Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs taken with equipment costing less than $500.

The heating block of an Eppendorf thermal cycler. Each well spans only a few millimeters.

[Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3]

Captured with an inexpensive Panasonic point-and-shoot camera, the above photograph of a thermal cycler is beyond the abilities of standard professional-grade SLR equipment. At least, not without a lot of creative lens-stacking with aftermarket parts.

How can this be?

Small digicams have small diameter lenses. This property is normally a liability, as small lenses aren't as sharp and don't let in as much light. But miniaturization does confer an advantage. Objects photographed close-in through these tiny lenses consequently appear larger than they would if shot from the same distance with a larger diameter SLR lens. Thus, the little camera has a peculiarly bug's-eye view. Not only is this perspective unattainable with off-the-shelf professional gear, the sheer bulk of my pro gear means I can't even get a lens into position to attempt the top photo. A little camera fits in little spaces!

Pipetting into a PCR tube.

A camera with an even smaller lens- say, an iPhone- provides an effect yet more exaggerated than these. But cell phone cams are for another post.