Microscopic Images
Microscopic Images

A strange and unknown world exists in front of our eyes, but only microscopes have the power to bring to light this amazing hidden dimension. 

To honor the beauty and scientific importance of  microscopic photographs, also called micrographs, the Nikon Small World image contest  awards a series of prizes each year to researchers and amateurs who capture the most impressive microscopic images.

More than 2,000 photos from around the world are reviewed and selected according to the technique, theme and inherent beauty. Of those 2,000 photographs, a professional jury chose 88 photographs in total; of those 88, the 20 winners came out; The first three positions get not only the world recognition, but also a prize. In the case of the first prize for example, the reward is a trip to Japan to know the facilities of Nikon.

Nikon Small World is considered the main forum to show the beauty and complexity of life seen through the light of the microscope. This contest is open to anyone interested in microscopy and photography.

“The winners of not only reflect research and remarkable trends in science, but also allow the public to see a hidden world,” says Eric Flem, Communications Manager of Nikon Instruments, “This year’s winning photo is an example of the important work what is being done in the world of science, and that work can be shared thanks to the technology of imaging that advances rapidly.”

For those of us who like science, we know that this is great, but it can also be incredibly beautiful and Nikon celebrates the beauty seen under the microscope every year with this contest that reached its 37th edition in 2017.

“What I enjoy the most about this contest is that a large audience can appreciate the beautiful complexity and diversity of the world that is not visible to the naked eye,” says Bram van den Broek of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

  They identify the genes that shaped the human brain

Let’s see the best microscopic images of the year of the Nikon Small World Contest: octopus babies, amoebas, sea urchin eggs, mosquito-eating fungi, parasitic worms… they all show what happens in worlds too small for the human eye to perceive.

1Human skin cells

This has been the winning photo of 2017.

First prize.

Authors: Bram van den Broek, Andriy Volkov, Kees Jalink, Nicole Schwarz and Reinhard Windoffer of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Photograph: Human skin cells ( HaCaT keratinocytes ) that express fluorescent-labeled keratin.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

2Flowering plant

Second prize

Author: Havi Sarfaty of the Eyecare Clinic of Israel.

Photography: Detail of a flowering plant (Senecio vulgaris), belonging to the Asteraceae family.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

3Live algae

Third award

Author: Jean-Marc Babalian of Nantes, France.

Photography: Several live algae of volvox (microscopic chlorophytic algae), releasing their daughter colonies.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

4Taenia solium


Fourth prize

Author: Teresa Zgoda of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, USA UU

Photography: Close-up of a Taenia solium, better known as a lone worm, which lives in the small intestine of humans.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

5Mold in a tomato

Fifth prize

Author: Dean Lerman of Netanya, Israel.

Photography: Mold in a tomato.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

6Lily pollen

Author: David A. Johnston of the University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

Photography: Lily pollen with a 63x magnification.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

8Rat cochlea

Author: Michael Perny of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Newborn rat cochlea with sensory hair cells (green) and spiral ganglionic neurons (red).

Photos by: Nikon Small World

9Growth of cartilaginous tissue

AutoreS: Catarina Moura, Dr. Sumeet Mahajan, Dr. Richard Oreffo and Dr. Rahul Tare of the University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.

Photography: Growth of cartilage-like tissue in the laboratory using bone stem cells.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

10Copulation between weevils

Author: Csaba Pintér of the University of Pannonia, Hungary.

Photography: Copulation between two Phyllobius roboretanus, weevils.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

11Broken plastic

Author: Steven Simon of Grand Prairie, Texas, United States.

Photograph: Fractured plastic on the hologram of a credit card.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

12Eye of Opiliones

Author: Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Washington, United States.

Photography: Eye of Opiliones, a type of arachnid.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

13Orchid bee

Author: Levon Biss of Ramsbury, United Kingdom.

Photography: Exaerete frontalis (orchid bee) from the collections of the Natural History Museum of the University of Oxford.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

14Butterfly eggs

Author: David Millard of Austin, Texas, United States.

Photography: Common eggs of the Mestra butterfly, Mestra amymone.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

15Fruit Bat Fetus

Author: Rick Adams of the University of Northern Colorado, United States.

Photograph: Fetus in his third trimester of a Megachiroptera (fruit bat).

Photos by: Nikon Small World

17Dyed hair

Author: Harald K. Andersen of Steinberg, from Norway.

Photography: Tinted hair seen with a 40x magnification microscope.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

18Sea cucumber

Author: Christian Gautier of Biosphoto, Le Mans, France.

Photo: Synapta skin (sea cucumber)

Photos by: Nikon Small World

19Embryonic body wall

Author: Dylan Burnette of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, United States.

Photography: Embryonic body wall of a developing mouse.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

20Fungus and yeasts

Author: Tracy Scott of Ithaca, New York, United States.

Photography: Aspergillus flavus (a type of fungus) and a colony of yeasts taken from a little soil.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

21Embryo of a zebrafish

In 2016, one of the winning images was of an embryo of a 4-day-old zebrafish.

Photos by: Nikon Small World

22Front foot of a male diving beetle

In 2016, one of the winning images was from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) of a male diving beetle, obtained from a confocal microscope: 100X


In 2016, one of the winning images was the unicellular organism of free life called frontonia.

24Venomous centipede fangs

In 2016, one of the winning images was that of the poisonous fangs of a Lithobius erythrocephalus, obtained by superimposing several images obtained by a fiber optic illumination microscope: 16X

25Ladybug orange

In 2016, one of the winning images was the head of an orange ladybug (Halyzia sedecimguttata), obtained through a reflector microscope: 10X

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