone and Urea
Paracetamol and wodka
Boric acid, Sacchanrie and at least 2 others, from water solution
4-hydrobenzoic B 2


My current system
Armenia, 12 Apr 2019
Sony a7RIII (w/ Pixel Shift); Mitutoyo 10X Apo objective, Stackshot X, Y and Z rails; a small Windows 10 system running Zerene controlling the Stackshot controller and later the image stacking - it also runs the Sony Image Viewer software that converts the ARWs to ARQs and finally TIFFs; 4K monitor.  I love the Thorlabs optical breadboard, resting on Sorbothane feet on a fairly solid IKEA dresser on thick carpet on a concrete slab.  The optical breadboard is isolated from my tabletop
on the left on which my computer, keyboard and monitor rest.  Still, I leave the room when I'm taking a series of photos (which can be a couple hundred) for focus stacking.
   - 52MM STUDIO SETUP (after which I modelled my setup)
My Target System
Armenia, 23 Apr 2019
This is the system I'd like to build.  My goal is to automate the end-to-end process.  And convert and stack the images as they come off the camera.  To accomplish that, I am putting together a Multi-processor (RPi-MP) from single board computers (Raspberry Pi's) and planning to
build a fast PC (PC2) to do the stacking and post processing.
I'm planning to locate the RPi-MP, NAS and Ethernet switch in a separate room to avoid their cooling fans from affecting the image capture.  Everything is connected together by Gigabit Ethernet.  There is also a Wifi connection from the Controller on PC1 to a web server-based monitor so I can check on status using my laptop, tablet or phone.
Optically, this is the sort of system I'd like to initally emulate using components.  That is, add to my current system (shown above) the linear polarizers, retardation material, a light source and
whatever bits of 3D printed holders I need to glue it all together.
  1. I'd like to use this as a learning exercise.
  2. I hope that using high quality components will let me cook up a system capable of high quality images.
  3. I hope to find and adapt older, lightly used, high quality components from Ebay, etc.
Status: My new RPi-MP monitor based on my old Raspi Monitor is coming along.

   - New Microscopes
            Olympus CX31-P
   - DIY Microscopes
         Bertrand Filters
            New Bertrand Lens on Ebay
            Substage Condensers
            Tungsten halogen vs white LED
            Optiphot modular light source
            FAQ:How (and why) to use electronic flash at the microscope?
         Rheinberg Filters
            Making Rheinberg illumination discs
            How to Make Rheinberg Filters
            Rheinberg Filters for Photomicrography
Raspberry Pi MP (RPi-MP)
Armenia, 15 Apr 2019                 Implementation
I'd like to build this Multiprocessor out of the latest version of the Raspberry Pi (Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+).  The Pi 3 B+ is clocked at 1.4 GHz, has 1 TB of RAM and supports Gigabit Ethernet at 300 Mbps.
I will model mine after Joshua Kiepert's RPiCluster.  He has documented his system well, including Eagle files for his power distribution cards.
At the end of that article, it says his 32-node system (using an older version of Raspberry Pi) does 10.13 GFlops, where "the first Cray-2 supercomputer in 1985
did 1.9 GFlops".  I look forward to benchmarking mine.  Let's see, Summit did 200,795 TFlops in the latest Nov 2018 Top500 ListProjections made back in 2014.
Ethernet Switch
Armenia, 12 Apr 2019
I'd like to be able to support up to 48 Raspberry Pi's.  Add a port for the Master node, two for the NAS, one for the PC1+PC2 (that I'll bring in from a separate switch where they're located at
my desk).  Making 52 ports all together.  This 52 port switch looks good.  Gigabit speed at a reasonable price.

Network Attached Server (NAS)
Armenia, 5 Apr 2019
This one looks good.  At a reasonable price.
A fast PC (PC2)
Armenia, 5 Apr 2019
This will run Zerene doing the image stacking (using Zerene's "capability to ingest and stack new images on the fly as they are acquired by a tethered camera").  PC2 also runs Photoshop and Zerene for post processing. 
I expect to use an Intel i9-9900K (8 cores, 5 GHz), 64 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, Windows 10, a good calibrated 4K monitor.
Armenia, 7 Apr 2019
I want to make polarized photos like the crystals above.  It looks like that calls for 2 polarizing filters, a "retardation or wave plate" (mica, scotch tape or I'm going to try this retarder film) and a holder for the microscope slide. 
I'm planning to 3D print a holder for them.  Click on the animation ->
One polarizer (called the Analyzer) and the Retardation Plate would be located in the tube between the tube lens and the objective.  The Slide and other Polarizer
Glass polarizers
Retarder film
A 3D-printed holder
with condenser
would be held in the 3D printed holder.  The panel in this animation is an LED light source such as this one.

Armenia, 4 Apr 2019
I'd like to be able to rotate (in 3 axes - roll, pitch and yaw) the subject.  I wonder if I can't hack a 3D gimbal and control it along with the X, Y and Z rails.  The gimbals are pretty inexpensive on eBay so I can't do too much damage to the pocketbook.
I would use an Arduino to control the gimbol.