Connecting a Microscope to your Mac

Celestron Digital Microscope Imager

We recently moved to a small farm and we have been looking at our soil biology under a microscope. It was hard to see clearly so we bought a ‘Celestron’ Microscope camera (model #44421)  from Amazon for about $40. The packet doesn’t specify that it works with Apple computers, but it does and is very simple to use. It plugs into the usb port on your computer, and the camera replaces the eyepiece on the microscope. It doesn’t need any drivers or extra software. Read on to find out how we set it up.

First, we set up the microscope. We used a second hand Kyowa Biolux 12 with iris diaphragm and 4x, 10x, and 40x objectives that was on eBay for under $100.



Then we pulled out the eyepiece and replaced it with the camera, and pluged the other end of the camera’s cord into the usb port on our macbook pro. You can adjust the focus of the camera if you want by loosening the little screws on it.

When we plugged it in, nothing happened, but as soon as we opened Photo Booth (which is a part of OS X) it automatically showed the image from the microscope. It didn’t need any special setting up or drivers. If you want higher resolution, you can use other software, like iStopMotion (we tested it and it worked for us), but Photo Booth was nice and simple.

Here’s a video of what we recorded.

We were very happy with how it worked. What showed up on the computer was more detailed than what we could see through the normal eyepiece, and it also had the advantage that we could record photos and videos for later use.

The only problem we had was that because the image was slightly delayed, it was harder to focus in real time. We got around this by adjusting the coarse focus looking through the eyepiece, then swapping it for the camera. Overall, it’s a great microscope camera that is very easy to use on a macintosh computer.


11 responses to “Connecting a Microscope to your Mac”

  1. Saelon

    It would be helpful if this post included the date it was written and the OS version. It says Oct. 27 but it doesn’t say what year. I’m guessing a very long time ago, because Photo Booth most certainly does not do this on my 2013 iMac running OS 10.11.6. It doesn’t see any camera except the little built-in camera on the monitor.

    1. This article was written in 2014. AS far as I know this still works. But if not you could try iStopMotion which I mention in the article. Are you using the ‘Celestron’ Microscope camera (model #44421) or a different camera?

    2. Skooter

      Use the Image Capture application that’s in your Applications folder.

  2. You can also use FaceTime to display the microscope.

  3. Nice article. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

  4. Friend 6

    (Original poster and weblog designers, please always include the year in the posting date. ‘Oct 27’ is unhelpful without a year.)

    Photo Booth still works as reported in this post, even on brand new M1-silicon Macs in mid-December of 2021 (so almost certainly continuing into 2022). If Photo Booth doesn’t immediately switch to your USB microscope, unplug and replug it and/or select it in the ‘Camera’ menu.

    THE ONLY PROBLEM: Photo Booth is designed for ‘selfies’, so the live image feed is flipped to simulate a mirror (and this cannot be changed). If your sample contains microscopic text, you must read it as you would in a mirror. More importantly, adjusting the position of your sample is very frustrating when viewing the movement through a simulated mirror.

    Searching for better software…. Will post again if found.

    Thank you for letting us know about Photo Booth, though. It is definitely better than nothing and works immediately. Very helpful.

    This report based on:
    Photo Booth Version 12.0 (1144)
    Mac OS 12.0.1 (21A559)

    1. Friend 6

      FaceTime has the same problem. Image Capture (in Applications folder) does not provide a live feed.

  5. Friend 6

    I don’t know if my prior posts will someday be approved and displayed, but the follow-up is as follows:

    The winner is the following software:

    (I tried the DinoXcope software too, but it apparently only works with their own products.)

    Only one thing would make the winning software better, and that is if they had spelt ‘pluggable’ correctly.

  6. kiki muller

    good camera with good price, i recommend in a heartbeat to any windows user
    for mac, well, here some findings
    1) the camera has a native resolution of 960p (if selected in software, sharper view and less zoom)
    2) for mac users the application “wine” runs windows files on mac (like the s-viewer. exe, the sofware of celestron 44423 digital imager, which u can find on website)
    3) ISListen is a very good 3rd party application for usb cameras
    4)or “plugable digital viewer app”, is basic, but has better picture quality than photobooth (and doesn t mirror the image)
    6) still, i hope a s-viewer app for mac will be developed. color& brightness adjustments and measurement tools are priceless for lab work!

  7. kiki

    thank you! that really helped me for my soil lab work!

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