what is the role of macro photography in karyotyping?

What is the role of Macro photography in Cytogenetics?

Photography, especially the macro photography lens is commonly used to investigate smaller living organisms and objects like chromosomes or chromosome bands.

Do you know?

  1. Wide-angle lens, portrait lens and macro lenses are three common lenses used for various types of photography. 
  2. Cytogenetic technique such as karyotyping and FISH requires state of the art microscopy set up and a high-resolution photography system. 
  3. Known and unknown chromosomal aberrations and copy number variations are studied using cytogenetic techniques. 

Students always dream to visualize chromosomes directly under the microscope. Though, to investigate aberrations or abnormalities researcher needs to capture the high-quality image of the karyotype. 

A camera-embedded microscopy system was just a dream decades before. When we were doing karyotyping, we use to capture images using smartphones, and smartphones a few years back wasn’t so good. That was performed in order to record the karyogram and teach students. Even to investigate patient sample, we use to travel to another state of the art laboratories to study it because a karyotying system at that time wasn’t so common. 

In addition to this, camera lenses were costly too at that time. Thanks to innovation in smartphones, various types of lenses are now known to us. 

And now we know, that the lens we were using to investigate cytogenetic samples was a macro photography lens. 

After using that recently on my smartphone I literally came to know how it works and give me an idea to write this article. In this article, we will understand how macro photography works and its importance in cytogenetic studies. 

Related article: Karyotyping vs Karyotype.

The whole automated karyotyping system including microscope, camera system and software.
The whole automated karyotyping system including microscope, camera system and software.

What is the role of macrophotography in cytogenetic studies? 

Macro photographic lenses or macro lenses are designed to study smaller microscopic objects. It captures, stabilizes and processes images from a very close distance and smaller subjects like insects, or even fungus. 

Notwithstanding, it can’t capture images from a larger distance. It can focus and capture images from a 30 cm or 12 inches distance. 

Some science grade and highly sophisticated macro lens are so powerful enough that it even can capture images of bacteria, viruses and other microscopic organisms. 

Microorganism such as bacteria, fungus, virus and other prokaryotes are so large that can’t be seen through the naked eye. Even some aren’t clearly visible by microscope as well. 

Compound microscopes are powerful enough to distinguish cells, however, aren’t enough to study cell organelles. 

Chromosomes are the network or protein and DNA, are only visible during the metaphase stage of cell division and can be seen under the microscope of a 45X lens but can’t be studied. Although experts can count them, it is hard to investigate other abnormalities using the 45X compound microscope lens. 

Macro photography or macro lenses can do so. The reproductive ratios of the macro lens are 1:1 Which is the ratio of subject size on a plain film to the actual ratio of it.

So the lenses usually present on the photography system of the microscope are macros. Note that it is more powerful than the smartphone macro lenses, henceforth are too costlier. 

During the cytogenetic analysis, either karyotyping or FISH (Fluorescence in situ hybridization) every single chromosome band is observed in order to investigate clinical indications. 

Karyotyping relies on banding technique in which staining produces varied banding pattern for different chromosomes to investigate while FISH is a hybridization-based technique uses fluorescence probes to hybridize at specific location on chromosomes. 

However, to investigate either type of cytogenetic investigation either conventional, phase contrast or fluorescence microscopy system is required. In addition to this, an excellent macro lens camera system is needed as well. 

The macro camera not only capture images but also process it to give it more clarity and depth. The software processes the image capture and arrange karyograms or FISH probe marker as per the standard. 

Note that the final examination seeks expert eye-sight to conclude final results. 

Read more: History of Karyotyping and Cytogenetics.


Macro photography or macro lenses are used in cytogenetics either karyotyping or FISH to investigate chromosomes, chromosomal abnormalities and anomalies. Other color filters are required in the case of fluorescence microscopy to capture fluorophore emission. 

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