• 01.07.13

Beautiful Microscopic Images Of Fly Brains, Crustacean Claws, And Slime

This year’s Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging competition netted some fascinating images, including a video that won top honors–a first for the awards.

We can’t complain about the competition between camera giants Nikon and Olympus, seeing as how it means we get to enjoy not one but two annual microscopic photography competitions. We took a peek at Nikon’s Small World winners last fall. Now, Olympus has revealed the winners of its BioScapes Digital Imaging competition.


In its 10th year, BioScapes invites scientists to submit their most compelling images for judging by a group of leading biologists and doctors. “The thousands of images that people have shared with the competition over the years reflect some of the most exciting work going on in research today,” Olympus President Hidenao Tsuchiya says. Because microscopic imaging technology is improving so quickly, the competition has grown to include images captured using dozens of different techniques. According to the organizers, they include brightfield, darkfield, phase contrast, differential interference contrast, fluorescence, Hoffman modulation contrast, confocal, multiphoton, and a variety of advanced quantitative fluorescence methods.

The winners range from a neon-hued image of a fruit fly’s brain to a darkfield image of the claw of a crab so magnified it’s possible to see the crustacean’s pigment cells. And for the first time in the competition’s history, the first-place award went to a video submission. Ralph Grimm, a 45-year-old Australian high-school teacher, trained his camera on a lilypad in his pond and captured a remarkable 200x video of rotifers–tiny microscopic animals that feed on dead bacteria and algae. In other words, slime.

Check out the full gallery of winners and honorees above, or head over to the full competition page here.

[H/t Wired]

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.