The Nikon International Small World Competition first began in 1975 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 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 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 submitted to Nikon are then judged by an independent panel of experts who are recognized authorities in the area of photomicrography and photography. These entries are judged on the basis of originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact.


Contestants may enter the Competition by uploading digital images directly to our Small World servers at Before you begin, read the Contest Rulesand prepare your images for uploading according to the instructions. You may also download an Entry Form in portable document format (*.PDF) for submission of entries by mail (via CD, DVD, thumb drive, or 35 mm slide).


Winners will receive one of 20 prizes, sorted according to rank in the competition. First prize is $3,000 toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


Each year, the top 20 prize-winners are exhibited at numerous museums and science centers throughout the United States and Canada. Many winning images are also featured on the covers of prestigious scientific and industrial journals.


The Nikon Small World Gallery gives you a glimpse into a world that most have never seen. It is a window into a universe that can only be seen through the lens of a microscope. Included in the Small World Gallery are images from the most recent competition and winning photomicrographs dating back to 1977.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 3. Any type of specimen is acceptable. All techniques of light microscopy are acceptable. Electron microscopy is not acceptable.
  4. Images must be submitted either:

    1. Digitally by uploading to the Small World Competition Entry Area on the Nikon Microscopy U website. Maximum file size is 100 Mb (megabytes), and it is recommended the file size be no smaller than 3 Mb, although smaller file sizes will not be disqualified. Files must in: .JPEG, .TIFF, .PICT, or .PSD format. Please submit the highest quality image with regard to file size, bit depth, and resolution.
    2. Images can be submitted either digitally or on film. For images on film, a 35mm mounted transparency will be accepted. Glass mounts will not be accepted.
  5. Each entrant may submit up to three images for judging. A completed and signed official entry form, facsimile, or complete Internet entry form must be used.
  6. Entries will be judged on:

    1. Originality
    2. Informational Content
    3. Technical Proficiency
    4. Visual Impact
  7. Entries must be received no later than April 30, 2015 to be eligible for prizes.
  8. Please send all correspondence to Nikon’s Small World Competition, Nikon Instruments Inc., 1300 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY 11747-3064 USA or
  9. Prize winners will be notified by August 15, 2015.
  10. The decision of Nikon’s panel of judges will be final.
  11. All files will be retained by Nikon Instruments Inc., and cannot be returned.
  12. If your entry is selected by Nikon as a winning image, you will give non-exclusive rights to Nikon to use your name and the image in connection with the competition. You also certify that you hold the rights to grant such permission. Winning images will only be used in connection with the Nikon Small World Competition and accompanying publicity and will include appropriate photo credits.
  13. Contestants will be notified regarding image usage rights should Nikon be approached with any commercial opportunities related to a submitted image or images.
  14. All reasonable care will be taken in handling photos and digital files, but Nikon Instruments Inc. will not assume any responsibility for their loss or damage.
  15. Offer void where prohibited
  16. Taxes, if any, on prizes are the sole responsibility of the prize winners.
  17. Failure to comply with and accept all of the preceding rules will disqualify any entry.

Deadline for entries is April 30, 2015

All dollar amounts listed below will be redeemed for Nikon photographic, scientific or industrial equipment and accessories at their suggested retail selling prices in the U.S.A.


$3,000—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$2,000—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$1,000—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$800—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$600—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$400—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$250—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


$100—toward the purchase of Nikon equipment.


A commemorative print.

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

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

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