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Nikon Small World 2010 – Photomicrography Competition

Small World is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. For over 30 years, Nikon has rewarded the world’s best photomicrographers who make critically important scientific contributions to life sciences, bio-research and materials science.

The Nikon Small World Competition is open to anyone with an interest in photography through the microscope.

Truly international in scope, entries have been received from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Winners have included both professionals and hobbyists.


The Nikon International Small World Competition first began in 1974 as a means to recognize and applaud the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope. Since then, Small World has become a leading showcase for photomicrographers from the widest array of scientific disciplines.

A photomicrograph is a technical document that can be of great significance to science or industry. But a good photomicrograph is also an image whose structure, color, composition, and content is an object of beauty, open to several levels of comprehension and appreciation.


The subject matter is unrestricted and any type of light microscopy technique is acceptable, including phase contrast, polarized light, fluorescence, interference contrast, darkfield, confocal, deconvolution, and mixed techniques.

Entries will be judged on:

  • Originality
  • Informational Content
  • Technical Proficiency
  • Visual Impact


  • 1st Prize: $3,000 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment. In addition, the winner will be invited to attend an awards presentation ceremony as Nikon’s special guest.
  • 2nd Prize: $2,000 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 3rd Prize: $1,000 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 4th Prize: $800 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 5th Prize: $600 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 6th Prize: $400 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 7th–10th Prizes: $250 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.
  • 11th–20th Prizes: $100 – toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.

Prize money must be redeemed for Nikon products only, directly from Nikon USA, and cannot be redeemed for cash.


  • Anyone over the age of 18 interested in digital or film photography through the microscope is eligible, with the exception of employees of Nikon, their families, the contest judges, and individuals engaged in the manufacture or sale of microscopes or photographic equipment.
  • Former first prizewinners are ineligible to win first prize in the three contests immediately following the contest they won, but can win other prizes.
  • An image that has won any other competition is not eligible to win this contest.
  • Photomicrographs must be taken using a light microscope, such as one of the Nikon series of compound or stereoscopic microscopes.
  • The use of Nikon equipment is not required. No purchase is necessary.
  • Any type of specimen is acceptable. All techniques of light microscopy are acceptable.
  • Electron microscopy is not acceptable.
  • Each entrant may submit up to three images for judging.
  • All files will be retained by Nikon Instruments Inc., and cannot be returned.
  • Contestants will be notified regarding image usage rights should Nikon be approached with any commercial opportunities related to a submitted image or images.

How to enter?

Images must be submitted either:

  • Digitally – by uploading to the Small World Competition entry area on the official website.
    • Maximum file size is 10MB, and it is recommended the file size be no smaller than 3MB although smaller file sizes will not be disqualified.
    • Files must be in .jpeg, .tiff, .pict or .psd format.
    • Please submit the highest quality image with regard to file size, bit depth, and resolution.
  • On film
    • For images on film, a 35mm mounted transparency will be accepted.
    • Glass mounts will not be accepted.

Please send all correspondence to:

Nikon’s Small World Competition,
Nikon Instruments Inc.,
1300 Walt Whitman Road,
Melville, NY
11747-3064 USA