Polyfocal photography of conodonts and other microfossils using petrographic microscopes

James F. Miller, Benjamin F. Dattilo, Raymond L. Ethington, Rebecca L. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Polyfocal photography is a method for obtaining digital images that have great depth of focus. A series of photos are made at successive focal levels from the bottom to the top of a fossil using reflected light. Computer software takes the part of each image that is in focus and merges all of the parts into a composite image that is entirely in focus. Microscopes designed for this purpose are available but are expensive. A petrographic microscope with a digital camera can produce such a series of images, and they can be composited by an inexpensive computer program. Polyfocal photography appears to be superior to other methods of photography for illustrating conodonts. Composite images show internal features, such as basal cavities and white matter, and the software can convert one composite image into a stereoscopic pair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalAnnales de Paleontologie
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Viive Viira for providing Estonian topotype specimens of Cordylodus andresi. National Science Foundation award 0642405 provided funds to purchase the Nikon petrographic microscope that Miller used to photograph the Estonian specimens. John Cutler helped collect the conodont samples that yielded specimens illustrated in Fig. 3 . Michelle Miller and Mario Daoust provided French translations. Gabriella Bagnoli and an anonymous person made several helpful suggestions in their reviews of the original manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


  • Cambrian
  • Conodonts
  • Ordovician
  • Petrographic microscope
  • Polyfocal photography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Paleontology


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