[A. Cemal Ekin] over on PetaPixel reviewed the Apexel 200X LED Microscope Lens. The relatively inexpensive accessory promises to transform your cell phone camera into a microscope. Of course, lenses that strap over your phone’s camera lens aren’t exactly a new idea, but this one looks a little more substantial than the usual piece of plastic in a spring-loaded clip. Does it work? You should read [Cemal’s] post for the details, but the answer — as you might have expected — is yes and no.
On the yes side, you can get some pretty neat photomicrographs from the adapter. On the negative side, your phone isn’t made to accommodate microscope samples. It also isn’t made to stay stable at 200X.
[Cemal] found the same sort of things we’ve found with other similar adapters. You need to zoom to fill the frame with the microscope’s image. Otherwise, you get an odd round image with darkness all around it. The microscope works best on something flat and has a very shallow depth of field, so anything poking in our out will probably be out of focus.
The unit did, however, look substantial and had a built-in rechargeable battery and an LED light. None of the photomicrographs looked bad, but you have to remember that you can’t really use it unless what you want a picture of is flat, and the camera can essentially lay flat on it.
Could you use this with an old phone and rig up a holder to make it better? Probably, but with the focal point basically being the back of the phone, it wouldn’t help much. Microscopes are relatively cheap these days so maybe put the $40 towards a better instrument.
If you have a DSLR, you might think about a 3D-printed microscope lens adapter. Or, go big and build a full-scale open source microscope.